I want to get as good at as @Teryl_Pacieco. They do so much in so little space.

(3/3)

But if her presence, tucked high in her tree, gave it any cause for fear or anger, it did not show it. It ate, it looked, and it disappeared back into the forest, the deep thuds of its plodding pace slowly fading into the distance.

It was enough for her to feed it, and watch it, and be a small part of its story.

And when she went home, she dreamed of deep lakes and dark trees, and smiled because the world was strange and good.

(2/3)

Lumbering, hulking. A tall shell coated in moss and ridged with spikes. Long clawed feet, legs set to the sides like a lizard. A dragon-like head, wedge-shaped but elegant on a long neck. Its scales were mottled blue and green, and its eyes glowed gold, bright and watchful.

It would taste the air with a forked tongue and then sweep its head each way before finally settling in to its meal. Sometimes, before it left it would catch her eyes and stare a long time.

When she found the clawed prints gouged deep into the forest earth, she was afraid, but she was also curious.

So she brought a little food every night, and watched from the boughs of a sturdy oak.

The meet was often carried off by foxes and cats, furtive in their movements. The veg and fruit pecked at by birds that were quick to take off.

But on nights when the sky was clear and the moon cast a silver veil, the creature would come.

(1/3)

'Hi. Welcome to the Make-A-Monster Workshop, where you can literally Make A Friend.'

The greeter's smile was so bright, it looked like it had come with his cheerful blue uniform.

The badge on his breast identified him as Kevin, with a logo in the corner Ash didn't recognise -- at a glance, it seemed to be a lot of very tiny circles pressed close together.

They cleared their throat. 'So ... how does this work?'

Kevin's smile, if possible, seemed to grow wider.

(1/)

(2/2)

It was a hulking, hairy thing of long snout and muscled limbs. It launched itself at them, claws outstretched.

They raised a hand. The beast shot back with a sound like gunfire. It hit the ground a man, hair scattered around him as if he had shed a fur coat.

He blinked up at his saviour, stunned.

'A curse is no reason for bad manners,' they said, lowering their hand. 'Do be more careful where you put your feet in future.'

They swept away without another word.

They approached the thrashing, snarling creature hanging from the snare, calmly dodging claws as long as their fingers and snapping teeth with cruel points.

They spun the creature around and it howled and struggled, but couldn't reach them. They got to work on the snare, glad of the thick gloves that let them touch the sharp wire.

When the wire was at last worked loose, the thrashing creature hit the ground, then rose to its feet. It was easily twice their size.

(1/2)

Raindrops plinked against their synthetic casing. They held up their hand, watching the water make trails across it.

'Surely you've seen rain before,' said their friend.

'Many times,' they replied, still fascinated by the glistening beads on their casing. 'Just never had time to appreciate it before. Because of the directives.'

Their friend smiled. 'Well you've got time now.'

'I've got time now,' they agreed, and lifted their face to the sky.

(2/2)

Instead, they made a decision, because the world can be blamed for your pain but not for your cruelty, and that small and cold spirit inside them still longed to do and be better than what had spawned them.

They turned hunger into hibernation. Pain into transformation. And they embraced the cold because it was beautiful even if it was terrible, and waited for warmer days.

Thus was the Regent of Winter born, and their reign was characterised by hope.

They hungered. Not just for food, though they needed it. Not just for shelter or love, though they wanted it. They were hungry because their spirit was being starved.

The world had taken from them again and again and they were fast becoming a husk. Something thin and twisted and locked away from sun and sanity.

They could feel it happening. It would be easy to become a hag, like so many before them. To take that hunger and turn it into miserable, malicious power.

(1/2)

β€˜It’s just a pigeon,’ said the girl. β€˜Let it die.’

The boy lifted it with gentle hands. It was too weak to struggle. He could feel its heartbeat against his fingertips. β€˜It just needs help, that’s all.’

He nursed it day and night. Warmed it by a lamp, cleaned its wounds. Fed it from his hand. Every day it grew stronger. And larger.

After a week, it was the size of a cat. A month, a dog. It gazed at him with adoring eyes. And one day, it would carry him into the sky.

She saw on TV that ghosts made things cold, and she’d always had chilly feet at night.

So she found a stone with a hole through the middle and she waited under the covers until the chill made her toes curl.

Gently, she sat up, closing one eye and holding the stone up to the other.

Shimmering and thin as a beam of moonlight, the cat stretched and resettled on her feet.

She smiled and went back to bed, careful not to kick.

She’d always wanted a cat.

(2/2)

'I don't know,' said the first. She looked up at the other with haunted eyes. 'Somehow, that's worse than if I did, isn't it? I don't know.'

It was, but she held out her hand to the blood-splattered knight. 'We can talk about it on the way back.'

'You mean to put me on trial.' The disdain in her voice was clear.

'I do. But we can talk about it.'

The knight stiffened, her gaze returning to the wind-tossed waves.

'Okay,' she said.

She sat overlooking the ocean, legs dangling from the clifftop. Her blackened armour was beaded with gore, but her sword was plunged into the earth behind her.

Another woman approached, limping and clutching a spreading wound in her side. In her other hand was a glowing knife.

Without looking around, the first said, 'So you're here to kill me?'

The second hesitated.

'I deserve it,' she added.

'You do,' the second agreed. 'Why did you do it?'

(1/2)

(2/2)

'Needles, too?'

They nodded again.

In spite of herself, she smiled. 'Well, it's always exciting when someone joins the craft. I'll see if I can find something waterproof for you ...'

They curled all their tentacles up and slitted their eyes in delight.

They unfurled a tentacle, blinking their many eyes, and pointed at the brightly coloured rack behind the woman.

She gawped a moment, then regained her composure. 'You're here for yarn?'

They bobbed their bulbous, cephalpodal head, then pointed to the rack to her left.

(1/2)

The cat stood watch at the foot of the bed while his witch thrashed and screamed. An empty glass bottle bounced from the bed to scatter into shards across the floor.

Her flesh roiled, sometimes skin, sometimes scales. Her bones creaked like old wood. And at times, her eyes were wide and full of fire.

The cat understood only a little. He knew she was changing. He knew she was afraid. And he knew he loved her.

So he kept watch and waited to see what she would become.

Wandering Shop

The Wandering Shop is a Mastodon instance initially geared for the science fiction and fantasy community but open to anyone. We want our 'local' timeline to have the feel of a coffee shop at a good convention: tables full of friendly conversation on a wide variety of topics. We welcome everyone who wants to participate, so long as you're willing to abide by our code of conduct.