Tag Archives: trust

Campfire Tales

I’ve been following Eve Estelle since I participated (and won) her writing contest „Raven’s Omen„, recently she started another writing contest and for quite some time I wasn’t sure if I would find the time to participate – thanks to not having my usual drafting time.
But I did – even if it was a different process this time, as I wrote it directly in a document and not on paper first – and now you can read the resulting story, as I submit my entry.

The Prompt

Trust can take years to build, and only seconds to shatter.

The Guidelines

  • Using the above prompt as your basis, craft your own urban legend.
  • Your story should be between 500 and 1300 words in length.
  • You must enter by August 26th, 2016. No entries will be accepted after this date.

The Story

The group sat around a blazing camp fire and filled the forest with laughter.
“Do you remember when he –“, started one of the guys, barely able to talk, his arms‘ motion telling the rest of the sentence.
“Yeah, and then he –“, continued another in a similar fashion.
Their tales continued like this for a few more moments before they eventually settled down. The cracking of the fire and the leaves rustling in the wind were now the most prominent noises.
Grins and smiles still spread on everyone’s faces, the men each took a wooden stick from small piles lying beside them. The sharp cuts of the metal knifes on the wood soon became another background sound.
“I’m getting my blanket it’s getting chilly”, one of the women exclaimed, standing up from the toppled log she sat on.
“You’re sitting beside a huge fire and you’re cold. That’s so typically female!” One of the guys jested.
“Oh, shut up, Brian!” The offended woman retorted, glaring over her shoulder as she walked away to one of the small wooden houses.
“You know, it’s scientifically proven that the heat distribution in a female body –“, another guy chimed in from across the fire.
“Dude, spare me the lecture. It was a joke”, Brian interrupted him.
The other lifted his hands in defeat, not bothering to continue.

Finally finished with the sticks Brian ripped open a pack of marshmallows and put a few of them on the sharpened tip. Across from him his friends searched for something.
“I think they’re still in the car”, another woman declared and got up, patting her pockets.
“Roy, do you still have the keys?” She asked the man sitting beside Brian.
“Oh, yeah, sorry”, Roy replied, pulled them out of his pocket and threw them over the fire.
The woman easily caught them and went off to the parking lot. She rummaged through one of the cars for a moment, but returned empty handed.
“They’re not in there”, she announced when she got back.
“What’s not where?” The other woman, now sitting with a blanket around her shoulders asked.
“The sausages”, the other merely stated.
“Oh, I took them out when the guys lit the fire and put them by the sticks behind Ian”, the former informed her, waving towards their friend.
“Are you sure, Beverly? We just looked there”, Ian replied looking again.
“Yes. I’m certain”, Beverly assured.
“Maybe you just put them somewhere entirely different, wouldn’t be the first time you misplaced something”, Brian mocked her again.
“Very funny”, she just replied with a huff.
“I’m sorry Susan, I was sure I put them there, maybe I really put them somewhere else because I was distracted”, she apologized.
“It’s okay sweetheart, I’m sure we’ll find them when we break camp tomorrow”, her friend assured her.
“Yeah, but that leaves us with only marshmallows today”, Brian complained.
“Oh, suck it up, you had a good dinner back in town”, Roy silenced him this time.
“Yeah, but nothings better than a camp fire with marshmallows and sausages”, he still continued.
The others just shook their heads at their friend.

“It’s not unusual that things go missing in these woods”, a fourth man suddenly noted.
“How so?” Beverly wondered.
“There are said to be creatures that take whatever they desire from travellers. Food, trinkets, things like that.” He explained in a relatively bored tone.
“What, like Goblins or Kobolds?” Beverly now wanted to know.
“Oh come on, you can’t really believe such nonsense. You probably put them in your sleeping bag or something!” Brian exclaimed unconvinced.
“I could not tell. No one ever saw them and Brian is right, they’re just stories”, the other acknowledged looking away.
“I like stories like that. Please tell us, Julian. You’re from around here, so you have to know some of them. Maybe even some scary ones”, Beverly urged putting her hand on his.
“I don’t know. They’re really silly”, Julian declined.
“Come on, dude, camp fire without scary tales, that’s stupid”, Brian complained.
“And I’m sure the little Miss can handle it, if you hold her hand throughout it”, he added mockingly.
“You’re such a jerk”, Beverly complained, removing her hand from Julian’s and wrapping the blanket closer around herself.

“I’d like to hear a scary tale”, she assured Julian after a moment, a smile on her face.
Julian looked at the others and each in turn nodded their agreement.
“All right”, Julian gave in with a sigh and sat upright.
“This part of the forest used to belong to the Mayans and as they worshipped different jaguar deities it was not uncommon that packs of such animals would live nearby –“, he started.
“Aren’t jaguars solitary creatures?” Roy wondered out loud.
“Shush, Roy!” Beverly scolded him.
“No, he’s right. Jaguars usually live by themselves and the packs I mentioned aren’t really packs as such. They do not live together, but there are times when they get together to hunt.” Julian admitted.
“Really? I never heard something like that”, Ian now chimed in.
“Would you guys let him tell the story, maybe it’ll become clear why they’re so different?” Beverly scolded.
The two men looked down and she motioned for Julian to continue.
“Thank you. The packs that lived with the Mayans were indeed special. Some say they were trained and raised by the Mayans to protect their homes. Others say they were Mayans walking in the skin of a Jaguar, defending their people from threats –“
“You mean like werewolves?” Brian interrupted again.
“BRIAN!” Beverly yelled and he just lifted his arms.
“A bit, maybe” Julian merely accepted and continued “It is said that in the old days, when the Mayans were still at the height of their powers, no one in their right mind would dare to attack them. Especially not when the moon was full, like tonight.”
Julian paused to see if he had everyone’s attention and carried on in a hushed voice, as if he didn’t want anyone else to overhear their conversation: “In those nights, when the enemy was close they would not get an easy rest. The night around them would be silent, no night bird would sing, no animal stir. The wind would only bring them the rustling of the leaves, but they would feel that something was watching their every move. And then when midnight approached they would hear the growls –“
“Fuck!” exclaimed Brian as he hastily pulled the stick out of the fire, the smell of burned marshmallow rising from it.
A small grin could be seen on Julian’s face for a brief moment, the other’s sat in silence, not daring to disturb the quietness that was only broken by Brian’s low grumblings. When he was finished removing the marshmallow and putting on new ones, Julian went on.
“When midnight approached they would hear the growls, deep and menacing. Soon after the cries of their comrades would echo through the night until they found themselves screaming for their lives until the very last one of them was slain.” He paused again, letting this sink before adding: “Nowadays, without Mayans and real threats, it is said that the jaguar have to make do with what they get.”

The friends sat in silence once more, everyone looking across their shoulders into the bushes surrounding them. Brian was just about to comment something when a low growl came from the forest.
“It’s just a story, right, Julian?” Beverly asked, frightened.
She turned to him only to find two glowing, amber eyes looking back at her.
“Of course it is”, he assured her in a mocking tone, a sharp toothed grin on his face.

The screams of the friends could be heard from miles away, echoing through the forest until the early morning broke.

~ 1300 words


If my word count doesn’t deceive me I’ve met the maximum on the spot which I’m actually surprised about as I kind of noted down that it would be 1500 words and had to throw out about a hundred words. I rephrased things for that and scratched some things entirely, but I hope it’s still an interesting read.
Something I’m not entirely sure about is the „typically female“ in German we use the phrase „typisch Frau“ (or any other gender/job/etc.) to refer to something that is characteristically for a certain group of people and I tried to translate it and according to Leo.org that would be the proper translation. If anyone can confirm or deny it, please let me know.

The narrator is a bit different from the one I used for the other story – or use in general, but I intentionally tried to only let him make simple observations, as if he was sitting in the bushes watching them. 😉

I also think that I took some liberties with the prompt. The trust between Julian and the group might not be as deep as the trust between the other group members, but I do believe that you at least trust someone to a certain extent if you let them camp with you in the wilderness…

A curious thing: At some point I called the third guy Roy, but afterwards still used „the third guy“ not remembering it. Annoyed with doing that I had someone call him „Max“ later on, only to realize that I had already given him a name in the beginning of the tale when I edited it. >_<

Eve chose the winners and look what I got! 😀

You can read more about her decision here:

Tell me a tale


© Rights for the story lie with me. Do not use or repost without my permission.

WriteTheWhite-Activity: Sir Gregor

When I skimmed through the WordPress Reader not long ago I discovered the WriteTheWhite-Blog and I have to say that I have read far too little of what is posted on there. But when she published a post called Are You Going to Read This Post? – Conflict I was naturally inclined to do just that in a „Don’t push the big red button“- or „Don’t think of a blue elephant“-kind of way (the latter is by the way the translated title of a book about thought processes).
And it proved to be an interesting read about why we include conflict in a story and a little activity that I’d like to cover in this post. Apart from it being an interesting topic (a Knight with issues) did I spent so much time recently to watch, read, think and write about the BBC Series Merlin that the idea of writing/thinking about a Knight just clicked with me.

But let’s have a look at the activity:

> – Gregor is a character that is very hard headed, but kind. He is very rash, but brave. He’s a knight, but one of the hardest things for him to do is ask for help-he just won’t do it. Think about some things that could happen to Sir Gregor in order to loosen him up to the idea of accepting help? Here’s a hint: Think about what pride is.

My first thought, when I read this activity was that I would have never thought of this behaviour because of pride. I’m not sure if this is due to my own disability to ask others on occasion, but I read self-consciousness into those few sentences. Of course pride is also a huge factor in inquiring things from other people, but also the view you have on yourself.
With doubt in your own abilities come many problems and asking a simple question becomes the most complicated thing in the world.
You do not wish to bother anyone with your questions, because on the one hand you think what you ask is stupid and you should know the answer already. On the other hand you think that the people you ask have way more important things to do than answer your (stupid) questions or lend you a hand.
Of course Knights are usually not known for being insecure, but it could happen, if regardless of it they are still capable and acknowledged fighters…
In conclusion this activity can be looked at from two different angles:

  1. Sir Gregor – The Proud Knight
  2. Sir Gregor – The Insecure Knight

I guess I’ll have a go at both…
Though regardless of the angle something quite drastic would need to happen for them to change their attitude towards asking for help. Because simply put: Overcoming something like that is not easy and will take a lot of time.

The Proud Knight

As the hint went into the direction of pride I will start with this one.
For a Knight to overcome his pride he has to learn humiliation and the only way I can currently think of how that could happen would to throw him into a situation where he had to rely on others to do something he can’t do.
Like for example an outpost duty in a farming village, where he is granted land. This land however is large enough that it could be used for farming, so he would not need to buy everything he needed from the villagers or in the market place.
As a proud and wealthy Knight he could just hire people and wouldn’t need to care about it. But what if he had a tight budget and wouldn’t be able to hire servants and buy fresh nutrients regularly and would need to grow them for himself?
So his hard-headedness and rash nature would cause him to start farming his land when he is not on duty or is not needed otherwise. But being a noble-born Knight he has no idea what he is actually doing. The villagers see his struggle, but as his station is way above theirs they do not dare to speak out, give him tips or offer help.
But what if one villager would be brave enough to walk up to the Knight and show him how he has to do something to get it right?
It would change the Knight.
Of course at first he’d be furious. A villager showing him, the proud Knight, how to do something! How dare he! But then – thanks to his kindness and hopefully existing reasoning skills – he would realize that the villagers advise was useful and helped him to actually grow something on his fields. Even slower and with more freely offered advise from the villager the Knight would then become used to the villagers presence and might even find himself conversing with him. And from there it wont take long for him to turn the conversations into a direction where he includes small questions in everyday conversation, so the other wouldn’t notice and he would get his answers. Much later when he is used to the villager and their conversations are frequent and long, he might even walk up to him and directly ask him how to do something. Maybe even with a joke that the proud Knight does not know a thing about farming.
Or when the villager is busy with his own grains the proud Knight might become a tiny bit insecure about his inquiries, but that’ll be covered later. 😉
An alternative to this would be an injured Knight that wouldn’t let a healer help him.
‚Tis but a Scratch‘ as the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (which is by the way called „The Knights of the Coconut„/„Die Ritter der Kokosnuß“ in German) so nicely put it when he lost his first arm.
A proud and stubborn Knight would not want to be healed, he would walk with the wound until he bled to death or a healer forced himself unto him. Either way he would be pretty screwed if his pride overtook his sense of survival. A proud Knight that is also smart might acknowledge the fact that he indeed needed some help to be useful again and grateful when it was granted.
And I am certain there are way more variations of this.

The Insecure Knight

This Knight is a different shoe altogether. He might not even think he deserves his title in the first place. A lot of time and persuasion would be necessary for him to form enough courage to ask, but as with the other Knight: If someone walked up to him when he struggled with a task and offered help and/or advise, he would slowly open up to that person, his kindness maybe playing largely into this.
There always are certain people you feel more comfortable asking, those people mostly don’t judge your questions and are more interested in simply answering them. People like this are the ones the Insecure Knight will confine in and turn towards if he needs advice.
Other people that barely answer the Knight’s questions and make him wait and feel like he is getting in their way will slow the trust process immensely. In his hard-headed and rash mind he will start thinking that the helpful Knights are just too kind to tell him off and will start asking them less. Making it worse to ask other Knights as well.
This Knight doesn’t have it as easy as the other one.
Here the described traits will backfire and if more unhelpful Knights cross his path than helpful ones, he will never truly come around with asking others for help and just work in his little bubble trying to find as many answers as possible before turning to someone else.
Furthermore a Knight like this – and the other one as well I suppose – would not just try to do everything on his own, but overwork himself in the process and that would kind of be the worst outcome of the whole situation.

The Important Lesson

Even though you – as the Knight – are the one to make the final step in asking someone, be it through overcoming your pride or your anxieties, it also greatly depends on the people that offer or decline their help.
But regardless of that one has to understand that one can not know or do everything and that there are moments where we just need the help – be it in form of knowledge or doings – of another person.
P.S. Sorry for not actually using the name in the descriptions of the Knights…