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stargate, DanielJackson

Week 29, Title: Parchment

Posted on 2014.11.25 at 22:48
Tags: ,

Nyrid tilts his chair onto its hind legs, eyeing the four large bags of post and shelves piled messily with scrolls, considering where to begin. Sighing, he chooses the largest of the bags, hoping that will at least give the sense of getting more done, and takes out a handful of letters. He forms three main piles at first; one of letters intended for the royal family, one of letters for other important members of the palace such as knights, nobles and guards, and one for the servants and unimportant palace inhabitants.

The servants' letters are placed on the shelves with some minor efforts to maintain a bundle for each person. The other two piles require much more attention. He flicks the letter opener over hardened wax, skimming letters quickly but carefully. He takes in much intricacy, the seal used and the care taken with it; the sender and the import they’ve placed on the letter, the nuance of wording and the placement of crests. Any unnecessary solicitations or nuisances must be gotten rid of, any urgent messages or correspondence from someone of great importance must be conveyed immediately. There are also those with certain seals that must not be opened at all until it reaches its intended recipient. Everything else is sorted into various piles ranked by importance of contents and sender.

It’s work Nyrid is proud of, understanding all the hidden meanings, the usages of symbols, the hidden words between the lines. But when the piles are this high it’s tiring and boring work.   

Nyrid goes through the motions, working by rote, running metal over wax with steely efficiency, slamming each letter onto its respective pile with minimal required thought. Then he sees it. His entire body stills.

 photo ljidolparchment_zpsddd1f66f.jpg

His hands spread over the parchment, as though framing the words between his fingers will change them, he blinks but everything remains. A challenge has been issued against The King. And by a legendary warrior no less. He contemplates what this may mean, what could happen, if The King falls The Kingdom will fall. The realm is too precarious at this time, no one knows this better than the one with eyes on all the correspondence.

The House of The Two Headed Dragon would introduce a corrupt regime.

Nyrid tries to calm himself, probably King Eldriad will win. He runs his index finger along the words. Flashes of red cloud his vision, swords clash, faces pale, blood spurts and pools, and he knows.

He feels sick, why him, why now? He has always had The Sight but it has never proven itself useful, showing him the stable-boy mucking out the horses or a knight getting drunk in the corner tavern, never anything of import. It seems a monstrous time to start. If The King fights this dual, he will die. Nyrid picks the letter up, fingers pressed firm against it, effort going in to not cause indentations.

Such a fragile thing, he thinks. He sits there for a long time, staring at dragon heads and a phoenix wing. Then he folds the piece of parchment and tucks it into his belt-pouch.


When in his chambers that night he takes out the accursed letter. Finger-tips run over the ink spillage, carelessness or a purposeful insult? Nyrid places it beneath his pillow. He dreams of blood and devastation, of crumbling kingdoms and The End. He wakes up and holds the letter for an age before placing it back beneath his pillow. He goes to work and returns home and does the same. Holding onto the letter like salvation and damnation conjoined. Days go on, pits under his eyes darken, the letter sits in his palms like a living creature, writhing ink shifting under his nails. It haunts him.


His decision is made; he leans towards the fire with a weary resignation, watching with relieved horror as the parchment catches alight.

He writes a letter of his own. It’s not too much work to fake the royal seal; he’s been asked to do it for legitimate means often enough. He places it in his satchel and mounts his horse, riding to Albon’s Dragon-House. When he arrives he says he has a letter from King Eldriad and he must hand it to Lord Albon himself. Of course he’s let through, they think him a harmless servant. He hands Albon the letter and stands there, claiming its to await the reply.

As soon as the Lord’s focus is on the letter Nyrid slides the letter opener (freshly sharpened) from his belt and plunges it into Albon’s throat.


There’s uproar, people fluttering around in a panic, some guards roughly take hold of Nyrid while others try to revive the corpse. He’s dragged to the palace and placed before The King.

Nyrid says nothing, and continues to say nothing through his trial and verdict. Standing on the gallows awaiting the hangman’s noose, his silence remains. He holds parchment ash in his hand and sees the kingdom prosperous and alive.

He’s at peace.


AN: As part of the trying something outside of our comfort zone challenge I decided to add a visual component to this piece. I made the parchment by layering shades of yellow in photoshop and using the eraser and I drew by hand the wing and dragon head.


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bleodswean at 2014-11-25 23:04 (UTC) (Link)
This makes an impact. And illustrated, too! The letter is well done - great work on that! The idea that the "mailman" saves the kingdom with a letter opener is fantastic and I really enjoyed every word of this.
swirlsofblue at 2014-11-26 15:20 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you found it impactful, and yay, so happy you liked the letter, I'm not very good at art so I had to put a lot of effort into those drawings :).
reckless_blues at 2014-11-26 06:08 (UTC) (Link)
It's interesting to me that royalty had people like food tasters, to make sure the dish wasn't poisoned (I'm using past tense here, but Vladimir Putin employs one himself). Miscellaneous people who fall by the wayside instead of their king. I liked getting a look into their mentality.
swirlsofblue at 2014-11-26 15:24 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked this exploration of that mentality :). I agree food tasters are an intriguing concept, knowing the essence of their job is to eat something potentially fatal to test whether it's poisoned.
tsuki_no_bara at 2014-11-26 18:07 (UTC) (Link)
props for the visual aid! that's a nice touch. :D and the story itself is an interesting look at someone who's basically support staff, and how much power he actually has. plus death by letter opener, and how often does that happen?

(it's "duel", tho.)
swirlsofblue at 2014-11-26 18:46 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked the visual :).

(Thanks :) ).
n3m3sis43 at 2014-11-27 01:15 (UTC) (Link)
Poor guy. His plight sucked me right in. I figure if I had the Sight, it'd probably be trolling me and I wouldn't be able to trust that the King would actually lose.

I think you did a really good job with the visual aid, too. :)
swirlsofblue at 2014-11-27 15:19 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked the visual aid :).

Oh yeah, totally on The Sight trolling. I'd imagine it doing things like showing you stuff happening somewhere else in the world entirely, and just thinking they were dreams or something and then one day...
i_17bingo at 2014-11-27 08:34 (UTC) (Link)
Then he sees it. His entire body stills.

Mine too. I literally went, "Whoa."

He has always had The Sight but it has never proven itself useful...

I like this concept, because you never see this in fantasy at all. "I forsee that the milk will go bad... [the orchestral soundtrack stops dramatically] On Wednesday."

I really, really loved the way this one went, because it also subverted tropes. I'd assumed the Prophecy to be Self-Fulfilled as these things tend to. And it did, but not the way we expected.

And I a big, big fan of this line:
Days go on, pits under his eyes darken, the letter sits in his palms like a living creature, writhing ink shifting under his nails.

swirlsofblue at 2014-11-27 15:22 (UTC) (Link)
Wow, glad it had an impact, thank you :)

Yes, this concept, I always wonder about this with things like foresight, I mean in the average life, major unpredictable things are a rarity, so how many things would anyone see that would mean anything even if looking into the future. LOL the milk thing, that would make an awesome sitcom.

That line was one of my favourites also, glad you liked it.
fodschwazzle at 2014-11-27 21:38 (UTC) (Link)
What a dedicated follower and executed by the very person and nation that he is trying to save! I enjoyed his story, and the visual aid was nicely done.
swirlsofblue at 2014-11-28 19:42 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you enjoyed it :)
Laura, aka "Ro Arwen"
roina_arwen at 2014-11-28 03:34 (UTC) (Link)
I love the idea of the Royal Mailman saving his kingdom and his King this way, and good job with the letter, too. :)
swirlsofblue at 2014-11-28 19:43 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, so glad the idea worked for you :)
gratefuladdict at 2014-11-30 04:22 (UTC) (Link)
I really enjoyed this! I was biting my fingernails along with him. It didn't occur to me he would go on the offensive!
swirlsofblue at 2014-11-30 09:23 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you enjoyed it :).

I don't think it occurred to him that he'd go on the offensive either, but that's the way the seeds of desperation grow ;).
hosticle_fifer at 2014-11-30 04:37 (UTC) (Link)
I loved the visual aids, that really added some impact to this High Medieval Postal Drama. For something so heavily focused on the letter, being able to see it really adds something.

Man the middle was stressful, with each passing day I felt that sick gut feeling one gets. I like how he "found a third option", so to speak.
swirlsofblue at 2014-11-30 09:31 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked the visual aids :). I think having the visual aids was what allowed me to make the letter the focal point of the piece. (That it was the focal point was also a little bit my inner 5 year old going, look, look, I draw a thing).

Glad it had an impact :).
alycewilson at 2014-11-30 18:07 (UTC) (Link)
I liked your take on this: we are expecting a duel, but the way to save the kingdom is by preventing it. The graphic looks good, too, especially the wing.
swirlsofblue at 2014-11-30 19:08 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad I managed to subvert expectations :)
crisp_sobriety at 2014-12-01 01:23 (UTC) (Link)
This is a great fantasy short! I too really liked the way you used the Sight here, it went against type and that is definitely a good thing.

I liked the main character a lot as well, and how he sacrificed everything for the good of others. Dang, man.
swirlsofblue at 2014-12-01 07:25 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked my use of the sight, I do always wonder about these things in fiction- the idea that a gift wouldn't always be useful is something I like to explore. :)
Jemima Pauler
jem0000000 at 2014-12-01 04:20 (UTC) (Link)
Go Nyrid! I imagine history owes more to the unsung heroes than the ones we know about. I'm glad he could save the kingdom.
swirlsofblue at 2014-12-01 07:26 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you :). So true, I think there are probably so many unsung heroes, all moving small cogs to keep everything in place in the big machine of the world. And it's easy to forget even the ones we do know about.
dmousey at 2014-12-01 05:40 (UTC) (Link)
My kind of fantasy right here! :) I loved this!
swirlsofblue at 2014-12-01 07:26 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked it :)
cheshire23 at 2014-12-01 05:58 (UTC) (Link)
The parchment is lovely, elegant work.

And so is the rest of the story! I loved the detail of sorting the different types of mail at the beginning, and it flowed so well into what he decided to do about the challenge.
swirlsofblue at 2014-12-01 07:29 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, so glad you found it elegant, drawing/art definitely isn't my strong suit so it means a lot :). Glad you liked the detail :).
lriG rorriM
lrig_rorrim at 2014-12-01 20:29 (UTC) (Link)
Fabulous! I really enjoyed this!
swirlsofblue at 2014-12-01 20:44 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you enjoyed it :)
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