Six fools ran from the dragon’s fire, but only one of them was her husband.
There was the wizard in blue robes with a green-jeweled magic staff. There was the armored knight who bore a shield that guarded against flame. There was the jungle barbarian and the mystical fire-cat. There was the sprightly archer. And then there was the mustachioed scoundrel, who had assembled them all. His beloved wife had been lost to an enchantment, an enchantment that was impossible to break. Impossible, that is, for a single man, even if he were a devoted spouse.Continue reading
The king is the hound and the hound is the king.
The feasters come and eat, but they don’t suspect a thing.
It’s a feast like none they’ve seen, a spectacular repast.
They never e’er suspect that the meal will be their last.
We are not deserters. We are not thieves. But we have been named as such by the imperial navy. We are hunted by the ships we once called our allies. The empress gave our captain a precious treasure as a gift. It was but a gesture. In truth, the treasure belongs to the empire, as all things do. Our captain has taken it.
They all watched as the one called Yellowjaws was taken to the edge of the arena. He limped from a vicious gash along his lower left leg that still seemed to be seeping blood. His long fur was matted with blood, dust, and his own thick spittle. He stopped and turned to them. He had been neither loved nor reviled. In that moment, he was—by most—envied. For as they watched, the fur fell away from his form, leaving behind pale brown skin that would certainly darken to a natural bark brown under the sun. His snout, along with the double rows of jagged yellow-orange teeth by which he was named, began to shrink. His whole head shrunk somewhat. His face and head were bare, but in time, something would grow there. Not fur, but hair.
Joanie loved her gramps, but she most certainly did not love clowns. Still, as she sat against the wall of the playroom that her grandfather had made for her, she held onto the little clown doll with the dark fuzzy hair at the sides of his head, the tiny purple hat on his bald head, the blue shirt, and the red pants, and the ever-smiling face.
Some years—not every year—fierce winds blow from the north, and the old folk mutter about the ride of the indestructible king. And they cast about their narrow-eyed glances at those who might have summoned such winds, by taking something they shouldn’t have.
The first sound that either one of them heard as they woke was the scraping of a chain on the stone floor. After a few heartbeats of stunned silence, they both remembered what had happened to bring them there. They both looked at each other. The erpon spoke first, believing that the human child would need some comfort.Continue reading