31 Fantasy Characters, #15: Caerwulf

31_fantasy_badge“Bac tilak!” the man sitting next to Caerwulf said again.

Caerwulf just shrugged. “I don’t speak your language.”

“Bac! Bac! Tilak!” the other shouted, and shoved Caerwulf away.

“He wants you to move,” said a voice four or five people away.

“Well, wouldn’t that be nice?” Caerwulf said sarcastically. He turned to the man who shoved him. “And where exactly would you like me to go, huh?” He rattled his chains in swooping motions for emphasis, which moved the chains and the arms of his neighbors as well. “We’re not going anywhere, you fool.”

The man mumbled something in his unknown language and tried to lean away from Caerwulf. Caerwulf glared at him then turned back to the only one he could converse with.

“How’d they get you?” Caerwulf asked him.

“Same way they get all of us,” the man began. “Marched into our village, killed our defenders with those sticks of theirs, the ones that shoot fire and metal balls, and take away the strong men.”

Caerwulf had heard about these kinds of raids many times, but he had never seen them before. The lizard people came from the south years ago and had devastated the country ever since. Everyone who was taken away never came back. Those weapons, their tools, their ships… these creatures were very advanced.

“Hey! I said what about you?”

Caerwulf shook his head. “I was… alone.”

The man nodded. “Now it’s over. Sorry kid, you look young. I hate to see a life wasted.”

Caerwulf just stared back. He wasn’t afraid to die, not after everything he’d been through.

“Where do they take us when they kill us?”

The man grunted a small laugh. “You think you’re here to be executed?”

“What other reason could there be?” Caerwulf asked.

“You’re a slave now, son.”

Caerwulf turned away and leaned his head back against the walls of the rolling cart. “From living on the streets, to prison, to slavery. Why does it always happen to me?”

(The word prompt today was “Move.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

31 Fantasy Characters, #13: Ryck

31_fantasy_badgeRyck held the simple barbute helmet in his hands, the only interesting thing they had found all day from their search in the ruins. It was tucked away in an old chest that Baemus had smashed open with his warhammer. Ryck would have preferred to pick the lock, as the chest could have been useful, but the deed was done.

The helmet was old, scratched, dented in spots, but showed no signs of rust. It was a little smaller than Ryck was used to seeing.

This helmet might actually fit someone like me and not wobble around, he thought.

“Leave it,” Baemus said. “It’s worthless, no one’s head is that small. Except maybe yours.” The barbarian laughed at his own words.

Ryck rolled his eyes and looked inside the helmet. He brought his torch closer to see better in the dark room. There was some kind of writing scratched inside, which would have had to have been done shortly after it was forged. Strange. Ryck turned it to Baemus for him to see.

The large man shrugged. “I can’t read.”

“Pity,” Ryck said, wondering why he had hired this man to accompany him in the first place.

Ryck lifted the helmet and started to put it on his head.

“What are you doing?” Baemus asked, clearly annoyed.

“I just want to see if it fits,” Ryck said.

It did. And suddenly the whole room lit up as if it were daylight, even though Ryck knew it was still night. He squinted from the brightness.

“On too tight?” Baemus asked, laughing.

HE LOOKS LIKE A PIG WHEN HE SQUINTS.

“Don’t call me pig!” Ryck said and punched the barbarian in the shoulder.

Obviously unhurt, but looking confused, Baemus said, “I didn’t say anything about a pig.”

“You just said I look like a pig when I squint.” Now Ryck could fully open his eyes. The room was totally visible, as if the ceiling was gone and the room were bathed in broad daylight. And he could hear what he thought were mice crawling in the walls.

STRANGE LITTLE FELLOW.

“That! Right there! You keep insulting me!” Ryck said, pointing his little finger at the barbarian.

“I— I—,” Baemus stammered. “I may have… thought it.”

Ryck frowned as he stared down the man. “I distinctly heard you say—”

I SHOULD HAVE STAYED AT THE BAR. CAN’T BELIEVE I CHOSE TO WANDER AROUND WITH THIS LITTLE SQUIRREL OF A MAN.

Ryck stopped. He never saw Baemus’s lips moving, yet he distinctly heard his voice. Ryck narrowed his eyes. “Am I a squirrel to you, Baemus?”

“How— how did you—?

Ryck smiled. “I heard your thoughts.” He took off the helmet. Immediately the room plunged into darkness, save the faint torchlight. “It’s this helmet. It heightened my senses, I was aware of… everything!”

Baemus laughed. “Then what are we waiting for? Time to play cards back at the bar and get my money back!”

(The word prompt today was “Aware.”)

An unplanned part 2 continues the adventures of Ryck and Baemus.

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

CONFESSION: This took me way longer than 5 min. 🙂

31 Fantasy Characters, #12: Krantuso

31_fantasy_badgeKrantuso opened his eyes and saw the sky. Why wasn’t he dead yet? It should have happened by now.

He slowly turned his head to the left. The field was littered with bodies, some writhing, moaning, others still. In the distance the battle raged on, the men attacking the giant beasts with spears. Krantuso knew it wouldn’t work, that those men would join him in death on the field.

Turning his head back toward the right, he saw the battle in the sky. The same giant beasts of course, with their flame-red leathery wings propelling their massive bodies, fought with their two snake heads biting at the only real defense the kingdom had, the Cropar, a strange mix of falcons and bears, a product of bizarre sciences Krantuso could never understand.

The kingdom’s Cropar were winning the aerial battle, he could see from the ground, and it brought a smile to his face. Then he started to laugh but gurgled and choked. He lifted his hand to his mouth on instinct, only… his hand wasn’t there. Just a stump remained from where a beast had bitten it off.

Krantuso turned his head fully to the right and spat blood. There next to him lay the beast that had bested him. Its cold dead eyes stared vacantly at him. He saw no movement in the beast, no sign of life.

He was wrong. Krantuso had bested it. He had won after all.

As he finally felt life leaving him, he thanked God that this glorious proof of victory would be the last thing Krantuso ever saw.

(The word prompt today was “Sky.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

31 Fantasy Characters, #11: Nol

31_fantasy_badgeWith the final strum of the lute strings, the song ended. Yet there was no applause. No acknowledgment of any sort for Nol’s hard work at a very difficult tune. The audience at The Cheap Flagon had ignored him.

Well, there was a faint, “Oh, thank the gods it’s over!” from somewhere in the pub’s crowd, but that could have been for anything.

No it wasn’t perfect, but it was still good, Nol thought to himself.

As he tuned the strings he looked down from the dais and saw someone wincing at him. Everyone else was jabbering away with each other, drinking, eating.

No appreciation for music in this backwater town, Nol thought.

The pub owner came over to Nol with a desperate face and gestured for the minstrel to come closer. Nol obliged the older man.

“That’s enough, lad. You can stop now. Please.”

Nol frowned. “But I haven’t finished my set yet. You paid for the whole night—”

“Aye, that I did,” the pub owner said. “You can keep it. Come now.” He was waiving Nol off.

Nol ignored him and continued to tune the lute. From the corner of his eye he saw the pub owner wincing now. “You see, the thing is…” The pub owner started saying, but stopped.

“Yes?” Nol asked, still tuning.

“You’re… you’re terrible, boy. Just awful. Please, let’s be a good lad.” Nol strummed in defiance, and the pub owner jammed his hand into his pocket, and pulled out a coin. “Here, another night’s pay if you’ll stop now and leave!”

Nol felt his face get hot. “A deal is a deal,” he said to the pub owner through gritted teeth. He turned to the audience. “Ladies and gentlemen, my next song is an old favorite of mine, and I’m sure one of yours as well. It’s called, The Dragon Ate Scrambled Eggs.”

The pub audience collectively groaned.

Nol, although hurt, was determined to press on. He closed his eyes, drew in a deep breath, sang the opening, “O,” and strummed the first chord.

Before his fingers even reached the last string, he felt his lute ripped from his hands. The jolt opened his eyes and there before him stood an enormous man as wide as Nol was tall, and was many heads taller. In his hand was Nol’s lute.

Nol put his hands on his hips and frowned. “Give—”

But the giant man smashed the lute onto a nearby table into hundreds of pieces before Nol could demand it back.

“Thanks!” someone shouted from the back of a pub, and the pub cheered.

And Nol cried.

(The word prompt today was “Thanks.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

31 Fantasy Characters, #10: Ranosah

31_fantasy_badgeRanosah wiped the sweat from her brow with an already soaked handkerchief. Sitting upon the thick tree branch, legs dangling over the edge, she carefully leaned forward to look down into the jungle below. She still couldn’t see the ground through all the dense foliage.

Sighing, she took one small sip of water from her canteen, secured it back onto her belt and gripped the rope hanging in front of her. A tug told her the grapple was still locked tight above her, so she rappelled further down the massive tree trunk.

It went on like this for an hour, new ropes and hooks added down her vertical path as needed, until finally she saw it – reddish dirt peeking behind a spray of branches. She was almost there!

Picking up speed, she finished her descent and landed on the ground with a satisfied smile.

Before her stood the enormous trees of the Ravine Jungle, which no one, man or woman, had ever returned from alive. And off to the right, a path – an actual path! This place was the only portion of the world still unknown to cartographers, scientists, anyone. The research potential here was priceless.

Not that Ranosah cared for “knowledge” one bit.

No, what motivated Ranosah was money. According to The Map, somewhere deep in this jungle lay a vast treasure kept hidden by a people long forgotten. Sure, she wanted to be the first person to leave the Ravine Jungle alive, and that alone would make her famous, she supposed. But what would really shock the world would be to emerge from the Jungle with a hoard of gold in tow.

So Ranosah wasn’t leaving this jungle without that treasure.

(The word prompt today was “Unknown.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]