Saturday, November 14, 2015

I'm beginning to think your debts are going to cost you more than your life.

I swapped writing dares/prompts with my brother many moons ago. What I gave him turned into a six-page sci-fi thing. (Neither of us knows how to write something short, apparently.)

Later on, he gave me a dare in the form of a piece of dialogue. I didn't have time to use it then, but I finally sat down and splattered a scene across the page this week.

As is often the case with writing prompts, the idea ran away in my imagination to happily sequester itself in my brain's File of Future Novels. As if I didn't have enough to write already! The Brightest Thread, my four-book fantasy work-in-progress, other ideas that can claim more seniority in my File of Future Novels than this little dare, etc. Anyhow. The first line is my brother's; the rest is what followed.

“I’m beginning to think your debts are going to cost you more than your life.”
I paused, playing card balanced between my index and middle fingers, and stared across the tunnel at Shin. He stared back, almond eyes burning dark the way they always did when he tried to sway me. I broke the gaze and laughed long and loud. The sound rattled down the metal-ribbed tunnel, a hollow noise.
Hollow like me.
“You’re just now catching on?” I chuckled. “My debts are such that I could not repay them with a hundred lives.”
Shin folded his leather-clad arms and raised his chin, as if waiting for me to admit my foolishness or produce a brilliant plan to correct it.
In contrast, I slouched lower against the tunnel’s curved wall opposite him, and turned my attention back to the playing card, a king of spades. It flipped back and forth crisply between my fingers. For a moment the only sound was the greyish stream of water running down the middle of the tunnel to some far-off drain.
“Kai, you have but one life like the rest of us. Or have you forgotten?” Shin’s burning eyes cracked his calm demeanor like lava welling up through deep crevices to split the earth. He jabbed a finger in my direction. “And if you don’t do something to pull that life out of the gutter, you’re going to drown and drag all of us with you!”
I folded the card in thirds. “Relax, Shin. You say my debts will cost more than my life, and I agree.” Quickly, I tore a small section out, then paused to grin wickedly. “It will cost me the kingdom.”
Shin’s hands fell to his sides. “You mean to say that after all you’re doing—dishonorably, I might add!—to reclaim your throne, you’re just going to parcel up the kingdom to satisfy your debts the minute you take the crown? You’ll gain nothing.”
“That’s exactly what I’ll do.”
“Thunder smite you, Kai!” Shin turned away and smacked a fist against the wall. The echoing sound was denser than my laugh—it rang with substance.
“And you, my friend, will help me do it.”
Shin cursed.
I stood, brushed grit off my pants, and walked down the tunnel, leaving the torn card on the ground.
“Where are you going?” Shin shouted after me.
I chose not to answer. He would follow eventually. He would see things my way, and then we could go about assembling the resources I’d stirred up over the last eight months. If we moved fast enough, I just might have something to appease the Guild when they came knocking at my door. If not . . . well, Shin was right. What I owed was more than I could pay, even if I were to spill every drop of blood in my veins. Next time the Guild came collecting, I wouldn’t be able to talk my way out.
Too many borrowed coins rode on my shoulders, too many favors, too many lives.
I chanced a peek over my shoulder and smiled. Shin stood in the trickle of water in the middle of the tunnel. He stood perfectly still, staring at something in his hand—the card I’d left.
The card with a torn hole where the king of spade’s face should have been.
I clenched the ripped out face in my own hand. It was time to take my rightful place. Thunder smite me if I failed to do so.


  1. Oh my word, this is awesome! O_O This piece really gripped me from the start. It was so suspenseful and GAH I LOVETH IT SO MUCH! You must write more of this. I will keep pestering you until you do ;)

    1. Eep, thank you so much! I'm flattered that you enjoyed it so much. (Because honestly, this was just something that "happened." I just took the sentence my brother gave me and ran with it. XD)

      Keep pestering me, yes! Kai and Shin have a lot of other voices to contend with right now. ;)

  2. This was so good! I can't wait till I get to read more.

  3. Ooo, this piece is AMAZING, Tracey! I love it! I agree with Mary Horton, you need to write more of it someday, it's SO good!
    ~Savannah Perran

    1. Wow, thanks, Savannah! I'd love to do that. You know, after I clone myself so I can have ten of me working on ALL THE BOOKS. XD

  4. This is great, with damp tunnels and high stakes!
    I also like the combination of reckless Kai and conscientious Shin.

    1. Why thank you, Blue! I enjoy the contrast between them too. (You just summed them up perfectly. o.o I should shove all my charries at you and have you define them.)

  5. This was amazing Tracey, I really liked the style, and the character's your awesome.

  6. Snap, Tracey, this was so good! So much suspense and mystery and now I have like 3000 questions I need answered!
    I can totally relate to having way more novels on the to-write list than I will ever realistically be able to do, too. So many shiny ideas!

    1. D'aww, thank you muchly. I probably have twice as many questions I need answered. XD

      *pets all the shiny ideas* Just you wait. One day we'll both bust out superpowers that let us write everything we have running around in our brains.

    2. Shhhh... no one else is supposed to know about those superpowers! They're the authors's best-kept secrets!
      (And on a completely different side note, is it supposed to be authors' or authors's? I've over-thought it and now they both look wrong.)

    3. Whoops! *shifty eyes* Everyone reading this: you are now sworn to secrecy. XD

      (Author's is singular possessive; authors' is plural possessive. So I think you mean authors'... Haha, I overthink some things and make it look all wrong too! :P)

  7. This sounds cool! Good luck with the story. ^ ^

    1. Thank you! I won't be writing this one for a while, but it'll be fun when I do. ^.^

  8. TRACEY WRITING. *tackles it and devours*

    The whole thing with the card and the king's face being torn out. Just...whoa. o.o

    This was so gooood!!! So...quick and flowing. I don't know. It just reads so easily and real, I felt like I was THERE. And oh man, the intrigue! The problem about these dares is they leave us hanging. D:
    GAH. THIS WAS AMAZING. Huzzah on your brother for prompting you to write such a gripping piece. Also, I love that his turned into six pages. Totally what would happen to me. XD

    Keep this thing tucked safely in that file! Because it NEEDS to become a real novel someday!!! (And, honestly, this is a big reason I hardly ever write dares, because I know they'll want to become a novel and goodness knows I have enough of those that need to be written. o.o)

    One day you're going to be a bestseller! There's no way this talent isn't taking you places. Write more! I need more Tracey-goodness.

    1. *falls over*

      THANK YOU FOR SUCH DARLING WORDS. I shall frolic away in the sunshiney glow of this happiness. XD

      Gah, yes. That is most definitely the problem with dares. It leaves you hanging, and it leaves me wondering how in the world all the things can be written. Somebody find me a speed writing device.
      (LOL, it was a pretty awesome six pages.)

      Yes, ma'am! This little scrap of a story will be kept under lock and key until the time is right. >:D

      Goodness, girl, I hardly know how to respond, except to say THANK YOU again! Your encouragement means so very much.