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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Plot's Afoot

Trifecta Challenge 66: "Doctor"

Like the flickering torchlight, high-pitched muttering licked the shadowy corners of the stone-hewn room.

“He’ll never know the doctor’s in the batter, will he? No!” breathed the alchemist.
For months, he’d been adding the subtle agent to the breading that coated the king’s nightly snack of fried fish – just a few more grains of the powder each day – and his wandering eye, which all thought blind, had espied the signs of the poison in action. The sovereign had paled these last few weeks, and in his hair and beard, more grey had appeared.

“Before your time, before your time…” The alchemist worked the pestle slowly, rhythmically in the mortar.

He couldn’t stop the tyrant from claiming in marriage the young princess from the neighboring kingdom, but he could make sure no heir came from their union.

“Last of your line, last of your line…” The wizened man was singing now, crooning to his lethal preparations.

“Here now,” hissed the cook, arriving at the chamber’s half-open door. “Stop that infernal whining. Anyone could hear. Anyone. You’ll give us away, damn your bones!”
The cook was fat, and ever-flustered and cross. He flounced past the oval table in the center of the room, jostling its racks of flasks and pipettes into a tinkling little symphony, and pulled up behind the alchemist, peering over the frail old man’s hunched shoulders.

“You’ve ground it fine enough,” he growled. “Now shift it to the paper. There’s no time left. The fish is cut.”

The alchemist tipped the mortar over an envelope he’d made of a sheet of writing paper and, trading the pestle for a slim blade, carefully shifted the contents.

“The fish is cut, the fish is cut…” sang the alchemist simple-mindedly.

“Yes, yes, you daft old git. Now give us the paper.”

The cook snatched the envelope, and without another word, exited the chamber.

The alchemist stood and rinsed his hands at a small sideboard basin.

“Perhaps… But this daft old git will outlive the king!”


  1. I'm very impressed with your story. The characters came to life through you words. That's not BS either. Wonderful words like 'flounced' and 'wizened'... and the pestle being worked 'rhythmically' in the mortar. Correct use of 'doctor'... I thought you were going for the other definition near the end, but you fooled me. This is the kind of story you want to keep reading.

  2. I like how you had the alchemist repeating words and phrases, like casting a spell. Like Tedstrutz, I enjoyed your word choices too, "wizened" and "daft old git."

  3. I like this! Reminds me a bit of The Eyes of the Dragon. (:

  4. Absolutely loved this! I could just hear the alchemist singing a bit madly!

  5. jostling its racks of flasks and pipettes into a tinkling little symphony
    Agreed, your words really bring this piece to life.

  6. I, too, love your word choices, especially the descriptions of the cook and his actions.

  7. loved the allusion to his wandering eye . . . a different take on the modern usage. :)

  8. I love the voices and characters you've created. I feel like I'm in the room with them and following an interesting plot. Wonderful job.

  9. Such interesting, colorful characters! I liked this story a lot.

  10. The alchemist kind of scared me :) I liked how you were able to work in a good reason as to why they would want the king dead. It made me root for the poison to do the trick.

  11. wonderful word choices... i can really see the characters and play the scene in my head.

  12. A royal conspiracy involving the cook & the alchemist-ah,loved it:-)Wonderfully captivating!


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