The King Who Changed

The King decided it was time to rule no longer. He cast aside his crown, dropped his royal cape to the floor and kicked it away with a huff. What one person could think themselves of sound enough mind to rule the many? Who could be in such a position of power, and think by some miracle it would fail to corrupt their heart?

The King went down, down, down the stairs to the dungeon, where his previous life slumbered. He undid his weapon belt, tacky as it was, and tossed it aside along with the accompanying jeweled sword. He ran his fingers through his hair with a sigh, and opened the door to the room he had all but forgotten.

There, upon a table of stone, lay a weapon of a life long gone. The King’s mouth became a thin line, and he grabbed the spatula, shaking off the dust and wielding it with practiced ease.

“It’s time,” he said, blue eyes burning as brightly as an ocean at dawn.

“It’s time.”

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After School Storm

Elliot walked along the river of full bloom flowers, pulling his bookbag tightly against his shoulders. He smelled the air, wondering when the breeze had become so filled with nostalgia. He figured there must be a storm on the horizon, promising sweet evenings trapped inside with nothing better to do than watch water war with windowsill.

He didn’t so much rush home, as he did travel the exact pace necessary to appease fate. Whatever is, is. Whatever will be, will be. These two thoughts cascaded outward from his left foot and his right, respectively, as they fell upon the sidewalk.

Cowbro Dance

Bart brushed the dust off his boots,

tsk-ing as the barkeep came around with his beverage.

“One for the night,” the bartender began.

“Another for the mother,” Bart finished.

It didn’t make sense, but neither of them cared much. It was something to say. The space became filled all the same, the pints emptied all the same.

Garret came around, and the two eventually got up to no good.

Soon, they were out on the dance floor, showing off to all of the bar-goers. They were widely known as having the best moves three towns wide, and played off of each other with a grace that could only be described as water on wind.

Sweat dripped over stubble, and as the beat tampered out, the two took off their hats and hooked arms, fanning each other off. This partially cooled them while also signifying that they were relinquishing the dance floor for the time being, should any be daring enough to challenge their reign.

The cheers didn’t relent until the two sat. It was another perfect, golden night.

Fox With a Name

And so the red bird sighs, swimming downward through branches who have only just begun to lose their blooms. Petals tumbling as feathers fall; rain with no rain.

Harold felt the sweet chill of spring’s end as he sat among the blue rocks, hoping to taste the weather of the next day. The night held many secrets, and did not easily give up the greatest of them all.

What follows darkness is never so gray.

Blacksmith

Remy had relied heavily on each and every member of their ragtag mercenary crew, for on his own he could never have explored the depths of the ruined woods without perishing, or becoming otherwise indisposed for eternity.

As a blacksmith, Remy’s work occurred at the outset of their journey. He forged the tools and weapons necessary for the others to carry out their various skills without worry for the quality of craftsmanship. Any blade Remy forged lasted longer, held its sharpness far beyond the average lifespan of what one could purchase from a generic smithy, one whose main goal was to provide endless quantity, with little care for quality.

But these adventurers, along with a handful of others, had found Remy. His work was slower, and his prices were considerably higher than his competition. Though this resulted in some colder nights and an occasional empty stomach, Remy cared not. He would not sacrifice quality of materials or patience in labor just to line his pockets. His work was all there was, and it had to be done right.

This is why he was out here with them, this time around. His work required something more. Something many other blacksmiths has long since forgotten, or cared not to speak of it beyond hearsay and faerie tales.

Remy knew better. He could feel it out here. It called to him.

It had been an uncomfortably long stay in the ruined woods, the tattered forest. Thankfully, his party understood his need for their continued support. He helped where he could—using his skill with tools to administer needed repairs, his strength of arm to collect what wood could still be touched by the heat of flame. Occasionally he would stand alongside the warriors of the crew with his forge hammer, crushing the foul creatures that pursued them in the deepest hour of night.

But even without all of this, even if he did nothing, he believed these brave few would yet stand by his side. His work had lengthened their lives, saved them countless times. The armor he forged caused death strikes to glide off of their chests and shoulders, leaving them light enough to then counter with a definitive blow. The pots and pans he made were crafted specifically for adventuring parties, his signature light iron holding fast and cooking cleaner than other, more crude brands.

They trusted him. Their gold never went to waste, and if he felt his best work had not been done, he would quickly and easily apply a discount. “Fairness of friendship, to all that arrive, and thus may all friends, in darkness survive.” The very thesis of his being, branded into his shop’s outer wall.

And so they were six. Remy the Blacksmith, forger in flame. Terrin the Quick, tempest with blade. Aerin of Way, seeker of light. Denter the Bludgeon, boaster of might. Then comes Sayrin, the silver-tongue dagger. Last along, Vane—hunter, trapper.

Together they journey through forest grown thick, against all foes and shadow-borne tricks. As one in pursuit, for hammer and anvil—they seek Remy’s fame,

the glamour, Mythril.

Lost Pup

The pup barked, its voice bouncing between the willows. It strained itself, attempting to morph the shrill yipes into a strong howl. None such howl resulted, and the pup shivered.

A breeze came from behind, causing the young creature to stumble. Whistling through the wood, it caught the attention of a large, full grown wolf. She cocked her head at the odd sound of the twilit wind, and only then noticed she was short one child.

She released a frightful whine, leading it into a distressed howl. Echoing, it died out, falling and dissipating among the dusty underbrush.

She swallowed…waiting…

A strong, high pitched howl rang out in return.

The mother took off in the direction of it, the pup’s kin stumbling along behind her, playful still in the autumn chill.

Telemarketer

James couldn’t stop pacing, couldn’t resist viciously attacked his right arm with his left hand, rubbing it vigorously as his breath came in and out through anxiously gritted teeth. Too stricken to sob, he merely repeated “no, no, no,” over and over again.

Everything had gone wrong. There was no way he could salvage a single ounce of happiness from this life. His money, his family, even his fucking dog…all torn away from him, faster than he could react.

He had to do something, but all he could manage was this. The pacing. The frantic panic. He needed something real to latch onto, something peacefully normal, anything, anyone. If he could just—

His phone rang. He paused mid-stride, breath catching in his throat.

He reached into his pocket and pulled the device forth. An unknown number. Still, it could be him, reaching out at long last…

“Hello?”

“Hi there! I apologize for that pause, is Randal available to speak?”

James took a half breath. “Uh, sorry this is his phone but, I’m not him…”

It helped so much to speak at all. He could feel himself unwinding, little by little. If he could just listen to this person’s awful sales pitch, maybe he could—

“Ah! Our deepest apologies. Well it’s nothing important, we can try back another time. Thank you!”

“Wait! I—“

Click.

That sound. That empty sound of immediate abandonment.

As James replayed the sound over and over in his head, he withdrew back into himself, and crumpled. He slowly sank down onto the pavement, his hopelessness giving way to violent, wracking sobs.