A Small Price to Pay (A Chuck Wendig Challenge)

Posted: September 7, 2016 in Fiction
Tags: , , , , ,

This week’s challenge is to use the always entertaining Who the Fuck is MY D&D Character? My result:

ANXIOUS TIEFLING FIGHTER FROM A LOCAL STREET GANG WHO BRIBED A NOBLEMAN TO HELP THEM SMUGGLE SLAVES OUT OF A TYRANNICAL KINGDOM

So yeah, that got me this short (which I know feels like it could be something a lot bigger, but damn, I had just about 1000 words to work with here). As always, comments are welcome and appreciated (as is sharing, liking, following on twitter or liking on facebook.

Yes, yes, you came for story time, not self-promotion time. I GET IT.

Posha Ok slinked through the alley way on her way to the rendezvous. She glanced behind her, her hand brushing against the brace of daggers worn crosswise on her chest. Her devil eyes gleamed red in the shadow cloaked city, any illumination filtered through shuttered windows. She wrinkled her nose, her forked tongue flicking out to taste the air. It tasted clean here, so unlike the fetid miasma that she was used to. Figured that the quality breathed a better quality air than what she was used to.

Posha approached the gate, rapped red scaled knuckles against the polished wood, and waited with held breath. The gate swung open soundlessly, a mailed guard glaring out at her, lantern held high as he studied her features.

“What do you want, devil-spawn?”

Posha bit back a retort of her own, held out an open palm. Resting there was a heavy ring set with a rampant griffon on a vermillion background. The guard peered down at it, blinked, looked back at Posha. She smiled at him, being sure to show off her rows of pointed teeth.

“Where did you get that?” the guard asked. His body language became less assertive, and doubt was writ large across his face.

“Take a guess, sweetheart, but don’t take too long. Your master is expecting me.”

The guard closed the gate on her, and she heard the clank of his mail as he hurried away. She hugged the wall as she waited, drawing her cloak tight around her body. Too much could go wrong at this point. The Tyrant’s guards patrolled the streets at all hours, and being discovered here, like this, could throw everything into disarray.

Posha’s knees nearly buckled when the gate reopened. “This way,” the guard said, a note of not respect, but forced civility creeping into his voice.

Posha followed him, not to the main manor house, but to a smaller guest house. “Lord Mervyn doesn’t want to disturb the rest of the household.”

“I didn’t even ask,” she responded.

The guest house, which was easily three times the size of the small apartment Posha shared with five others, was oppressively warm. The windows were shuttered tight, and oil lamps burned brightly inside. It took a moment for Posha’s eyes to adjust.

“Ah. The devil-bitch.” Lord Mervyn reclined in a rich armchair, a goblet of something expensive and alcoholic resting in his hand. He ran his free hand over his carefully trimmed beard.

“Posha.”

“Whatever.” He waved his hand dismissively. “You have what I want?”

Posha reached into her jerkin, felt the guard behind her tense. Slowly, she pulled a small pouch out and placed it on the table next to him.

Lord Mervyn raised an eyebrow. He set his goblet down and opened the pouch, spilling five clear jewels out into his hand. He smiled, a thin, tightlipped affair. “If you only knew how long I’ve desired these for myself.” He held one up to the light, peering through the gem as it caught the light in a scintillating display. “The deal was for ten, however.”

“You’ll get the other half when you uphold your end of the bargain.”

“I suppose that is only fair,” Lord Mervyn acquiesced with a sigh. “There’s a barge down in the harbor. The Speckled Trout I think it’s called. You’ll find the captain already paid for, at least until you are past the border. Beyond that point you are on your own. I’ll send one of my own with you for the second part of the payment. Once you are outside the city, he will debark at the first town, and our business will be at an end. I must admit I do admire you, even if I think your crusade is foolish.”

Posha looked around the guest house, at its opulence, at the noble sitting there content, his wealth built on the forced labor of others. “I suppose it might look foolish from your perspective, Lord Mervyn. Now, if you don’t terribly mind, I’ll beg my leave. I have work yet to do, and the night is fading fast.”

“Of course. And if you require further assistance…”

“I’ll be sure to keep you in mind.”

The guard escorted Posha to the gate. A woman stood there, heavily cloake. Posha caught sight of the delicately tattooed hands of a spellweaver. She swallowed hard and approached. “You’re the one going with me?”

The woman nodded.

“All right, try and keep up then.”

#

Later, on the barge, her nose filled with the rotten stink of garbage, Posha stared back at the city she had so long called her home. Eight former slaves of the Tyrant huddled in the captain’s cabin, smuggled out from his capital under his very nose. She heard the spellweaver approach, feet treading lightly.

“Lord Mervyn expects me to betray you,” the spellweaver said, her voice holding an odd singsong quality.

“So he doesn’t suspect?” Posha gripped the rail hard. Even with all the assurances, all the precautions, she expected the Tyrant’s men at any moment. She wondered if she would ever stop looking over her shoulder.

“Why would he, sister? Not all of us wear our heritage so openly.”

Posha breathed out slowly. “The Tyrant still has so many of us in captivity, Serafima.” She blinked her eyes, feeling the harsh sting of tears. “And for every one we manage to slip from his grasp, it seems he holds on to five all the tighter.”

Serafima smiled, letting the hood drop from her head. Her raven black hair shone in the rising sun. “This is the way every revolution starts, Posha. With a trickle. A trickle becomes a stream. A stream becomes a river. A river becomes a flood. But there must be a trickle first.”

“I wish you could come with us.”

“Soon, sister. Now give me the second half of the payment. I need to get back to Lord Mervyn. There is still work to be done.”

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Comments
  1. mdflyn says:

    The self-promo works, I didn’t even realize you had a Facebook.

    • I just started pushing out a “writer” page on it. Which I should do a better job of filling with back postings given that this is year three of the blog. It’s all part of my small effort to (ever so) slowly grown an audience. But hey, the important question is, what did you think of the piece?

      • mdflyn says:

        I liked it, but I usually like yours. It felt like the start of something bigger, with delicious tension.

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