Flash Fiction Challenge: Who the F**ck is My D&D Character?

Posted: January 16, 2015 in Fiction, Flash Fiction Challenge
Tags: , ,

Edit: I had a version of this all set up and loaded last night, using WordPress’ new interface. Something got bungled and it made the “archived” page for this story (findable under the “Flash Fiction” tab above) the actual post. *sigh*

Happy New Year!

As I work on editing and wrapping up Half-Mad Rantings: 2014 (which should be ready to go in the next couple of weeks), we have the first Flash Fiction Challenge of 2015: “Who the F**ck is My D&D Character”, utilizing the eponymous website that randomly generates the outline of a D&D character concept to come up with a protagonist for your story. I “drew” something along the lines of “a grouchy human fighter from an unchartable island who believes they’re a demi-god, but is searching for their father” and while said character is definitely one of the principals, I was getting a “Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser” feel as I wrote and included a second protagonist as the main POV character. So, I hope you’ll enjoy “In a Tavern”:

Drayos kept his gaze on the bottom of his tankard and tried to pretend that he was alone in the tavern. He’d been sitting at the Drunken Donkey’s bar for the span of two bells, slowly making his way through his drinks as he contemplated the troubles that he was in. He had agreed to steal a relic from a merchant caravan heading out of the city, but had been thwarted by the caravan’s guards and some weasel-faced woman in robes who had thrown Drayos around with some sort of invisible force. He had slunk away with his tail between his legs as the caravan continued on their easterly route, making for the Drunken Donkey to drown his sorrows and desperately concoct some way of escaping the retribution that was due for him for not getting the artifact.

The thief sighed and took a long draw from his tankard as the stool next to him became occupied. A mountain of man sat down next to him, dressed in worn and shabby traveling clothes, he had a long, black beard that was worked into a thick braid, and set a hefty broadsword against the bar in between them.

“Ale,” the Mountain rumbled, his voice as deep, resonate, and ominous as an avalanche, casting his dark eyes toward the barkeep. The man behind the bar took one glance at the new patron and snapped to attention, quickly setting a full tankard down before the man.

Drayos glanced sidelong at the man next to him, the hairs on the back of his neck pricking up as the man just sat there and drank his ale. There was something about him that Drayos couldn’t put his finger on, but whatever it was made the thief’s skin crawl.

A trio of other patrons approached the bar on the other side of the Mountain, all three of them talking loudly and staggering. “Watch it!” The Mountain barked laconically as one of the men bumped into him, and the three laughed.

“Oh, relax, man!” The Bumper retorted, reaching out and tousling the Mountain’s hair in a gesture that Drayos assumed was either drunken foolishness or brazen disregard for the sheer immensity of the man.

The Mountain growled gutturally and his hand snatched the Bumper’s by the wrist. There was a distinct cracking sound, the Bumper screamed in pain, and moment later the Mountain had his hand around the man’s neck as he shoved the Bumper’s face against the bar top. “I am the son of a god,” the Mountain growled lowly, his gaze snapping up from the Bumper’s bawling face to stare daggers at the man’s companions, before looking back to the Bumper. “Show respect.”

The injured man wept incoherently but apparently said something that the Mountain took to be an apology. With another grunt the Mountain released him and the Bumper’s companions escorted him out the front door of the Drunken Donkey, casting fearful stares back at the bar before they left.

There was silence throughout the tavern for a long moment but the silence at the bar itself was even longer, especially as most everyone aside from Drayos openly stared at the Mountain as the bearded man quietly drank his ale. There was another beat or two before conversation picked up lightly again, but Drayos kept glancing sidelong at the man next to him.

He honestly considered asking the enormous stranger who his divine parent was, but Drayos thought better of it and concentrated on losing himself in the bottom of his own tankard. You’ve got your own problems, my boy, Drayos thought to himself with a sigh.

“What’s your problem?”

Drayos had to consciously keep his back from going straight in surprised fear at the rumble of the Mountain’s voice. Drayos swallowed nervously and tried to turn his gaze to his neighbor as casually as he could muster.

“I’m sorry – what?” Drayos asked, unconsciously wetting his lips.

The Mountain snorted softly and spat phlegm onto the floor opposite where Drayos sat. “Your sigh, your demeanor,” the Mountain replied, pausing to take a draw from his ale. “Something weighs upon you.”

“Oh. Well…every man has troubles, doesn’t he?” Drayos said, trying to politely avoid engaging in any deeper conversation with the giant man than he had to.

The Mountain grunted. “True enough. But the best way to alleviate them is to share them, is it not?”

Drayos pursed his lips thoughtfully at that. He weighed whether or not he should indulge the strange giant of a man and the image of Bumper’s snapped wrist was fresh in his mind. “I promised to deliver an object of great value to a…client, but was unable to do so. Now I worry what horrible repercussions await me when the client learns I do not have their prize.”

The Mountain nodded slowly, a frown upon his lips standing out within the mass of his beard. “I understand,” he replied. “A similar problem vexes me.”

Drayos raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Is that so?” he asked politely.

The Mountain nodded once again. “Aye. I seek my father.”

     How is that the same? Drayos asked himself, but what he said to the Mountain was: “I see. Do you know where he is?”

The Mountain shook his head. “No. He made love to my mother to conceive me, but I have never met him.”

Drayos affected a concerned look upon his face. “I’m so sorry to hear that– I apologize, I didn’t get your name.”

“Gavrin,” The Mountain said.

“I’m Drayos,” the thief replied. “Your father is…a god, I heard you say?”

Gavrin the Mountain nodded once more. “Aye. My mother said that he came to the island of Rivros once many, many years ago and wandered it, picking her out of all of the women there to sire a child – myself – upon.”

“Rivros?” Drayos asked. “I don’t believe I’m familiar with that place.”

“It is a hidden island, made so many centuries ago by–” Gavrin said, before a ruckus by the Drunken Donkey’s door drowned him out. They both turned to look and saw that Bumper’s companions had returned, flanked by three others.

Gavrin grunted neutrally.

“You!” One of the men shouted, pointing across the tavern toward the seated Mountain. The quintet stormed across the intervening space and formed a semicircle around Gavrin, who had turned on his stool to face them, leaning his elbows on the edge of the bar top.

“Yes?” he rumbled, eyeing each of the five in turn.

“You broke Tomas’ wrist!” One of the original companions said hotly, swaying slightly. “You will pay for that!”

Drayos glanced at Gavrin, whose dark eyes had become angry slits as he listened to the man. “Now, now, gentlemen,” he said, almost surprising himself for speaking up and interjecting himself into the situation. “There’s no need for violence…”

“Shut your mouth, welp,” one of the newcomers snapped.

Gavrin growled deeply and it was a sound that Drayos was sure would make even the meanest guard dog cower in fear. “Come then,” he grunted.

One of the two drunk companions swung a haymaker at Gavrin and the Mountain blocked it with his tankard, the remaining ale sloshed out as the metal rang hollowly with the impact and the man cried out in pain. His cry was cut off quickly as Gavrin slammed the tankard into the man’s mouth and slammed his own massive forehead into the face of one of the others.

     Shit, Drayos thought a split-second before he leapt from his stool and wrapped his arms around the neck of one of the other men, smashing his own empty tankard into the man’s face as he held on. Gavrin dealt with the other two quickly enough – breaking one man’s knee and knocking the breath from the other with a blow to his sternum that would have surprised Drayos if it didn’t shatter most of the man’s chest. By the time the Mountain turned to deal with the last man, Drayos had driven him to the ground his repeated blows from his tankard.

“Both of you – out!” the barkeep roared, finally finding his courage as he gripped a rough hewn club.

As they stepped out into the night, Gavrin slung his sword-belt across his chest as he looked down at Drayos. “You didn’t have to help me, Drayos. For that, I am thankful. How can I repay you?”

Drayos took a deep breath and glanced up at the giant of a man, an idea sprouting in his mind as the two began to make their way down the muddy street. “Actually, there’s the small matter of a caravan…”

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