Clouded Plot


Photo © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The old man glowered at the procession, muttering.

“Slight me, will you?  You’ll regret it!”

He cradled an amorphous object, months in the making.  With three magic words, he activated it.  The final component: direct sunlight.

“Then, BOOM!  You’ll notice that!”

A cloud obscured the sun. He waited for it to pass, panicking.  Without sunlight…  The object shivered, then dissolved.  He screamed, cursing the gods.

In the royal cart, the taen squinted skyward.  “A poor omen for her Seven Day?”  He squeezed his daughter’s hand.

His advisor blinked, releasing the cloud.  The sun shone brightly.  “She’ll have a lovely day, m’lord.”

Word count: 100.  Written for this week’s Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.  Great photo, Rochelle!

UPDATE: Apparently this story sucks, because it confused everyone, even after I rewrote it. Oh well, can’t win them all!  Here is my revised 100-word story that I hope at least makes sense.  Spoiler alert — don’t look, if you’re still valiantly trying to figure out what the original story means:

A crazy man hates the king.  He made a magic bomb.  He wants to blow up the king and everyone else at a parade for the king’s daughter’s 7th birthday.  He activates the magic bomb.  To explode, it needs direct sunlight.  A cloud covers the sun long enough for the magic to fail.  The crazy man is upset. What happened?  Luckily for the king, his advisor also knows magic, and saw what was happening.  She controlled the cloud to block the sun, keeping the bomb from working.  Happy ending for the king and his family, not for the crazy wizard.

The Seven Day celebration has come up before, and that time the bad omen had more dire consequences: Honeyed.

I haven’t had much time to post stories or read blogs lately.  Too much work, mostly, but at least part of my absence was for a good cause — going to a fabulous writers’ conference, and doing work on my novel before and after that.   (It was my second time at the Southern California Writers Conference, and I would definitely recommend to anyone in the area!)

38 thoughts on “Clouded Plot

    • You weren’t the only one who was confused. I revised it a bit, hoping to be more clear about what’s happening. Sometimes that 100 word limit is harder than others — so many more details I was imagining that I wish I could include.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


  1. Let me guess: the slighted one wanted to be advisor… Great story, I only saw the edited version and it’s all clear. What a wealth of information and possibilites. I want to know all about that young ruler, and her advisor. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ooh, great comment, thanks. That’s a good guess. It wasn’t what I was thinking, but I like it! I was picturing the old man as crazy and imagining all these slights, along with his imagined sense of importance which makes him think the taen should welcome him more warmly, which leads to his horrible perception of the taen. I mean, he must be a smart wizard to have pulled off this magic item. But anyone who’s willing to set off a bomb in the middle of procession — and injure and maybe kill not only the taen but lots of innocent people, and *himself* — has clearly gone off the rails. I was also picturing the taen as male, but now I can read it female as well. Whew, now I want to know more about them too!

      World-building note: the term “taen” is only used in Pyann/Medowin, and is used for either male or female rulers. If I’d said jayanta, that would indicate we were in Layor, and he would definitely be a man, because there is no word in their language for a female ruler at that level, only a word for “wife of the jayanta.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • The taen is very lucky to have that advisor, I agree! I tried to squeeze in a sentence about how the guards dragged away the old man when he started yelling, to clarify that the taen was safe now, but man, 100 words is just not that much. Thanks for reading!


    • It’s not just you; apparently it’s confusing to everyone. I’ve looked at it so many times now that it seems totally obvious to me what’s happening, but clearly some part of it isn’t coming across. Sorry!


  2. I showed up after the edits. I’m really curious about the nature of the object the would be assassin/ provocateur had. The advisor’s ability to know about the attack, as well as stop it was remarkable as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading! And thanks for asking questions, as I love any excuse to blather on more about my stories and my world. 😉 I didn’t decide exactly what the magic item was, but since he said “boom!” it’s some sort of explosion, probably either a fire ball or a force effect. A force explosion would be more deadly, but force spells are notoriously unpredictable and difficult to control. Then again, maybe a crazy man wouldn’t care about the risks. The advisor is clearly a powerful wizard herself – the taen is about the same level as a king in Medieval Europe, so he could hire the best. It makes sense that whenever she’s out with the taen, she’s helping to guard him by detecting magic all around them. As soon as the crazy wizard started activating the bomb, she would have noticed and worked to identify it. Seems like she thinks fast, because she did just the right thing to stop the attack without risking setting the bomb off by accident, or making a scene that would upset the taen and ruin his daughter’s big day. I was picturing the crazy man yelling and cursing the gods so loudly that the guards subdued him, but I didn’t have enough words to squeeze that in. Either way, I’d think the advisor made sure the man was caught.

      See, that’s what you get for asking! 🙂


  3. I picked up on some of it (only read the revised version) but stories like this without additional context can be hard to write sometimes. It’s also easy to forget that as writers, we always hold more information in our minds than our readers and I have fallen into this trap numerous times. It was still a fun story to read though, Joy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Chris. I figure that I am in that same spot with every single flash fiction story I write, and almost all of them seem to work. So if one flops every once in a while — at least in terms of not conveying the basics of what’s happening — eh, that’s still a pretty good success rate. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m reading this late so it’s the revised version, which is evidently much clearer than the first. I often post stories then think of how they could have been better afterwards. It’s definitely a challenge to get things spot on and clear in so few words. Anyway, I liked the idea of the vengeful man who wanted to blow up the taen because of some slight. It seems that the taen has chosen a wise advisor, fortunately skilled in magic.
    Lucky you having such a great time at the writers’ conference! I hoped it helped a lot with your book. Southern California sounds like the place to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the great comment, Millie! Yes, the taen chose his advisor well, and her powerful magic skills were an important part of that. Good thing, too!

      The writers’ conference was fabulous. I got so many great ideas for how to fix some of the character and plot structuring problems in my book. I wish I had more time to sit down and actually put them into practice! But these few flash fiction pieces are all the writing I’ve had time for in a while. Hopefully next weekend I’ll have a break.


  5. Good thing someone has actual magic for the Taen’s daughter. It wouldn’t be good for this guy if there wasn’t that advisor with certain gifts he doesn’t have.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I didn’t catch this before the revision, Joy, but this version I totally got before your explanation, down the the fact that the advisor conjured a cloud spell to foil the plot. Interesting to see your version of terrorism – and counter terrorism – played out in Eneana. Nicely told I thought 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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