Four Random Words – Challenge Response

Yet another RocNaNo challenge.

The prompt is to come up with a story based around four random words provided by someone else. I tweeted a request for these one Sunday night. This is what I got:

Purple, apricot, walnut, loon

Glove, jerky, philanthropy, helicopter


At any moment, I…

Hero, simple, gorgeous, funnily


Chocolate, running, equator, hockey


Five sets of words. Each interesting in their own right. Now, which do I use?

I keep coming back to Herongarde for my challenge responses, in part because that is what I’m working on when I’m not actually ‘working.’ To that end, Sean-Allen’s suggestions stir something in me. But not so much about Lord Trey and Hanna. But maybe about Lord Gilbert and Henry. Mostly about Henry.


Henry considered himself an artist. As such, his life was kept simple. He exercised daily and trained for his performances. He could spend hours working to perfect a new stunt. He needed little more than food in his belly and a bed to sleep on.

At least, he wanted that to be true. He knew it wasn’t.

Not one performance ever passed without women falling all over themselves for his attention. He would roll his eyes. What did these women see in him? Wasn’t it obvious he did not want them? Arie would remind him that in the eyes of women, he was simply stunning. Absolutely gorgeous. A 25-year old acrobat. All muscle. Trim and tight. His fastidious nature made him all the more attractive, his beard always perfectly trimmed and his hair tied neatly at the back of his head.

Arie, his sister, was the only one who knew. Well, and Brock, but Brock was gone from his life. That chapter closed many years ago. Henry knew he was doomed to be alone.

He had his art, thankfully. His art brought him joy. And that his art brought others joy as well made him happy.

Living in the King’s court had stirred something in him. At first, he merely observed. These men and their massive swords were unnerving to him. So many smelled bad and endlessly would lay with any woman who would offer herself to them. It was repellent. But the artistry with which they wielded their weapons drew him closer.

One man among them struck Henry as different. Lord Gilbert, the Master at Arms, was ever studious, and took no interest in the ways of women and drink. Henry found him striking to watch, an artist in his own right. A master of the art of swordplay. Henry attempted to keep his distance, and thought he had been unnoticed until the day Gilbert invited him to handle a sword.

Henry ran that day, cursing himself. His face was flushed with embarrassment and anger. He was hurrying to tell Arie that it was time to leave when he collided with Gilbert in the hall. Henry nearly cried, but Gilbert merely smiled.

They were fast friends, though Gilbert was more than twenty years Henry’s senior. They would often sit for hours and speak of songs and science. Henry absorbed every bit of knowledge he could and reveled in every moment he spent with Lord Gilbert.

Gilbert invited Henry to practice with the others and offered Henry some personalized lessons. Though Henry abhorred fighting, the beauty by which Gilbert handled the sword made Henry wish to participate. When Gilbert spoke of the sword, Henry was drawn in. In a very few months, Henry had become a formidable fighter, though he swore he would never engage in real battle. There would never be a need. Henry would never play the hero.

Yet, not two months later, Henry found himself standing over the body of a dead Falgarth warrior. In Henry’s hand was the blade that took the warrior’s life. Gilbert rose to his feet, bruised and bloodied from the battle that had taken place there. Funnily enough, that which Henry thought would never happen just did. Henry fought. Gilbert lived. The great battle was over and won.

And everything was different.

2 thoughts on “Four Random Words – Challenge Response

  1. Wow, that’s a twist I wouldn’t expect. I could see a perfomer being forced into defending himself, but to actually have trained in martial arts (with a perfectly legitimate, non-violent reason) first and -then- being placed in that position, now that’s fascinating. I’m already trying to imagine how he reconciles who he believes himself to be with who he’s become.

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