A romp into a world of Aspauria. Currently editing and writing so no judging on typos!
There is, in my mind, nothing more amazing then a good book. I can remember growing up reading books that went on to shape the way I thought about life and inspired me to reach for great things. Books can change us, move us, and touch us in ways no other medium can. More then anything else, a book can ignite our imagination and stir within us a creativity we never knew we had.
This isn't one of those books.
Sure, this book full of cheap laughs and giggles made at others expense. But honesty, I count it a privilege to make others laugh. And if, for just a brief while, I can make you forget your troubles and help you get lost in a story, then I feel I've accomplished my mission.
Yes, contained in these pages are the kind of characters that would be rejected in any other book. But that's really the whole point. I've never cared for the machine that is the world around us. The cogs that make the world turn and keep the green stuff flowing into the big guys' pockets. But what I really hate, the thing that makes my stomach turn, is how so many writers have bent to the will of the publishers; watering down and stretching out their stories in order to make a few extra bucks.
Sure, I'm no idealist. I understand the cogs will keep turning, the green stuff will keep flowing, and the big guys will keep on getting bigger. But this book, in my small way, is how I say, "fuck you". So there you go world. As a reader of all genres and a lover of the classics, this is my work I give to you.
This is a story about a man named Vlad. I know, awful name right? Don't blame me, I'm just relaying the story, I didn't write it. So, who is Vlad, you ask. Oh clever reader, you ask such good questions. The best way to answer that is to talk to the Overlord. But seeing as he's moved on to creating some other universe you might have a hard time finding him.
What I can tell you is that Vlad is a dwarf, or a midget, I'm not sure. Which one has proportional body parts? Well, whichever one thatis, that's what he is. That's right, our “hero” is a little person. Nothing cliché about that at all, right?
The world he lives in was basically cast aside, an abandoned idea that will never be complete. Of course, Vlad is partially to blame there. But I won't spoil it. Suffice to say this isn't your every day, dime-a-dozen hero story. No sir.
But that's not how it started. Oh yes, picture in your mind every god-awful hero/heroine story and just kind of mash all that crap together. That's right, the beautiful prince with long, golden locks of hair and a stuffed codpiece. I mean seriously, who's this guy kidding? We all know this guy's a fudge packer. Yep, he's no stranger to the ol' wet stone. The kind of guy every fruity wants in his trench. He's gay, that's basically what I'm driving at here. He likes the penis.
And we can't forget the girl. No siree bob. Yes, this is always a delicate situation in fairy tales. First of all, she's got to be hot. But she has to fall in that golden spectrum. Too racy and it comes across like a low-budget porno and suddenly all the dads in the theater feel guilty for sporting a chub at a kids movie. Too chaste and demure and then it's like, what's the point? Why am I watching if the princess isn't tapable, right? The rack is always a toughy. I mean, she's gotta have some serious holy grails. The cleavage is the key. It's gotta be tasteful, just enough to give a preview of the fertile pastures about to be ploughed but not so much that it's like an ice cream truck giving away free licks. What can I say, I guess I'm just a hopeless romantic.
Sadly, the story is always the same. Princess in danger, prince rides to her rescue, killing whatever it is that's holding her hostage. And they live happily ever after. Of course, they never show the morning after. You know, after the ol' nasty? The shame, the guilt, that's the good stuff; that's real.
And the writers like to throw in douchy sounding names of places that don't exist. Oh, it'll make it sound cool! Now in order to truly understand that last sentence, you have to picture me with buck teeth, about two hundred pounds heavier, bad skin, thick glasses, balding with a ponytail, wearing a stained Thundercats T-shirt. And my eyes are slightly too far apart. Now go back, and read it again.
Anyway, you roll all that cliché trash up and, good sir, what do you get? Sure as hell not this:
Vlad woke up with a massive hangover. His crusty eyes slowly cracked open and burned from the sunlight streaming in through the windows. Morning always came too soon. He looked around but saw nothing but blurry objects.
Groaning, he sat up and tenderly rubbed his neck. Pinching his eyes shut, he opened them again to see the world had started to come into focus. Evidence of the past two night's debaucheries littered the floor of the modest hovel.
Vlad felt nature calling and forced himself to his feet. His head was throbbing like it was being beat against an anvil. He stumbling along like a zombie, tripping through all the empty wine jars and naked people as he went.
Once outside, he felt the warm sun beat against his body. Taking a big stretch, he yawn and forcefully broke wind. He heard a distant scream and looked down to see he was standing in all his hairy, naked glory. Giving a shrug, he turned to the side of the house, and began relieving himself.
“You there! What do you think you're doing?”
Vlad was leaned against the wall, still half asleep and still pissing.
“Acknowledge us, you fiend. We demand satisfaction!”
Vlad finally turned, piss still moving in a high arc in front of him. “What?”
It was two royal guards and the piss had hit one in the leg. They took a step back, their noses wrinkled in disgust. “Dear god, have you no decency?”
“Think of the children!” yelled the other guard gesturing behind them.
Vlad glanced in the direction he was pointing and saw a group of children being quickly herded in the opposite direction by sneering old fat women; zealot priestesses by the looks of them. “That's him!” a woman yelled, suddenly appearing from between the two guards. She had a long, hooked nose with a hairy wart on the end. She looked strangely familiar.
Vlad gave himself a few shakes and finally finished.
“That's the creature that violated my precious daughter Pearl! He stole her innocence.”
That's why she looked so familiar. He could faintly remember being barged in on by an ugly woman in the middle of coitus a few days ago. He couldn't remember exactly when, he'd been pretty wasted on Dust.
“Trust me lady, there was nothing innocent about that girl.” He looked at both guards and gave a nod with pursed lips.
With lightning speed, Vlad slung a small table into the guards' way and rushed in the house. The lock slid shut just as the guards rammed against it. Vlad quickly threw several large pieces of furniture in its path.
He had to find his things and quickly. There was Fairy Dust paraphernalia all over the place. Milton was going to kill him for snorting away all the stuff. The guards continued to bang in vain against the door as he stuffed all he could find in a bag. There was still a few thousand coin of Dust left, enough to buy his way out of there. His clothes were nowhere to be found though. Screw it, I'll go commando.
“What's with the noise baby?” groaned one woman (for the life of him he couldn't remember her name, Gladdis, Glorien, Gl-something). Her massive breast were spilling out of her undone bodice.
Vlad didn't have time to explain, especially to a woman that had Fairy Dust caking her nostrils. He gave her assets one last squeeze and rushed to the back door. As soon as he did, he heard voices rushing to the back of the house.
Cursing, he bolting the door and threw furniture in the way. Need another way out. Looking up, he saw the rafter. “Up.” He jumped and grabbed hold, hoisting himself into the ceiling.
Vlad continued his climb until he reached the roof. Gently, he pushed his way through the thatch and to the outside world. As soon as he did, he could hear the sound of one of the doors giving way.
Quickly scuffling along roof, Vlad tried to find a good way to escape but the house was surrounded. He could hear screams coming from inside the house. Shaking his head and cursing, he knew there was only one way out.
He quickly rooted through his satchel until he found a small horn. Taking a deep breath, he raised it to the air and blew as hard as he could. The horn made a high-pitch scream, immediately alerting the guards to his location.
Vlad could hear voices outside the house. They knew he was on the roof. He only had a few moments before they'd be on him. “Come on, Feera!”
A few desperate moments passed. Ladders were being raised on all sides of the house. I'm screwed. Vlad suddenly felt a stiff breeze and looked up to see who he'd been waiting for. “Nice of you to drop by,” Vlad said, readjusting himself proudly.
“We have to stop meeting like this, little man,” Feera said, kicking one guard off the roof. “People are going to start talking.”
“Let em. You know I'm the best you've ever had.”
Feera rolled her eyes, looking him up and down. “Big words for a man sporting a nub.”
“Hey, it's chilly up here,” he protested. “Cut me some slack.”
The rest of the guards were cresting the roof, their weapons drawn. “Time to go,” Feera said grabbing hold of Vlad by the legs with her bird-like feet and taking off. The take off flipped him hard onto the roof and slowly dragged him. “Oops, my bad,” she said, a small giggle escaping.
“I probably deserved that,” he replied to her. “Suck my white ass!” he yelled, flipping off the shocked men below, their mouths agape.
Feera quickly set off over the town, people looking up in shock as they went. It wasn't every day you saw a naked, upside-down dwarf being carried off by a Harpie. Ahead of them, Vlad could see the town church and the bells were tolling. “Feera?” he said in a worried tone. “Baby?”
All he could hear was a laugh. Feera took them in the low dive towards the church where hundreds of people were gathered outside, being greeted by their priest. The Harpie let out a screech and she flew over the top of the crowd.
The people scattered, screaming and pointing. “You proud of yourself, you proud of what you just did?”
Feera was busting with high-pitched laughter. “Now I am!” she remarked, sweeping towards the priest and knocking off his hat with Vlad's head.
Once the town was shrinking in the distance behind them, Feera veered in the direction of Vlad's cache. It was in a well situated spot in a cave in the heart of the Black Forest. Few people dared to venture there, with so many rumors of evil things lurking there. Vlad knew it was all bullshit.
Feera dropped him none too softly on the hard, stone floor of the cave. “Thanks for the lift,” he replied, gingerly getting up and dusting himself off. The Harpie's form suddenly began shifted, her wings shrinking and disappearing, her blueish-gray skin turning tan like a woman whose been out in the sun. By all accounts, she looked like a normal, albeit beautiful, naked woman.
The Harpie stood there silently, hands on her hips, tapping her foot. He knew what she wanted, but he didn't want to meet her gaze. He could feel her stare burning the back of his head. “Yeah, I know, I know.” He tore open his satchel, grabbed a bag of Dust, and tossed it to her. “We square?”
Feera looked the bag over and gave a nod. The dwarf quickly moved to the back of the cave pulled loose a large stone. Hidden underneath, was a chest. “It must be almost noon by now,” Vlad remarked, pulling out a change of clothes and several wrapped packages. He tossed his companion a simple, green dress.
“Yeah, just about,” Feera replied flatly as she clothed herself.
“Well look, I need you to do me another solid.”
Feera looked at his satchel, her eyebrow raised. “No money, no honey.”
“Come on, that's like three hundred coin I just gave you, and that's the good stuff too!”
Feera dipped her finger in the blue powder and took a taste. She smiled, her eyes watering slightly. “Okay, fine. What do you need?”
“An escort to Milton's.”
She rolled her eyes, but looked down at the bag in her hand and finally nodded with a sigh. “Weren't you just there?”
Vlad laughed nervously. “Yeah well, I may have snorted some of the product away last night, and the night before.”
“Well how much?” Feera asked, her voice wroth with worry.
Vlad looked down in his satchel, hesitant to answer. Feera's gaze was really burning him now. She had the crazy look in her eyes. “I got about three thousand coin left.”
“What?!” Her shrill voice echoed through the small cave, making Vlad's ears ring. “You had like thirty thousand coin worth in there!”
“Look I'm sorry, there were like a dozen of us, it got kinda crazy.”
Feera didn't want to hear, she just raised her hand and took a quick hit from the bag. Her body immediately stiffened up and she breath a deep sigh. “Idiot.”
“I know, Milton's gonna kill me.”
“It's not Milton that worries me,” she said, starring up at the cave ceiling. “It's his Fairy supplier. He's gonna kill Milton. Then, he's gonna kill you.” She sighed deeply. “Let's just go.”
Vlad quickly grabbed everything he thought he would need and they set off through the forest. On foot, it would be dark by the time they reached Milton's home, but Vlad couldn't risk giving away Milton's lab by flying to it. Authorities had been cracking down on Fairy Dust like never before. Most of their competition had been squeezed out, unable to keep their hideouts secret.
Vlad's supplier was different though, he was a Wizard. Resting on a small island in the middle of a lake, the lab itself, along with the island were cloaked by his magic, a passerby would see nothing but water. But not even invisibility could hide Milton from his suppliers.
Vlad shuddered at the thought and tried to take his mind off it. They had reached the main road that cut through the Black Forest. At one time, it had been notorious for robbers, ghouls, and every sort of foul thing, but that was years ago, the it the time of high fantasy. Most of the ghouls and ghosts had wandered off into the void, never to be seen from again.
At first it had been a blessing, seeing all the evil slipping out of the three kingdoms, but more then just evil was beginning to disappear. The outlying villages, those nearest to the Void were beginning to just empty. No people left, like they all just got up one day and wandered off into the white.
The Void, Vlad had seen it many times. The grass, the dirt, even the sky, it all just ended, and that's when the white started. There was nothing beyond the edge. Once you entered the Void there was nothing, save a thin, straight, faint horizon line.
He was far from the Void though, in his little neck of the woods. They were Acrya, the easternmost Kingdom and also the largest of the three. It was well known from it's great mountain ranges, it's harsh wilderness and it's biting cold in the northern region. They were in the southern part of the Kingdom. It was known for its temperate climate almost all year and its innumerable little villages. The perfect place to set up the biggest Fairy Dust operation in the three kingdoms.
Sure, there were other big players in Esparia and Locrein, but few made their Dust as pure as the Wizard. The crackdown on distribution had been a double-edge sword. It had cut out a lot of the small time guys in the area, but it had also put a huge target on Vlad's back, thus the escort.
Feera had saved his dwarf ass more times then he cared to recall. Sure she could be abrasive and bossy, but Vlad needed someone to push him, otherwise, he'd be in the stockades somewhere rotting away.
Feera suddenly stopped, he hand lifted in the air. “Something's coming,” she whispered, pointing ahead of them.
They quickly got off the road and disappeared within the shrubbery. Feera's sharp hearing always came in handy. Several tense minutes rolled by before Vlad could hear the sound of wagon wheels and voices.
He quickly found a good hiding spot for his bag and drew a dagger from his side. The wagon finally came into view. “Looks like a prisoner shipment,” Feera remarked.
Vlad had to agree, the wagon looked like a moving prison cell. There were two men on foot in brown cloaks, leading an ancient looking oxen down the dusty road. The dwarf suddenly heard a voice he recognized and smiled. “That's no prison shipment.”
Before Feera could protest, Vlad jumped up and yelled, “Prepare to die bastards!”
Both men swung around, a look of utter horror across there faces. “Oh God, don't kill me, please!” yelled one of the men, Vlad didn't recognize him. But he certainly knew the other one. It was Zarus, the Kracken Priest.
The look of terror had quickly vanished from Zarus' face the moment he recognized him. “Vlad, you sneaky son of bitch!” he said with a cackle. He was a robust man, his big belly hanging over the brown rope cinched around his cloak. He gave the Dwarf a big bear-huge, lifting him off the ground. “I should kick your ass for giving us such a scare! What the hell are you doing in these parts? Last I saw you, you were in a winches dress riding down the Kingsroad like the devil himself was after you.”
Vlad laughed, thinking back to the incident. It hadn't been one of his proudest moments. “Oh, you know me, always looking for the next score.” He looked over at the wagon, which was almost full. They were all young girls, and few of them lookers. “I see you're still working for the insatiable Kracken.”
“He takes good care of us.” Zarus turned to his partner and pulled him over to Vlad. “This is Ham, a fine young Priest. New to the Order, but he's learning the ropes quickly. Ham, this is the nastiest, most debauched son of a bitch in all the three kingdoms, and I'm proud to say, a friend of mine.”
“Nice to meet you Sir,” Ham said with a cautious smile.
“You're haul looks a bit disappointing,” Vlad remarked, glancing over the wagon.
Zarus gave a grunt. “There was time when we had such virgin beauties in this wagon. Girls that melted the soul and hardened the loins like nothing else on this earth.”
One of the girls in particular was making eyes at Vlad, from her snaggle-tooth to her unibrow, the entire picture was just one big mess. Both men shuddered involuntarily.
“And the Kracken won't mind this wagon of fuglies?”
Zarus sighed and pulled Vlad aside. He looked back to make sure no one else was standing close enough to hear. “To be honest, the Kracken isn't what he used to be, sexually.”
Vlad, eyes lit up and he raised his finger. “Oh, you mean-”
“Yes,” Zarus took Vlad's finger and bent it slightly.
“Wow, so what does this mean?”
The Priest shook his head in dismay. “It means fewer trips, less girls, and, unfortunately, fewer Priests. He's just not the raging beast he once was. There was a time when all that's be left after a passionate session of porking was a chard pussy and a set of teeth.”
“Such a shame,” Vlad replied, trying to get that image out of his head. “So hot or ugly really doesn't matter anymore.”
“Not really, he's just going through the motions anymore. We used to be working around the clock gathering virgins to satisfy him.” Zarus looked back and the wagon and physically gagged. “And I must say, the lack of selection is really cutting into my sampling.”
Vlad knew Feera had to be getting impatient. Wrap it up, we've got places to be, was more then likely what she was screaming in her head.
“Well it's good to see you.”
“And you as well,” the Priest replied heartily. “You know, we're only a few hours away from the next village. How about you come with and we'll share a pint and some good stories?”
“I doubt I'll be going to Lina Village ever again, had a two day bender go awry yesterday and had a run in with the royals.”
“Two days? Impressive. I'm sure you have some tales to tell.”
“Oh Zarus, you should have been there. The dumplings on some these girls.” Vlad cupped his hands and put them a foot out from his chest. “And these were experienced girls too. I'm talking world record shit.”
Zarus bit his lip. “Damn! Lucky bastard.”
Vlad saw Ham straining to hear them and his chubby Priest friend quickly turned around. “Ah, well I guess we should be going.”
“It's good to see you,” Vlad remarked.
“And you, my friend. If they ask about you in Lina, I'll tell them you took the fork North.”
They said there goodbyes and Vlad staid on the road waving until they were out of sight. He suddenly felt something ram him in the back and nearly knock him over. It was his bag, which had been thrown by Feera. “Took you long enough!” she barked, throwing her long, brown hair back out of her face. “It's going to be dark soon.”
“I know, but he's a friend. I couldn't just let him pass by. Besides, he's going to tell the guards in Lina we went North.”
That seemed to satisfy the Harpie, who said nothing further on the matter. The rest of the journey was without incident. Few people dared to travel when the sun set. The last leg of their journey brought them to a clearing and a large lake. The moon was strong that night, casting a cold glow on the surface of the black water. They had arrived.
Vlad groaned inside when he saw how dark it was around the lake. It would be a major pain in the ass searching for the secret entrance. “What the hell are you looking for?” Feera finally asked after an eternity of searching.
Vlad cursed in surprise when his foot finally struck the stone he'd been searching for. He stomped on it forcefully and waited. A few second rolled by and then dozens of round forms gently rose from the water.
“A walkway!” Feera exclaimed.
“Follow me,” the dwarf said, hopping along the stones towards the center of the lake. The stones guided them out to seemingly nothing but water, until Vlad stepped up onto an invisible platform and knocked on a hidden door.
They both patiently waited there floating on nothingness in the darkness. Vlad knocked a little more forcefully. Minutes went by and still nothing. He pounded on the door. “Quit jerking off and open the damn door Milton!”
Finally, there was the sound of a doorknob turning and a slit was made in the air in the front of them. “Who is it?”
“Who the hell do you think? Open the door!”
The slit suddenly opened wide, revealing a tall, gaunt old man with wiry, snow-white hair all over the place. It looked like he'd stuck his finger in a light socket. The old man's eyes were squinted tight as he looked Vlad and Feera up and down. “Who is that?” he whispered, as if she couldn't hear him.
“This is my uh, business associate Feera.”
“I'm sorry what did you just call me?!” the Harpie interjected, practically shoving Vlad in the water to get closer.
The invisible door suddenly slammed shut and they were back out in the darkness. Vlad banged on the door again. “I've got that video you wanted, Milton.”
The door quickly swung open and Vlad produced a small flash drive. “How'd it turn out?”
“It's good Milton, top shelf footage.”
“Really?” the Wizard said with a suspicious tone. “Because that's what you said last time.”
“I know, I know, trust me this is good stuff, I shot it myself.”
“Because I told you last time nasty, and dammit I want bush! None of that artsy sidle stuff. You know, is it there, is it not?”
“Yes, I remember. It's a ten okay, I swear.” Vlad could feel Feera's eyes burning the back of his head but he refused to acknowledge her judgmental stare.
Milton's disposition seemed to soften a little. “How'd it go with the toys, was the plug too big?”
“Look can we,” Vlad looked back at Feera who was shaking her head. He lowered his voice. “Can we talk about this later?”
“Sure, sure.” Milton moved to grab the flash-drive but Vlad pulled it back.
“Let us in first.”
“What the hell is that?” the wizard exclaimed, pointing behind Vlad.
He spun around to look, assuming the worst and felt the flash-drive pried from his fingers and the door slammed again. “Son of a bitch! How could I fall for that?” Before Vlad could knock on the door again, Feera was already beating on it.
After a few minutes of beating, the door it finally opened again, this time to Milton's disrobed, pale skin. “Now's not a good time,” the Wizard said in a snide tone. “If you could come back later that'd be great.”
Ignoring the Wizard's nudity, the Harpie's rage flared. “What did you call me?!” she shouted, stepping through the door and pointing her finger in the old man's face.
“Vlad, control your woman.”
“We really don't have time for this,” Vlad said as he stepped in and shut the door. The inside of the Wizards home was like a cozy hobbit hole with round walls and ceilings and a fireplace in every room. Before Vlad could continue his speech, his eyes came to rest on a large rucksack and a pile of papers. “What's going on, what's this?”
Milton stepped away from the angry harpie and looked casually at the bag Vlad was pointing at. “Just going on a trip.”
“Jesus Milton put your clothes back on!”
As the old man got dressed Vlad noticed Feera poking through the next room. “Looks like a lot of empty shelves,” she remarked.
“What the hell's going on?” Vlad asked, looking the Wizard straight in the eyes.
The old man look at Vlad and sighed. “I'm in some hot water with Jorin.”
Vlad felt his heart stop. Jorin was a Nord and was Milton's ingredient supplier, and was absolutely insane. Vlad had seen that crazy freak kill a man just because he laughed a little to hard at one of his jokes.
“What kind of hot water?”
“Milly, what's going on out here?” came a woman's voice.
Vlad suddenly caught sight of a completely naked woman.
“Oh my!” Feera exclaimed, covering her eyes.
The woman quickly jumped behind a door.
“Just some friends, be right there sweetums.”
“Wait a minute,” Vlad said, his eyes narrowing. “I know that rack.” His mouth dropped. “That's Jorin's sister! So that's the hot water you're in?”
“Her, no he has no idea. I just owe him around half a million gold that I don't have.”
“And so you thought what better way to get back in his good graces then to bang his sister?”
“She looks like a teenager,” Feera said in disgust.
“Well what can I say?” the Wizard said. “I just have a way.”
“Dust?” Vlad whispered.
“Yeah, that girl's snorted me dry.”
Suddenly, there came a gentle knock at the door. Milton rushed to the side of the door and signaled for both of them to get clear. “Who is it?”
The only answer he got was a curse word. Vlad felt his teeth rattle and insides shake at a deafening boom and a blast of black smoke and shrapnel. The dwarf quickly crawled to Feera and grabbed her by the arm. There was a second way out of the house and Milton was already running for it, rucksack in tow.
“Milton!” bellowed a familiar voice through the dust and debris. “You and I have unfinished business!”
“Suck my white ass!” Milton shouted as he lifted the trap door to their escape. “And oh yeah, I've been banging your sister for a month.”
A loud string of curses emitted from the dust as all three of them jumped down the opening, hardly even using the ladder. They landed with a splash in what looked like a subterranean sewer. “Oh yuck, my shoes!” Feera hissed.
“You want to go back up there?” Vlad suggested as they rushed down the dark narrow tunnel.
Milton opened his palm and a white flame suddenly sprang forth, lighting their way. For an old man, Milton could move pretty fast when motivated. Vlad was having a hard time just keeping up. They could hear rumbling about them, god's only knew what Jorin was doing to Milton's home.
The old Wizard snaked them through dozens of twists and turns until they finally came to a set of stairs leading to the surface. Milton didn't need a white flame to light their path outside, his invisible home was up in flames like an erupting volcano in the middle of the lake.
“Jesus,” Feera whispered in shock.
Vlad sighed and patted Milton on the shoulder. “I guess now's as good a time as any to let you know I snorted away that last batch of Dust you gave me.”
Milton hardly seemed to notice what Vlad had said. He just turned and headed into the forest. “Good riddance,” Feera said under her breath.
Vlad knew where he was going. They needed answers and he wasn't about to let Milton go alone. He grabbed the Harpie by the hand and pulled her into the dark forest. “What are you doing?” she said, yanking her hand away. “I'm not going along with that freak.”
“Feera please, I don't have time to explain.”
“Fine,” she said, signaling for him to keep going. “Walk and talk.”
“That blast,” Vlad explained as they pushed their way through the dark brush and caught up to Milton. “It was from a bazooka.”
“A Bazooka,” the Wizard repeated. He knelt down, grabbed a branch and slowly blew on it. A faint white light suddenly appeared on the end like a flame, but without any heat it didn't consume the wood. “It fires a metal shell packed with explosives.”
“Okay so what does that mean?”
“Have you ever heard of a Bazooka?” Milton asked in a sarcastic tone.
Feera shook her head.
“Of course not, because they don't exist in this world.” The Wizard looked over at Vlad, as if they were reading each others minds. “There's only one place Jorin could get such a weapon.”
Vlad didn't say it out loud. There were some things Feera just wasn't ready for. He'd been through a lot of shit before he'd met his trusty sidekick and she knew very little about it. The less she knew, the better.
The Harpie didn't press the matter, but he knew she was curious. “It's a long trek from here,” Vlad cautioned.
Milton flipped his hand casually. “Nothing we haven't been through before. Besides, I've got a cache a few mile from here with plenty of provisions for the journey.”
The journey to the cache was slow. Milton had to keep the light as faint as possible or else risk being spotted by their pursuers. The woods were thick that time of year and Vlad's short legs didn't help matters. Brush and brambles seemed to hinder their progress at each step.
By the time they reached Milton's cache, everyone's arms and exposed skin was scratched to pieces. The wizard had hidden his supplies inside a large, dead tree. It was hollowed out inside, providing plenty of room to hide things. Milton passed the light to Feera and then began pulling out his supplies and divvying them up between them.
“We've got enough food for four days,” Milton remarked as he continued sorting through the items.
“That's not enough,” Vlad said. “We'll have to do some hunting en route.”
“The quickest route is through Finnochio Forest.”
The moment the dwarf heard those words a flood of terrible memories rushed to his mind. “No!” Vlad replied sternly.
Milton continued to fill his pack in silence.
“Milton,” Vlad said protested. “No, Milton!”
“You know there's no other choice. Going around will take at least two days more and will put us on the King's road, which will be watched by Jorin and his toadies.”
Vlad palmed his face and sighed. “I can't go back there Milton, not after what happened. They'll kill me.”
“Do I dare even ask?” Feera said flatly.
“It's nothing,” Milton replied casually. “He just revealed to the Elven Kingdom that the King was as gay as the day is long.”
“Gay? You mean?”
“Yes,” the wizard nodded. “The guy's a fruitcake, a fudge packer, an arse bandit, bone-smuggler—”
“Okay, the point is made, thank you Milton,” Vlad snapped.
“This would only happen to you,” Feera replied, rolling her eyes.
The dwarf knew there was no other way. Their journey North would take them straight through the heart of Finnochio Forest. They gathered up their supplies and quickly set off. There would be no rest for them that night.
Vlad could feel beads of sweat running down his forehead and cheek. The three of them stood as still as they could, their hands raised in the air to their attackers.
The elves standing before them were natives of Finnochio. They had their bows leveled at them, arrow notched and drawn. The dwarf noticed the ends of the arrows looked like little dicks.
They had traveled through the night and had entered Finnochio just as the sun began to rise. They hadn't gone more then a few yards into the forest when they were ambushed.
One of the elves slowly walked up to Milton with no arrow drawn. “We've been tracking the three of you since late last night,” the Elf said solemnly.
“Shouldn't have been hard,” Vlad replied. “We made no attempt at stealth.”
“Just as well, it would have been a waste,” the Elf quickly retorted. “No living creature enters the Finnochio without our knowledge, not even from behind.”
“Are those dicks on your arrows?” Vlad remarked. He suddenly felt a sharp sting as the Elven leader slapped him across the face.
“Hold your tongue midget! Or I will punish you, severely.” He licked his lips at the last word, a glimmer in his eyes. It made Vlad shiver.
“We only wish for safe passage through the forest,” Milton said calmly.
The Elf nodded and looked each of them over. His eyes came to rest on Vlad and stayed their. “There was a Dwarf in these woods once, many years ago. Because of him, all our women left, including our beloved Queen.” He knelt down and looked Vlad straight in the eyes.
“What is your name?”
Vlad's eyes strayed to Feera. She was stoic on the outside but he knew she was afraid. “My name is Vlad.”
“Dammit, Vlad no!” Feera protested as two Elves restrained her to her knees.
“Let them go, please. They are not involved in this quarrel,” Vlad pleaded.
The lead Elf sighed. “Take them to the King.”
The three of them were blindfolded and marched straight into the depths of the forest. For hours they walked in blackness, all the while Vlad thought about what he would say to the King, how he could possible talk his way out of this mess.
“So how do the dick arrows work? They didn't look sharp?” Milton asked as they walked.
“The phallus is made of clay, the arrow tip is underneath. Now shut up!” replied one of the elves.
After what felt like an eternity of silence, they finally reached a long series of steps and they were pushed to their knees. Vlad could hear voices all around him. They were strange voices, speaking in the Elven tongue. He knew a few words. He could hear the words, “traitor” and “Dwarf” used numerous times.
At last, the blindfolds were lifted. Sitting before them on two thrones of woven tree branches were two slender, beautifully formed Elven men. They were holding hands. Oh lord, here we go.
“Is this him, Sire?” asked the Elf who'd brought them there.
Vlad knew the Elf sitting in the left throne instantly. He was Harondul, King of Finnochio. The Elven King gave a feminine gasp, putting his palm to his mouth. “It is him!” he ejaculated with a lisp. “Oh you bad, bad man! You betrayed us!”
Giving a cry, he leapt from his seat and slapped Vlad across the face. “Marcia left because of you, you bastard!”
There was a great gasp from the Elves standing all around them. The Elf on the other throne quickly leaped to his feet and restrained the King. “Please, Sire, not here!”
Harondul seemed to suddenly be aware of what he was doing and composed himself. He stood up tall and went back to his throne. “You're a fool for coming back here.”
“Yes I know,” Vlad replied, touching his burning cheek. “So is the desperation of your journey that it could not be helped.”
“Here are their packs,” said one Elf, laying the bags down at Harondul's feet. “They looked to be well provisioned for a few days journey. And they carry many strange items.” The elf produced a flash-drive and a laptop.
The 'Queen' Elf took the items and looked them over closely. Harondul knelt down and pick up one of the packs. “And what is this, desperate journey, you three are on?”
“My friend Milton here was attacked only a day ago by a madman,” Vlad explained. Before he could continue, Harondul pulled out what looked like a metallic rod from the pack he'd been searching. He looked it over carefully.
“What is this?” he asked.
Vlad groaned inside. “Seriously, Milton?” he whispered. “You keep a fleshlight in your cache?”
“I asked you a question, Dwarf!”
“It's a, fleshlight, Sire,” Milton said awkwardly.
The King still looked confused as he turned it over.
“You know, if you're alone?”
The King's eyes lit up. “Ah, I see. Continued with your story, Dwarf,” he said as he slipped the fleshlight behind his cloak.
Vlad visibly shuddered and tried to continue. “Uh yes, as I was saying, Milton here was attacked by a madman who used a very, unique weapon.”
“Go on,” the King said, beginning to seem interested.
“It was a projectile weapon, foreign to the four kingdoms. It launched a shell that exploded on impact.”
“And there is only one man that could make such a weapon,” Milton said. “The Scribe known as Athelstan.”
A great murmur spread through the throngs of Elves. “Impossible!” the 'Queen' cried in disbelief. “There has not been a Scribe in the four kingdoms in a thousand years.”
“There has been one,” Vlad countered. “I've known him for many years. He's the one that made those items you see before you.”
The 'Queen' turned the laptop over, looking at it closely. He finally looked over at Harondul and shrugged. “Nothing about these items seemed spectacular. This is not enough proof.”
Vlad moved to stand up. “If I may?"
Harondul waved his hand in approval and Vlad approached. "