Are We a Coterie? – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 7 March 2018, these three words were chosen:

  • Flail
  • Rushed
  • Coterie (an intimate and often exclusive group of persons with a unifying common interest or person (sense of negativity as the group excludes others))

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!



“So are we a coterie or not?” Sandy asked.

Debbie glanced at her friend, her arm mid swing with the flail. “I don’t know. I hadn’t really thought about it. What does that even mean? Can you look it up?”

“Sure,” Sandy said as she pulled out her iPhone, her fingers flying over the mini keyboard.

The flail finished its swing and the scream echoed across the cavern. Sandy’s eyes darted to the sacrifice, then back to the glowing screen in front of her.

“Damnit , the cell service really sucks down here,” she whined. “We should pay for wi-fi.”

Debbie nodded in agreement as she eyed her victim critically. She hated to be rushed in these things. “So what does it say?”

“Oh. Sorry got distracted checking my snaps. Um, like, we’re an exclusive group or club with common interests it says.”

“Yeah, I guess we are then,” Debbie said as she laid another stripe down the man’s back. She grinned as the cavern filled with another round of echoes.

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Christina’s arms flailed as she started to fall, the light moss on the ground deceptively slippery. Reno rushed to grab her but he too hit the moss and fell with her. Her turned as they went down, landing heavily on his back, Christina’s only damage ended up being her pride as she lay on top of him haphazardly. She scrambled from his grasp despite the strong pull to stay there. Reno stood and brushed himself off.

“Thank you,” Christina whispered, the sky was getting darker and despite her urges, she had to stop even thinking about Reno in any way especially that way. Mardella, the head of her coterie was betrothed to the man, since she was child they say. It broke Christina’s heart. A quick glance at Reno’s blushing face and she thought it might break his as well.

They rushed toward the distant fire burning in the clearing ahead.

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“You can’t excommunicate me, I founded this Coven!” Tera screamed at the robed figures condemning her from their high perches behind the half-moon table. Tall figures were suddenly on either side of her, grabbing her arms and rushing her out of the old cathedral, as she flailed and screeched. The sounds of her displeasure echoed long after she had been removed, and only when they had died down did the members at the table remove their hoods, casting uneasy glances at each other. Redd watched them with a carefully neutral expression. No one was certain about what they had done. As Tera had pointed out, she had formed the group, but under her tyrannical guidance, the Coven had become more of a coterie, and when Witches and Wizards who disagreed with her methods and beliefs started disappearing, and then turning up dead, it was determined that her influence was most likely at fault, and it had to end. “She won’t stop,” Treven, a nervous looking Wizard at the far end of the table said. “This will just make her angrier.” “Our laws won’t allow for anything more,” Nell answered briskly, pushing her glasses up her nose. “We have people watching her. She won’t cause any further trouble.”

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“Send me the address” I said trying not to giggle too hard. I could tell she was distressed and I didn’t want her flailing around spraying the cupcake all over the alley. That could be dangerous. I laughed at that thought as I rushed out the door ordering the Uber on the way.

She wasn’t far it turned out. In less then ten minutes I was able to get to the building and find the alley “Chrissie?” I tentatively asked, hoping she would reply.

She walked out and she was in fact covered head to toe in cupcake matter. “Ummm… What?” I didn’t get my question out before she was sobbing “It was terrible!”

I wasn’t sure what ‘it’ was, but again before I could form the right question to ask she blurted out “It was a coterie of cupcake smashers.” She was pulling frosting full of glittery sprinkles from her hair. I handed her the bag I brought with make-up wipes and towel and asked “Cupcake what?”

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He stared at the weapon in my hand, eyes squinting. “Did you honestly just pick up a flail?”

I shrugged, trying to look as though I used weapons like this all the time. “Yeah. So what?” I asked. When he didn’t reply, I added, “You said to get a weapon. I pick this one.”

“Bloody farmer. There’s no need to be so rushed,” he told me. “You can take a moment, think things over. We have all afternoon to do this.”

I ignored the insult and looked around at the empty amphitheatre, at the rows and rows of seats that would be filled in a few hours, patrons eager to see the newest death match in Cyrus’s games. We’d gotten a lot of advertising for this one. I’d heard the slaves chattering about it when I first woke up in the cell beneath the stadium this morning, the coterie unwilling to share any more with an outsider like me. “I think we should probably figure out what we’re going to do sooner than that.” I gestured at him with the flail. “This will look good, no? Give them something to ooh and aah about? That’s what Cyrus wants anyway.”

I moved the handle from my right to my left hand, weighing it, deciding if I would be able to do anything at all with it when the time came. It definitely had potential to inflict damage. He shook his head, choosing an axe from the weapon stand and taking slow steps toward me. “Tell me you’ve had some training,” he muttered.

I held the flail up, hoping I had the right side pointed at him, the end swaying gently as I breathed. “I’ve had some training?” I replied.

“We’re both going to die,” he said, taking a deep breath.

“We’re in the games,” I told him. “That’s the general idea.”

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Jax looked around the coterie of warlocks who were now gathered in a circle. In its center lay two candles nearly burned down to nothing, the scalding wax having spread across the pentagram that was etched into the floor. Rising from the center was a shadow that seemed to flail as if in pain, its arms and legs contorting into abnormal and frightening positions. Some members of the group rushed away frightened by what they had summoned. Others stared on, entranced by the macabre dance, but their eyes widened in horror as the translucent figure became solid.

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