Creative Copy Challenge #115

Today we have Heather Allard choosing the words for today’s writing prompt. Heather is a mother of three kids, Hope, Grace & Brendan — and one big dog, The Dude. She’s also the founder of, a website for moms who run a business, raise a family and rock both. You can find her on Twitter at @heathALL. Now on to the show.

Writing prompts cure writer’s block. Take the 10 random words below and, in the comments, crush writer’s block by creating a cohesive, creative short story tying them together! And remember: after (if) you finish, highlight your words and click the bold button to make them stand out and help you determine if you forgot any words. (If you’ve missed previous writing prompts, do those too.)

  1. Radiance
  2. Serendipity – The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
  3. Ubiquitous – being present everywhere at once; ever-present; pervasive
  4. Manifest – Clearly apparent; To show or demonstrate plainly; a list of cargo or passengers
  5. Motley – made up of elements of varying type
  6. Glisten
  7. heather – A low-growing Eurasian shrub with bell-shaped pinkish-purple flowers
  8. Raven
  9. Grace
  10. Clever

NOTE: Don’t copy and paste from MS Word. Use a program like notepad that removes formatting or just type in the comment field itself. Also, finish your submission, THEN bold the words. Thanks. (And don’t forget to tweet this and share it with your friends.)

Resources you should check out:
Thesis: Best Damn Theme on the Web
Collective Ink Well: Personalize Your Thesis Theme
Third Tribe Marketing: Marketing done the right way
Story Structure Demystified: Best damn writing book out there


142 Comments on “Creative Copy Challenge #115”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    “Bobby! Radiance! Radiance!”

    “Huh, Billy?”

    “I’ll say it slow so yous can follow along…RAID…DA…ANTS! They’s getting in through the crack in the screen door, they’s ubiquitous, and they’s ATTACKING my sandwich! Look, they done manifested on the crust already!”

    “They’s some motley lookin’ ants, Billy. They’s as big as Ravens.

    “Aint no ants as big as football players, Bobby. Stop bein’ clever and brung the spray over. And hurry up, my honey heather’s comin’ over. She ain’t gonna’ grace me with some glistenin’ love if they’s ants all over the place.”

    “But, Billy, ain’t you datin’ Heather and not a heather?”

    “How would you knowd the difference, Bobby? We’s talkin’, not writing”

    Serendipity, Billy! I done peeked at CCC #115.”

  2. Shane Arthur says:

    programming note: I’m doing a full day of Mr.Mom today so if you get caught in moderation, hold tight, i’ll be there soon as I can.

  3. margaret says:

    It took a clever gnome, by the grace of God or some other ubiquitous force, to find the hidden treasure.  It was serendipity that one day as he was walking through a vast field of heather accompanied by his usual motley band of woodland animals, he did see an odd beam of light
    which seemed inexplicably to rise from the field.

    He sent his pet raven,Mortimer,  to investigate this bizarre manifestation, as the raven was an expert at
    finding shiny, glistening objects. The radiance emanating from the solid field of mauve heather
    was the reflection of the sun at just the proper moment, capturing the brilliance of a large diamond,
    which lay on the ground….a mere shadow of what lay underneath the earth.

    For the gnome, this was the equivalent of winning the middle earth lottery! He and his sweetheart would never have to work again. From now on they would sing for joy instead of for money, and he would open a halfway house for  traumatized mythical creatures who had been accidentally discovered by humans.

    (and there is the sequel!  🙂 )

  4. “By the grace of Columbus, in his eternal radiance, under his ubiquitous care, our manifest destiny to rule the heathen comes to pass,” the priest intoned. “We live in Paradise brought to us by our great Savior’s serendipitous discovery of these lands, with a motley crew of the blessed, led, like Noah in the ark, by the clever raven, to the shores of this land.

    “We do not miss the heath and heather of home, for our true home is here, under the unconquerable protection of his mercy, our greatness glistens, blinding the savage and proclaiming our righteous cause to the heights of the heavens.

    “Never fear, brothers and sisters. We have triumphed, we have destroyed the devils and will live forevermore in the peace and security of—“

    The arrow sticking out of the priest’s throat effectively ended that sermon. Not that we lived long enough to appreciate the brilliance of the timing. At least it took three arrows to kill me.

  5. Captain McCarron propped his glasses upon his nose and paged through the Scottish ship’s manifest. He scanned the crowd waiting to board and noticed a motley group of lassies pushing their way to the front.
    “Is there room for us?”, a raven-haired girl asked, clutching an armful of freshly cut heather, still glistening with dew.
    “What is your name?”, the Captain asked her.  “Grace”, she replied with a clever grin and a lilting brogue, “named for the ubiquitous grace of God, of course.”
    “So, is there room for us?”, she asked again.
    Captain McCarron checked the manifest again and exclaimed, “Serendipity! There is room for you aboard the SS Radiance!”

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Heather: I’m so glad you picked, and after reading this, I’m so glad you gave the CCC a shot. I know you said you had writer’s block, but it appears you no longer do, since you crushed this challenge. Hope to see you twice a week now. 😉

      • Thanks so much for inviting me, Shane! It was pure serendipity! 😀
        And admittedly, it was a lot of fun. Maybe the cure for my non-fiction writer’s block is writing fiction for CCC. LOL.
        Writing is in my blood after all. 😉
        My great aunt Peggy (Margaret Mutch) was a 1921 graduate of Radcliffe and later became a ghost writer and editor for Atlantic Monthly and Little Brown. She edited many of Raymond Chandler’s manuscripts and he wrote a 7 stanza poem to her called Lines To A Lady with an Unsplit Infinitive

        Pretty cool, eh?

        Thanks again,

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Heather: That’s such cool back story. love it (and my copy of Little, Brown).

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Heather: P.S. I added your name and url to our CCC Community Links page. You are the 220th person to submit.

          • Cathy Miller says:

            @Heather-Welcome to CCC!

            Here you”ll find the radiance of welcome and will rejoice in serendipity delight that you stumbled across our humble home. You’ll revel in the ubiquitous challenge of CCC as it takes over your life to manifest your innermost dreams.

            The motley words glisten with the magic touch that is all your own. The sweet heather scent soothes the soul even as the words raven the recesses of creativity with the grace of clever prose.

            Welcome to the sweet addiction.

          • Shane Arthur says:

            @Cathy: Nice m/s alliteration! love studying these welcomes.

          • Cathy Miller says:

            @Shane-you are too good for my ego.

          • Ember Bianco says:

            Ditto what Shane said plus – Anticipating your “Welcome” is like a guilty pleasure, like having 100 fresh strawberries dipped in warm chocolate fondue, and then you can’t wait to have more.

          • Thank you for the grand welcome, Cathy! 😀

          • Oh, cool! Thanks, Shane!

    • Welcome, Heather, and thanks so much for the great word list!
      I enjoyed your unblocking entry!

  6. Anne Wayman says:

    It was pure serendipity that I spotted the radiance glowing from the heather. But the damn Clevers were ubiquitous, manifesting as a motley crew every time a human got close to the glistening glow. They didn’t know about my clever ravens, which had the grace to manifest seemingly out of thin air, and snatch the treasure one piece at a time, bringing them to my lair.

  7. This work inspired the following poem, in which I used all of the words in order as well:

    Radiance of serendipity
    ubiquitous manifest of nature
    motley dewdrops glisten keenly
    raven perched in a heather bush
    grace of feathers and wings
    how clever nature is

  8. Tanja Cilia says:

    The raven-haired Clever, half-hidden in the heather, sneered.   Human had just glimpsed the motley collection of dew-drops and angel-tears glowing with ethereal radiance  in the casket at the foot of the rainbow. He had passed an inane comment about how the Manifest at Grace Hall had mentioned a  pot of gold, rather than this.  Beads of sweat began to glisten on Human’s forehead. But how could he know that what he thought of as serendipity was in reality one of the ubiquitous curses of the Clevers?

  9. Shane Arthur says:

    programming note2; I want everyone to know how much of an ass I feel like right now. Anne Wayman was supposed to choose the words for Monday. I had her words, but I forgot to transfer them into the folder where i store all the people’s emails with their words. Everyone join me as I kick myself in the ass and blush in embarrassment. Sorry, Anne. You get this Monday for sure.

  10. She pitter pattered her way through the vase expanse of heather. Her motley child’s hair,whipping in the breeze, glistened with the radiance of the noon day sun. She was grace made manifest, her tiny toes making one delicate step at a time, despite her ill-regarded hair and her rumpled cotton shift.
    Ubiquitous ravens called from their perches in the riotous green budding all about the meadow. She stopped, still and calm in the very center of the plot and pointed her gaze at the trees. “Mama!” She called. “Can you hear them?”
    Her mother, some distance behind,smiled. “Clever child,” the words whispered as a prayer. Then, louder, “Come, Serendipity! Let’s watch the clouds.”
    The girl ran with abandon toward her mother, who scooped her up and whirled her through the blue sky. They plopped to the earth and peered upward.

  11. Cathy Miller says:

    Josselyn closed her eyes against the radiance of a cloudless sky. She smiled at the sheer serendipity of finding herself in such a peaceful place instead of the ubiquitous state of chaos that had been her life.

    At times, she hated being a princess. The strain of living under the eyes of a nation made it difficult to manifest her royal lineage. She longed for the life of her motley-clothed friend, Rulf. He was so much more than the court jester to Josselyn.

    “Princess Jo, where are you?” sang a laughing voice.

    Josselyn opened eyes that glistened with laughter at the sight of Rulf cartwheeling across the field of heather.

    “If you would stop spinning, you would see,” she laughed.

    Stopping in mid-spin, Rulf landed hard on his colorful bottom.

    “You are a wicked child,” he grinned, rubbing his bottom, “scaring me so.”

    “You do not scare, Rulf. You are my most brave knight.”

    “Ha, your knights would not hear such nonsense. I missed you at study today.”

    The tears of smile became the vessel of pain.

    Sitting beside the princess, Rulf wound a raven lock into his palm in a silent caress.

    “Why so sad, little Jo?”

    “Why doesn’t my father love me, Rulf?”

    “What silliness is this? You are your father’s most precious gift.”

    “He wanted a son.”

    A large tear tracked down Josselyn’s lowered cheek as her heart ached with what she could not have. Rulf wrapped her in his arms as softly he sang –

    Never was I so overcome
    By any love, nor in distress,
    But now I’m conquered totally
    By her good sense and honesty.
    Fair is her body, clear her face,
    White her hands, and her fingers long.
    Gentle bearing, tender smile

    “There, you see, you should be a troubadour.”

    Rulf laughed, “Ah, my little child of grace, never was I that clever.”

  12. Jace McCoy says:

    You think yourself cleverserendipitous. Ignoring the harbinger that is the cawing raven. But your wicked desires are now manifest. In the fields of heather the bells begin to shed the tears of mortal men. Soft petals glisten a motley of colors. Emotions of kaleidoscopic hues. Your body calms as the mellow hum rings out from the low hanging floral bells. A warning that some things lost should never be found. Blinded by radiance; you believe you’ve found grace. The beginning of all things. But only the end has begun. For we know the ways of man. The thirst of life. They are a weak existence. While we are all that is. The air you grasp at. The tremors of your crumpled body. We are… Ubiquitous. Welcome to humanities future.
    So I wrote this kinda as a prologue. The rest of the story would explain what is happening and who/what the unidentified entity is. I wanted there to be emphasis on beginning and ending. As this is the beginning of a struggle between good/evil. An apocalypse.  Enjoy – JACE

  13. Ember Bianco says:

    Oh what a spectacular site to view; a Ravens’ dark coat glistening brightly against the ubiquitous blanket of snowflakes that dance gingerly atop the new fallen crest. Hope, Grace & Brendan stand upright like little soldiers guarding their prized possession. Serendipitously created, a fine snowman, a true manifest of pride, even if built by a motley set of clever little children that smile with a radiance that could warm the coldest heart. Even more the miracle to see; thinly scattered bouquets of purple Heather flowers peeking through the frigid air. It never ceases to amaze me the annual grace and beauty that winter brings in the North East… Oh no watch out!! HERE COMES DUDE, NoooOOOOoooo!!!!!….  

  14. A Fool and His Money

    I find myself in quietus
    Finality ubiquitous.
    Grand motley thoughts don’t manifest
    Beyond my broken, heartless breast.

    Despite the loss of radiance
    This body gives its evidence.
    Each organ sings – will you listen?
    In gaping wounds, ichors glisten.

    I seek no grace nor help divine
    My search is done, I rest supine.
    Eternity is thunderstruck
    Yon raven comes, mine eyes to pluck.

    The mortal sin, my dance with fire
    My love for gold, my heart’s desire.
    A greedy lamp made prism bend
    The rainbow led me to the end.

    And digging through the heather grove,
    I stumbled on the Clever trove.
    Alas, the serendipity
    Reclaimed a random casualty.

  15. Ember Bianco says:

      Look at that he’s even a poet! Mitch You’ve out done yourself again!    

  16. Tanja Cilia says:

    What verse-atility! This is great!

  17. Lightbird glided on. Her destination was near. She must hold on a little longer. But she was wearied, and it was the wind’s fault. The invisible force exerted unbearable pressure on her wings and battered her face. Was it a curse to be a young, motherless RAVEN? She had migrated from one corner of the world to another, but the wind always MANIFESTed itself in every one of the locations. It was, in short, UBIQUITOUS. Or so Lightbird had thought. Just yesterday, a MOTLEY cluster of caves over which HEATHER bloomed had GRACEd her sight by sheer SERENDIPITY. She’d seek sanctuary there–the only place the wind wouldn’t find her. She’d miss the beautiful way her plumage GLISTENed in the evening sun’s RADIANCE, though. Soon, the caves hove into sight. Lightbird excitedly alighted and venturted into one, only to stray into the snare of something far worse than the wind–a hungry CLEVER.

  18. Lightbird glided on. Her destination was near. She must hold on a little longer. But she was wearied, and it was the wind’s fault. The invisible force exerted unbearable pressure on her wings and battered her face.

    Was it a curse to be a young, motherless RAVEN?

    She had migrated from one corner of the world to another, but the wind always MANIFESTed itself in every one of the locations. It was, in short, UBIQUITOUS.

    Or so Lightbird had thought.

    Just yesterday, a MOTLEY cluster of caves over which HEATHER bloomed had GRACEd her sight by sheer SERENDIPITY. She’d seek sanctuary there–the only place the wind wouldn’t find her.

    She’d miss the beautiful way her plumage GLISTENed in the evening sun’s RADIANCE, though.

    Soon, the caves hove into sight. Lightbird excitedly alighted and venturted into one, only to stray into the snare of something far worse than the wind–a hungry CLEVER.

  19. Ember Bianco says:

    OHHH  SNAP! I don’t know if my eyes are tearing from laughing or feeling sorry for the poor thing.  Great story telling.

  20. Anne Maybus says:

    The ancient ones tell of a day long ago when an unkindness of ravens outwitted the ubiquitous Clevers and robbed them of their most precious possessions…….
    There was once a beautiful Raven who flew with strength and grace and filled the world with light and song as she glided over the moors.  She alone had been blessed with song and the other birds revelled in her wondrous sound.  Her singing was clear and pure but it was also penetrating, which angered the Clevers who could not sleep through the soundwaves that punctured their underworld darkness. 
    They plotted and schemed, looking for a way to end the torture and finally decided that the Raven must die.  It was pure serendipity that they came across her as she was preening herself and preparing for flight.  The Raven was unable to defend herself.  They slew her and left her lying in her rose red blood.  As they stood over her, they watched her feathers glisten in the sunlight.  They shone brighter and brighter and the more they shone the greater the sense of foreboding that cast itself over them.
    When the unkindness woke next morning to the sound of silence they went searching for their special one.  Their screams of grief and vengeance smote the sky and speared deep into the underworld.  Only then did the Clevers realise what they had done.  Their fear was manifest though they thought themselves safe for never before had a bird flown underground.  The tunnels were twisted and hard to navigate and the only light that shone was the shimmer of their precious gold.
    What they didn’t know was that the ravens knew where they lived, having long ago spied them leaving the tunnel. 
    Lifting the body of their comrade they flew with her across the moors and landed her on a soft cushion of earth.  Beside her, beneath the heather, lay the doorway to the underworld filled with the motley little creatures.  They waited in savage patience for the Clevers to emerge and start their daily scavenge across the land.
    On their return the Clevers filed quickly through the doorway into their bolthole.  Strangely, the tunnels were filled with an unfamiliar radiance.  What treasure was this, so bright that they could barely see?
    Creeping ever closer to the source the Clevers entered the treasury. 
    Their precious gold was gone! 
    In its place in the casket lay the Raven, her body pulsing with a light so brilliant that it was blinding.  Shielding their eyes from the painful light they ran from the tunnel, mourning their lost treasures.
    To this day ravens collect shiny objects in honour of their slain ancestor.  To this day the Clevers have never been seen again.

    • Anne, this is how the myths begin. With the stroke of a pen, you have explained two classical races. The mix of lore and imagination creates just the right blend of mystery to shroud the story’s origins.
      Great writing!

    • Ember Bianco says:

       Ann –  this seems like it could shape up to be a very sweet love story I hope you continue this one down the road.

    • Ember Bianco says:

      Anne – love the imagination behind this one it glowed with brilliance and sweet revenge.

  21. Serendipity is ubiquitous, if you’re clever enough to notice it. Opportunities manifest as motley work crews, not graceful heather. They don’t squawk like ravens and dive at your head, but glisten with a subtle radiance. You have to be looking, always, to see them.

    • Steven, the truth in this beautiful passage is not to be denied. “Serendipity” is one of my favorite words (“Eureka” is another). I agree that you have to be looking – I love how you distinctly refrain from saying that you have to be looking for them. But, yes, if you’re receptive to happy accidents, you will see them.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Steven: Okay. This is your best yet. That is all.

    • Ember Bianco says:

      Steven – You make a great point here. I liked the way the words flow into each other and how you centered the whole piece on a specific word, very creative.

  22. The sun’s radiance glistened on the dewdrops that still clung to the ubiquitous heather. Arianna bid her home adieu, and though she was happy to embark upon adventure and a new chapter in her life, the too-bright eyes that threatened to overflow belied her outward joy.
    The ship rocked gently in the harbor, manned by a motley crew of seasoned sailors and young adventurers. It was serendipity that Arianna’s name appeared in the manifest next to William’s – he was a clever, handsome boy from her village, near her own age, with raven hair and a charming smile. Arianna’s gentle grace caught his eye the moment she boarded the Marie.
    Though they knew each other mainly through shy glances in the marketplace, the interest was manifest. The journey to America would take weeks – they had all the time in the world.

  23. nebunia says:

    What a busy week… I just managed to do my homework 😀
    I was driving to Chicago in the car of my dreams, the new BMW 7 Series. At one moment, a radiance blinded me and I lost the control of the car. I hit another car driven by a very attractive female driver. We escaped from the the remains of what were once our cars. I expected her to do a manifest, but she gracefully got up and shook the heathers off her blouse and said to me : ” Forget about the cars, it’s a miracle we’re still alive… I guess some ubiquitous forces were looking after us… and look I think they wanted us to celebrate with this wine, what other explications do you think it is that this exact bottle remained intact while our cars were destroyed”. After that she opened the bottle and gave it to me, I took a few mouths because I was still under shock. After I offered the motley of alcohol to her I realized how clever she really was. The female driver said to me this exact words ” No, thank you, I’ll just wait for the cops to show they’re face “. I asked her how did she got the glistening idea for this mastermind plan and what was the reason. She told me the idea came to her while she was watching the movie ” Serendipity ” and the reason was because her car was almost dead. I was the raven and she was the fox who stoled my cheese. When the cops willl show up, I will be drunk and speaking gibberish and I’ll go to jail… so freaking great…..

  24. Kelly says:


    Dying of a broken heart
    That don’t seem so bad
    When the radiance goes out of life
    You think dying’s all you have

    Look forward to the very last day
    ‘Til you turn the corner and
    See the girl with the raven hair standing there
    Holding Hope in her hand

    What a motley group we humans are
    For one sad sack today’s always the worst
    If you think that’s you, take a look with fresh eyes
    Someone probably got there first

    Suffering’s ubiquitous,
    But then again, so is joy
    On the day when your pain is most manifest
    Someone else cradles a baby boy

    One who’ll grow up to be just like you
    He’ll have dark days, plenty of them, and also days glistening with dew
    Days when the grace has gone out of his place
    When that last day can’t come too soon

    But the day when that boy’s born, remember that day?
    It’s the best day of some folks’ lives
    If you’re clever enough to ride waves that are tough
    Your best day waits on the other side

    The rhyme is awful, the picture is sappy
    Hills covered with heather are far too happy
    If I sound like Dr. Seuss it’s because you could use
    Someone to remind you life’s not as crappy
    As you think it is today.
    Friend of mine—
    Don’t let your bruised and beaten heart
    Stand in serendipity’s way.

    It’s gonna be okay.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Kelly: I swelled up…but I didn’t tear up…barely. 🙂

      • Kelly says:

        Shane–Then I guess it was for you. I was wondering who I was writing this rhyming hug for!   🙂

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Kelly: YOu could have easily written that for me. I thought of my son and my back pain.
          And, I can’t believe as of now you are caught up with the challenges. WHEN you submit today, you will be current and everyone will see your talent.

          • Kelly says:

            Shane–Everybody has those days! (And cheesy or not, I’m just that kind of a hippie who thinks a rhyming hug’s a nice thing to give out once in a while.)

            Caught up, you say? Your wish is my command.

            Though I think Mr. S. Lowe’s heroic efforts to catch up on the Challenges make mine look quite meager in comparison…

          • Shane Arthur says:

            @Kelly: If Steve does it, he’ll be in the record books too.

          • I think I’ve got about 40 to go – which equates to 5 or 6 nights with insomnia 😉

  25. Laurie says:

    Oh I just love Raven! I am blessed to have it as a totem!  It does love things that glisten it will steal them if you leave them where it can find them shining in the radiance of the sun.  Raven is quite clever and has used tools to open things up.  Raven also seems knows people often don’t eat all the junk they buy at the local fast food so it sifts through trash cans to get its food.  (Really it does as I sat in a parking lot once and enjoyed watching Raven doing just that).

    I am sure it must have been seredipity in Raven’s eyes when it noticed just how easy it was to crack a nut by laying it in the path of an oncoming car.  How easy it was to manifest an open nut and not get cut, and how motley that nut must have appeared to the raven as its shell was turned to dust!

    Heather is said to not grow where there’s been blood shed.  I imagine that would not be somewhere Raven is likely to be fed out in that field of heather shining so red.  Yet I can imagine how grace might fall upon Raven if it was merely picking up ubiquitous pieces of animals who their bodies long ago they shed!

  26. Aaron Pogue says:

    The First Myth (part 5)
    “Tell you my story,” the flame said. It drew the words out, weighing them, and then sighed. “I am afraid it is not so simple as that. You don’t know enough of the words, and if I tried, the motley echoes your mind might manifest would make a pathetic mess of it all.”
    “Then why have you wasted my time?” Addan snapped, irritated. He made no move to rise, though.
    “There are…other ways,” the flame said. “You wouldn’t happen to know any magic?”
    There wasn’t much hope in its voice, and it didn’t wait for Addan to shake his head. “No. It would take a great serendipity for a people like yours to discover even simple suggestions and diversions. I doubt there’s a man among all your people clever enough to work a projection with any measure of grace.”
    “A projection?” Addan said. The word tasted strange on his tongue. “This is a complicated magic?”
    The flame didn’t answer right away. “It isn’t a simple one,” it said at last. “Among my kind, it was common enough, but then all magic was. It was ubiquitous, in my kingdom, before the enemies came.” The flame chuckled, “Ah,” it said. “The stalking beasts. That is a good translation of ‘enemies.’ But you would have to see them to truly understand.”
    “Then show me them,” Addan said, and before the flame could answer he started to his feet. “Show me this magic. I am the cleverest in all my tribe. If it is a thing that can be taught, I can learn it.”
    “It’s not as simple as that,” the flame. “Trying to work a projection on this scale with no experience…even with my guidance, it couldn’t be done quickly. Not quickly enough to suit you, anyway. And besides, we would need reagents–”
    That last word, “reagents,” took a strange shape in Addan’s head, but he could find enough meaning in it to make a guess. He stepped forward. “What kind of reagents?”
    “It’s difficult to say,” the flame answered. “They are totems, artifacts of cultural significance, so I couldn’t….” The flame trailed off, and after a moment it laughed. There was a happy, surprised sound to the laugh, and it went on for some time. “Well, well,” the flame said. “Perhaps this will work after all. You will need to find–”
    And then the flame spoke words that had no meaning for Addan, as he had done before, but each phrase barely had a moment to settle upon the young man’s mind before it changed. He could feel the shape of the thought shift, until “silver censer” became “raven feather,” and “focus crystal” became “heart of heather.” His eyes lit up, reflecting the flame’s eerie radiance.
    “I have these things,” he said.
    “Good!” the prince said. “Good! Go and get them. I will wait for you. Just…be careful.”
    “No!” Addan laughed. “No, I have them here!” And then he knelt and, with reverent care, lifted his dirt-crusted hair to remove a necklace of heathers hanging around his neck. He stared at it for a long moment, then raised the flowers to his lips and kissed them lightly.
    Then he pulled one of the heathers from the chain, and the rest of it unraveled. He gathered them together in a small, sad bouquet upon the ground, and let his gaze linger a moment longer. Then he turned to the flame.
    “Here is my focus,” he said, holding it aloft, and then reached over his shoulder to draw a handmade arrow from the little leather quiver hanging on his back. He thumbed the black fletchings, so perfectly applied, and the raven feathers glistened. “And here is my censer.”
    “Those will do,” the flame said. “Now, come closer.” Addan stepped forward, until he stood just at the end of the cliff, totems in each hand.
    For a moment the flame only flickered, fingers of fire occasionally flaring out toward the boy. At last it said, “Good. Good. This will do. Your totems hold much strength for you. There are other reagents required in a spell like this, but they shouldn’t be a problem at all.”
    “What reagents?” Addan said, suspicious at the flame’s tone.
    “Consuming desire,” the flame said. “And you have that in spades. And lifeblood.” It chuckled, and Addan smiled, too, as his eyes fell to his ruined hand. “And fire.”
    Addan grinned. “It seems we are prepared.”
    “Indeed,” the flame said. “Now, place the totems together in your right hand. Good. And close your eyes.”
    Addan closed his eyes, waiting. “Good,” the flame said. “Now, reach out your right hand, and place it in the fire.”
    Addan’s heart quailed at the thought. He tried to obey anyway, forced himself to raise his arm and extend it toward the flame. He remembered the wash of light that hadn’t harmed him earlier, but in spite of himself, he recoiled.
    “And that–” the flame said, disappointed, “that is the final reagent. You do not have the touchstones to project yourself, so you must pay your way with trust. I will not harm you. Trust me, and I can carry you away.”
    Addan took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. He thought of long days crawling through the perfect blackness of the Darkbound Caves. He thought of cold, quiet nights he’d spent stalking forest panthers. He thought of the great plummet he’d braved just moments before, and in them all he found the shape of his courage.
    He put it on like a cloak. “I trust you,” he said aloud, and closed his eyes again, and plunged his hand into the ball of fire.
    The pain was overwhelming.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Aaron: Damn you, man! These endings are killin’ me. But that’s what happens when the hook is already sunk in deep. Super job. 🙂

  27. This is such a good read. Orson Scott Card may have to move over a bit on the bookshelves of fantasy lovers everywhere.

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