Day 3: No Exit

Author Jenna Eatough's Flash Fiction Story from Fyrecon's Fyretober Writing Prompt 2023-10-01

During October I am bringing you extra flash fiction or poetry in celebration of the season and inspired by Fyrecon’s Fyretober!.

Enjoy my third entry into Fyrecon’s Fyretober!

Fyrecon's Fyretober Daily Prompt List

1. New neighbors
2. It’s Alive
3. No Exit
4. Walk in the cemetery
5. Door in the wall
6. Mirror
7. Space visitors
8. The Monster Is
9. Anti-magic costumes
10. Skeleton’s battle cry
11. Djinn party
12. Space dwarves
13. Zombie fireball
14. Possessed guild house
15. Lorekeeper’s mask
16. Dragon sight
17. Alien scryers
18. Trick-or-Treating Shapeshifters
19. Disguised spellbook
20. Screaming trapdoor
21. Ghost weaponsmith
22. Jack-O’-Lantern avatars
23. Pheonix light sail
24. Sparkle castle
25. Graveyard pocket universe
26. Sentient wand
27. Haunted Skyhook
28. Pirate space elevator
29. Disguised terraforming
30. The Witches’ Laws
31. Precognizant cats

Bonus Fanged griffin

Dameron cursed himself for a fool for ever wanting to be a World Master. Once he had thought joining the erudite ranks would be an honor. A privilege. Few were blessed with magic and wit enough to master such lore. He, like his fellow students, had spent countless nights working to become a World Master. And he alone from his class had been chosen. A rarity in any class for any to achieve. And Dameron had been selected to progress along the path.

The overly bright and loud voices congratulating him at the announcement of his selection and bestowment of a World Master’s staff had drifted away now. They’d marveled briefly over the sleek black lines marking his new appointment, but even that novelty couldn’t hold their attention long. Not when they had their own masters to follow. His once fellow students strode knowingly down the path of healing, or down the path of war. Even down the path of life. Each path followed by multiple acolytes who would have commandry. Dameron stood alone. Why had he strived to become a World Master?

His excitement had been dampened by the fact that his master had not led him toward the chambers of the World Masters. A path Dameron could not guess where lay. The other paths had always been clearly laid out, but not a World Masters.

His Master had not led him away, however. Instead, the man simply stood in the chamber as the others filed out of the rotunda beneath the dome. The sunlight trickling down on them was surely beautiful and enchanting to watch while the last of the students drifted through the multiple arched doorways leading from the chamber. Dameron wanted to move. To begin his acolyte training. The others would be beginning their varied specialties as well. But his master did nothing.

Finally, the last echoes faded from outside the walls, and Dameron and his new master were well and truly alone. The man moved finally stiffly and with small jerking motions as if breaking through a skin of stone covering him. And that movement proved slight. The master lifted his staff an inch from the ground and thrust it downward.

Dameron still felt the echoing thud and surge of power which flowed from the staff. The power swept across the floor and pooled over the doorways, covering each arch entirely. Magic settled in them, glowing and glimmering. Dameron gasped realizing the master had created pathways to other worlds before him. His first glimpse of his powers to come. He turned toward his master prepared to ask how he’d been shown this so quickly. Dameron could still taste the magic and, as if memorizing a novice spell, committed it to memory. He’d always excelled at tasting magic and knowing it.

Dameron almost asked, but, before he could utter a word, the Master scratched his thumbs and fore finger along his chin and grinned. “I’ll see you when you figure which way to go.” With that, he tapped his staff twice more upon the stones and vanished in another swirl of light, leaving Dameron in the chamber alone.

Dameron curiosity had not kept him standing still long. He approached the doorways, glancing at them, but they all were identical lights. Find which way to go? How was he to choose when he had received no instruction?

He dipped the tip of his staff through a doorway at random. Nothing tugged upon it. Nor could Dameron feel the slightest movement through it. He pulled it back to marvel at the white frost and snow sticking distinctly to it. Dameron didn’t know where that doorway lead, but, glancing down at his lightweight novice robes, he doubted he was prepared for such a frigid locale.

Why? Why had his master done this to him? Why had Dameron left him trapped in the rotunda with the doorways covered in portals to other realities? Other worlds. True, he had been selected a World Master. World Master. He’d been selected for that path, but they had yet to train him in the slightest.

True enough, he’d studied long and hard. He’d gathered countless tomes from the library and read well into the night when the other novices slumbered in their beds. Dameron couldn’t recall the last time he hadn’t spent half a day yawning after a night researching and reading. He’d done everything he could to prepare, to be attractive to the World Masters. But this?

World Masters had to be powerful, and Damon had always been one proteges of his group.

World Masters had to have their wits. He’d learned he’d studied. He’d grown greatly since he’d first arrived in a train of others swept up to study.

Did the masters expect him to figure this out on his own as well?

How long could they leave him standing here?

Dameron placed a hand over his stomach as it rumbled. He’d skipped breakfast that morning. The nerves of the selection day had gotten at him, and he hadn’t thought he could keep any food down. Now he wished he had, or at least taken a morsel to nibble on later. He’d grown so hungry he swore he could smell fresh apples. How long could they leave him waiting?

Dameron rose and circled about the rotunda again. He tapped his staff beside each doorway. As his badge of office there had to be something to it. If he could only figure out what. Nothing felt different he could tell.

He placed his hand before the portals and tried to feel the power, but each felt identical. They were portals made of magic, but that told him nothing of what lay beyond them. He glanced at the puddle of water where he had shaken the snow and frost from his staff before. The staff had survived that well enough.

Dameron didn’t know what else to do, so he pushed the tip of his staff through the doorway he stood before now. When he withdrew it this time, the black bore a depth of red within it as if it had begun heating within a blacksmith’s forge. That portal wouldn’t do.

Dameron turned away and scurried back to the center of the chamber. Looking between the doorways, Dameron shook his head. His master would see him when he’d found his way? Ha! Dameron would never find his way.

Resting his staff against the ground, Dameron raised a hand and rubbed his temples. His master would see him when he found his way home. Four six years, he’d known no home but here. None of those worlds were a home he could envision. He didn’t want to wander into one and find himself dead.

How long could they leave him?

Dameron stopped and tightened his finger around his staff. No, not how long could they leave him? The World Master controlled the pathways between worlds. True, but he had not exited through the door. He had wrapped his staff upon the stone and allowed power to flow, but to where? Magic must go somewhere it could no more vanish than the floor he stood upon.

Scoffing at himself, Dameron shook his head. They had not left him. He had refused to see.
Dameron cast a quick spell to alter his vision from the world to magic. Wrapped within power, his new master stood in the same spot as before nibbling on an apple and leaning against his staff idly.

“World Master. This place is home. I am to meet you here, yes?”

The World Master blinked, looked at him, took another bite of the apple, and tossed it aside. Snapping his fingers, he dropped the cloak from about him. A simple spell Dameron should have recognized far sooner. So much for his great wits.

“Well, you figured that one out faster than I expected.” Dameron blinked at the man. “Aye, here is home, and here we’ll begin. Had to make sure you’d wits enough about you to figure blundering through unknown gateways was daft.”

The World Master tapped his staff again and the gateways vanished. “And you’d even enough sense not to lose a limb before you figured out the obvious. Ha!” He turned and started thumping his way toward one of the now harmless doors. “You coming?” he called without looking back.

“I don’t understand.”

“Thought it would be obvious to you by now.” The man turned back and shook his head.

Dameron glanced around, his eyes widening. “Being a World Master means knowing when not to go.” He’d meant it as a question, but it came out as a statement.

The World Master grinned and nodded. “I knew you were a smart one.”

Be sure to check out all the #fyretober creations.

#fyretober2023 #fyretoberflashfiction2023 #fyretoberprompts2023 #fyretober2023day4

“Fyretober is for everyone who loves to create, and this month we’re looking to see your flash fiction, poetry, and illustrations every day. We’ll be providing daily prompts for the month and want to see what new concepts and wonders you can make with them.”

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