Writing Prompt: 05/22/2015
I know, it’s amazing, isn’t it? I’m finally posting another writing prompt!
I’ve seen this picture several times, and I really love it. I can’t wait to see what you brilliant people do with it! This is, A Centaur in Disguise, by Michelle Toro. I don’t know the artist, nor her other work, so beware if you decide to look her up.
If you’d like to write something from this prompt (and you want to share it. Because I suppose you could always lock it up in a dusty folder and forget about it), you can comment on this blog post with what you wrote, or post it on your own blog and leave a link in the comments! Either way, I would love to read it (how can you have an uninteresting story with a picture like that?).
Please, though, keep whatever you write from this prompt pretty clean. My younger brothers and sisters read this blog and have a great time looking through what you awesome people write – I don’t want to have to delete anything. Violence is okay, a little blood is okay, but please, no foul language or “mature” content.
Oh, that’s awesome! The Old West with Centaurs reminds me of a story I already wrote (though that was more with the Frontier/mountain man era than the cowboys)
Centaurs are awesome… especially paired with a non-medieval fantasy era. That sounds like a great idea.
The smooth cobblestones rang under his hooves like warning bells, threatening to betray him to everyone he passed. He kept his gaze fixed straight ahead, and his hands did not loosen from their grip on the reins to brush away the sweat sliding down his forehead.
Just a little longer, he promised himself. Just act natural.
So far, it had worked. If an observer would have really looked at him, they would have noticed that the saddle was pushed far too forward on his back, nearly on the top of the horse neck sticking out of front of him, and his legs dangled awkwardly over the horse’s shoulders…and the horse head and neck itself were made of stuffed leather. Really the disguise was horrible; anyone might have seen that he was not a man riding a horse, but a man whose body from the waist down was a horse, or at least like one.
He could have gone on to explain to this observer that there were remarkable differences in his build that were unique from either man or horse that proved he was his own creature and not something spawned of the devil. Not that anyone would have listened to him.
A man with a horse paused as he walked by, and he swore he could feel both their gazes following him. He kept going. If you act like you know what you’re doing, most people won’t question you. Besides, no one was really expecting to see a centaur disguised as a rough rider walking through the middle of town.
At last, he came to the housing quarter of the town, a quainter and cleaner portion than the rest thanks to the hard-working hands of the few house-wives who’d ventured with their husbands to this country, but he felt no safer in the narrow streets walled by the two story houses.
One house had a little sign hanging from its porch entitled, “Dr. Merkly.” The centaur paused before this, and looking this way and that, stepped up onto the porch and knocked before quickly stepping back down onto the road.
A few moments later, footsteps echoed inside the house, and the door swung open. A young, weathered man peered out in bewilderment, before recognition dawned his face. “Through the little gate in the alley next to the house,” he said. “There’s a little yard and stable back there where I keep my horse.”
The centaur nodded and followed the directions, then waited in the small little yard, tapping one hoof nervously.
The doctor hurried out the back door to meet him, his face white. “Good heavens, Resei!” he exclaimed. “What are you doing here? And in that clumsy disguise? Do you know what they would have done to you if they’d caught you?” Without waiting for answer, he continued, “So who was hurt? A fall, a sprained leg perhaps? Or a cougar attack?”
“Bell’s sick,” Resei said, pulling his hat from his sweaty head in relief. Guilt surged through him at the horror that flashed across the doctor’s face, and he wished to announce the news in some better way. “It’s not serious,” he reassured. “We don’t think so, anyway. But she wants you.”
Relief softened the fear on the man’s face.
“Jyotim is with her; otherwise he would have come for you himself,” Resei said, feeling he should account for the absence that had so shamed his prince.
“He would have done no such thing, someone might have recognized him,” Doctor Merkly growled. “Besides, he’s far too noticeable. Not meaning–” he said quickly, “any insult to you, of course.”
Resei laughed. “What, you mean my brown hair blends in better than white? Yes, I do think I’m rather less noticeable.”
“Ha,” the Doctor said. “In that getup? I would have seen something with you was wrong a mile away. But I’ll saddle my horse, and hopefully no one will look twice if travel together.”
He stepped inside his house, then returned with his black bag and his hat perched on his head. “All right then,” he said, heading for the stable. “Let’s be off.”
This is fantastic. 😀 I particularly appreciated this part: “He could have gone on to explain to this observer that there were remarkable differences in his build that were unique from either man or horse that proved he was his own creature and not something spawned of the devil. Not that anyone would have listened to him.
With all of the fuss people make out of how horses and humans grow at different rates (and how newborn horses can run, yet newborn humans can’t even hold up their heads), it was nice to see that bit there.
Now, there is something familiar about this…is this a piece of one of your beauty and the beast retellings?
Yes, it’s a continuation of that story! 🙂 Sorry for not seeing this comment earlier!
Wow! What a cool picture! I’ve never written anything with centaurs before, but this has given me an idea… 🙂 It might even be a helpful plot bunny and fix the novel I’m stuck on!
He knew it was a bad disguise. People shot him curious looks as he “rode” past them. Even the horses seemed to sense that something was not right. But this was a town of oddities, and as the saying went, the best place to hide was in plain sight.
So what if they thought he was a strange man who covered his horse’s head with a mask. So what if they thought his legs looked a little misshapen. So what if they thought he was crazy. As long as they didn’t ask him to dismount, they could think whatever they wanted. He wouldn’t be staying long enough for their opinions of him to matter anyway.
Maybe someday he would come back. It would be nice to live in a town like this; where it wouldn’t matter what he was. But right now, it was better- no, it was essential to the success of his mission, that no one saw through his disguise.
Because if anyone did, it could ruin everything.
Yay for helpful plot bunnies! 😀
And, that sounds like a great town (as long, I imagine, as you were indoors before dusk). :p
Great idea there! A centaur on a risky mission- but he’d like very much to live a peaceful life.
I ducked behind the hedge and tried to inch my way underneath, thanking my lucky stars that I had seen him coming. The poor centaur was trying so hard; but honestly, the disguise was a little insulting. Fortunately for him the good folk of this town are all a little odd, and don’t ask questions. I thought it would make the perfect place to hide, but in retrospect perhaps that is how he knew to come here.
“I suppose you think you are hiding. You’re about as good at it as I am!”
The sonorous voice behind me caused me to jump, and thus tangle myself in the jagged branches. It never ceased to amaze me how centaurs, with their huge size, could be so stealthy.
“Hiding, Mr. Thundercloud? Me?” I squeaked, trying to pry myself loose.
“No, no! I was only just…ah, studying the…um…bugs…yes, many fascinating species under here.”
Thundercloud snorted, stamping his hoof for emphasis.
“So that’s your new persona? A scientist? And what is your name now?”
“Dr. Finch…and I’ll have you know I have two PHDs to show for it!”
Thundercloud grabbed me by the collar and ripped me out from the bushes. I was out from one trap, but it would take a lot to escape from this new one.
“That was a stupid question.” Thundercloud said.
“We all know how reliable you are.”
“He’s one to talk” I muttered, addressing the stuffed horse head.
“Beggin’ you’re pardon sir, but..”
Tyrion’s face hardened. “Is there a problem?” He said, without turning his head. “Something so urgent that you would hinder a messenger of the king of Byrune? Surely it most be of great importance.” He made a show of lifting the reins to make a turn, tilting his head in the farmer’s direction.
The farmer was silent, then said, with reluctance, “No sir.”
If he had been able, Tyrion would have sagged with relief. Yes, the charm was working, so far no one had realized that the stuffed horse-head was false, but more than one person had taken note of his bizarre riding style. More than once he had heard people comment on “Strange foreign riding practices.” It was wearing his nerves thin.
The sound of cobblestones under his feet made him nervous, he was from the country and rarely set foot on any sort of paving. Soon it would all be over. Less than a half-mile. It was all he could do to keep himself from breaking into a mad gallop.
There it was, the great rusty iron latticed gate. He swerved rather dangerously around a group of pedestrian–all of whom stared at him in amazement–and grabbed at the bell. He gave it several frantic rings before the door was at last opened.
An elf smiled kindly up at him. “Welcome friend, follow me, we have your accommodations ready.”
“No, thank you, I must meet someone in the courtyard.” Tyrion said. Then, feeling rude, he added, “But thank you, all the same.”
The elf bowed and went back into the tiny gatehouse to wait for the next caller. Tyrion watched, wondering how the elf managed to fit at all comfortably. Though he himself was a good deal taller than an elf, elves were still taller than most humans, and that gatehouse had been made for an averaged sized human.
While he was musing on this, he heard hurried footsteps crossing the courtyard. He turned and saw a human girl, one of the few humans in this particular inn running towards him.
“Tyrion, you’re here!” She cried, reaching up to embrace him. He tried to shy away, but she caught him around the waist and made a thorough job of trying to squeeze the life out of him.
“Traesa, stop,” Tyrion pried himself out of her arms and unstrapped the ridiculous stuffed horsehead and then the saddle and straw stuffed legs, dropping them onto the ground with disgust.
Traesa saw them and laughed.” You got through the gate with THESE? How on earth did you manage it?”
“Garnam gave me a charm. It was more effective than I would have expected. No one seemed to doubt that I was a human rider, though I did get an awful lot of strange looks and endless remarks on my “foreign style.” It was enough to send a sane man crazy, and some would debate my sanity.” He flicked his tail with annoyance and gave a long sigh. “Anyways, Gran want’s to see you, she says it’s her ‘last wish’ or something. She always counted you as part of the family. You will come won’t you?”
“Of course, but how will we get out of the city?” Traesa asked, knitting her brow. “I mean, you got in, but I don’t think it will be so easy for the two of us to get out.”
“We’ll leave after dark, and you’ll ride on my back,” Tyrion said. “But don’t get any ideas. I’m only doing this for Gran, this is a one time thing.”
“The gates are locked after dark.” Traesa said skeptically. running her hands through her hair.
“That’s why I brought–” He paused for effect and then brought a small leather case from his vest with a flourish, “these!”
Traesa gave a shrill squeal. “My lock picks!” SHe grabbed the case from him and examined the contents. “Everything’s here.” She said happily.
“Of course it’s all there. You can thank me later. In the mean time, get ready. We leave at midnight.”
I love that combination: a centaur, a girl who picks locks, and a granny!