• Kelly J Massey

Short Story Part 3

This prompt asks the writer to shuffle their playlist and then write the first 30 song titles that come up. The writer must then use these song titles in order as they write their scene. It's fun and can get a little ridiculous at times. Here's the continuation of Kezia and Nimbus's story via this 30-song-title prompt.


1. The Wrong Side

2. He Won’t Go

3. Apologize

4. Long & Lost

5. Henry, O My Henry

6. A Hopeful Transmission

7. Don’t You Remember

8. Life is Better with You

9. Blue Eyes Blind

10. Don’t Come Around Here No More

11. Cannonball

12. Demons

13. Killing Birds

14. Lil Darlin

15. Catch My Fall

16. Dreams

17. Tahitian Blue

18. This Dark and Twisty Road

19. Like a Stone

20. Beyond the Veil

21. Runaway

22. Diamond Heart

23. Ain’t No Use in Crying

24. Blame It on the Stars

25. The Phoenix

26. Feng Shui

27. Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around

28. Alive

29. Cold

30. Hold On


“You’re starting on The Wrong Side with that saddlebag.”

“Shrikes care which side you start on?”

Nimbus laughed. “They care much more about little things than you realize. These aren’t stupid birds.”

“I never implied that they were stupid.”

Nimbus just grinned. “You didn’t, but I just warned you about how smart these little birds are. He Won’t Go if the saddlebag isn’t on just right.”

“Show me then. I don’t want to have to Apologize to the bird later.”

Nimbus grinned but moved to my assigned bird and started with the saddlebag on the other side from where I stood.

“You packed enough food for a whole army. How long do you plan to fly with me?”

“Until we’re Long and Lost.”

I laughed at his dark sense of humor. “You won’t get us lost through your own woods.”

“That’s the easy part. I’ve never been beyond nor tried to punch a wizard in the face.”

“You’re coming with me all the way?”

He smiled at me. “Titania even gave me a growth spell to use when we reach the end of the shrikes’ range.”

The bird he was saddling chirped and fluffed its feathers in impatience. “Henry, O My Henry,” Nimbus soothed. “We’re almost done here.”

I grinned at the bird’s old-fashioned royal name. Henry used to be reserved for great kings five and six generations before us. “What’s this one? Richard?”

The other bird turned and stared at me, though with what intent I could not imagine as these little birds almost always looked angry.

Nimbus smiled. “How did you guess? You’ll ride him and I’ll take Henry since he’s feeling a little tense at the moment.”

I moved to Richard’s side and stroked his neck gently. I’d never done this to a bird before, but it seemed natural to approach him like I would a horse back home. He chirped softly and seemed to relax. I swung my leg up and over and came to rest easily on his back, my knees tucked in by his flank so I didn’t impede on the motion of his wingbar.

“Ready?” Nimbus asked and I nodded. He nudged Henry and Richard kept pace as the birds spread their wings as they jumped into the sky, their beating wings pulsed heavily through the air as we gained altitude.

“Special delivery!” a voice called and we snapped our heads to the fae riding a shrike overhead. A parchment drifted down on the breeze and Nimbus snatched it in his hand.

A Hopeful Transmission!” he announced before unfolding the paper to read it. He paused a moment. “Remember, only the caves sleep at night.” His brow furrowed. “What does this mean, Kezia?”

“I’m not sure. Titania left the same message before dosing me with enough belladonna to end up in your treehouse.”

His brows furrowed as he studied the parchment a bit longer, trying to pry further meaning from the paper that couldn’t be found there. “Well, I guess we’ll find out when we reach the caves.”

“If we ever find them.”

Don’t You Remember the maps and charts at your castle? Surely you studied them?”

I bit my lip as the image of Teman, our cartographer came rushing into my head. I had bothered him incessantly about the old maps that he had to retrieve from the vault every time. The maps we had to handle with white gloves so the oil from our fingers wouldn’t ruin their paper. There had been places drawn on those maps that modern cartographers had deemed unnecessary, and so had started to exclude them. Historical places lost to time because of the business of modern times. I had teased Teman once about having to babysit the princess and her love of history. He had only replied, “Life is Better with You.” Tears stung my eyes at the memory making my Blue Eyes Blind. I cleared my throat and wiped my eyes with my sleeve.

“There are ancient caves several leagues east of here. They’re only on the old maps, but if my mind’s eye is right, then the wizard’s castle is built on top of the cave system.”

“Then that’s where we go,” Nimbus answered.

We flew on until midday when the shrikes began to slow and descended to land in the short scrub trees at the edge of the forest.

“This is our stop.” Nimbus sounded gruff and I realized what he meant. This is where we would leave the shrikes behind and use his growth spell he inherited from the fae queen. I studied his face trying to gauge his reaction to all this.

“You don’t have to come with me if you don’t want to.”

His eyes locked with mine. “I’m coming and you don’t have a choice.”

“Do you have a choice?”

“Yes, and I choose to go with you.”

I nodded, satisfied with both his answer and his conviction.

“You dang birds! Don’t Come Around Here No More!” a new voice bellowed and a rock sped past us like a Cannonball.

Demons! Come out here and fight like real beings of the forest!” Nimbus hollered as he drew his sword.

“Not until we’re done Killing Birds and taking your Lil Darlin too!”

“Nimbus! What are they?” I asked as I looked all around trying to find the source of the threat. A rock splintered the branch I stood on before I could react and jump to a new branch. “Catch My Fall!” I shouted as was flung through the air.

“Fly Richard! Fly Henry!” I heard as I plummeted through the air. My hands stretched out trying to catch a branch as I fell. The whole tree began to shake but I caught a branch and held on fast until it snapped in my hand. I stared at it spellbound realizing that I had only caught a twig. It wasn’t until my feet hit the ground that I realized I reached my full human height again.

“Nimbus?” I asked.

“Coming,” he answered and I glanced up. He quickly climbed down the tree with full-sized saddlebags.

From beyond my feet, I heard squeaking and turned to see two moles armed with rocks in their hands. “Were you the ones attacking us?” I asked. Their eyes grew wide and they dropped the rocks before bounding away into a hole in the grass. I turned my questioning eyes back to Nimbus who smiled his bright smile.

“It’s nice to scare them away just by our size, but I feel like I’m walking in Dreams being this tall.”

I grinned. “It’ll take some getting used to. I don’t suppose our shrikes grew with us?”

“I sent them back home. We were near the end of their range anyway and I didn’t want them to get hurt.”

“Why would the moles attack them?”

“Because shrikes hunt moles for food. They saw an opportunity to attack two burdened shrikes and we just happened to be in their way.”

“What did they want with me?”

“I have no idea. Just in case, you should carry Tahitian Blue with you. It’s a stone that makes all forest beings friendly to the fae.” He held out his hand and I placed mine underneath. A smooth stone dropped into my palm that glinted in the sunlight as does the depths of the tropical ocean.

“This is gorgeous, but I can’t take your stone.”

“I’m fae. They can’t hurt me.” I looked to him in wonder as to why he would carry a stone that wasn’t useful for him but would be for me. “It’s a gift,” he added. He looked about us as he considered our location. “Due east takes us on This Dark and Twisty Road through that chasm two leagues ahead. Is that a safe route?”

I wracked my brain as I considered the old maps in my head. “I want to say that we’ll drop Like a Stone if we aren’t careful. For there is an underground river that has been cutting through that rock for ages, but it’s a straighter path than going around and through that fog that covers the landscape on either side.”

“It’ll take us Beyond the Veil. Right. Hopefully we won’t have to Runaway from anything while we’re in there because there’s only one way and one way out.”

“Here, let me take one of those packs.” I reached my hand out toward Nimbus but he hesitated.

“They’re heavy. I filled them quite full.”

“All the more reason I should share the load, right?” Reluctantly he nodded and handed me one of the saddlebags. The weight of it surprised me, but I managed to hoist it over my shoulder. “What do you have in here? A Diamond Heart?” I laughed and Nimbus reached out to take it back. “I’ve got it. There Ain’t No Use in Crying about it.” He paused and I winked at him. His face flushed.

I didn’t know what else to do, so I gave him a grin and started toward the chasm ahead of us. I heard his pace quicken to catch up to me even though I hadn’t gotten far ahead. I glanced at him wondering how I had embarrassed him and what I could do to change the subject.

“How’d you get stuck escorting a princess across the countryside?” I asked, which had been the question that stuck with me the most since I woke in his treehouse.

Blame It on the Stars.”

“That’s it? That’s all the explanation I get?”

He shrugged. “Why does it matter how I got to be in this place with you?”

I reflected on that question for a long pause, but I couldn’t come up with a good answer. “I guess it doesn’t. I am glad you’re here though.”

“So am I.”

I nearly flushed at his response so I turned my gaze to the ground to watch my boots plod along the dry grasses for a time.

“I suggest we eat before we start through the chasm,” Nimbus suggested after we’d walked for about an hour.

“That’s fair. Better to have a picnic on the grass than climbing through a chasm.”

“Will we get through the chasm before it gets dark?”

“That I don’t know. But we have The Phoenix.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s my orb of fire that lights the dark places and provides warmth. It’s not an actual phoenix, but it does continually relight itself. That’s how it got its name.”

“Nice. I’ll appreciate some Feng Shui while we walk through some creepy rock.”

I laughed but we fell silent again as we continued our march across the plain. My shoulder began to stiffen from the heavy saddlebag and tried to switch it to my other shoulder but it fell to the ground instead. “Sorry!” I exclaimed as I reached for it again.

Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” Nimbus laughed. “It’s okay, Kezia.”

“What? What heart?”

“You’re the one who asked if there was a diamond heart in there.” I smiled at his remembering my stupid comment from earlier. “Here. Let’s have lunch here. Your shoulder can rest a little and we’ll lighten just a bit of our load.”

“Sounds good to me.” I almost added that my shoulder seemed barely Alive at that moment, but I knew a comment like that would make him want to take both saddlebags and that wouldn’t be fair to him at all.

“We’ll have to get used to eating Cold dried meat,” Nimbus said as he pulled some provisions and a water cask from the saddlebag I had been hauling. “Part of the weight is multiple water casks. You never know when you’ll be in an area that doesn’t have good water.”

“I’d rather cold dried meat than nothing at all.”

He smiled at me again. “You’re easy to travel with, considering you’re a princess.”

Hold On now. Who said I was a good princess?” I asked and Nimbus laughed. I was truly grateful that decided to come with me on this perilous journey.



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