Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 23
Challenge #10: Write a story involving something that sparkles, and someone who wants to steal it.
“On behalf of Ólafsson and Sons, I’d like to thank you for banking with us and—”
Grundi Gunnarsson and Frig Hjörleifsdóttir turned to stare at the dragon who had just poked his head (and most of his neck) through the window.
“I don’t mean to interrupt,” said the dragon, “but I have a proposition that I think you’ll want to hear.”
“I’m sorry,” said Frig, “but this isn’t a good time.”
“I’m afraid it’s the only time.” The dragon poked its beaky snout towards the cloth pouch on the table. “It pertains to those sparkly jewels of yours, so naturally I must put the idea forward before you entrust them to the care of this establishment.”
“I really don’t think that—”
“Hang on.” Grundi put up a hand. “Let’s at least hear the creature out.”
“Well, Ólafsson and Sons is a fine institution with plenty of satisfied customers who trust them with their treasure, but have you at least considered the dragon-guarding option?” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 12
Long ago in a land far distant, there lived a travelling wizard sworn to serve all creatures. One day, this wizard came to hear of a troll beneath a bridge who was threatening travellers out of their coin. And so he resolved to find this troll, and see if he might be made to reconsider his wicked ways.
“Great troll,” he began. “Much have I been told of your violent ways: let the people of these lands pass by in peace, or I shall use my magic to banish you.”
But “Whoah, woah, woah,” said the Troll. “I’m not the bad guy here: this bridge was built by the trolls of Trollheim. I’m just collecting the toll on behalf of our king.”
So the wizard resolved to travel to Trollheim, in the hopes that the king might be made to reconsider his greedy ways. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 11
Challenge #5: Write a story including a plan that fails because of an unforseen and inherent flaw. It must include a character and setting based on two tarot cards chosen at random from the Major Arcana. Optionally, a phone call must be made at some point.
My two cards were Temperance and Wheel of Fortune.
Far away, in a time not yet remembered, there lived a king who delighted in all precious things. His crown was forged of platinum, and gemstones of cut trinitite adorned his hands.
Twenty-two knights served this king, and twenty-two he sent out on a journey, when news reached his ears of a distant land where dwelt a serpent with horns of gold. The wastes were home to many strange creatures—atom-bred—and he wished to have a horn from this beast as a drinking vessel.
The knights readied their steeds, and a crowd gathered to witness the spectacle. These were strange animals with hides of iron and chrome: they ate no food, and would drink nothing but the pungent water drawn from the deepest well. Each of these creatures stood twice as tall as a man, save for two: the steed of the first knight, for whom the wastes had long been home, and the steed of the twenty-first, who had once been his squire. These two were no larger than cattle, seeming dwarfed even by the meagre provisions that they carried.
The journey began, and those knights at the front of the party spurred their steeds on as fast as they would go. Dust rose from the earth and smoke rose from their mouths. All were eager to claim the serpent’s horn, and with it the king’s favour. Yet some settled for a slower pace, among them the first and the twenty-first. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 18
“Foolish knight,” hissed the dragon. “Did you think this place would be unguarded? Did you think the moat its only defence? None who pass through those gates return alive, for all who do must face me.”
“Okay,” said the knight. “Why?”
“What do you mean ‘why’? Obviously I’m gonna fight anyone who comes here. Do you really think they’d leave a dragon in a tower just to welcome people in?”
The dragon made an annoyed little noise. “Only Queen Harriet the Third and the nobles of her court. Geez! You don’t see a lot of dragons guarding pubs, do you? I mean, it’s pretty much royalty or nothing, innit?”
“Because dragons guard treasure and the cash box at the Dog and Pheasant isn’t exactly going to cut it!” Continue reading
The Dragon and The Dying Stars, my final piece for Flash Fiction Month 2017, was selected as a Daily Deviation over on deviantart.com today! If you’re not familiar with the site, that means it’s been prominently featured as something that’s worth checking out: it’s not an award as such, but still it’s nice to know that my story has been selected and it’s already getting a whole lot of new readers as a result. This has happened a few times before, and it’s always a real boost.
Also worth mentioning is that saturdaystorytellers recently released a recording of another dragon-related story of mine, The Chalice and the Swords. This one was written in 20 minutes as part of a “write-off” challenge in which that’s all the time you get. Those aren’t running any more, which is a shame because I feel as though I got a lot of great stories out of them despite the tight time limit. This incarnation of the story was narrated by Don Socrates, and the image you see above is Awaking by AhhhFire.
Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 19
Once upon a time there was a terrible dragon, which crawled along the ground on endless feet. The dragon was an ancient beast—forged long before Little Red was born—and only Grandmama was old enough to remember it. But Little Red had heard stories, and so when she saw the dragon coming she rolled her bike into a wooden bunker nearby and waited for it to pass.
But the dragon saw her inside with eyes of infra-red, and so it spoke: “Little Red, Little Red, let me come in.”
“Not by the spikes on your tinny-tin-tin!”
“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your fort in!”
The dragon breathed out a huge gout of fire that burned the wooden bunker to ash, but Little Red was clever, and so in the commotion she escaped and rode away across the wasteland to a bunker of steel. Continue reading
You might recall Craft Keep VR from my writeup of EGX 2016, where I was lucky enough to try out the virtual reality fantasy artisan game first hand. Well, there’s some exciting follow-up news. First of all, Craft Keep is coming to Steam Early Access on the 10th of November: that’s less than a week away!
Second, I’m writing this thing! At EGX I got talking to the developer, Arvydas Žemaitis, who said that he was looking to include an interesting story as the player travels about setting up shop in all these weird and wonderful locations around the world. Naturally I sent off an email about it after the event, and here we are! Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 30
The corpse of the dragon lay steaming upon the floor, the marks of its wrath seared permanently into the cavern walls. Yet the heroes stood victorious. Leaving the dragon to stink and smoulder, they ventured deeper into its lair, appraising the stock of treasure the winged terror had amassed across the ages.
“This will ease the suffering of our land…” observed Khemaghan the Keen, lifting a gem-studded chalice, worth several fortunes on its own.
“…but it will not repair the devastation that the beast has wrought.” Quilbar the Quick was troubled by the same thought.
“We beat it,” said Skondar the Strong, speaking firmly as ever. “We won. It’s over.”
But from the bones of the dragon, there sprang forth a new threat. For in its hoard—beyond the reach of mortal man for years known only to the gods—there stood a copper lamp upon a bare pedestal. In every other room, gold and jewels had lain strewn across the floor, a careless bed for the vile serpent.
In this room, the floor was bare. A perfect, solid circle of clear stone marked a perimeter about the pedestal, as though gold and silver feared to draw too close to the base metal that stood atop it.
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!!!”
Flash Fiction Month 2014, Day 11
Once upon a time there was a thief named Rashid. At first he found great wealth and had many wondrous adventures, but as his fame spread people began to grow wise to his tricks, and Rashid grew hungry. One day, having not eaten anything for a considerable time, he did something he had wanted never to do: he crept inside the great burial mound that lay not far out of town, and which all knew to be cursed.
Within the mound, which was ringed round by standing stones, Rashid found vast piles of treasure. The thief needed no torch to see the riches he had discovered, for the quantity of gold there was so great, its lustre so brilliant, that it gave off its own light. However, though hungry, Rashid was not foolish. He took only a single golden cup, that surely could not be missed. And so Rashid stole quietly away, and neither wraith nor fiend nor devil pursued him from that place.
First, Rashid took the golden cup to the jeweller. “Look at this fine cup I found in the desert,” he said, presenting it to her. “Surely you can appreciate its worth.”
“Indeed I can,” said the jeweller, “and I would pay handsomely, had it been brought to me by anyone but a thief.”
Second, Rashid took the golden cup to the merchant. “Look at this fine cup,” he exclaimed. “A djinn appeared from the ground and presented it to me, but I would much rather have some bread. Perhaps you would like to trade?”
But “No no no,” said the merchant, mopping his brow. “You are a thief, Rashid. A thief and a trickster. If this cup is not stolen, it is cursed.”
Finally, Rashid took the golden cup to the king. “Eminent Highness,” he said, bowing, “I…”
“Leave my palace or I will have you thrown in jail,” said the king.
And so Rashid beat a hasty retreat.
But the true danger was already upon him, for as night fell, a great dragon awoke within the mound. Knowing that some small part of its hoard was missing, and catching the scent of man about the place, it flew screeching for the city lights on the horizon.
The dragon flew above the houses, raking their roofs with its vicious claws and spewing flame down into the streets. “Bring to me my treasure before the sun rises,” it cried, “or I shall burn this city down!”
As soon as they heard this, the jeweller and the merchant and the king all realised what had happened, and before long everybody was tearing through the streets with torches and spears, desperately seeking Rashid.
But no sooner than he had been driven from the palace, Rashid had gone back to the jewellers shop and—having let himself in—begun to melt down the golden cup. The cup was trouble, that was plain enough. But surely no shopkeeper could find fault with a few shapeless blobs of gold.
However, though the golden cup was small and unassuming, it held a secret unmatched by any other treasure of that desert mound. As the final remnants of the drinking vessel’s form melted in the crucible, a face appeared in the molten metal.
“Thank you, kind stranger!” said the face, with a peculiar golden voice. “Thank you for freeing me from the chalice!”
Rashid stumbled away from the fire. “Who are you?”
“I was once a hero,” explained the face of gold, “sworn to defeat the dark priest who dwelled within the halls of the dead. But I was found wanting: he cast a spell upon me, and for a thousand years I have remained sealed in that cup.”
At that moment the jeweller burst in, for she had realised at last what Rashid must have done. “There you are!” She slapped Rashid soundly. “A terrible dragon sits atop the palace and has threatened all kinds of things, should its cup not be returned before a new sun rises.”
“That is no dragon!” exclaimed the hero in the gold. “Long have I watched with emerald eyes: that is a noble princess, who was also cursed. Always is she doomed to watch over the dark priest’s hoard, for if it should be divided from her when the sun rises, she shall surely die.”
This, the jeweller thought, was even worse than the city being razed, since the princess was blameless. She turned to Rashid. “See what your thieving ways have done?” And she slapped him again for good measure.
But Rashid’s thieving ways were not all bad, for he had cunning. “Wait!” he shouted. “Bid the townspeople bring the whole hoard here, to your shop. I see a way that all can be resolved.”
So, after some coaxing, the jeweller did this. And after more coaxing, the king agreed. A great procession filed forth from the city, and before even the faintest touch of dawn had lit the sky, every treasure of the mound was gathered in the jeweller’s shop.
“Now,” said Rashid, “The hoard is with the dragon, and the dragon with the hoard, and this is good.”
This time, it was the king’s turn to slap Rashid. “Is this dragon to perch atop my palace forever?” he cried. “This is not good at all!”
But Rashid was more cunning still. He bade the jeweller make a vast and wondrous mould, and pour into it all the melted gold of the dark priest’s hoard. And when this was done, all the people of the town saw at last what Rashid had devised. Because what emerged from that clay form was no mere trinket, but a hero’s body all of gold, as well proportioned as any statue, and as intricate as any clockwork.
And so both the dragon and the golden man were free from the necropolis at last. Though each is bound to the other’s company, neither much minds. And neither do the jeweller and Rashid, who were wed not a week later.