Flash Friday 04/10/2013: Weapon of Choice (Part 6)
Side quests are part of a hero’s life. The hero performs an act of kindness and bravery for the public, while they themselves learn about their strengths and weaknesses. If they’re lucky, they might even acquiring some nice trinkets on the way. People learnt to love the questing adventurers, asking them to help out with their problems. Unfortunately, given the fact that all heroes have to accept the chance of absolutely no payment bar a bowl of broth, the general public started to get wise.
There were several roads that handily connected the starting points of quests to where their destiny told them to go. As such, these became well-used and famous roads, which were kept well-maintained and stocked with trade. Of course, with so many heroes going by, it also attracted those with side quests to dish out.
This is why Dennis wasn’t surprised by the stocky woman by the side of the road.
“Excuse me, sir,” she said, giving a wave that was borderline obnoxious, somehow. She had the traditional cloth hood and dress, to make her look as civilian as possible. “Can you please help me?”
“Sure,” Dennis said. Rejecting the offer would only make him out to be an evil, edgy hero, which he definitely wasn’t. “What’s the problem?”
“My cat is stuck in a tree,” the woman wailed, pointing to a nearby tree. “You have to save him.”
Dennis looked over to the tree. Sure enough, lying on one of the branches with a bored expression on its face, was a black cat. “Aaah, help,” it said, with the same excitement as someone reading a dictionary. “I’m stuck in a tree. Aah.”
“Did that cat just talk?” Dennis said.
“Yes, but that’s not the important part. The part where you come in is where it’s stuck up a tree. I simply cannot get him down again with my worn bones,” she said, putting a hand to her forehead dramatically. “But don’t lose hope, for there is a way to save him.”
“Sure, I got him,” Dennis said, walking towards the tree.
“You must go into the mountains,” the woman continued, seemingly unknowing that Dennis had left her on her own. “There, you will find the golems made entirely of gems. You must defeat them.”
“Really?” Dennis said. “Because I’m already halfway up the tree, you know.”
“Once you defeat them, take the gems from their dead bodies. The rubies that are within them are vital for, uh, raising my morale so I can get the cat down. Or maybe the emeralds. Hmm.” The woman looked at her wedding ring. “Maybe green will go better with that. On the next finger.”
“Well, I’m on the same branch as the cat, now,” Dennis said, shuffling along it. “So don’t worry.”
“Aah, help,” the cat repeated, waving a white handkerchief with one paw and resting his chin on the other. “If you take any longer, the grass might grow and get me. Or something.”
“Once you have the gems,” the woman continued, “come back to me and we’ll see about getting my cat down. I’m sure on your quest you will come across many tribulations, but I believe that you have the strength to–”
“Don’t bother yourself with that,” Dennis said, standing beside the woman, holding the cat under its forearms. “It’s down.”
The woman shot him a sinister glare. “You went and saved him?”
“Well, put him back then, you daft fool. You’re supposed to go on an epic quest before you’re allowed to save him.”
“Epic quest? But he’s right here.” Dennis gave the cat a shake, who didn’t seem to enjoy it. “I got him for you.”
“Yeah,” the cat said. “I’m down now, so everything’s alright.”
“You can be quiet,” the woman said, pointing a sword-like finger at the cat. “Do what we agreed to on the contract.”
“Contract?” Dennis said. “First you have a talking cat, and now you’re doing business with it?”
“Of course,” the cat said. “There’s only one person who would hire me, and that’s if they’re in need of what I do. The name’s Edmond, and talking cats like me get easy jobs working as freelance plot devices. We do deals with customers where we can act as plot points for a respectable yet manageable fee.”
“He signed a contract to be stuck up a tree,” the woman said. “And I’m demanding he gets back up there.”
“Ah ah ah, missy. Remember what the termination clause was? The contract ends the moment I get saved. And here I am, safe as sound. That means the job’s done, lady. Can I get put down now? My arms are aching.”
“You’re a lying toad,” the woman said to Edmond as he was placed back on solid ground. “A liar and a scam artist.”
“And you can’t write contracts properly. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll be off with my friend here.”
“Me?” Dennis said, pointing to himself. “Why me?”
“Why not you? You seem like a logical kid, which is rare around these parts. You’re probably one of those ‘parents died when you were younger’ ones. Those ones are always a little more sober.”
Dennis shrugged. “It just comes with the career.”
“Whatever. I’m up for an adventure. Where we headed, kid?”
“To kill an orc warlord,” Dennis said, drawing his weapon. “With only a feather.”
“Really? That sounds awesome,” Edmond said. “Let’s ditch this mess and get a move on.”
Dennis smiled at his new friend as they continued down the road, leaving the woman to yell a rainbow of obscenities behind them. Dennis always liked making friends in high places.