Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Song of the Wind

In a shocking departure from tradition, I have managed to participate in a flash fiction challenge that isn't The Rogue Verbumancer's Pictonaut Challenge. Bearded writer extraordinaire Chuck Wendig levelled the challenge over at terribleminds, and while I didn't finish in the allotted time, I did finish.So here it is.

The challenge was to head on over to this D&D character generator and write 1000 words based on whatever dropped out of the generator. I probably cheated and pressed the button multiple times, but the prompt I ran with was

CONDESCENDING DWARF CLERIC FROM AN UNDERGROUND CITY WHO BELIEVES TREES CAN SPEAK TO THEM AND THEM ALONE

which ended up as the piece below. I think I hit all the prompts. I'm actually pretty fond of this and terhe is a good chance I might write some more of this character and this adventure. If i don't get eaten by my thesis.



The Song of the Wind

Bazrad Ka-Duri downed the mug of mead in one go, belched loudly and then promptly fell off her chair. Once she had managed to clamber back on to the barstool—which was far too tall and clearly not meant for the little folk to use—she immediately called for another. The barman looked skeptical, but seemed to know better than to tangle with a dwarf on a serious bender. He poured her another tankard of mead.

Not that he seemed to know she was a she.

"There you go sir," said the barman, unaware of several things including the mortal peril he now found himself in.

"Sir?!" spluttered Bazrad through a mead soaked moustache. "Can't youse tell that I am a dwarf woman?" She grabbed a fist full of her luxurious facial hair. "I have an even number of braids in my beard; men wear an odd number of braids." She straightened her spine and drew herself up to her full, not terribly impressive height. "Besides, my name is Bazrad Ka-Duri. Even if you know nothing else about dwarven names you should know that 'Ka' signifies 'daughter of'. If I were male my conjunctive would be 'Ker'."

"My apologies madam," said the barman, "but regardless of gender, I think you've had too much to drink; that was your last one."

Bazrad took the tankard—grumbling—but she held her tongue. Long experience had taught her that it was not wise to upset the person in charge of the drinks.

She should have never left her conclave in the great underground city of Varfaldur. At least the monks back home knew better than to cut her off mid session. Mind you, her ability and tendency to drink copious amounts of mead was one of the reasons she'd never been a good cleric herself. That and the unfortunate incident with the kobold.

Still, she'd carried on wearing the robes of her order even after she'd come to the Surface. Bazrad had found that if people thought you were a priest, regardless of order, they'd cut you a little more slack. Made life that little bit easier. The damn barman at this pisshole of a tavern didn't seem to be one of those folks though. And a great pity it was too. Well there was no point in staying if she'd been cut off. Bazrad regretfully downed the tankard, settled the bill and headed off into the night.

Bazrad stumbled down the street, cursing angrily under her breath. She'd been hoping to avoid leaving the tavern until she was too drunk to stand, but that plan had been thwarted. Concentrating hard on where she was putting her feet she headed back to the temple where she kept a room. With every step she took the whispering grew louder and louder.

The damned whispering that had turned her to drink in the first place.

"And youse can fuck right off!" she yelled suddenly, pointing an accusing finger at the nearest bush.  The tramp in a nearby doorway eyed her suspiciously. "What? You can't hear that? Of course you can't, I'm the only bastard lucky enough get to hear this incessant chattering."

Bazrad stomped off grumpily, swearing at each piece of vegetation she passed on her way back to the temple. Once safely behind the thick temple doors she heaved a sigh of relief. She really did regret leaving Varfaldur some days. It was nice in the city, and there were no trees in the Underdark.

No trees meant none of the annoying bloody voices that had followed Bazrad ever since she'd gotten to the Surface. Nobody had bothered to warn her that the plants on the Surface could talk. But then she seemed to be the only one with the ability to hear the trees speaking. The gods had been ever so generous in giving her that particular 'gift'.

Returning to her room she immediately realised that something was wrong: she wasn't alone. Bazrad grasped the utility knife she kept on her belt and swung around, ending up nose to navel with an intruder. Before she could visit death and destruction upon her assailant a set of strong, slender fingers wrapped around her wrist.

"Please don't," said a light and almost musical voice. "We don't mean you any harm."

Elves, she thought. Why did it have to be elves?

Fair folk or not, she was outnumbered and inebriated. She grunted her assent and sheathed her weapon. The fingers withdrew.

"Bazrad Ka-Duri?" asked the voice that had grabbed her wrist. Obviously this one was the leader.

"Who wants to know?" she replied suspiciously.

"I am Elarnaud Hawkfriend and this is my companion Arcaena Swiftbrook," said the elf with the strong grip. "We have heard tell that you can hear the song of the wind."

"The what now?"

"The song of the wind. The whisper of the leaves? You have not heard of this?" asked Elarnaud with a slightly perplexed look on their face.

Something clicked in Bazrad's alcohol-befuddled brain and she understood what the damn elf was talking about.  "Wait a minute, you're on about the fact I can hear the bastard trees are talking to me, aint you? You mean that's not just me going mad? There have been others?"

"It is a well known phenomenon in our homeland," said Arcaena. "Though it is unheard of that a dwarf should possess the gift."

"Some gift," said Bazrad angrily, "I can hear the bloody trees chattering wherever I go. Only time I get any peace is when I'm asleep or pissed out of me skull."

"As is often the case with such gifts, they are not without their drawbacks,"  said Elarnaud. "Those who can hear he song of the wind often have a great destiny ahead of them and that is why we have come to you, Bazrad Ka-Duri. Our woodland realm is in danger, and we need your help. Someone or something is killing the trees, and you may be the only one who can find out who or what. You are our only hope."

Bazrad reeled slightly with the news. "You mean to say, that not only can I actually hear the blasted trees talk, but that I'm probably the only one who can and you need me to save the world?"

"That is correct."

"Well shit."

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