15 Minute Ficlets is a rekindled weekly writing challenge hosted over at The Literary Pheonix. (She’s doing it for fun, but I’m joining in! Woohoo!)
Based on a single word, write a story in fifteen minutes. The word count is irrelevant. Just write your heart out for 15 minutes and be inspired by the word. You never know what you’ll end up with!
This week’s word: Maelstrom
Razken had never seen his father so angry. It was true that he had gone against a direct order. It was true that he had made a move against Guanglu after his father, the emperor, had expressly forbidden it. But he had been smart about it. His father was afraid of Guanglu simply because the other empire had unique weapons: weapons that fired at a great distance and caused massive amounts of damage.
And Razken had found his own way to compete with such weapons. On the outskirts of his father’s empire, he had found the materials he needed and a chemist to confirm it. He could make better weapons.
And he had engaged in a trial round with resources that had been provided by the Bank of Druztdam instead of his father.
It was the Emperor he was looking at now. The Emperor who had been defied. And apparently, felt betrayed. By his own son and heir.
Razken hadn’t realized how much such an act would affect his father. Razken had hoped — had believed — that his father would see sense once he saw how successful Razken’s attack had been. And it had, truly, been incredibly successful.
Yet here he was, staring down his father in a room full of observers, wondering what sort of punishment the Emperor of Modicaeii was likely to exact upon his only son and heir. Surely it couldn’t be too dire.
His father’s voice came out as a growl. “Burn everything,” he commanded the Captain of his Guard. “The whole empire. Send your fastest messengers to deliver the order to all the major cities.” He fixed his eyes back on Razken. “You want to win your inheritence by moving against me? You’ll see what is left for you to inherit. And then you’ll think twice before moving against me again.”
“But father —“
His father stood and walked out of the room.
Razken stared after him, shocked. He hadn’t intended his actions to be taken as a move to overthrow his father. He merely wanted to expand his father’s empire. To expand his future empire. And now …
He had to stop it.
He rushed from the castle, but most of the surrounding houses and businesses were already being set aflame, smoke rising into the night sky in an eerie mist. Everywhere he looked, in every direction, soldiers were running with burning torches.
“Where is the gods-be-damned rain when you need it?” Razken muttered under his breath, glancing at the sky in a futile attempt to will the clouds to break open.
Razken ran to the nearest guard. “Stop! Stop!” he shouted, grabbing the guard by his arm. “Can’t you see this is madness?”
The guard stared at him, a shocky expression on his face. “It’s the king’s will,” he said, voice quavering. “If we don’t obey — Forgive me, Your Highness, but he’ll kill my family.”
“He’ll kill your family anyway, at this rate!” Razken spat, but he let the guard go.
It was too late. There was no stopping the maelstrom of destruction in this city. His only hope was to get out of this mess before he was stuck inside the blaze. So he ran to the stables, hurriedly saddled and mounted his horse, and galloped down the main road, dodging burning embers whenever they fell into his path.
He could barely see the messengers riding off, no doubt delivering the order to bring down similar levels of destruction to the other major cities in the Modicaeiian Empire. He suspected there would be a line of fire from here to the far northern reaches of his father’s control.
And all because he had been cocky enough to go out on his own and launch an attack on their sole remaining enemy.
He had to fix this. But how? He didn’t have the ability to quench so many flames. He didn’t have some magic power to turn back time.
The idea stopped him short. Time. That was what he needed — a reset. He’d heard rumors. They probably weren’t true, but he didn’t have any other options this time. He had to try.
And so, turning his horse north, Razken headed to Druztdam, seeking a solution from the High Banker himself.
This short is from the very beginning of The Making of a Demon. It’s actually from just before the book starts, and this is the impetus for the rest of the events that take place. Yes, you might just say that Razken’s father sounds a bit insane. He seems to have lost his mind at this point.