Posts Tagged With: Fab Four Fables

Fab Four Fables – A Merchant in Oria Part 3

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This is the third installment in February’s Fab Four Fables. David started us off with a fantasy tale that left it open for the story to take many different directions – read his here: http://scholarlyscribe.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/fab-four-fables-a-merchant-in-oria-part-one/. Eric used his in depth fantasy background to further the adventure here: http://sinistralscribblings.com/2013/02/08/a-merchant-in-oria-part-two-a-fab-four-fable/. Now, to continue our tale of humans and dwarves and trolls, I offer you this. I hope it is as enjoyable to read as it was to write because I had a hell of a lot of fun. SAM at www.frommywriteside.wordpress.com will use her talent to bring Kheldar’s story to a close.

As Kheldar was marched out of the town via a path that barely deserved to be called one, he tried to concentrate on his biggest problem. Trolls. The Dwarves had made a treaty with the Trolls! They were going to turn him over to the Trolls for who knew what nefarious purpose. A snack? Slave labor? Sport? And yet…this uncertain future paled in comparison to his current predicament. He was being prodded along, wearing nothing but his small clothes. Kheldar, who couldn’t bathe with the other merchants and only changed behind hastily erected partitions when the need struck on the road, was being pushed along in his under things. His horror at this continually overlapped his greater terror at being Troll fodder.

A rough voice sniggered as Kheldar attempted to keep his sensitive bits hidden behind his hands as he walked. “A shy little lamb of a human, huh?” the guard clumping along slightly behind his right shoulder asked.

“They are my bits,” Kheldar responded primly. “Just because you force me to walk in shame doesn’t mean that I have none.” Where did that come from? He told himself frantically to shut up, not to taunt his keepers, think before he spoke, all the rules of survival he could think of but himself was apparently out of body. “How do you keep your honor, Hammers of Moridin, when you do business with stone devils?”

“Stone devils pay well and keep you treaty breaking lying weak willed sacks of skin out of our mines, so don’t you worry about what we higher races do, filth,” said the guard on his left, clouting him on the side of the head without heed to the directive of non-harming imposed by Dahn.

Kheldar stumbled but to his own surprise kept his feet, danced clumsily around the rim of a wide hole in the ground from which sad and guttural wailings arose. He tried to peek in, to see what sorry creature made such noises, and had his ear twisted for his trouble. He shook the hand off as he would a bite-me. “Bah! Why do you care if I see what fate awaits me?” He slowed for a moment and looked back at his captors. “What do you mean, treaty breakers? I know of no treaty broken between human and dwarf.”

A smile that did not enhance the squat features spread wickedly across left-hand guard’s face. “Ask your father.” He shoved at Kheldar with his boot, knocking his feet out from under him and sending him sliding down a steep incline into one of the many other holes in the ground. The smell was ferocious and the ride was rough, dumping him out at the bottom onto a floor covered with waste and slime.

He looked up and up to the pinhole of light at the top of the shaft and saw stupid face, as he had come to think of him, lean over and grin a stupid grin. “Oh yes Kheldar, we know exactly who you are.”

****************

For as slowly as the next few cycles of the sun passed at the bottom of Minesink 42, Kheldar did a lot of fast thinking. Firstly, he had to let go of his childhood fantasies of the glories of the Dwarven kingdom. An entire lifetime of daydreams, up in smoke like the still sinister column of black that continually darkened a corner of what sky he could see. He wept, just a little, as is befitting the death of a dream, and then let it go. The little bit of softness that remained of youth burned off as he was ‘exercised’, which consisted of random and sarcastic dwarves dropping a rope down the shaft for him to climb up to receive his one bucket of gruel and better left unknown gristly bits per day. He kept his eyes averted, his mouth closed, and his shoulders bowed. When his gorge wanted to rise, he forced it down, eating and shimmying back down to his pit without complaint.

This morning was different. He shaded his eyes with a callused palm and saw that it was Right Hammer Dahn himself peering down at him. “Come,” said the pompous little Dwarf, resplendent in his robes and trinkets, yet no longer the grand figure that Kheldar had once perceived him to be. “It is time for your journey to Gormadth.”

As his hands grasped the flung down rope, one over the other without thought, a little voice of panic yammered away in the back of his skull. Trolls. Trolls! He had never wanted to meet any trolls, had harbored no desire for a face to face with one of the eldest Earthen tribes, terrifying and stupid and cruel. Of course, he had thought the Dwarves would be enlightened and welcoming, so assumptions weren’t always to be trusted. Seeing as there had never been a tale told of a friendly Troll or a meeting with them that did not result in any humans who weren’t quick enough to get away ending up in the cookpot, Kheldar felt comfortable in his belief that he most definitely did not want to meet them.

Their journey out of Oria began without ceremony, although plenty of its inhabitants took time out for a little peer and jeer. There were six in the party, and one cart to carry food and drink. Kheldar’s own oxen were hitched to the cart; he surreptitiously scratched behind the ears of the abused looking animals as he walked past and they lowed in response, tired eyes rolling in their heads. Anger bubbled like a sick stew in his stomach.

A rope was fastened into a loose fitting noose around his neck and tethered to the back of the cart, his hands bound in front of him. They had given him an ugly dung colored tunic, but no leggings, and some soft strips of cloth to tie around his feet. He still felt exposed but could no longer be bothered to care about it very much.

The dark and oppressive forest waited just around the corner; their entire passage to Gormadth would be through the Stragnon Woods. The thought turned Kheldar’s bowels to water, and so he opted instead to ponder what they had meant when they told him to ask his father about human treaty breakers. His father had always been an upstanding man, forthright and honorable. Kheldar himself had found him to be so, and had never heard a harsh word spoken against him amongst their tribe or any of the merchants on the trade routes he had worked these past years. Very puzzling, indeed.

As he turned things over in his mind, the procession took its first steps into the murk. In a blink the sky became barely visible through the canopy of oversized sickly green leaves far overhead, sound became a muted buzz, and even the Dwarves walked a little taller, which wasn’t all that tall, and swiveled their heads from side to side incessantly.

Time passed, the scenery didn’t seem to change all that much and Kheldar’s exhaustion numbed him. Until he heard the voice. He had been shambling along behind the cart, eyes on the ground in front of him, thinking of nothing but the next step. His rear guard had become lax in his duty, whistling and carelessly swinging his axe head at the grass, glancing around every so often. The voice whispered inside Kheldar’s head. “Look at the axle.”

Kheldar looked. The cart had been shoddily repaired at some point, he realized, and the axle jumped with every turn of the wheels, loose in its mooring. His heartbeat sped up, just as the voice reverberated inside his mind with a bone tingling yell. “Run!”

Kheldar grabbed his lead rope with both hands and yanked with every ounce of strength that he had left. The axle popped loose, the cart canted to its side, and Kheldar bounded away into the forest dragging it with him. He leaped over a stagnant crick and crashed through the undergrowth, all the while fighting the noose around his neck with his hands. He finally ducked out of it and left rope and axle amid the high grass, fleeter of foot without it dragging him down. He ran heedlessly deeper into the darkness.

*******************

Hours passed, and Kheldar finally stopped. He slumped against an enormous tree trunk and slid to the ground, bone weary. He couldn’t have run any further had the very hounds of Damascar been at his heels.

In a clearing a few feet away, a circle of boulders watched him closely. What one would have mistaken for cracks in weathered rock became a mouth which issued forth the same voice that had commanded Kheldar to run. “I believe that it is he,” it grumbled. “Regardless, any that we can save from this fate deserve it to be so.”

Mossy growths peeled away from the other boulders, became questing arms that dragged their bodies across the grass to peer more closely at the now sleeping and disheveled form. A gravelly murmuring arose as they contemplated the possibilities. “He looks too young.” “He looks weak, but he has survived this long with his spirit intact.” “It could be him.” “It cannot be him.”

The largest of the boulders among them waved a mossy tentacle like arm in the air. His craggy mouth opened and they all paused in their quiet bickering to attend. “I believe that it is he.”

*********************

The rules of the Fab Four Fables are simple:

– There is no time or word limit, and it cannot be combined with any other prompt or meme

– You have to keep the same title and stay within the genre chosen

– The next writer will not know who they are until the previous installment is posted, unless you’re the last one in which case your powers of deduction should have tipped you off 😉

– Use a picture that fits with your story at the top of the post

Take it away SAM!

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Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Fab Four Fables – Dying to See You, Part Duex

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Hazel conscientiously parallel parked her efficient little Jetta, with an almost perfect two feet of space in front and behind. She pulled down the visor to verify no lipstick had transferred to her teeth, gave her straight cut brown hair a little fluff with her fingertips. She could feel herself slipping into her new role, her new life, already. She was going to meet her true love for lunch, sweep in the door, prepared for that first electric moment when their eyes would meet across the room and rival the love that launched a thousand ships.

She turned the ringer off on her phone and slid it into its zippered pocket in her purse. Keys, compact, lipstick, wallet, breath mints, check. As she slid out of the car, her sweater snagged on the seat belt harness. “Damn it,” she cursed under her breath. “Not now.” She pulled at the snag, tugged on it until an entire thread came out and left a noticeable hole. “Shitshitshit…” As Hazel pulled her arms out of the sweater, no help for it now, she knocked her purse to the pavement. Though she would have sworn that she had already closed it all up it popped open, spilling nearly everything in it onto the street.

Her patience was wearing thin. She dropped the sweater onto the seat behind her, straightening the sleeves of her light brown cap sleeved shirt. As she bent over to gather her belongings, the heel of her left shoe turned, scraping it against the ground and leaving a scuff mark that looked to her a mile wide.

With a strangled oath she plunked herself back on the car seat to just breathe for a moment. “Some of the best things in life require struggles and sacrifice. This is just a minor setback, he’s not going to care that you have a scuff mark on your damn shoe, Hazel, but he will care if you are late. You don’t want him to think you stood him up, do you? Now get yourself together girl, and go get your destiny.”

Fortified, albeit a little wild eyed, Hazel stood and gathered her composure around her like a cloak as she hurried towards the entrance to the diner. A handsome man stood under the awning, smoking a cigarette directly under the No Smoking sign. Couldn’t be him, there was no way he would have a habit as common and smelly as smoking. The man eyed Hazel sideways as she scurried past him to reach for the door, stifling a laugh at the disheveled woman who probably didn’t know that she had some kind of stain on the knee of her pants.

As her fingers closed around the old timey wrought iron handle, a sudden gust of wind blew so strongly that the cherry of the man’s hand rolled cigarette blew right off the end and hit Hazel’s hand. It jumped away from the door handle and she spun around indignantly to tell the man just what she thought of his nasty habit, but he was gone. Startled, Hazel looked down the street but he was already half a block away. She shook off the moment and reached to open the door again, barely jumping out of the way as a couple too tipsy for early afternoon came barreling out of it. They giggled to each other and nodded a greeting to Hazel as they weaved away.

With grim determination Hazel gripped the side of the door before it could swing shut again and stepped into the diner. Marching forward, all thought of a gliding entrance forgotten, she stopped short at the hostess podium.

“May I help you?” asked the woman with lovely raven colored hair behind it.

Nonplussed, Hazel just stared for a moment. “Um…I have a lunch date. Today, at noon. I’m supposed to meet him here. At noon.”

The woman kept her eyes averted so Hazel wouldn’t catch the amusement in them. “Name?”

“Oh. Um. I’m not sure, I couldn’t read his letter.” She thought for a moment. “He’s dying to see me, though,” she added, with a winsome smile.

Now the hostess kept her eyes averted to hide the pity mixed in with the amusement. “I’m sure he is. Since you haven’t met him yet, I assume that you don’t know what he looks like?” Hazel shook her head, no. “Does he know what you look like?”

Hazel’s mounting panic was interrupted by a polite cough behind her, followed by a voice as mellow as aged scotch. “Excuse me, are you Hazel?” For a moment, Hazel watched the reaction on the raven haired woman’s beautiful face. Her eyes widened and warmed with surprise and appreciation, her lips parted as she let out a soft breath. Oh my.

Hazel turned into the hand that cupped her elbow gently, and her gaze travelled up to the face of the man who stood less than a foot behind her. He was dark where she had expected light, but her fantasy did an immediate re-write to include deep eyes that glittered like obsidian chips under straight strong brows, full dark pink lips currently curved into a hesitant smile over a cleft chin, and thick almost black hair that fell rakishly to his shoulders.

“Yes, yes, I’m Hazel. You must be…”she faltered as she realized she had no name for him. As his smile widened, for just a moment, something flickered in those shining eyes, something that felt cold, sepulchral and cold. A trick of the light, she admonished her racing heart. Her mind tried to quietly point out all the strange happenings that seemed almost contrived to keep her out of this diner. There are warning bells clanging somewhere in here, her mind said, if you would just stop and listen for a moment.

“You’re everything that I thought you would be Hazel,” he claimed. Taking her hand in both of his, his bent to touch his lips lightly to her knuckles. “I’ve been dying to meet you.”

**********

The Fab Four Fable was started as a colloboration between some of the original members of Sinistral Scribbling’s Master Class writing meme. SAM from My Write Side wrote the first part of this go round and tagged me to write the second. For the third part, I’m tagging David Wiley at Scholarly Scribe, which will leave Eric at Sinistral Scribblings to finish it off. Really? It’s so much fun….

The rules for the Fab Four Fables are as follows:

THE RULES:

1. No one will be privy to the story until it is posted.

2.The next person won’t know who they are until they are tagged, when the post goes live.

3. The person publishing the most recent part must adhere to the following:

  • choose the next person to write the story
  • keep the title and stay within the genre provided
  • provide an image of their choice at the top of their post that relates to their piece
  • the story must continue as a whole and not combined with any other prompt or meme

4. There is no word count or time limit.

David, it’s all on you kid 🙂

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Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

Fab Four Fables: The Frozen Threshold

What now? There are always choices. So what are mine?

My breath returns to normal and I wander the room, touching things at random. The myriad scrapes and scratches accumulated in my headlong rush sting with my sweat.

As amber light glows against warm wood, I studiously avoid glancing towards the windows. In every one, her face reflected. Eyes, so blue, piercing me with silent condemnation. I didn’t mean to do it.

I dash an exhausted and angry tear from my cheek. Go back through the door, to the patio, to the haunted and haunting forest.

The mist has collected around the underside of my little tree house. Tendrils creep upwards, questing, fall back unsatisfied. It seems as if it is thwarted. For the moment. I am unsettled, but I am safe. Are these my choices, then? To be safe or to be free?

I didn’t mean to do it.

“I didn’t mean to do it!” It explodes in a ragged and jagged scream from my throat but doesn’t split the silence of the air. It’s muffled around the edges, blurred, doesn’t make a ruffle. A sound that isn’t a sound, in a place that offers succor and taunt in equal measure. Here you can be safe, it says, but never ever free.

Never free. Have I been free since my past was my present? Suddenly I feel as if this mist has been chasing me for longer than I care to think about, that its tattered lace limbs have been looking for a way in. Poking along, searching for a chink, waiting for its moment.

What had I done, what weakness had I betrayed within myself that allowed an opening? I didn’t mean to do it.

The mist begins to whisper to me, to offer answers to my questions, and I scurry back towards the door, scrambling and stumbling in my haste. I do not want these answers.

Back inside. The quality of light hasn’t changed, time isn’t passing. Time is awaiting my choice.

Wandering, fingers running over rough surfaces, unfinished shelving that lay empty nailed to the unpainted wall. Is it waiting for me? As the thought surfaces, a clock appears on the shelf. It is my clock, a glass and metal doodad picked up because it looked interesting, not ticking. Sitting on the shelf. My shelf, now.

Stop avoiding the issues. I didn’t mean to do it. But I did. I did do it.

My aimless journey has brought me to a back door that I would swear was not there a minute before. The top of the door is made of bubbled thick glass panes, distorting. I open it without thought.

A different forest. Snow crusted, gorgeous, crystalline and pristine in the light that isn’t really light, a luminescence. Cold, icy cold, instantly freezing my breath in my lungs. A path. A set of footprints breaking the crust wavers in and out of existence. A path available but not yet chosen. I shut the door again.

Choices.

I want to lay this mantle down, sleep. I want to forget. I raise my weary head and lock eyes with her reflection. “I didn’t mean to do it.”

Her face changes, elongates, turns angry and confused, lips part and form watery looking shapes, yelling out. This, this is not she; this is a revenant of the she. There is only one way out. I have made my choice. I cannot live if I am not free.

I step towards the back door, one foot in front of the other. The windows rattle in their panes, angry and insistent. The susurrations of the mist begin afresh, assault me as I twist the knob once again. Step out onto the ledge. Another hemp rope hangs over the edge.

“I didn’t mean to do it. I’m sorry.” Hand over hand, fingers numbed, I slide painfully down the last few feet and fall into the snow. Staggering now, I try to send my feet to the path that I had seen, but the freezing cold has already made me clumsy.

The mist cannot touch me on this path, but it can touch the snow. It seeps under it, animates it, breathes life into otherworldly creatures. Snow snakes coil in my front of me, lash out and send me bumbling around them. I do not stop.

Snow wraiths, shrieking and shaking, chase me until I run, cannot help but be terrified, falling face first into the crust of ice. Cannot help but cower. Snow cats, no species I know, prowling and rawring in a circle around me. I swear that I can feel their breath on the nape of my neck.

I want to weep. “I cannot deserve this! It was not my fault!” The puff of air from these last words fades and with little poofs so do the snow creatures. A light to my left, down the path that I had tried to stay on, pulses gently brighter, bluer. It floats towards me.

The insistent cold lets up, enough for me to force frozen hands into the snow and push myself to my knees. It is she, she in the floating light, the light that is the same blue as her eyes. Her face is not terrified, or angry; she smiles. She smiles at me. She knows that it was not my fault. She knows that I didn’t mean to.

A hand, made of marble, made of hardened wax, slips into mine and tugs me to my feet. She has forgiven. The snow melts before her, reveals a barren sleeping ground beneath. A boulder splits open into a yawning maw and she leads me forward, stepping into a place where time waits on no man’s choice.

At the threshold, the light turns, she turns, looks to me. “Make your choice.”

I meant to do it.

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The Fab Four Fables has begun. The four bloggers from Master Class have taken turns writing a piece of this story, without knowing what was coming until the previous writer had posted their bit, and these silly people trusted me to handle the ending 🙂 I can only hope that I have done them proud and that they feel that I have done justice to the excellent lead in I was given by them all. Go read them. A bunch of their stuff. Cos they’re awesome.

In order:

Part one: In the Way of Dreams by Eric, at Sinistral Scribblings (http://sinistralscribblings.com/2012/12/12/in-the-way-of-dreams/)

 

Part two: Sinister Shadows by SAM, at My Write Side (http://frommywriteside.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/fab-four-fables-sinister-shadows/)

Part three: Embracing the Darkness by David, at Scholarly Scribe (http://scholarlyscribe.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/fab-four-fables-embracing-the-darkness/)

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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