"Your prose prompt for the week is simple:
In front of you (or a character) is a golden egg and a silver cube. You are told (by who?) that one holds the power of life and one holds the power of death, but you don't know which is which. You are also told that you must choose one. Which one do you choose? Why? Is it what you hoped?
What happens next?"
I used the Warriors of Euphoria because, frankly, it's the sort of situation I would expect them to run into. If Niki or Del (does anyone know what's up with Del? I have not spoken to her in years!) have objections with me using Perijewel or Syl, they know where to hunt me down.
Layla watched the four figures advancing on the mouth of her cave. She was hidden in shadow, but she could see them quite clearly. The first to approach was loud, and clearly thought herself the leader. She was not the sort to catch your eye, for she was of unimpressive height and willowy build. In her short blonde hair were two reddish streaks that were bright against the pale yellow, and as she stomped towards the cave she twirled one end of a reddish lock around her finger.
Following right behind her, hopping from stone to stone, was a tiny girl who’s pointy ears twitched every time she jumped into the air. Although extraordinarily pale she showed no signs of burning as she played in the sun. Layla squinted at the girl’s long pointed ears. The child wasn’t a native of the area. The witch couldn’t even guess the country to which the girl was native.
Bringing up the rear was a tall woman with a thick auburn braid running down her back, smacking against the leather backpack she carried with a steady, even beat. She carried her long sword unsheathed, and her eyes scanned the landscape constantly.
The first two girls had arrived at the cave and were staring about. The blonde one dug up a dirty, heavily creased bit of parchment and frowned at it. “Does this look right to you, Peri?” she asked her companion, pointing at a smudge on the paper.
“I’m sure you wouldn’t guess wrong,” Peri replied, unwilling to admit that she couldn’t make head or tail of the smudges and scribbles. The other girl (who happened to be named Cassandra) couldn’t read it either, but to admit this would make her appear foolish, and like all vain people she preferred her flaws remain unknown.
“This is the place we seek. It is the cave under Mayday’s peak,” the third traveler said, joining them.
“Well, if Syl agrees it must be so.” Peri said cheerfully. Cassandra nodded vigorously, and started forward again. Layla decided now would be an excellent time to make her appearance.
A roar rumbled in the depths. It grew louder as it rose from the deepest parts of the mountain, a sound of magnitude growing every second. By the time it reached the mouth of the cave it was deafening, and so strong that it knocked the travelers to the ground.
Syl rolled to her feet instantly, and held the sword up, ready to attack at the slightest movement. Her two companions weren’t as quick, but they soon recovered and were on their feet.
At the mouth of the cave there stood a single woman. Everything about her was extreme, and everything about her was an angle. She had severe cheekbones, a sharp pointed chin, with thin lips and long, thin nose, all of it framed in the high collar of her billowing crimson robe. Her arms were crossed and she stared at them with cold grey eyes.
“I am Cassandra, and I seek the sorceress Mayday. Are you she that has occupied this mountain for centuries?” Cassandra asked. “Are you the one who invented a spell to bring back the spirits of the dead into living, breathing bodies?”
Layla drew a deep breath and seemed to swell, filling the entire mouth of the cave. “I am the one you seek,” she lied. While Layla was not the sorceress Mayday (and frankly doubted she’d ever existed) but all those who work magic for their money learn some form of resurrection spell, and she figured one was as good as another. Besides, unlike sorceresses who were bound to codes of honor, she was a witch, and saw no reason for honesty. “Come with me.” She whirled and was instantly swallowed up into the shadows of her cave. Perijewel looked at Syl, who shrugged, and hurried after the sorceress. Syl followed, grabbing Cassandra’s arm and dragging her along. Cassandra pulled her arm loose and continued to walk, although her steps lacked the certainty they’d had in the daylight.
Layla led them through many twists and turns, dimly lighting the paths with a dust that scattered off her dress and hovered in the air in clumps, illuminating the dank place. At last they arrived in a huge cavern, the ceiling so high that none of them could see it, and Layla took Cassandra’s hand and led her to the center. She stopped the girl in front of a large black cauldron, which was filled with a odorless dark liquid.
“You are the leader?” Layla asked as she reached into one sleeve and withdrew a small vial. She emptied it the contents into the pot. Cassandra nodded. “Prick your finger with this knife” and Layla handed the girl a brassy blade with a dragon’s head on the hilt “and let the drops fall in.” Cassandra did as she was told. The concoction in the pot began to boil when the blood hit it, and bubbled merrily.
Layla stepped away and flung out her arms, and from the cauldron two objects rose to the surface of the frothing liquid. “Cassandra,” she challenged, pointing at the girl before her, “Before you there is an egg and a box. The shell is unbroken and the box is locked tight, so there is no way to see the contents. Before you there is life and death. Choose correctly and you choose life, and your potion will be made. Choose death and your search will be in vain.
“You may touch these, and examine them with your hands, but no tools may be used. Open one, and your life and the lives of your companion are forfeit. No one can help you make this decision. Which do you choose, the egg or the box?”
Cassandra stared blankly at the two items floating before her. On the left was the egg, about the size of a pear, golden and glowing. On the right was an exquisite silver box, perfect cube shaped, and heavily engraved with fierce dragons and beautiful birds. As plain and simple as the eggshell was, the box was ornate with jewels scattered all over. She glanced up at the sorceress, but Layla’s fierce gaze revealed nothing. She started to turn to her companions –
“ALONE!” bellowed the witch, her voice echoing through the vast cavern.
“This is to be our tomb.” Syl muttered to Perijewel. “We’re doomed.”
“Cassandra might guess right.” Perijewel replied hopefully. Syl snorted.
Cassandra held the two objects, one in each hand. The egg was light and cool, while the box was warm and heavy. The silver box was highly polished, and fractured the light, filling the cavern with reflected spots on the wall. The egg only possessed a shimmering glow, like the dying embers of a fire. The box rattled when she shook it, while the egg made gentle splashing sounds. The longer she held it, the heavier the box became and the lighter the egg felt.
What’s heavier, life or death? Cassandra wondered, putting the egg and the box back in the cauldron. The fear of death weighed heavy on many souls. But life did too – ask any man whose family was destroyed, a poor fellow without a single thing to his name. There was no greater burden than to continue living.
Cassandra thought and thought, but she wasn’t much of a whiz at it, and it took time. Finally, she picked up the egg.
“In the beginning, chicks are born from eggs. It represents life, for the life of the chick is contained within.” Cassandra held the egg above her head as she spoke. The box vanished.
The witch tilted her head back and cackled, “But the chick shall one day die! You have chosen the fate of that chick! Your choice is DEATH!” Cassandra ran back to Perijewel and Syl, and the three of them cowered in fear as Layla laughed and laughed, glowing like the sun as cracks appeared in the egg’s shell. It shattered, and the witch raised her arms above her head
Only to pitch forward, lifeless as a stone.
Syl cautiously stepped forward and poked the corpse with her sword. “That was unexpected.” Her voice echoed in the cavern as the three warriors stood there awkwardly.
“Well, FUCK.” Cassandra exploded, kicking over Layla’s cauldron and spilling its contents all over the floor. “Now who’s going to make that damn potion?”
Just a fun little writing assignment, written for a bit of amusement, and because I feel bad that I never write anymore. Damn, I'm rusty.