The Vow of the Peacock

You're sipping champagne at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2018, enjoying your celebration and not giving much thought to tomorrow. Suddenly, you notice that there is a large peacock standing beside you. You're not quite sure where it came from, or if the bird is even real. The peacock cranes its slender neck to look up at you, then politely asks if you intend to uphold the code of chivalry and make the Vow of the Peacock in the new year. What do you do?
Author:
Publish date:

[Can you impress us in 1500 words or less? Enter the Short Short Story Competition today! Deadline January 15, 2018]

As with many holiday traditions, most New Year's resolutions have religious roots. Babylonians were thought to be some of the first to make such resolutions, making promises to the gods to return borrowed objects and pay debts at the start of each year. Drawing from this earlier tradition, Romans also made promises to the two-faced god Janus, namesake of the month January.

Image placeholder title

During the Medieval Era, there was yet another New Years-resolution tradition, known as the Vow of the Peacock, that has fallen out of practice in modern times. In Charles Dickens' periodical All the Year Round, he wrote about the Vow of the Peacock, explaining that peacocks (and occasionally pheasants) represented "by the splendour and variety of their colours, the majesty of kings during the middle ages"—and were thought to be "the peculiar diet of valiant knights and heart-stricken lovers." Therefore, in the new year, a great feast was held with a roasted peacock as its centerpiece. Each knight would make a vow of chivalry to the bird, after which it would be carved and divided among all those present.

The code of chivalry—which knights in question pledged to uphold—can be found below. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Image placeholder title

The Prompt: 

You're sipping champagne at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2018, enjoying your celebration and not giving much thought to tomorrow. Suddenly, you notice that there is a large peacock standing beside you. You're not quite sure where it came from, or if the bird is even real. The peacock cranes its slender neck to look up at you, then politely asks if you intend to uphold the code of chivalry and make the Vow of the Peacock in the new year. What do you do?

[Update #2: I have whitelisted the word "peacock" so that comments containing it will not be deleted. They may go to my moderation queue, however, and it may take me up to 24 hours to approve any pending comments. My apologies for the inconvenience.]

plot_twist_story_prompts_without_a_trace_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Without a Trace

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character leave without a trace.

WDVintage_10_29

Vintage WD: The Truth about True Crime

In this article from July 2000, true crime novelist and former New York Times correspondent Lisa Beth Pulitzer shares with us some key insights for breaking into the true crime genre.

new_agent_alert_barb_roose_books_such_literary_services_adult_christian_fiction_and_nonfiction

New Agent Alert: Barb Roose of Books & Such Literary Management

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Barb Roose of Books & Such Literary Management) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

Grinnell_10:28

Evoking Emotion in Fiction: Seven Pragmatic Ways to Make Readers Give a Damn

Evoking emotion on the page begins with the man or woman at the keyboard. Dustin Grinnell serves up seven straightforward tactics for writing tear-jerking stories that make your readers empathize with your characters.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 546

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a spooky poem.

Richard_Shadowlands

Learn Better World-Building Strategies Through World of Warcraft and the New Shadowlands Expansion

WD editor and fantasy writer Moriah Richard shares five unique ways in which writers can use World of Warcraft to better build their worlds—without playing the game.

Hall_10:27

Seven Tips for Intuitive Writing: The Heart-Hand Connection

Award-winning author Jill G. Hall shares her top tips for how to dive into your latest project head-first.

bearing_vs_baring_vs_barring_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Bearing vs. Baring vs. Barring (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use bearing vs. baring vs. barring on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.