Flash Friday 06/09/2013: Weapon of Choice (Part 2)
Dennis was, as far as he knew, ready to begin his quest. Or, rather, he was ready to prepare to begin his quest. Back in the day of would-be heroes and brave adventurers, they were allowed to march right out of the town and make a legacy for themselves. Once the bits and pieces of their former self came back after they had been eaten by a dragon, mugged by bandits, or discovered they weren’t proficient at casting fireballs as they’d like, it became hard to distinguish who went on what quest for what purpose. Thus, every hero had to register at the town hall, to say where they were going.
But first, a goodbye to his mother.
Not his real mother, of course, who died long ago as part of the plans to make a vengeful spirit burn within him. This one looked after him as he grew up, acting as the strict and horrible replacement to contrast against his once loving and caring mother. It made for a better backstory, anyway. The gods always liked their backstories.
Dennis stood on the road towards the center of town, beside the fence that cordoned off the family vegetable patch. His ‘mother’, Daphne, was busy tearing out carrots out of the ground, as if they had performed some heinious crime. Daphne never havested anything; she always interrogated her produce one-by-one.
“I’m heading out, mum,” Dennis said.
Daphne’s worn, crooked face looked up, specked with dirt. “Why’s that, then? Off to play with Benny’s pigs?”
“Going down the store?”
“Going on a quest that spans the country, looking for the one that dared to murder your family, so that you can complete the quests that the gods themselves have granted you in order to fulfil your destiny as a human being?”
“Yep, that’s the one.”
“Bugger,” Daphne said, turning back to a worried-looking carrot in the ground. “I was hoping you were going to the store. I would have made you get us a few slabs of steak. Well, off you go then, lad. Go have fun.”
“Thanks, mum,” Dennis said, beginning his walk down the road.
“And don’t talk to any necromancers.”
“Yes, mum, I know,” Dennis said, resuming his walk again.
“And if you bring home a dragon whelp, I swear to the Heavens you’ll be out on your arse.”
“Yes, mum, I know,” Dennis repeated, resuming yet again. Daphne was always so keen to ask you to leave, only to invent new ways to keep you from going as you did.
Before long, Dennis had entered the town hall. It was an old, weary place, with rows of broken and dusty wooden chairs sporting the main hall. An equally dusty old man sat at the back, scribbling away in a large book with a quill. He looked up at Dennis. At least, Dennis thought he was looking up at him. The man’s glasses were so thick, they could stop a bullet, if one even existed at this time.
“Ah,” the man said. “A young man entering the town hall. You must be here for one reason, and one reason only.”
“That’s right,” Dennis said, with a polite nod. “I am here to register for my quest.”
“Very good,” the man said. He licked his finger, which sounded like sandpaper rubbing against leather, using the ‘wetted’ tip to flick through the pages. “Let’s see here. Ah, yes, here you are. Destined to go on a quest, find a loved one, build up a party of adventurers, have your head bitten off by a dragon while trying to protect the love of your life.”
“I’m sorry?” Dennis said, turning white.
“Your quest, sir. This is yours, isn’t it? You are Samuel, are you not?”
“I’m Dennis, sir.”
“Oh.” The man began to flick through the pages again. “Yes, sorry about that. It’s just that you and Samuel look so alike. Yes, I’m afraid our good friend from the Goodyears family rolled a bad die for his fate. Ah, here we go. Dennis Talburn. Destined to quest across the land. Lost his family at a young age. Oh, ever so sorry to hear that, my boy. That must have been rough.”
Dennis shrugged. “It just comes with the career.”
“Right, right. Standard fare, and all that. Says here you’re up against an Orkish warlord. That wouldn’t be Orzak, would it?”
“Grektul,” Dennis said. “The other one.”
“Really? That’s a pity. Orzak’s forces have been raiding my cabbage patch for the past two years. Whoever the hell is destined to slay that son of a pig needs to hurry up and become a hero already. Well, everything else appears to be in order. I trust you are ready to go? Got all of your stuff?”
“Yeah,” Dennis said, holding the feather in his hand. “You could say that.”
“Good, good. Take one rucksack on your way out of the hall. I’m sure you’re a good boy, but if I catch you trying to snaffle any of the other kid’s enchanted and magical trinkets, the only quest I’m giving you is back to your mothers house, dragged by your ears. Other than that, good day to you.”
“Thank you,” Dennis said, turning from the table. Sure enough, by the entrance, an array of adventuring rucksacks were sat. One of them was labelled, crudely, as ‘
Samuel Dennis’. Opening it up, it contained your usual questing, yet logic-defying, hero fare — bread that never went mouldy, a water canteen that never seemed to run out, a cooking pot that could bring itself to a boil when so much as breathed on, and a lollipop. Dennis picked the bag up and slinged it over his back, walking out of the town hall.
He was ready for his quest. He just didn’t feel that the quest was ready for him.
975 words (Getting good at cutting these close!)