Secret Salvos


Photo © Alastair Forbes

Morano motioned a servant to remove his sandals. He stretched, digging his toes into the sand.  Another boy ducked under the shade-leaf to refresh Morano’s drink, then that of his guest.

He admired the sun reflecting off the waves, making Harrael wait.

Harrael was no idiot.  He waited.

From a lacquered box, Morano pulled a letter, unfolding it with tongs so Harrael could read it.  “It’s the best evidence we have against Paraen’s rebellion.  Now the jaen will have to renounce his niece.”  His grin widened.  “Our trading agreement will proceed.”

Harrael glanced warily at the boys fanning them.

“Don’t worry, they’re deaf.”

Celebrating their impending victory with ludicrously-piled plates of food, they tossed morsels to the seagulls.

Emboldened, the gulls mobbed the feast, a flurry of wings.  The boys were frantically shooing when Morano realized the letter was gone.  “Stop that seagull!”  But it was gone.

The seagull dropped the letter into Paraen’s hand. “Excellent work, Allina.” She examined it briefly before burning it.  “Are our friends still with Morano?”

“Both of them.  And quite ineffective at catching me.” If seagulls could smile, Allina would have.

“Teaching them lip-reading was a worthwhile investment.”

“One of your better ideas, indeed.”

Word count: 200. Written for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge.  To join in with the challenge, or to read the other stories inspired by this photo, click on the link.

Big thanks, as always, to our host Alastair Forbes!  Sadly, he has announced that he’ll be stepping down from SPF at the end of the month, after five wonderful years.  I hope someone else will be able to take on his mantle, but he leaves us with big shoes to fill!

This is one of those stories where I imagined an awful lot of other details that couldn’t be fit into 200 words, but hopefully it still stands on its own. And hopefully it’s clear that Paraen is a wizard, and Allina is her familiar!

I am making progress on my Camp NaNaWriMo goals, and plan to post an update at the halfway point.  Happy writing this week, my friends!


27 thoughts on “Secret Salvos

    • Thanks Crispina, that’s so kind of you to say! Funny that I wasn’t even thinking of it as a twist (since I knew about Paraen’s plan from the beginning, lol), but I see what you mean. I keep trying to come up with these short, simple stories, but the stories keep insisting on inserting a bunch of other details in there, and next thing you know I have a rebellion on my hands (literally, in this case).

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: An Unlikely Seagull | Powered by Robots

    • Thanks Eric! I don’t think of myself as being that good at courtly espionage, but I’m practicing bit by bit.

      Keeping deaf servants nearby probably does help these people keep their secrets, but no method is going to be foolproof when you make such powerful enemies! I was picturing these guys as merchant-lords rather than leaders, trying to take down their outspoken opponents so that they can do whatever they want with their trade agreements and rake in the bucks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Makes sense. They are leaders, just of the merchant kind. Who knows? Perhaps they command military men or at least mercenaries to protect valuable convoys. They might be more powerful than some nations. What I didn’t expect was their lip-reading. Shoulda seen that coming, but I didn’t. I just thought they might be literate, rare I’d wager among servants, and these might have read the communique.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Leader is such a squishy word, isn’t it? Certainly these men are very powerful. I’d think that Morano would keep the letter (and anything else) away from the servants so they wouldn’t have a chance to read it (locked in that box, for instance). But he might also assume his poor servants are illiterate too — which is not a bad guess, unless they have been secretly trained by someone else and are deliberately infiltrating the merchant’s circle. 🙂 Glad it piqued your interest!


  2. All very clear, Joy, don’t worry! I love the machinations of your Eneana characters. There’s always a plot happening, jostling for power or status which usually does that person no good whatsoever! As Crispina says, a well turned tale and a cracking twist

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lynn! As usual, I meant it as a “little” piece about a seagull, and somehow I end up with court intrigue and an interesting drama that, hmm, now that I think about it, might be interesting to expand to a longer story.

      Related: I get tons of emails and alerts for blog posts and writing craft advice vying for my time. At least there’s one type that I can always simply ignore: the ones about “how to find ideas for what to write.” LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha! I ignore those posts too. Too many half-viable ideas, if anything! I can see this as a longer piece, definitely. Though maybe not one for this month, as I’m sure you have enough to be getting on with 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, no new projects this month, not while I’m pushing to get my Camp NaNo tasks done! I’m worried I might be cutting it close, too. Silly me, I didn’t actually count up how many words’ worth of stories I had anywhere near ready to go out the door before I *pledged* to send 25,000 out the door. Eep! If even two or three of these stories don’t work out in time, I’m in trouble. Better get cracking even harder!


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