My Short Story TURNING INTO A NOVEL! Please read and give suggestions!
Where Legend Begins and Fiction Fades
The old man sat by the fire in the small tavern where he rented his room. Outside rain drizzled, running through the piping around the roof and down to the barrels located near the front corner of the house. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the warmth of the fire. He had drifted into the village some nights before; no one had thought anything of it. Then the next night he told a story, and it captured the attention of all present. Rumor spread quickly, a master of tales was in the city. Even the local thieves and pick-pockets managed to catch bits and pieces of it, new stories had been told, and this was such a rarity that people would come from far and wide to listen to them.
Michael had never thought anything of adventures or tales, but as a pickpocket it was of interest. There was money to be earned (or stolen) when there was a gathering of people. Michael made his way to the tavern and positioned himself near the door so that he could better observe the activities and spending habits of those inside. There were two type of folk with large sums of money... the first would hardly spend anything at all and be dressed in decent clothes more than beggars rags, these were the ones ripe for the picking. They would leave the tavern with nearly full purses that just begged to be cut away from their leash around master's shoulders or pulled out of their pockets. The other type of rich folk were of more interest to the thieves' guild, but they were apparent as well. Those that spent large sums of money quickly and without care would later be followed home by the guild. However, Michael didn't get involved with the thieves, and they left him alone. Michael watched through the window just around the corner, not visible to the people walking in the front door, but right where he could see almost the whole room.
The old man was moving toward the chair by the fire, and everyone was slowly falling to silence in anticipation of the tale that would begin soon. The small children pushed their way to the front of the crowd to get closer to the old man. They seated themselves as close as they dared.
And the old man spoke, "Many years ago, when the elves and dwarfs and all mystic races where still prevalent amid society. There was a small village in the middle of the mountain country, no other race ever went there, nor did anyone ever leave the valley. So they were isolated from all other peoples. Left to fend for themselves, but having no one else to tend for. The only problem in the small village was the tendency of local creatures and devils to occasionally attack the outskirts of town and kill a goat or two, or perhaps in a rare month even carry of a child.
"Ezra was a warrior in this old country, in the land of elves and fairies. But that was all before the great attack by the northern monsters. They came from no where so it seemed... and they were intelligent.
"They raided and pillaged, then faded into the surrounding woods, leaving nothing but tracks to be seen. Many a warrior had left in pursuit only to never be heard from again, but still the raids grew more frequent. In this way the people were forced to flee or die.
"Many had been slain in their raids, including Ezra's own family, but Ezra had fled over the mountain barrier and into a new land. One where the soil was fertile and the woods and streams plentiful. Here he had taken up the blacksmiths art, for the need was immense. As more and more refugees moved into the area, along with them came farmers, butchers, warriors, and hunters. All of these and more soon found his new profession to be needed.
"And so Ezra gained stature and wealth, thriving in this new place, and enjoying the peace that they lived in. He even started a new family, with a beautiful wife and two children.
"Yet, something haunted Ezra; for no matter how long he lived in that place, he still could hear battle cries when he closed his eyes at night. And they beckoned him to make swords, so he did. Whenever he wasn't making a plow, or shoeing a horse, or making tools and utensils to fill the many orders he received, he crafted weapons of death. Long swords, daggers, raptors and bows, he mastered them all, and then he improved them. He made better and stronger alloys. He varied the balance in the weapons until they seemed dance on their own.
"The other town-folk laughed at him, calling him a fool. They rolled their eyes, and said, "...only a delusional old man would make swords now, for now is a time of peace..."
But still for many years he worked, making hundreds, even thousands, of swords; creating with his own hands an immense arsenal of weaponry. Swords fit for kings, soldiers, warriors, and even knives for assassins. Daggers and pikes, swords and spears - all were created in immense numbers.
Then the time came. That night the monsters' screaming and mad cries could be heard in the air for hundreds of miles.
They had returned. The Enjoltinie came pouring out of the northern hills. No one knew how the monsters had crossed the mountains - rumors in later years abounded - but the slaughter was terrible.
People turned to Ezra for weapons and he gave them what they needed. They fought back, but to no avail. Slowly, they were forced to run or get killed. Families left one at a time and then were never heard from again.
They managed to kill a few, but the town's folk suffered enormous casualties and were close to dying out. Victories were few and they were costly when they happened.
Ezra knew what was coming; he had seen it once before. The people's supplies would get low enough and the Enjoltinie would start to feel their numbers shrink. Then it would happen.
The Enjoltinie would get mad - perhaps insane was a more appropriate word - for the level of depravity which they reached when angered was not even close to human. They took pleasure in pain and enjoyed getting killed. They'd laugh as you cut them down and then overwhelm you. They were monsters; not human, not beast, but something so far removed that they haunted people's dreams. They were the reason nightmares existed and the bane of all that lived and loved.
The night it happened arrived all to soon, and the battle was terrible. People and Enjoltinie died in hundreds and thousands. Children died in their mother's arms, impaled to each other with spikes. Fathers died defending those whom they loved, but the families wouldn't live to miss them.
And then, like the sudden passing of a massive storm, it was over. Silence filled the night. The dark clouds burst forth with rain and the rivers turned red with blood as the land sought to renew itself. The night was cold and wet. Fires from the battle dwindled and died, not letting even the smell of smoke remain.
The next morning the sun rose and split the dark clouds and the valley turned green again. Birds sang in the treetops, but no one was there to hear them.
That is how it appeared; everyone was dead. The people had finally crushed the Enjoltinie, but at a terrible cost. Their families lay dead and their buildings were burned to rubble. Silence reigned supreme with no one to deny its power.
Yet, from one tiny corner of the village a sound was heard, a sharp metallic clang, and then another. Maybe it was the wind summoning the spirits home, or maybe it was a bird pecking at an ant on a metal shingle.
But, I know in my heart what is was. Ezra's spirit is once again at its forge, no longer making swords; instead he makes a plow for himself as his family watches on and smiles.
Peace is finally his, and he intends to enjoy it."
The words faded and Michael shook his head in a dazed confusion, looking around startled. He had listened to the entire story through the window, and didn't even take a glance at the rest of the room to see which people had money and which ones didn't. People were already filing out the door... he had missed his chance to pick a good target! "I'm going to go hungry tonight, all because I got wrapped up in a fairy tale... stupid lies," he thought to himself. He turned to glare at the old storyteller just in time to see an obviously wealthy and drunk man slip an entire purse into the old man's hand as a token for such a fine story... an entire purse!
A plan quickly formed in Michael's mind and he smiled, "That purse should have been mine anyway, so I shall simply take back what belongs to me..." He chuckled to himself. "All he has to do is tell another story and he'll get more. Maybe I'll go in a sit down for that one." He chuckled at the irony of the situation. He pictured himself sitting in a tavern listening to another story being told, with his purse in his pocket and a warm meal and pint of ale in front of him. Now all he had to do was wait for the old man to leave to go somewhere, Michael frowned. How could he be sure the story man would leave?
The door to the tavern creaked open. Michael peeked around the corner. By the elves in the western worlds! The old man, cloaked and slightly bent over a walking cane, stepped out the front door and lit up his pipe. He then meandered down the road in the opposite direction from Michael.