Practicing Bardom

Happy Jack cave

Photo © Josh Lopez via Google Photosphere

After hours, we reach a portentous vista. The rock face looms high, striated in waves as though scraped violently by some giant’s nails. Above, scraggly pine trees sneer down, sentries threatening any climbers breaching the pocked cliff. Before us, thick bushes could conceal myriad lurking enemies.

Everything centers around a vicious crack in the rock, a triangular cave mouth. The cold, piercing darkness beckons me. I step forward—

I backhanded my cousin’s arm. “Oh, come off it! Are you seriously going to describe everything we pass?”

Berga squinted dramatically, fingering the knife at his belt. Imagining it a sword, no doubt. At his earnest expression, I softened. “It sounded quite heroic. You’re definitely improving. But we’re late, and my wife is scarier than anything in there.”

My companion’s will falters. I dare not advance alone. But, I vow, I shall return.

I chuckled. My fault for traveling with a bard-in-training.

Word count: 150. Written for this week’s What Pegman Saw challenge. Big thanks to Josh and Karen for hosting this fun writing prompt challenge! This week, Pegman takes us Happy Jack, Arizona. What a great name! Click on the link to see the images other writers found, and read the stories they inspired. And feel free to join in!

This week’s story was inspired by having recently finished listening to the fantasy epic Eragon. Just book 1 of the series, mind you, but that was 16 hours. Listening for that long got me into a certain rhythm… The young author of that book never imagined a person, place, or object that he didn’t think worthy of at least a sentence of description — preferably three or five — regardless of whether it was important to the story. (Hint: it almost certainly wasn’t.) I tried writing in that style, but I’m afraid I failed to fully convey it. Maybe a good sign?  Or I’m a poor impressionist, either way.  Check out my review on Goodreads for my extended opinion.

Extra credit for anyone who gets what I was aiming at with the title of this story.


26 thoughts on “Practicing Bardom

    • Thanks Josh! Except in this case, my efforts at parody have oddly backfired. He is NOT one of my favorite authors, and the fact that he describes every little thing got extremely annoying – and is the main reason the book is so epic-ly long. In the first scene, for instance, he describes at great length what three elf riders look like, down to the design on one’s helmet and the sigils on their weapons… only to have two of them die in the next paragraph and never be heard of again, and none of those details are relevant ever again. And every time our MC walked into a room, every object in the room had to be described. Sigh…


  1. Dear Joy,

    This was a fun read. It made me think a little of Stranger than Fiction when Will Ferrell starts hearing a voice narrating his life. (A great writer’s movie if you haven’t seen it.) At any rate, I enjoyed the voices and the cousin, the bard in training. Well done.

    Shalom and good health,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Rochelle! Oh yes, I did enjoy that movie, and that’s an interesting parallel — the bard who’s automatically describing everything he sees, in case it’s important for some epic tale later.


  2. Hahaha! I love your parody! I wondered what was going on at ‘portentous vista’ (I mean, come on…) and even more at ‘scraped violently by some giant’s nails’! Not your style at all, I thought (not nearly as good as your usual descriptions). And I laughed out loud when you back-handed your cousin’s arm and I realised it was all a joke. That was really well done, Joy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Penny, I’m so glad you got it! And I’m especially glad I added “portentous”, as that was a last-minute revision. It’s hard to write humor and get it across. I envy people who can do it well. But it’s fun to play at it once in a while.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Like the others, this one made me smile. Liked your playing with this writing style. It hit me a bit later that, this would be a fun character or subplot in a longer work, the bard-in-training. Would be great for the comedic effect if not overdone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad it made you smile, Louis! And yes, I can see fitting this character into another story. Although I think I would *have* to overdo it — that’s what funny about him, and why he exasperates all the other characters! 🙂


  4. I loved the tone of this, Joy. So very well written. Made me chuckle.

    I’ve only read the first book in that trilogy. I liked it well enough, but not enough it seems to continue with. And having read your review on Goodreads, I have to agree with everything you said. It was spot on! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sammi, glad it worked for you! And yes, I agree that reading the first book in the trilogy is more than sufficient. Besides, I can already pretty much guess what happens in the rest of the books, and I think they’re even longer than the first! Whew… Thanks for reading my Goodreads review; it’s nice to think that writing those is more than just a personal exercise in processing the material. 😉 (Hm, speaking of, I have a serious backlog of reviews to get to.)

      Liked by 1 person

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