The Trap // a (One Quirk Later) short story

Recently two dear blogger friends, The Story Sponge and Sarah, have introduced me to yet another lovely blogger by the name of Jem Jones. Jem has been running a flash fiction link-up for quite a while now, where she provides a prompt and people write a piece of fiction based off of it.

The prompt looked so cool, I just had to participate, even though I’m approximately one month late. But what does it matter? I had a lot of fun. So much, in fact, that this turned into twice the length of a flash fiction.

I regret nothing.

(You can find the details for this prompt and overall more information here)

Le prompt:

Le story:

The Trap

Misty mountainous air clung to my face as I, along with the hundred other soldiers, fearfully scanned the skies.

“Stop gawking!” Commander Rezky bellowed as she rode up and down the ranks. Her voice echoed off the cliff’s walls. “I’m sure you’ve seen mist before!”

A shrill voice cried out, “But the dragons!”

She scoffed. “You believe those fairytales? Dragons don’t exist! March!”

The troops reluctantly shifted into movement, continuing the trek up the mountains. Not me. I had been accepted as the commander’s attendant – personal servant, really – in the middle of the war. There had barely been enough time to train me in combat basics, much less endurance, so I’d been given a pony to ride. I avoided the faces of everyone else who had to go by foot so they wouldn’t see my burning cheeks. Only the commander and her officers got to ride. The fact that a lowly girl like me was riding with them was shameful.

No one else seemed to notice. Probably because the commander herself acted as if I had all the right in the world to be there. Though I could never figure out why she’d chosen me out of all the more qualified girls, I tried as hard as I could to earn her confidence in me.

Now, she reined in her horse next to me at the front of the procession and looked at me through her helmet.

“So, Mekra. How many more times do you think we’ll stop before we reach the summit and get out of this clammy armpit of a mountain pass?”

It was hard to tell when she was serious or joking. I always erred on the side of serious. “Well um, it depends on how far we have left to go.”

“Wrong answer.” I froze, but Commander Rezky sighed dramatically. “Too many more times, that’s what. It’s always the same. ‘Commander! Commander!’” She perfectly imitated the high-pitched voice of a young recruit. “‘I saw a dragon! I swear it on my mother’s dish cloths!’”

The commander snorted. “It’s always an eagle. There are plenty of them up here. You’d think a woman would know the difference. I wonder how my brother is doing with his troop.”

Her brother was the commander of the male division of the Rangers, which was currently taking another route up the mountain. I had not yet figured out the purpose of marching a good bulk of the king’s army to a long-abandoned, remote outpost in the middle of a war. But both the commanders were known for their prowess in strategy, and their ludicrous plans which somehow always worked in the end. The king trusted them implicitly. That was enough for me to trust them too.

Someone behind us screamed for the commander. She sighed. “Here we go again. Remember to fix me a good calming tea tonight, Mekra. Or maybe I’ll take several shots of vodka. Either one works.”


I sat in front of the commander’s tent, sharpening her spear. In front of me, beyond a ledge and across a valley, a rocky spire rose to the heavens, identical to the one I was on. Along its jutting cliffs and inside caves, tents were pitched and ropes were hung for access up and down. There was also an unfrequented path you could climb if you didn’t feel like dangling so far up in the air, but hiking it was exhausting, inconvenient, and took a long time. I would know.

Between the two spires on the top of Mount Ekho was a wide, steep valley. If you dared to get close enough to an edge, you could see the tents of the male Rangers scattered across the bottom. I only ever scrounged up the courage to take one peek.

Taluviks were famous for our ability to jump from great heights and land relatively safely, which meant most of us weren’t afraid of heights or, more accurately, of falling. Most of us. Unless I was directly ordered, I never went far from the commander’s tent, which was already much closer to a sheer drop than I would have preferred.

I set down the sharpening knife and took out a polishing cloth. Shouts drew my eyes out again. For all the days we’d been camped up here, the officers had been overseeing an effort to throw hooks and ropes across the valley, creating a tight, elaborate net between the spires. It was true we were at the highest point of the mountain pass which served as the border between our country, Elviev, and our northern enemies Liture, but I didn’t see what protection the net would serve us.

Then it hit me. Landslides. Avalanches. The net would protect the land behind us.

Pleased with my conclusion, I continued polishing the spear. Light glinted off its sharp blade. That was one benefit to being perched up here. We were above the mist and could absorb the full light of the sun. It was cheery and uplifting. At least as uplifting as it could be when just a single misplaced step could send you plummeting.

The shouts turned into screams, mixing with the sound of horns blasting from the spires and echoing yells from the valley below. I widened my eyes, and almost shrieked as an arm gleaming from sweat appeared over the ledge.

A girl hauled herself up and untied the rope around her waist. Gasping, she asked, “Is the commander inside?”

The tent flaps slapped open. Commander Rezky herself stepped out and demanded, “What’s all the noise about?”

“Dragon, Commander,” the messenger said, pointing a shaking finger north, towards Liture.

I slowly rose to my feet. Curving wings and a serpentine body. Scales shimmering gold. All headed rapidly towards us. But that was impossible. A trick of the eyes. After all –

Helmet balanced on her waist, the commander squinted her eyes. “Well. So it is.”

My gaze shot to her. “What? But you said dragons don’t exist!”

“I lied.” She flashed me a grin and swept her cloak back, ignoring my spluttering. The commander barked orders to the messenger and a few soldiers who had appeared, grabbed her spear from beside my feet, and disappeared down the cliffside. Everyone else dispersed in various directions.

Then the commander’s head popped back up and she yelled, “Stay put Mekra! Those are your orders! It is imperative that you obey, understood?”

My mind still spinning, I saluted clumsily. “Yes ma’am!”

She disappeared again.

Her orders were entirely unnecessary. I had no plans to go anywhere any time soon. I backed up beside the tent to the cliff face, which was almost at the very tip of the spire. As I fixed my gaze on the dragon zooming straight to us, my hand unconsciously went to the inside of my leather vest, where I always concealed two twin blades. Heirlooms of my family.

Everyone else was out doing something productive with the ropes, preparing for the dragon. No one would see me.

I took out one blade. It was small, curved elegantly, and had ancient runes etched into the golden metal. No one in my town could read them, nor could anyone in all my travels with the Rangers, not even the commander, who seemed to know everything. The handle was made of a rich red wood, smooth and comfortable in my grip.

The knives were said to have been passed down in my family for thousands of years. It was even said that they were created in the ancient days, the legendary days, when dragons were common and everyone owned a pair of similar knives for protection against the flying thieves, who would find and steal their gold.

How two small blades could slay a huge beast like a dragon, no one ever explained. Which was why that story was probably just a made-up fairytale.

Still, I always felt braver holding them, especially now as a dragon, the stuff of legends, was growing closer by the second. If they existed, maybe the stories were true and these knives could slay one. Maybe I could slay it.

I almost laughed at the thought. As if I, a Taluvik who was afraid of heights, could slay a dragon.

The dragon soared at an astonishingly rapid speed, headed straight for the net which I now realized was intended to capture it all along. The men below would stab at its belly and kill it. A perfect, smooth operation.

But why would it go straight into the trap? Surely there were many other places to cross the mountain range.

Then my eye caught a flash. Swarming on the opposite spire were my fellow soldiers, all of them helmetless, exposing their shimmering copper and golden hair. Another trait that our people were famous for, and one that even I shared.

Dragons were known for their love of precious metals. Our shining hair would draw it into our trap.

When it was close enough for me to feel the wind rushing off its wings, I pressed myself to the cliff-side and braced myself, gripping both knives in my hands. Just in case.

Wings tucked close to its body, the dragon dove down, directly into the net.


The mountains shook, sending rocks crumbling and plummeting off the cliffs. I cowered underneath a small structure of boulders as the dragon writhed and caused more of the mountains to fall apart. The soldiers had somehow gotten a larger net made of metal over its scaly body, which pressed against my spire and probably the other one as well. But it was taking too long to kill it. Had the dragon squashed all the men underneath? What was going on?

I couldn’t hear anything above the falling rocks and scraping of dragon scales. The legends said that dragons could breathe fire, but it hadn’t even tried. Maybe that part was made up.

The commander’s face suddenly appeared in the gap of my small rock shelter. Her face, clearly visible with no helmet, was covered in dust and scrapes. “Get out here Mekra!”

The spire shook from underneath my feet. I looked at her with wide eyes.

“That was an order, not a suggestion!” she yelled. “Get out!”

I scrambled out. The shaking was worse out in the open, but the commander grabbed my arm and steadied me. We were still several steps away from the ledge, away from the heaving skin of the dragon.

She looked at my hands. I was still gripping the knives.

“Good, you have them! I need you to stab the dragon.”

My eyes shot to meet hers. Dead serious. “Me? Why me? Why not you?”

“The knives get their power from their owner’s fingerprints. Prints that your whole family shares. They wouldn’t work for me.”

I took a step back, feeling light-headed. “No, no, not me, I can’t–“


Her voice was so gentle, it startled me. She clasped both my forearms in hers. “Look at me, Mekra.”

I obeyed and found myself unable to tear away from her emerald gaze. She was strong. Confident. Courageous. Everything I was not, everything I wanted to be. That was why I’d applied to be her attendant, so that maybe some of her goodness would rub off on me.

It hadn’t worked.

“There were two men, one who loved toffee, and one who hated it.” Her voice was calm, soothing, captivating, even as her words were completely unrelated to our present predicament. The rumbling receded into the background. “They both made a pledge and didn’t taste a bite of toffee for a month straight. Which man had more self-control?”

I hesitated.

She tsked impatiently. “Answer the question! It’s not a trick!”

“The…one who loved toffee.”

“Exactly.” The commander smiled. “And it’s the same with courage. It’s impossible to be courageous if you were never afraid in the first place. But you have the chance to be the bravest person I know.”

I frowned. This was the oddest motivational speech I’d ever heard. “Because…I’m scared of basically everything?”

She grinned. “Yes. If you can conquer your terror – which is plentiful – then you can be outstandingly courageous. Braver than even the Explorer who found our world. Now.” She turned me to face the dragon. “Do you have what it takes?”

I first eyed the glint of the scales, and then the knives in my hands, then back to the commander. She raised an eyebrow. I could do this now and be courageous, like I’d always dreamed of being. Or I could stay safe, let everyone die, and remain a coward.

I took a deep breath and tightened my grip on the blades. Then I propelled my legs forward, straight towards the ledge, towards the thrashing body of the dragon. The blades glinted in the sunlight as my feet left safety.

The dragon’s roar rattled the mountains from their soaring tips down to the very roots of the earth.

10 thoughts on “The Trap // a (One Quirk Later) short story

  1. Yay, I’m so happy you did this prompt! I truly enjoyed reading your story, and I really relate to Mekra’s fear of heights- and fear of things in general. I also relate to feeling unqualified in any given situation. (Am I going to mess up? Should I even be here???) Mekra’s emotions felt real.

    The commander made me smile. I love it when characters can be tough and loud but also really caring. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Sponge! ❤ I'm glad you could relate with Mekra. I've often felt the same way myself, but sometimes we need a commander-figure in our lives to remind us that yes, we ARE capable. 😉

      Definitely, yes! It was so fun to write her. 😄

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I may have said this before, but I LOVE your writing. It’s so CLEAR, I can see everything, and your character voices (I remember this from the igloo in the desert story too) are so…vivid. I just really enjoy reading it.
    And Mekra and the commander – ahh! I love them! I love the commander’s toffee story! You took this prompt in such a cool direction. I…am running out of vague exclamatory adjectives but seriously I enjoyed reading this so much and I’m so glad you did it! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Sarah, you have just made my entire week. THANK YOU SO MUCH. ❤ ❤ I can't even begin to describe how encouraging that is, especially as I bang my head over a particularly nasty section in one of my full-length works. So grateful for your support. 😊

      Yay, that makes me so happy! And thank YOU for bringing these prompts/quirks/thingies to my attention! It was much fun. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. First the “Wrong answer-” [freak out from Mekra] “-too long“, and “*high pitched voice* ‘I swear it on my mother’s dish cloths, commander!’ “, and then the twist… Commander Rezky is amazing. xD And I love the flow of your story!

    Thank you for joining in, Elisha! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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