I wrote this a couple months ago for a micro-fiction (under 100 words) contest.
I didn't win– that is, it wasn't one of the top three entires out of the hundred or so that were submitted. Reading it, you can see why– I have a good concept and I think the first two paragraphs and the last paragraph are pretty good, but the middle is ruined by an over-reliance on expository dialogue and narration.
I think I did an okay job of seeding it with open loops that make the reader want to know more– but in hindsight, maybe that was debatable as a goal for a micro-fiction contest.
I'm expanding it into a short story that will probably be two or three thousand words; hopefully it will work better at that length. But enjoy my interesting yet flawed first attempt at it.
From the palace roof, Chief Scholar Farzad observed the encroaching nightmare legions of the Iconoclasts, their countless war-engines and gene-boosted hoplites faintly illuminated by amaranthine moonlight beyond the redoubts of The Perpetual City.
Furtively he crept to sub-basement nineteen. “They’re here. I need–”
“Curse you!” howled the room’s manacled inhabitant. “You took everything– my face, my position, my family, my very name!” A pause. “Does Parisha know?”
“She’s home, with the children. Where is The Forbidden Grimoire of Kal’Zakan?”
“You know the price,” the real Farzad snarled.
There was no alternative. Hands trembling, the chief scholar unshackled his prisoner.