Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Here's some more from The Adventures Of Mungo Tim
For those who wonder, Tim is a young dragon (100 years old) on a fly about, Miranda is a girl on the run from a forced marriage to a not so charming prince, and Will Von Leonhardt is a dis-inerited direction challenged prince, hero, and all around good guy....
The Black Knight
Will crashed through a particularly dry bit of bracken and leaped over a fallen log. Surely the road is just ahead, he thought, emerging into another clearing surrounded by tall trees. Frowning, he scanned the clearing, then sighed as he sat down on the log. He looked down at his boot which was flapping open at the front. Completely done for, he sighed. He looked up, hoping to read the direction of the sun, but the shadows were too deep. “I just don't understand why I keep getting so turned around,” he said aloud.
“Could it be because yer a great stupid oaf who don't know better than to wander the woods without knowing a even a wee bit of woodcraft?” commented a scratchy voice somewhere in the direction of his knee.”
Will looked down, eyes widening in amazement as he beheld a brown skinned man the size of a small child. He was so thin that he looked more like a bundle of sticks tied together than a living man. “Don't know much about taking care of boots either,” added the stick man. He pointed at the ruined boot.“Might as well throw it away, which would be good since you almost stepped on me and I'd rather be stepped on by a barefooted giant than one clad in heavy boots.”
Will pulled off the boot and set it at the base of the log. “I...I...am sorry. I wouldn't have stepped on you. I didn't see you,” said Will.
“Course ye dint, ye big lug. Ye don't see what 's in front of yer face let alone below it. You've nearly trod on a slithy tove and a passel of mome raths and that's just this morning.”
Who are you?” asked Will.
“Now, would I be tellin' that to a giant? Won't tell ye me real name. Just call me Styx.”
“Well, Styx, I am not a giant,” said Will.” Just a rather tall man.” He reached out a hand to the stick man. “I am Wilhelm of Wallesia, a knight errant, sometimes called Wilhelm the Black” he said,” but you can call me Will if you like.”
“What I would like,” answered the little man,” is fer ye to leave the Darkening Wood and stop disturbin' the peace.”
“I'd like nothing better,” answered Will. “That's what I've been trying to do, but I keep getting turned around, somehow. I'm lost. I guess I shouldn't have left the road.”
The little stick man laughed, which sounded like wooden reeds rubbing together. “Don't I just know that. Were bears been following ye as ye stumbled about fer days now. I thought at first they might kill you but I reckon they liked the way ye ran off them scurvy dragon hunters. Appears like they been content just to follow ye ter see what ye're gonna do next.”
“Lucky for me, I suppose,” Will said. “I have no desire to fight were bears. I am a town man not a woodsman, as you have so aptly noted. I'd be obliged if you would tell me where the road is and I'll gladly be on my way out of the forest, for I am hungry and tired and would like to sleep in a bed that isn't made of pine boughs.”
“Road out ain't far,” replied the stick man. He peered upward where a small ball of light bobbed in between the stout oaks which lined the clearing. “Ye wanna take him Dexi, since he has proved himself to be no friend of them dragon hunters?” He winked up at Will. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend thing, eh?”
The small ball of light descended to hover over Will's head. “I'll show him out, Styx, if you like,” said the ball in a sweet piping voice. “I was going that way already so it won't be a bit of trouble.”
Will squinted and beheld a tiny female fairy, her form shimmering with light. “By Odin's black hammer, he exclaimed! “You're beautiful. Like a tiny red gold sun. What are you?”
The fairy smiled and beat iridescent wings, flashing beams of golden light into the air. “I am Dixie Dexi, a pixie,” she said. “Though some call me a will-o-the-wisp. Follow me.”
“I don't know about that, golden one,” Will said. “For, no offense to you, but I have heard that will-o-the-wisps like to lure unwary travelers into bogs and rivers where they drown. Of, course,” he added, “I am probably able to do that on my own with no help from you.”
The will-o-the-wisp bobbed up and down. “Nay, sir, I shall not drown you in a bog but take you all the way to Killarty if you want in return for the compliment you paid me. Most mortals, if they see me as I am at all, do not call me beautiful,” she smiled, revealing tiny pointed teeth. “They fear me for my reputation.” She pointed at Will's sword and scabbard. “You are a knight, yes? There's a tournament at Killarty in one days time.”
Will reached for his boot. “Wonderful!” he exclaimed. “A tournament is the very thing I've been needing.”
Unconsciously, he patted his pocket with the hidden coin inside. “I guess one more night in the open won't hurt me.” He looked at his boot in amazement. “Its all mended,” he said. “As good as new. How can that be?”
“Yer welcome,” chuckled a brownie in a pointed red hat and green coat, perched on an a oak root that protruded from the ground. “Like most in Darkening Wood, I am no friend of dragon hunters. Go with me blessing, Sir Will. Just have a care not to step on the mome raths on yer way out.”
Will stood up. “I thank you all friends,” he said. “I'll watch my steps more carefully from now on. And if ever I can repay your service, I shall.”
“Let us be off,” then said Dexi. “Ta-ta Styx. Don't take any wooden franken from those were bears.”
“I will not, light of me life,” smiled the stick man, lifting a twig-like arm in farewell.
Will was surprised how quickly the journey to Killarty went with Dexi as a guide. He was in the center of town by full dark. “Thank you, little lady,” he said to the will o the wisp as she bobbed overhead, casting light into the gloom. “I will say good bye here for I must find a place to bunk down. Fare well. I shall not soon forget your kindness.”
“Good fortune be yours,” she answered. “As I think it will, for you have the mark of Lady Luck upon you.”
“If I do,” said Will, “I cannot see it, for I have lost kingdom, and home, and my purse is too often empty.”
“But, that will change soon,” she laughed. “Perhaps, even on the morrow.”
“I hope so, Lady Dexi,” Will replied. “Right now, hope is all I have besides a prodigious hunger and thirst.”
“Then satisfy both at the inn of the Six Swans just down the street on the left. Use the coins hidden in your pocket and see what the new day brings. Farewell,” she added soaring up into the night.
Will reached into his pocket. “I only have one Frankel,” he said into the sky, “which I must use to enter the tournament, although I don't know how you could know that.” He frowned, as he pulled out three franken and a snickel. “How did they get there?” he asked.
The will-o-the wisps voice floated on the breeze. “The world is full surprises isn't it,” she commented, as her fairy light winked out.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
“Yo ho yo ho,” Tim sang in a surprisingly tenor tone, “It's a dragon's life for me. Give me a sheep, a cow from the keep, and a summons from over the sea. Accounts of my demise are falsehoods and lies, told by humbugs, and tinkers, and thieves. Its a dragons life, though its one of strife, its a dragons life for me.”
He soared skyward towards the setting sun, his emerald wings flapping as the breeze caressed his iridescent scales with delicate fingers. He banked, rolled once in a loop de loop on the thermals, then coasted towards the hazy mountain peaks of Hyburnia. Far below him on the edge of a darkening wood, a lone rider looked up in surprise at the sound, shielding his eyes from the sun's glare with a mailed arm. Quickly, he reached down to pull a crossbow from his gear which he loaded with a lethal barbed arrow. As the singing dragon passed, the man raised his bow and fired the arrow which whizzed through the air just to the left of the dragon's scaly cheek.
“Whoops,” said Tim, plucking the arrow from the air with a curved yellow claw. He tossed it aside where it sank towards the earth below. “Missed me. Big mistake.” He circled back towards the forest, sucked in a mighty gulp of already overheated Indian summer air, turned his muzzle downward, and blew it out accompanied by a searing jet of crimson flame.
“Yikes,” screamed the man as his horse bolted off the side of the trail.
“Yo ho ho,” Tim sang, it's a dragon's life for me. Give me a horse kabob, a roasted knight, and a merrily burning tree.” Sucking in a another throat full of air, he torched a spruce tree on the edge of the forest. Peering toward the direction in which the rider had fled, he cocked his head at the barely audible sound of shod hooves breaking bracken and fallen limbs as the horse and rider galloped back into the wood.
“Missed you, you bugger” he sighed. “Fair enough I suppose though, since you missed me.” Turning away, the he shrugged and gulped another fireball back into his throat. Belching smoke as he flew, he resumed his flight to Hyburnia. “Your pardon,” he said to no one in particular. “Very rude burping without even a meal to account for it.”
Somewhere, faintly, he could hear a sound that reminded him of a fist knocking on a wooden door. He looked below. “No house down there,” he mused. “Thus, no doors. No doors, no knocking. No knocking, no more people. He nodded his mighty head, smiling with wicked looking serrated teeth. “Twas probably just a woodpecker on a rotten tree.” He began the third verse of his song.“Yo ho, yo ho, a dragons life is fun. Give me a fight, a roar and a light. The silly men will run.”
There was a whistling ping followed by a whoosh, and the dragon lurched suddenly to the left. “Ouch,” he said turning to look at an arrow lodged deep in his flank. Another ping brought another arrow, this one in the wing, and he overbalanced and began to fall. “Oh no,” he said, “there was more than one hunter. I should have looked both ways.”
Flapping his uninjured wing, the dragon tried to level out and ascend, but the drag of the wounded wing pulled him sideways towards the hard ground coming ever closer. “It's no use,” he said, wincing in pain. “I can't fly with one wing. “I'm done for.” Mayday, mayday he broadcast in dragon thought. Anyone who can hear this: dragon down at the edge of the darkening wood just over the southeast Hyburnian border. Help requested. Over and out. He closed his eyes, hoping for the best, closed his wings and let himself fall.
“Ouch!” He exclaimed a few long moments later as the branches of a stout oak broke his fall. “I'm glad I didn't torch this tree,” he said to himself. With a loud crack, the branches began to snap. “Oh oh,” he said as he fell to the ground, dislodging a woodpecker unlucky enough to be in a smaller tree too close to the oak, and nearly landing on the two hunters now dismounted and standing below.
“Got him,” said the first hunter jumping quickly out of the way as the woodpecker, squawking indignantly, flew away.
“Good shot, Magnus,” replied the second hunter, dodging to the left. “We'll feast well tonight I reckon.”
The first man nodded. “Save the head,” he said. “Larry the Mad has placed a bounty on all dragons. We'll drop by his place on the way home and collect that much, at least. Even if we didn't find the runaway girl.”
The second hunter pulled a sword from its scabbard. “Can I have the honor of stabbing him in his heart seeing as how the first arrow was mine?”
Magnus smiled, drawing his own weapon. “Let's finish him off together, George.”
Weak from blood loss, Tim softly sang a death song. “My soul will fly beyond the sun, but dragon's luck is gone. In blood and pain my life must end, the sands of time drift on.” He closed his eyes and waited for the pain, which he very much hoped would be brief.
“Drop the swords!” growled a deep voice nearby. The wounded dragon opened his eyes in time to see both hunters step back and lower their weapons. At the edge of the forest stood three figures: a shaggy haired man of bear-like proportions dressed all in brown and carrying a longbow, a burly dwarf hefting a war hammer decorated in carved silver runes, and a slender girl with reddish hair, carrying a staff and wearing forester's green.
“It's a fair kill,” the man called Magnus said. “Its none of your business, friends. We don't look for trouble from you. How 'bout we carve him up, take the head, and then George and me will be on our way? You can have the major part of the meat. Maybe just give us a steak or two.”
“I think not,” growled the bear-like man.
“But, we was the ones that brought the beast down. We should get sumthin' fer our trouble,” said George.
The bear man shook his shaggy head. “You will leave the dragon as he is and high tail it out of our territory. Or forfeit your own lives.” As he spoke, the man began to grow shaggier and his teeth elongated, becoming canine. He growled as more and more hair suddenly sprouted from his body. His shoulders bent over and his arms became more muscular. By now he was almost completely covered in fur. He dropped the bow, having no more need of it as long curved claws protruded from his paws. He went to all fours, turned his head and roared.
The dragon hunters stepped back.
“You heard my pal, Groof,” said the dwarf. “Dragons are welcome here. Dragon hunters are not. This is the only warning you will get, friends.”
Magnus's face paled under his helmet. “It has red eyes. It's a were bear,” he whispered to his fellow dragon hunter. “We must have strayed into Hyburnia.”
The second man gulped. “The dragon is yours, Mister bear,” he said. “We don't want him, do we Magnus.”
“No George,” Magnus replied. “We don't want him at all. Not at all.” he looked at the dwarf. “Tell him we're sorry fer any local rules we broke even if we didn't know what they was.”
“We're leaving now.” declared George, backing further towards the woods. “We don't want no trouble. You folks keep the meat and everything.”
“See that you are out of Hyburnian territory by sundown,” chuckled the dwarf, moving forward to stand next to the fallen dragon. “And don't come back, or you will feel the weight of my hammer in your skull. If me pal Groof here doesn't eat you first, that is.”