See, I told you I was working on this and would get it done (just barely!) on time.
Following the holiday season, Chuck Wendig has once again risen from his festering and purulent killzone shack in the woods to bestow upon us this week’s Flash Fiction Challenge. Resuming in the new year with the traditional “1,000 words or so” to be based on a character we create using the “Who The Fuck Is My D&D Character?” website. In my case, I am an “ambitious human rogue from the Iceberg Sea who loots every kill but leaves enough to pay for their burial.” Okay, well, at least I’m human…
As always, comments and constructive criticisms are appreciated.
The rustling of palm fronds waving in the warm breeze high above me was the only sound other than the crash of the surf and the shrill call of the gulls wheeling in the tropical sunrise. The beach was almost smooth and pristine, marred only by the two converging lines of footprints, soon to be erased by the rising tide. And the body, of course.
Careful to keep an eye on the troll, making sure that it was truly dead and not simply more-or-less dead, I brushed the sand from my leather tunic and retrieved my sword from where it had buried itself hilt-deep in the sand. It would take days of cleaning and honing the fine steel to rid it of scratches from the abrasive volcanic debris, but it was better than having the troll in possession of both the blade and my soul.
I was still getting adjusted to this warm and wet world so far from my beloved Iceberg Sea. Where the snap of frigid air and crystal-clear clarity of the air in my home harbor always served to keep a rogue’s wits sharp and reflexes quick, the atmosphere in this sauna of a land made one sleepy and sluggish, especially following the third rum. I must be more careful.
A dozen or so well-placed kicks convinced me that the troll had indeed succumbed to the knife I had inserted into its eye. Grunting as I rolled its corpulent carcass over onto its back, I saw the obsidian blade buried all the way to the ivory handle, which was covered by a congealing mass of the thick, green, malodorous goo that served as blood for the beast. As much as I loved that dagger, given to me as a gift by a beautiful lady in Stångùüûstëêngærttœn, I decided to leave it there rather than retrieve it.
Pulling my short dirk from the top of my high leather boots, I cut the troll’s purse away from its belt. It was heavy with an assortment of gold and silver coins from many unknown lands. The coins should be more than enough to purchase passage away from this muggy hellhole and back to the white and frozen lands of my birth.
But first, in order to appease the Seventeen One-Eyed Gods of my people, I needed to leave a payment for the burial of my fallen foe. I had not been in this land long enough to know of their customs and the costs of their goods and services, but the brute was massive and starting to smell badly. Burial would not be easy or cheap. I left a small gold piece in each hand and a silver doubloon between its teeth, hoping it would be sufficient to appease the Seventeen.
Leaving the body, I was almost to the tree line above the beach when I heard a shout behind me. Approaching at a trot was a band of elves on horseback, accompanied by a cleric of some sort. Two of the elves were riding up to the troll’s corpse, while the others shouted and pointed at me.
I tried to flee into the jungle, but mounted as they were on destriers gifted with the speed of lightning, they caught me easily. I drew my sword to defend myself, but faced with five swords and three drawn bows, discretion seemed the better course. Smiling broadly and moving slowly, I dropped my sword and raised my hands.
The cleric started babbling at me in a whiny, nasal voice, using a language I did not recognize, but which sounded similar to others I had heard in these islands. I kept smiling, shrugging, and shaking my head as he got more and more agitated, pointing back at the troll corpse lying near the waterline. He was not happy about something, but at least it didn’t seem that the troll had been a friend of theirs.
Suddenly there was a scream from the two elves examining the troll. Turning to look and were greeted with a most astonishing and horrific sight. Scampering out of the sea in a wave of clacking pincers was a legion of small black crabs. Crawling over each other in a mad dash, screaming shrilly as they skittered along, they swarmed the area around the body.
The elves as a group turned and fled for their lives. The two nearest the troll just barely managed to regain their mounts and gallop away ahead of the ravenous chitin cloud. The elves near me split into two groups, each heading a different direction away from the scene at top speed. The cleric was clinging to the neck of his mount for dear life, trusting the horse’s instincts and terror to get him away from the danger.
I saw the troll’s body being consumed in mere seconds by the central group of the crab army, while the outliers of the monstrous mass of arthropods cast about looking for additional prey.
Not waiting to see if they considered foreign humans to be edible, I grabbed my sword and sprinted into the trees. I did not know how or why the Seventeen had chosen this method to welcome the troll to their bosom, but I was grateful to see that my burial offering had been sufficient to not only buy the troll’s disposal, but my freedom as well. Mysterious were the ways of the Seventeen One-Eyed Gods, but as a free man instead of an elven prisoner, I was not in a position to question their methods.
Using my sword to hack through the thick underbrush, I headed off in a direction I hoped would take me back to the harbor and an exit from this horrid place.
Then I ran into the gru, lounging next to a sleeping gazebo.