About the time I was starting up HTRYN, I got a copy of Holly Lisle’s Create a World Clinic, but with the idea that I wouldn’t do much with it until after HTRYN. After one particularly frustrating week of revision, I pulled out the book over the weekend and began working through it, just to give me something different to do.
That became my sanity saver over the last few months of revision. Monday through Friday, I worked on Battle of the Bargaws, but on Saturday and Sunday, if the mood took me, I did an exercise or two from Create a World. I let my Muse (Holly Lisle’s preferred term in referring to the creative, subconscious part of the brain) out of her box to play.
The first exercise spawned a story idea for the famous blacksmith in my Mysera world . One of the next exercises spawned something completely different. In the exercise, you come up with three specific elements (through a process Holly walks you through), then you write a short story of at least 350 words.
My elements were a dry, hot prairie setting, a red and brown platter, and a tan colored dog/lion beast that moved. My brain provided the rest as I wrote. It had absolutely nothing to do with Mysera, or any other world I’ve ever created.
And I’m kinda curious about it. Whatever this world is, I may have to dig a little deeper into it later.
[PLEASE NOTE: Other than some spelling fixes, this is completely unedited and raw writing. I haven’t polished this up in any way.]
The air shimmered in rippling waves across the drying grasses. The sun beat on the back of her neck, prickly with heat and sweat. She didn’t move from her crouch. Her dark eyes didn’t dare to blink.
Nether did the eyes of the tan beast who lay not far from her, one pointed ear flicked her direction. On a rounded stone between them sat an old pottery serving dish. Red and brown streaks from the ancient plate seemed to blend with and welcome the blood of the prairie pheasant that lay dead on the platter.
The bird was freshly killed, but already flies swarmed around, drawn by the smell of blood in the air.
A line of sweat tickled down her spine, yet she did not dare move.
The air smelled of fear, blood and drying grass. She knew it was her fear that she smelled, and it made her all the more afraid. The blind wise woman had warned her. She had told her she must not show fear. To show fear would keep the beast away, or worse, prompt him to attack.
Her eyes watered, though not from fear, but from the fact that she hadn’t blinked them in so long. She’d met eyes with the beast and could not look away.
Just like that, it was gone. She swore she could still see the outline of where it had been, but the living, breathing form was gone.
“No,” she croaked, her mouth long dry from sitting in the heat of the summer sun. “Come back! I need you.”
Her plea blew away like dust on the wind.
She bowed her head, tears leaking out to spill down her cheeks. She’d failed. She’d had one chance and one alone, and she had failed.
The girl wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, lifted her head, and froze.
The prairie pheasant was gone.
The blood on the platter was gone.
Not a feather remained.
Slowly, she went from a low, hiding crouch to her feet, through she straightened only enough to peer over the grasses. She looked over the rippling waves, searching for a contrary ripple that would pinpoint the taker of the partridge.
Then a hot breath woofed against the back of her neck.
She’d never heard it move. Not when it had vanished, or when it had snatched the bird. or even now, when it stood behind her.
A cold nose pressed against her neck, and she didn’t even twitch.
Granted, a voice said.
The beast vanished again.