Writing Prompt #1: The King

Note: Don’t forget, if you like this story and want to know what happens next, leave a comment requesting more! My aim is to revisit the stories with the highest demand and add more to them.

I just purchased a book called 5,000 WRITING PROMPTS: A Master List of Plot Ideas, Creative Exercises, and More by Bryn Donovan, and I thought this might be a fun place to start my fantasy writing. What I did for this prompt was pick two from her list of settings and then took the whole first page of dialogue and put it all together. I think I’ll share the dialogue with you upfront so you can look for it as you read, but I’ll post the settings at the bottom so that I don’t spoil anything for anyone that wants to kind of keep it a mystery. My big goal here was to get at least 1,000 words for today… I did 2,528. I think I missed the finish line. :/

So here we go! I look forward to thoughts and feedback. Feedback is how we grow and improve our craft.

Dialogue Prompts Used

  • “Ma’am, is this your dog?”
  • “No, it’s really not that complicated. He’s a bad person.”
  • “Hey…what’s wrong with your face?”
  • “The king is missing.”
  • “Ah yes, come in. Close the door behind you.”
  • “Dude. It’s three in the morning.”
  • “Um, sorry. That one’s not for sale.”

Donovan, Bryn. 5,000 WRITING PROMPTS: A Master List of Plot Ideas, Creative Exercises, and More (p. 245). Munds Park Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The King

Jacob lurched upright in his bed. Someone was pounding frantically on his apartment door. “Alright! Alright! I hear you!” He tossed the wool blankets off of himself and shrugged into a wool jacket instead. He had worn his weatherproof leggings to bed which were meant for layering under his winter clothes. They were perfect for fighting off the nighttime chill but hugged his body in a way that was perhaps a bit too form fitting for greeting company. He zipped his jacket up and then pulled it down in the front before heading for the door.

“Hurry up!” A feminine voice called from the other side.

“Make me.” Exhaustion was making him clumsy, and he fumbled with the multiple locks.

“Come on!” Angela hissed. He knew it was Angela before ever getting the door open. He would be able to recognize that voice if it were whispering underwater. Jacob and Angela had grown up only a wall apart and had spent most of their lives at each other’s family apartments.

“Dude. It’s three in the morning.” Jacob complained as the last lock turned, “This is as much ‘hurry’ as you’re going to get out of me.” He pulled open the door. Angela looked like she’d just returned from a scouting mission. She was fully dressed in snow pants, a fur jacket over layers of wool, and hiking boots. All of which were already covered in snow that was starting to melt. Water was dripping out of the blonde hair tied in a knot atop her head and was running in rivulets down her face and neck. Aside from the rosy flush in her features from either the cold or exertion, she was also sporting a mean bruise on her left cheek.

Jacob frowned, confused not just from the violent way he’d been pulled from a deep sleep, but from her violent demeanor. “Hey…what’s wrong with your face?”

Angela ignored his question and spat out the words that had been pressing at the inside of her teeth, “The King is missing.”

“What?!” Jacob exclaimed, stepping aside so the girl could enter his room. She hurried in and began to strip off her outer layers of wet clothing to hang on the drying racks in front of the dark hearth. Jacob scowled as he saw the scruffy wolf-mutt crossbreed following on her heels. The dog had been glued to Angela’s side ever since she’d saved him from freezing to death on the surface level. The pup was the last alive after his mother had been killed by some unknown means. He had been curled up between Mother’s body and the bodies of his siblings when Angela’s scouting party had stumbled upon them. She had stuffed him in her jacket for warmth and nursed him on goats milk when she’d gotten him back to camp. She’d named him Heldig, the Norwegian word for lucky. Ironically enough, the name was fitting in English as well. The mutt was a menace.

As soon as the shaggy gray dog was inside, he shook out his wet coat, splattering dirty dog water all over Jacob’s room. He’d have winced if he wasn’t so used to it by now. Jacob shut the door and moved to build a fire. “Angela, talk to me, what the hell happened?”

“They got him, Jacob. They have been threatening for months, I just never thought they’d have the balls to go through with it. Sven fell asleep on his watch again. I knew he would, so I decided to show up to my shift early and play a little trick on him. Good thing I did too because I caught them in the act. Didn’t do a whole lot of good, but at least I saw them! I know exactly who took him. It was Nick Lowery and his gang of greedy meatheads.”

“Jesus. And I assume you tried to stop them by yourself?” He spat accusatorily as he threw logs into the hearth.

“Well I wasn’t just going to let them walk off with him, now was I?”

“That’s exactly what you should have done. So, has Peter assembled a party yet? Are we going to get him back?” Jacob asked as the flames began to flicker into life in the hearth.

Angela looked at him dumbfounded as she worked on freeing her hair from its knot. “Well, no. I haven’t told anyone else yet. Just you.”

“What!? Angela, you have to tell Peter! We need to go after them before their tracks get filled in!” Jacob rushed to his dresser now and began digging for clothes.

Angela snorted as she stood with arms akimbo, “We don’t need to track them. They’re just going to take him back to their compound.” The more agitated she became, the more theatrically she began to gesticulate, with her face, shoulders, and hands all jumping into the act. “It’s not like these people are clever. Besides, Peter will make a whole show out of it and try to enter into some long-winded, politically correct, negotiation tactic, and all the while they will have The King in their breeding paddocks stealing what should have cost them a fortune.” She finished with a vulgar gesture that only provoked an eye-roll from Jacob.

The King was the prized stud Mammoth of the compound. Part of the UGWI’s early steps had been to bring back the wooly mammoth from extinction. The UGWI stands for The Urgent Global Warming Initiative, a title that now held the bitter sting of irony to it. When the Earth’s climate had become so unstable that those still living on it had been forced underground, the World’s governments were forced to take action or, unfortunately, perish. Today, only about 90 of the once 192 countries still existed, and all were underground.

After the UGWI’s plans worked and then backfired, mammoth became the new number one commodity sought after by the entire planet. When the New Ice Age set in, and the Earth went from natural disasters and unlivable heat to being covered pole to pole in ice, scientist cloned up a new batch of mammoths using artificial wombs. These mammoths could live on the surface of the planet and even helped grind down the fields and break up the ice where they were kept in enormous paddocks. These paddocks (once the mammoths were rotated into a new pasture) could also be tilled in the springtime, and some of the more cold-resistant crops could be grown there. Genetically engineered mammoth meat was also largely more nutrient-rich than cow meat, which was fortunate because the only cows left were the aurochs, brought back from the dead by The Auroch Project. These cows were big, mean, and far from domesticated and not nearly large enough yet in number to be hunted in large scale. Mammoth skin had also become the best option for clothes worn on the surface levels. The hides were heavy, but they required fewer layers under them, meaning scouts, hunters, and field workers could move around a little easier. Humankind now owed everything it had to the mammoth, and the best stud belonging to Jacob’s commune had just been stolen.

The King had been the communes first mammoth to be born, not cloned, and with no birth defects, he’d been introduced into their start-up breeding program. To date, he has sired twelve perfectly healthy calves and has brought in nearly a quarter million electronic funds in stud services all by himself. Communes come from all over the map, traveling by foot, driving their herd of cow mammoths, for the hope of breaking free of the expensive process of cloning.

“So what’s your plan then?” Jacob asked as he pulled his snow pants on over his leggings. “You just going to walk down there by yourself and demand the King be returned?”

“No, dummy, why do you think I woke you up?” Angela had grabbed Jacobs comb off his sink and was running it through her wet hair. This, too, would have made Jacob cringe if he were not already used to it. Heldig was sitting in front of the fireplace licking himself dry as loudly as was physically possible.

“I was afraid of that,” Jacob groaned. He pulled on several more layers before moving to lace up his boots. “So who’s watching the paddocks now that you’ve abandoned your shift on this vigilante mission?”

She was tying her hair back up into its knot now, Jacob’s comb clenched between her teeth as she spoke. This did make Jacob wince. “I’m not a vigilante, my job is to protect the mammoths, and that’s what I’m doing. And Sven. I made Sven cover my shift as punishment for falling asleep again.”

Jacob scoffed as he grabbed his scouting pack and shoved his gloves into his pocket. Angela pulled her furs back on as well, even though they were still as wet as they had been when she’d entered. Jacob swung his door open and the trio set out into the hall.

Whatever Jacob had been about to say next was then drowned in a voice which bellowed like a cement mixer, “And where do you two think you’re going?” The voice inquired. Jacob muttered a soft prayer while Angela swore audibly. When they turned, they were met with 6’7″ worth of strong man.

“Derrick,” Angela growled. Derrick stood a solid 6 inches over Jacob, and while Jacob clearly took care of his physique, Derrick looked like he’d fought his way out of a mammoth to enter this world. The guy was all muscle and veins with a Viking’s beard and a full head of curly brown hair that made Jacob’s thin golden hair and broken beard feel profoundly self-conscious.

“Angela,” The Viking rumbled back, “I hear you lost yourself a mammoth.”

Angela’s chin shot up, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Derrick’s eyebrow shot up, “Oh I think you do. You see, Sven sat at your post for a grand total of five minutes before the guilt took him over. He went straight to Peter, and by extension to me, given as I’m the one who had to wake Peter up to tell him. Given as I had yet to see you, I figured I knew right where you had gone off to. Thought I’d save you a whole lot of stupid decisions and head you off. Peter is waiting for you.” He extended an arm indicating they should follow him. The pair exchanged glances before Angela stormed forward, stomping her feet as she went. It was a trait she’d picked up at the age of six and had never entirely outgrown. Jacob scowled and followed in her wake.

Two hallways, a recreation room, and a receptionist room later, Derrick ushered the two into a sitting room and barked, “Wait.” He disappeared into a side room as Jacob sat down on an animal skin sofa.

Angela, however, paced the room growling. “I should have known better! Sven is a total flake. Of course, he went straight to Peter! Uugh, I am so stupid to think he’d just sit there! I can’t believe this. Now those asshats have exactly what they wanted! They win now! They’ve won!”

There came, at that moment, the soft sound of a throat clearing in the doorway they’d just walked through, “Ma’am, is this your dog?” A night receptionist, the ones who handle any nighttime emergencies in the compound such as disruptive residents, water leaks or sewage emergencies, was leaning into the room. They were stationed outside of Peter’s living quarters in case the emergency was urgent enough to warrant his immediate attention. Derrick was also generally stationed there in case the emergency needed some muscle. The girl had a round face with soft features that were creased with worry as she pointed over her shoulder.

Angela glowered at her in a silent dare. Then, in a volume that made the girl jump, she shouted, “Heldig!” The mutt came trotting into the room, wagging its tail in the ignorantly happy way only a dog could do.

“Sorry,” The receptionist said in her timid voice, “It’s just that he was staring at me while I ate my lunch and I wasn’t – he seemed -“

Jacob smiled at her, “When you have food he looks at you like you’re next on the menu. He does the same thing to me. Thank you, we’ll make sure he stays in here with us.” The girl smiled at him warmly and thanked him before ducking back to her desk.

Derrick returned, “He’ll see you now.” He walked past them and out into the receptionist room. Angela groaned and stomped towards the door Derrick had just walked through. Jacob got up and followed her with Heldig on his heels. The door opened into a small foyer that ended in another door. Angela knocked.

“Who is it?” Peter called.

“Angela!” She shouted as she turned the knob and swung the door open without waiting for further formalities. Peter looked up from his desk. Sven was sitting on the other side slumped forward in his seat and looking like a chastised child. Peter looked about as tired as Jacob felt. Peter’s fingers were steepled before him as he looked up and took in Angela, “Ah yes, come in. Close the door behind you.” He said. Jacob, being the last to enter, did just that before moving forward to stand behind the seat Angela had huffed down into.

“Peter, why the hell are we wasting time in here when we should be going after them?!” Angela barked as she slid down in the seat like an impatient teenager.

Oh, now she wants to rush, Jacob thought. Peter held up a hand in Angela’s direction while looking at Sven. “And what did you tell Nick that day when he proclaimed he wanted to buy The King?”

Sven shot a terrified glance at Angela, his face covered in sweat, “Um, sorry. That one’s not for sale.”

“Do you think you were clear with him?” Peter asked. He said each word as if it had been chosen with deliberate care, not a syllable rushed.

Sven nodded like a bobblehead.

“Then why, in your opinion, do you think Nick would have taken The King tonight?”

“Maybe they didn’t like being told no?” Sven stammered.

“Do you suppose someone else could have sold him after you had said no?”

Angela, who had never been known for her unyielding self-control, burst out, “No, it’s really not that complicated. He’s a bad person. He stole The King. Can we go get him now?”

But Jacob was watching Peter’s face, and he had noticed the inflection on the word “else.”He dropped a hand on Angela’s shoulder to silence her, “Peter, do you believe someone sold The King under all our noses?”

The heavily lidded eyes turned onto Jacob and took the young man in. Peter’s shoulders raised as he sucked in a breath before answering, “I do. I also believe that means Nick now rightfully owns our prised stud and that taking him back by force would instead make us the thieves. So you see, things are looking rather complicated.”

Setting Prompts

  • A method to reverse global warming worked too well, and now the planet is going through another Ice Age.
  • In this world, people were able to not only train but actually domesticate elephants, and the countries with elephants won all the wars and dominated the world.

Donovan, Bryn (2019-03-10T23:58:59). 5,000 WRITING PROMPTS: A Master List of Plot Ideas, Creative Exercises, and More . Munds Park Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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