Writing Exercise Example

As promised, here is my participation in the Writing Exercise I posted about this morning. As I said there, I am drawing from Terry Pratchett’s Lords and Ladies, in which there is a circle of stones standing upright. A woman appears in the middle of that circle and presumably can’t leave it.


Seven shackles bound Neasa to the seven stones that formed a circle around her. Freshly-dead corpses were pinned to five of those stones. The body on the sixth was struggling with its lasts breaths. That left one, and the gruesome portion of the ritual would be complete.

Fiach raised the last pin. It looked the same as all the others: pointed on one end with a loop on the other to hold the chains binding Neassa.

In an experienced thrust, Fiach plunged the spike into the abdomen of the seventh body.

The body grunted and bled, but did not scream or struggle.

Fiach grabbed his hammer next. Not many could even lift the hefty granite hammer, but Fiach swung it with ease until the pin was buried deep into the stone. Amazing devices, those pins. Not even Fiach’s hammer could bend them as they pierced stone without complaint.

The seventh body slumped, bleeding to death. The sixth was dead.

Fiach left the circle before the seventh had a chance to die. He rejoined the priest and his apprentices, resting the massive hammer against the side of the podium. The soft grass depressed slightly at the weight of it.

The priest and executioner exchanged nods. A couple spectators fidgeted.

“Here we gather,” the priest began in a loud voice, making a couple children jump, “to lay to rest a plague upon our village. A plague in the form of a woman.” The priest motioned a wrinkled hand to the scene behind him.

Neassa glared at him. Despite her red eyes and tangled hair, she was still quite a beauty. Fiach avoided her gaze. They say a sorceress’ beauty is naught but illusion, and a single look into her eyes will trap you in it for all eternity.

“This woman,” the priest continued, “this sorceress, has brought pain and misfortune unto us all, under the guise of a healer. She has poisoned our soup, burned our crops, tainted our water, and haunted our children’s dreams.”

A woman whimpered. Fiach only shifted his weight to keep his boots from sinking too deep into the mud.

“Today, we are to lay witness to this sorceress’ destruction. Join me as I banish her soul, her spirit, from this realm, forever!”

The priest paused and turned to face the sorceress in question. Fiach kept his back to her, watching the crowd carefully as they held their crosses and whispered their prayers.

“Be gone, evil spirit!” the priest chanted.

“You cannot banish me.” Neasa’s low voice sent a ripple through the crowd. They began praying harder.

“Be gone from this realm!” the priest continued.

“I will never leave.” Neasa raised her voice.

“Vanish from our sight and from our minds!”

“You cannot forget me!”

“Return to the Hell from whence you came!”

“You will see me again!”

“Be gone!”

“I will never–!”

A bright flash of light interrupted Neasa’s statement. The crowd flinched, many gasped, and all went silent. Neasa was gone, as were all seven bodies. Fiach didn’t need to turn around to know. This was his fourth banishment as executioner.

An older woman, mother of a lost child, fell to her knees in tears, holding her cross to her eyes.

Fiach tightened his jaw. His fourth banishment, but the first he didn’t watch. He couldn’t bring himself to even turn around and see the empty circle.

No one must know his thoughts. Not his wife, not the priest, not anyone. No one could know he helped banish the mother of his unborn child.

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About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on December 14, 2010, in Ishy Writes! and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Very interesting bit of story there. I wonder where the banished end up, and whether or not they can return? And what of the sacrifices used in the ritual, who were they? Curious…

    • Agreed. It’s a deep story despite being relatively short and I like how there’s internal conflict everywhere, from the banished woman’s mother, Fiach and Neasa and even the priest agreeing to be part of a (seemingly) pagan ritual.

      Are you going to expound on this story? It would be really interesting if you did. 😀

  2. I agree with Shard and Emitar; very interesting and intriguing.

  3. I’m glad you all enjoyed it! I doubt I will continue the story, as the whole circle of stones thing is a rather integral part of Pratchett’s novel and I wouldn’t feel right using it myself. As an exercise, however, I’m content with the outcome.

    For the record, criticisms are welcome, as well. Thanks for all the encouragement!

  1. Pingback: Writing Exercise « Resplendence

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