Dangerous Prospect

Traitors Gate John Morgan flickr

Photo credit: John Morgan

Parrean pulled her silk robes away from the smelly locals crowded behind her.  The innkeeper kept chirping, currying favor.

“All the major criminals are brought through the traitors’ gate.  You’re lucky you’re here to see Wicked Ouayno.  Looking for her for years, they’ve been.”

“How was she caught?”

“Turned in by accomplices in Harran, for the reward.”

Parrean shivered.  “Dangerous prospect, crossing a criminal like that.”

A boat appeared around the bend. The pale woman in chains was bloody, bruised, filthy.  Onlookers jeered, throwing rotten fruit.

Parrean’s first two tosses landed short.  The third burst against a guard’s face.

“Oops!” The innkeeper giggled.

The heavy gate was hauled open, link by link.  The gate through which nobody ever returned.  Well, almost nobody.

Ouayno scanned the crowd.  They booed louder at her defiant scowl.  If her gaze paused longer on Parrean, or on the position of her hand, it was so quick nobody noticed.

As the crowd thinned, Parrean watched the gate close.

My love, I’ll be there soon.  Then we’ll deal with those betrayers in Harran.  Stay strong.

Back at the inn, she fainted.

“M’lady, do you require rest?”

She smiled weakly.  “Be sure I am not disturbed until morning.”

Word count: 200.  Written for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge.  Thanks as always to Alistair Forbes for hosting the challenge, and for providing this week’s original prompt photo, below.  I thought I’d try something radical (for me) this time and write a story that’s actually about what’s shown in the original photo.  The photo I use above is also of the real Traitors’ Gate, by the way (but without any English words showing).

Click here to read the other stories, or to submit one yourself!


Photo © Al Forbes

32 thoughts on “Dangerous Prospect

    • I would like to see it too! But it seems like that would require more understanding of criminal strategies than I’m afraid I have. I might be able to *hint* at something though, hm… Great to hear that a reader wants more, thanks so much for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah no, I’d never expect to understand the criminal mind. I was only hoping to be able to come up with a system of keeping criminals locked up that made sense and also a strategy for how the criminals would escape from it that also made sense. As opposed to, say, they get partway through the rescue, which looks doomed to failure because I’ve painted myself into a corner, and then Poof! — something bizarre and only vaguely explained happens and now they’re free!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Ha! When the fruit hit the guard’s face I knew something was up. Was there something interesting in the fruit that might affect the guard? Now what was it about the position of her hand? Often times casting spells can exhaust the spellcaster. Perhaps that’s why she fainted later? It would be interesting if Parrean cast a locator spell so that she could locate her easily later. This story really gets the mind working. I like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oo, I think I like your ideas even better than what I was originally thinking! My original idea was that she was just using the excuse of the circumstances to hit the guard in the face with a piece of rotten fruit (in the first version, it was a peach, which would both splatter and hurt!). She deliberately missed with the first two so that it would look like an accident that she hit the guard instead of the prisoner. I was assuming that she couldn’t do any magic, because they’d probably have that whole area warded, and be on the lookout for that. So the idea was that she was giving her partner a secret signal (that would seem totally innocuous to anyone else) about what to do / expect later. But hey, maybe I’m wrong and it was a magic spell after all, hm…. The fainting later was definitely fake. She’s pretending to be this weak noblewoman who’s overwhelmed by the strain of the day, when really she just wants nobody to disturb her (or notice she’s not in her room) while she deals with the next stage of The Daring Rescue Plan. Thanks for the great ideas, Eric!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hmm. I like your idea too. I mean, if magic is common in that society, using magic might be like sending up a flare. In this world it’s like using your radio in the clear saying, “Rescue Team in position.” Not good. But if magic is very specialized and rare, then she could get away with it. Anyway if she sent a signal that means something like, “Plan Gamma,” (which could be very detailed) that would work nicely.

        I still like your way, and as you know, I love the many details of your world. Like the other commenters, I’d love to see how that escape plan works out!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes exactly, “Plan Gamma” was what I had in mind. These two have been working together a long time; they’ll have plenty of silent signals worked out.

        It really does depend on where they are, and when. I left that deliberately vague. There are a few clues, like the two women’s names, the name of the town Harren, and the fact that at least one of them is pale (making her of the southern or Layoran race). But I could justify putting this in almost anywhere in Layor or Pyann/Medowin except for the height of the Pyanni Empire, which was much more high-magic than this. But to work out the details of the rescue attempt (and more importantly, the condition of the prison), I really would have to nail some of those details down. Hm…


    • Ha ha, good point! I wouldn’t be surprised if fruit vendors were the ones who came up with the idea of throwing rotten fruit as a form of derision. New market for products that are otherwise useless – bonus! Thanks for the fun comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great tale, Joy. Myself, I’d like to know what she’s supposed to have done – is she a traitor in our own terms, or just those of her society? Would we admire her or join in with the baying crowd? Nicely told tale, and I love the use of Traitors’s Gate this week – now, that’s quite an entranceway and has seen some things in its time, if only it could talk!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hm, those are good questions, and ones that I don’t have any answers to. I suspect that like a lot of criminals, whether you admire or despise these two depends not only on what they’ve done but on your level of loyalty to the current administration and your general stance on lawfulness. I wasn’t thinking of them as brutal serial killers or anything like that. But maybe something like urban pirates.. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • I can see the resemblance, yes! That’s a good question. I’d think that they would have had some accomplices, but given that they were betrayed by those in Harran, Parrean might be more cautious about trusting any others. Still, I suspect she has ways of getting people’s aid without them even realizing what they’re getting themselves into. Thanks for the great comment, Al!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have to agree with many of the other comments. This is an intrigueing story and it would be wonderful to read about the rescue attempt. Great stuff 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really like this one. Joy. It’s definitely intriguing and – as the many comments show – it leaves us wanting to know what happens next. A nighttime rescue would be exciting. The line about the rotten fruit hitting the guard’s head was a great way to drop the clue that Parrean wasn’t there to jeer at Ouayno.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And a clue that she’s a good shot too, I hope! I wonder after all of this hype whether I could possibly write a rescue scene that lived up to everyone’s expectations. Maybe I should just skip to the part where they’re walking out and have Ouayno say, “Oh my, aren’t you the clever one?” and then Parrean smiles, and that’s all you get to hear about the actual rescue plan. 🙂


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