November / December Flash Challenge - The stories


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Tell us which you preferred:

Poll runs till December 14, 2019, 05:19:37 PM

The Safety Specialist
1
25%
Trenzor: Crusher of Temples
2
50%
Comes Now a Free and Losing Knight…
1
25%
 
Total votes : 4
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Post November 30, 2019, 05:19:37 PM

November / December Flash Challenge - The stories

We have three tales to choose from. Tell us which you liked.
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Post November 30, 2019, 05:20:36 PM

The Safety Specialist

The Safety Specialist

Farfel’s route usually took him through the middle of town around the fountain in the square, but today, for no particular reason, he decided to walk along the outskirts of Brolinstown. The day was windy, rainy, and cool – a perfect autumn day on old earth. As he walked over the grass curbs beside the street, he didn’t worry about the mud sloshed up by the wagons and carriages in the roads because he wore his knee-high leather boots. Although the boots weren’t fashionable, Farfel was aware of the importance of functional footwear in everyday activities.

As he passed by a hill he noticed a sturdy man trying to push a cart straight up and over the hill, but each time he tried, he was forced to slide back down the hill about midway up. Even worse, it was filled with cantaloupes that kept falling out the back, tripping the man.

“Excuse me, Andras, but that hill is almost a 75 degree slope. Perhaps it would be better to work your way up to the top with a near horizontal path. Not only would it be easier, but your produce would also not fall out.”

The sturdy man looked at the hillside and decided to follow the Farfel’s advice. Four minutes later, Andras was at the top of the hill. “Thank you Farfel,” he called down. “Here is a cantaloupe for your help!” Andras rolled a melon down the hill to Farfel who happily picked it up.

As Farfel came into the main square he stopped for a moment, standing on a large flat stone. He took a leather-bound journal out of the satchel he wore and jotted down what had just happened. In fact, he had been writing down every time he had helped/saved a citizen ever since he was a child, for that was his gift. Millennia down the road he would have been known as a Safety Specialist, who had saved many lives over the years, but in these backward times of swords and wagons, he was simply known as Farfel the Odd.

As he was putting the journal away, he noticed there was a horse coming down the road at a gallop. There was also a woman starting to cross the street who couldn’t see around a wagon that stood between her and the thundering horse. From his perch, Farfel could clearly see the disaster about to happen and shouted loudly, “Get back up on the curb! Get off the road!”

The woman immediately jumped out of the street as the galloping horse trampled where she would have been if Farfel hadn’t shouted.

But, unfortunately, the galloping horse had been startled by the small man’s shouting and horse and rider pulled aside to reprimand him.

“I am on the King’s business, little man, and your shouting has slowed my progress,” the knight thundered. “What is your name, commoner?”

“Farfel,” he told him.

“Well Farfel. Present yourself to the sergeant at arms at the castle and I will deal with you when I come back.”

“As you wish,” shrugged Farfel, knowing his meager place in the societal cogs. As the knight rode away, while still standing on the large stone, Farfel wrote down what had happened with the woman whose life he had just saved.

A few days later, Farfel was brought to the throne room before the King and Sir Balford – who was still angry about being held up for two minutes.

“This is the commoner, Farfel the Odd, who delayed my errand on your behalf,” announced the Knight to the King.

The King nodded to the knight before asking him, “Did the time you lost make any real difference in getting the wine we needed for the castle?”

“Well, no my king – but his shouting could have caused my horse to throw me,” Sir Balford explained.

So the king turned to the little man. “What do you have to say in your defense? Why did you shout out?”

Farfel reached into his satchel and pulled out his journal and began to read about how he had saved the woman’s life…which was, of course, very inconsequential relative to the knight’s being delayed for 2 minutes. So the King ordered him thrown into the dungeon to make Sir Balford happy.

“And bring me that satchel he carries. I could use some reading material to put me to sleep tonight.” Of course all was done exactly as ordered by the top One Percent of the Kingdom.

The next day, Farfel was brought up to throne-room in chains.

The King sat in all his glory as the commoner knelt before him. “I was reading your journal last night and my eyes happened to fall on an entry about a father and girl-child you saved.” He took out the journal, flipping to an earmarked page “…on December 3rd, twenty-five years ago. Do you remember that incident?”

The commoner raised his eyes a little, hopeful about his fate for the first time in a week. “Yes, my king. I was walking down a road and saw a father loading a push-cart with his small child standing beside him. I was concerned because the girl was too close to the road. I noticed the child looking at a wagon filled with sweet breads across the street, and I was able to grab her when she darted into the road as a carriage roared past, saving her life.”

The king sat the book in his lap. “Yes, it is as I thought. That small child was my wife, the Queen. She told me the story often…along with her other constant nagging, nagging, nagging. You saved the woman who has made my life a living hell for the last decade!” By now, his royal highness was on his feet. “Off with this man’s head! Without delay!”

The safety specialist shrugged with complacency, knowing his place in the hierarchy of the kingdom, and immediately was dragged away to be beheaded.
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Post November 30, 2019, 05:21:16 PM

Trenzor: Crusher of Temples

Trenzor: Crusher of Temples

Sun-baked earth cracked beneath Trenzor’s bare feet. His sinewy muscles effortlessly carried the five-foot hunk of sharpened metal he called a sword on his back. He and his companion, the wolf Sheetok, had been walking more or less in a straight line for five days without sight of food or water. The ground was so hard and dry there was no way to tell if anything had ever walked along this path. Even he and the wolf left no trace of their existence behind them. He had lived off the bounty of the wilderness now for more than twenty years as best as he could tell. Time, out in the badlands, meant very little. Every day about the same as the one before. Only the prey changed.

Trenzor and his wolf had hunted together since he could grow a beard. They were their own pack, looking out for each other, fiercely protecting each other and sharing in the spoils of the hunt. It was the unspoken rule that Trenzor got the first bite in any feast. Often times when food was scarce, Sheetok would bring him a dead rodent that she had found and lay it at his feet, refusing to eat anything until he had taken the first bite. Her loyalty was limitless. He had raised her from a pup, feeding her from his own hands until she was strong enough to rip apart a carcass on her own.

They had walked this path several times before, the path to the northern city on the sea. Never before had it been so desolate. Never before had it been so dry. Even the watering holes that served as the center of life for hunter and prey alike had disappeared, leaving nothing more than a few scattered bones of fish and crocodiles to tell the story of the bounty that had once been there.

Rarely did he waste his time with words, so when he did they were clumsy and often felt wrong coming from his mouth. “Time to drink,” he croaked. His water bladder that was always slung over his neck was flat and nearly empty. There were only a few mouthfuls left, he took one, savoring it between his cracked lips. Sheetok looked up at him with pleading dejected eyes, patiently awaiting her turn. She had learned to suckle from the bladder as she had, as a pup, from her own mother soon after Trenzor took her in. A couple of thirsty gulps and he pulled the last few drops of the liquid treasure back and closed up the bladder again.

As he slung the bladder over his shoulder, his eyes caught the light of a glimmering object a few hundred feet down the path. On any other day, he might have sprinted over to the metallic shine in a few bounds. As it was, he could only muster up a slow plodding walk. His head throbbed with the pain and anger of a spiteful sun, and his dark brown skin seemed to burn more with every passing minute.

Over his lifetime, he had learned of many cultures that prayed to different gods and feared strange demons, but the truth was he never subscribed to any of them. The only thing he ever believed in was the strength of his hands and the determination burning in his belly, a determination to survive above all, beyond all adversaries. Nothing in his life could have prepared him for what he was about to see.

Stretched out before him, on the side of the path, was a trade caravan twenty camels long. Their bodies told the story of a long journey of misfortune, even the camel’s humps were flattened from starvation and thirst. With nothing left to give, they laid down on the road and died. “They were coming from the north,” he said gazing at the endless horizon that stretched out before him. “The way we are going.”

Both man and canine searched what was left of the mummified dead, searching some relief, but no hardtack or jerky, water or wine was found amongst the leathery husks. Only useless coins and spices. Worthless garbage in the badlands.

Against all rationality, he willed himself to his feet and started moving toward that northern horizon. The wolf gave one last glance over the fallen caravan, and with a low sigh followed, reluctantly, behind the Barbarian.

That night, after the sun gave way to the infinite night sky and the temperatures plummeted, Trenzor sat on the ground beside a small fire. He remembered the first time he and Sheetok had taken down a gazelle together. Working in tandem, laying the trap. He remembered how she anticipated which way the gazelle would run. She somehow instinctively knew which way it would go before even it knew which way it was going. He thought about the pride he felt the first time she alerted him with her deep throaty growl to a viper laying in the fallen leaves, impossible to see with eyes alone.

He recalled the weeks he nursed her back to health after the bear attacked them. Her wounds were deep, but his wounds would have been far worse. She had saved him from a fatal blow of the bear’s massive claws. He applied a salve skillfully made of roxenberry found only in the cliffs of Terrigia, flowers from the spiny Hroth tree, and dung from the Ungar beast.

Meat crackled on the makeshift wooden spit over the fire. He pulled a piece off with his thick fingers that had been licked by the flame enough to give it a charred taste. As he ate her succulent flesh, he vowed to always wear her jawbone so he would never forget the best and only friend he ever had. He looked with cold resolve at the fire as the fat rendered from her body dripped into it. “Thank you, my friend. I will hunt with you again in the great fields beyond, but not tonight.”
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Post November 30, 2019, 05:22:05 PM

Comes Now a Free and Losing Knight…

Comes Now a Free and Losing Knight…


Ekten was striding past the various taverns that lined the dirty docks of that dirty seaport. Usually his nights didn’t differ much, and he would eventually end up inside of one of those worn-out dirty venues. On the other hand, at times he also found opportunities to be hired by someone searching for mercenaries.

The graying bulky man, formerly a knight, chose to enter a yellowish-painted tavern where he saw several customers already happily drinking inside.

He sat at a wooden table, not far from the middle of the main lounge, and called the barkeep. The bald owner, about 60-years-old, reached the new customer after a while and eyed him. “What can I bring you?”

“Do you have anything that is really strong? I just need a good strong drink today…” Ekten told him.

“Well, if you have a weakness for alcohol, I have what you’ll like. That is, provided you don’t get too drunk. We had a terrible donnybrook in here last night…” the barkeep said.

The knight nodded, and a moment later the owner returned, handing him a bottle of copper-colored liquor.

Ekten had never been a lucky knight. It seemed that every time he was hired to fight a battle, the war ended badly for his side. This had happened at least five times - no six… - but at least he had come out of all of those battles alive.

A few hours later a short, hooded man entered the tavern and looked around. Eyeing the customers, he cried out, “Dear courageous men-at-arms who are in this room, I’m here today to make you an offer to fight in Prince Auburn’s Army. We are going to oppose the barbarian invaders from the South. We are paying 5 copper farthings a day, but you can also have part of the rich loot we will plunder. So, who will be the first one to join us? We will also give the first ten hires a month’s worth of dark beer.”

‘Uhm, the pay sounds okay and I have no other job at present, so…’ the former knight thought, and raised his hand. “I’m in! I’ve always hated those barbarians anyway!”

“Well done, man!” the other man sneered. “What is your name?”

“Ekten, and I have lots of experience, having fought at the battles of The Tallest Mountains and at the Icy Foothill.”

“Good, an experienced knight! Not exactly a string of wins, but on this occasion things will be different! Anyone else?”

Fourteen others soon followed, ranging in age from 18-years-old to a 59-year-old who probably hadn’t used his weapon in a decade.

*****

Late in the afternoon, the battleground was full of dead bodies, and the barbarians were easily winning. Once again, this was going to be a terrible defeat for Ekten. He had fought bravely, but that didn’t seem to be of any importance.

Suddenly, a movement next to a distant tree drew his attention and he noticed that the best warrior in the whole barbarian army was approaching him. Much to Ekten’s surprise, the huge fighter soon killed five more mercenaries on horseback while hiking towards the former knight.

Ekten was surprised as he saw something strange on his face. What was it? Was it possible? There was blood dripping down his teeth. A moment later, the warrior stared at him from a distance and shouted. “All I need now is to drink the blood of the last of ten former knights, on this long-designated battleground. When I do that, the evil spirit named Barcle, that inhibits my body, will be released thanks to the ritual to run free into this world and will bring death to the human kingdoms!”

“What? Barcle…?” Ekten wondered, obviously afraid because of what he had just heard.

“I already killed nine of your fellow former knights who served the Auburn Prince here today. I only need one more,” he insisted.

The former knight considered his present situation. He had seen that warrior getting rid of all the mercenaries who tried to oppose him. Really, he had never before witnessed such ferocity. Now this master warrior stood before him, demanding his blood.

But Ekten had recognized the name of that creature. It was a demon even the local children had heard about. If it did come back, the world would be in danger. But how could he fight such a demon?

Then his eyes saw a nearby wooden cart ablaze with flames.

Now he knew what he had to do. “You want to drink my blood? So, what if I jump into that fire…? What if my body becomes a burnt carcass? You won’t be able to drink it, and our world will be saved!”

That said, he gave him himself the shot of courage and threw his body into those flames.

The barbarian started screaming, but it was too late.

*****

The woozy former knight raised his head from the table.

So, it had only been a dream, though an epic one, and nothing had really happened. It was a pity, because it was the only time Ekten had ever dreamed about winning, in a way.

As he looked around, still a bit tipsy, he considered that there were fewer people in the tavern than when he had fallen asleep. Perhaps that hooded man that had come to the tavern had hired many. He regretted losing the chance to get paid. If only he hadn’t been such a drunk.

Then, the former knight felt that his doublet was lighter than usual. He immediately looked inside and discovered his moneybag was sadly missing. Damn’, he told himself. Maybe he had won the battle in his dream, but he had also lost the last copper farthings in his pocket!

A few days later Ekten was told that the army of the Auburn Prince had been defeated by the barbarians. He then thought that, at least, this had been the first defeat he had ever missed out on in his life...
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Post December 02, 2019, 09:36:58 AM

Re: November / December Flash Challenge - The stories

My vote is in...eh,eh :D

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