Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 13
Challenge #6: Write a story involving a stranger and an ambiguous proposal, borrowing the first line from another author’s story written this month. As an optional bonus, incorporate one thing from the list of “2425 Things Mr. Welch Can No Longer Do During an RPG.”
Sunshine, good music and a very long bar queue. This, Büzenpüken decided, was a strange sort of oppressed village. A strange sort of oppressed village indeed.
“It’s the dragon,” whispered a nearby peasant, the bags around his eyes black as the devil, and saggy as the devil’s devilish man-boobs. “The dreaded Party Dragon! He has made his home in Bierkan Mountain and demands that we honour his appearance with a thousand years of vigorous celebration!”
“That doesn’t sound so bad,” said Büzenpüken, scratching his beard.
“It wasn’t at first!” The peasant dropped to his knees, clutching Büzenpüken’s barbarian bearskin briefs. “But that was ages ago! I haven’t slept in weeks! All I do is dance and uncontrollably guzzle cheap booze!”
“That doesn’t sound so bad,” said Büzenpüken, again.
“It’s horrible!” cried the peasant. “And if we so much as complain about it…”
There was a roar from the cave at the foot of the mountain. A searing orb of flame arced across the sky.
“Uh-oh!” yelled the peasant, desperately zig-zagging away from the bar queue. “Uh-oh! Uh-oh!!!”
The orb of flame descended upon him with a noise reminiscent of sizzling bacon, and a smell also reminiscent of sizzling bacon.
“AAAAAAAAAARGH!!!” he screamed, dying horribly. “WHY DID I DRINK ALL THOSE SAMBUCAS??? THE HIGH ALCOHOLIC CONTENT OF MY CHOSEN BEVERAGE HAS NO DOUBT EXACERBATED THE SEVERITY OF MY CURRENT SITUATION!!!”
Instantly taking the hint, the bar queue formed itself into an impromptu conga line. As part of the bar queue, Büzenpüken naturally found himself caught up in it. Not that he minded.
“I sense you take pity in our plight, stranger.” Another peasant—who Büzenpüken might have pointed out was a stranger himself from his point of view—said, taking advantage of the close-knit conga line to whisper in his ear. “Would I be right in thinking that you are a sword for hire?”
“I am indeed a ‘sword for hire,’” answered Büzenpüken, making an eyebrow gesture that was admittedly sort of drowned out by his copious facial hair.
“And would I be right in thinking that you have been drawn here by our struggle?”
“I have indeed,” explained Büzenpüken. “I have found that those in troubled places are the most likely to avail themselves of my services.” He glanced about the nearby dancers, then lowered his voice. “Perhaps yourself…?”
“Yes!” breathed the peasant. “Yes, of course!” He produced a marvellous silk bag from the folds of his cloak. “This is a magical bag of holding.”
He passed the bag to Büzenpüken. “Inside the magical bag is a set of magical manacles.”
“Okay…” Büzenpüken thought for a bit. “I’d have to charge extra for that.”
“Oh,” said the peasant, “for this quest, you’d be richly rewarded.” Then he too thought for a bit. “Wait, what?”
“You said you’d ‘have to charge extra for that.’ What is ‘that’ exactly?”
“Nothing!” Büzenpüken saw now that this wasn’t his usual sort of job, but nevertheless he was keen to hang onto the opportunity. “It’s just that your proposal was a little ambiguous. Typically I’m more of a lover than a…never mind. What was it you said about being richly rewarded?”
“Free us from the tyranny of the dreaded Party Dragon, and you will be richly rewarded.”
“How richly are we talking, exactly?” Büzenpüken raised an eyebrow, which again was pretty much invisible against the general level of background hair.
“Richly,” repeated the peasant, making the universal finger gesture of money. “The Party Dragon is immune to all weapons under the sun, yet follow my instructions and you cannot fail! All you have to do is take the magic manacles to Manahold, where the mad mage Mitchell makes mayhem with his mighty mind. We have a prior arrangement with the novices there that as compensation for this service you will be given an enchanted arbalest…”
“And the enchanted arbalest can slay the dragon?” put in Büzenpüken.
“Hardly!” snorted the peasant. “You must take the enchanted arbalest to Evenshore, where the enigmatic elder-eel even now enacts egregious acts of evil. In return for slaying this beast, the Evenshore Enforcers will furnish you with a cursed cannon…”
“A cannon!” Büzenpüken was beginning to think that no rewarding could be rich enough for this amount of trouble. “How am I supposed to lug a cannon back here from Evenshore!”
“You’ll have a magical bag of holding! It can easily contain a cannon. Do try to keep up.” The peasant rolled his eyes. “Anyway. You don’t need to bring the cannon here, you need to take it to Crabheim to kill the calamatous cave kraken that dwells there. For this, the Crabheim Council will provide you with the Crabheim Council Key.”
“I didn’t hear another alliterative place in that last one. That sounds promising.”
“It is! Because the Crabheim Council Key unlocks the Lemonvale lavatorium wherein you shall find Leonard Lye, the legendary sentient lavender-scented bar of soap, crafted long ago by the loony leprechaun Lederschnoz. Now, Leonard Lye will lead you to…where are you going?”
Büzenpüken had heard enough. “I’m taking a shortcut,” he called over his shoulder.
Ten minutes later, the bar queue had dispersed, the party was over, and the dragon was suspiciously quiet. Büzenpüken returned from the mountain, twirling the magical manacles manfully in hand.
“What…” the peasant was perplexed. “What did you do?”
“You said that magic bag could hold anything, right?” He shrugged. “I slipped it over the dragon’s head. It’s dead now.”
“That’s actually kind of sad.” The peasant stared thoughtfully into the middle distance. “You’re quite sure you couldn’t have gone with the convoluted alliterative plan with the talking soap?”
Büzenpüken shrugged again. “It’s done now.”
“I suppose it is.”
There was an awkward silence.
“You know, if you guys are ever tormented by another dragon, you could probably break out the magic murder bag of holding again.”
“I suppose so.”
Büzenpüken held up the now-surplus manacles. “By the way, I’m selling these for booze.”