Quick explanation: A few Christmases back I was given a “Writer Emergency Pack” deck of cards. This included a set of prompts. So I’m going to go through and follow them, to the best of my ability. Some of these will end up being parts of my works in progress, others will be standalone stories, depending entirely on my mood.
Let me know what you think of it!
This is Prompt #12: Too much can be worse than too little. Overwhelm your hero with more than he can handle.
(After a particular victory, Dar finds himself with more positive attention than he’s ever gotten in his life. Naturally, his instinct is to run for it.)
Dar had a bag halfway packed before he even really knew what he was doing. The “why” of it didn’t matter as much as the realization that his reflexes still pointed him at the open road. He stopped immediately, of course. No reason for him to leave. He had a solid place at court, especially after that latest victory.
(He ignored the whisper reminding him that he’d always been the type to run from responsibilities.)
Probably just as well that Betheine dragged him off to the celebratory feast before he could talk himself into taking a long ride on the countryside. It was a magnificent spread, at least. The queen was in the rare mood for a party, and the court was taking full advantage of the opportunity to show off their finest. The cooks rivaled their passion for the event, sending out extravagant dishes and elegant trays. The decor was the standard stuff, but it wasn’t as if the staff had enough time beforehand to prepare anything unique.
Dar still felt like an outsider, even though the reason for the party was ostensibly to honor him and his success. It didn’t belong to him. Not to his head, or heart.
It was his niece who saved the evening. Amiera was too small for an event like this, but as a princess it wasn’t a surprise that she made an appearance early in the evening. At scarcely two and a half she was already twice as charming as both her parents put together, with her wide smiles and happy laughs.
(Which was not to say he thought either of them terrible people, just terribly serious and aware of their positions at all time.)
Dar danced with her twice, before the nannies took her away to bed. He made her laugh louder than anyone, spinning her around and keeping her tiny feet sweeping through the air more than they touched the ground. It was his solemn duty as her uncle to make sure that she didn’t end up half as sad and severe as her mother had, once upon a time. The queen smiled now, but it was a hard won victory, for her to be happy in public.
When the evening was done, he went back to his rooms, and stared at the bag. In the end, he didn’t unpack it. Just shoved it in the back of a closet. Someday he’d leave again, for a time. But for now he was staying, and perhaps if he did, the need to run and hide would fade.
(That’s it. Dar wasn’t being super cooperative when I wrote this, but that’s not surprising since I’m not up to this part quite in writing his novel.)