So, it’s Saturday. My poem has already posted, but I figured why not post twice today. It is Saturday after all, and I haven’t posted a short story in a little while. And, a little celebration is in order. Not because of the inauguration, but because in the last two weeks I’ve written and submitted a short story for potential publication, and I’ve got probably a hundred pages closer to getting my first novel published. To celebrate all this then, here is my first ever professionally published short story. Published in the Mountain Mysts anthology, which got an Honorary Mention at the London Book Festival. Now, I’m not implying my story played a big role in that… but my ego likes to think so. XD
In the Dark
“Hello,” the word died in the dark even as it left Nightshade’s lips. A saber was clenched tight in each hand. In his native world he’d been a master at fighting with two blades. In this world, however, the sabers felt clumsy with poor balance between the hilt and the blade. One of them had an ornate hand and cross guard, it had gemstones and gold and silver filigree covering nearly every inch of it; this was the one with the worst balance. The other was plain Jane and practical with an iron cross guard and a band of iron folded down over the sword’s grip.
“What’chu make of ‘im, Jed?” a voice came from the dark. Three forms slipped into the very edge of the light spilling from Nightshade’s campfire. Nightshade shifted his weight just a tick, putting it over his back leg. He was ready to spring when the time came.
“His skin’s as black as midnight,” another voice called, the one on the far left. “You recon he’s a slave escaped from his poor master? That one blade of his is pretty enough to hang on ol’ Dale Harliss’s wall. Might be he actually took it from that wall.”
“You’re both daft,” Jed said, the big one in the middle. He was holding a long iron stick with a sort of wood stock at the back. It was unlike anything Nightshade had ever seen, and the way Jed kept it angled towards the ground, Nightshade suspected it was dangerous.
“We got ourselves somethin’ real nice and special here,” Jed said. “We got ourselves an elf.”
“Quit playin’ Jed,” the first voice said again. “He’s just a jiggaboo, he ain’t no fairy tale. Fairy tales ain’t real.”
“Then what was that bright flash a light we saw?” Jed said. “It was green, Quince. I ain’t never seen a green flash before.”
“It coulda been lightning,” Quince said. “Ain’t that right Roddy?”
“Ain’t never seen no flash of lightning like that,” Roddy said.
It took a minute for Nightshade to catch up to what they were saying. They were speaking common, and he thanked sol for that, but it was a strange sort of common, a dialect closer to the way dwarves talk.
He shoved the thoughts to the back. He might be able to place himself by the way they were talking, but the talk of the green flash intrigued him. He had been born into this world in a great green wave of arcane energy which might appear as a flash of light to a layman.
Nightshade had chosen to come to this world that much was true. Supposedly he had a mission to complete for the Academy Arcane. They were waiting for him to signal his mission was a success so they could bring him back over. Nightshade had no intention of returning. He came here to escape persecution, the kind that killed his kind on sight should they walk upon the surface.
Now it seemed he was a curiosity to these men. A fact which did not bode well for them.
“It was not lightning,” Nightshade said in perfect common.
“It speaks English,” Jed said, his eyes twinkling with curiosity.
“I am a he, not an it,” Nightshade said. “I have a name, and I am a member of a royal family. You will address me as His Highness Prince Adnon of the House of Nightshade.”
A little white lie, maybe, but it was one these fools could never check up on.
“His Highness Prince Adnon,” Quince said and spit. “Well, princey boy, you be in the wrong part of the world for any respect of royalty.”
“You’re in Virginia now,” Roddy said. “A state standing proud in the Confederate States of America, and we don’t cow toe to no king.”
“Come on, Jed,” Quince said. “If he’s an elf, and a jiggaboo elf at that, let’s take ‘im over Richmond way, and see what kinda change we can get for him.”
“I dunno,” Jed said. His eyes had never wavered from Nightshade. He looked entranced, but Nightshade knew he had no powers which could capture a human mind. At least he hadn’t such power back in his native realm.
“Come on, Jed,” Quince said again. “All he’s got is a pair of pig stickers. He can’t do us no harm.”
Jed still didn’t look sure of his decision, but his hands tightened on the iron stick and he brought it up to point at Nightshade.
Nightshade noticed the hole in the middle of the stick, making it some sort of barrel. He tightened his grip on the blades and readied himself for action.
“You’ll wanna put those pig stickers down,” Roddy said as he pulled a similar iron stick from a holster on his hip. This one was no bigger than a wizard’s magic wand.
“We’d hate to have ta shoot ya,” Quince said. He also drew and iron stick. “Ya wouldn’t be worth near as much damaged… or dead.”
“We oughta kill him,” Jed said. “He might be worth something as a slave, but he’d be worth more to one of those travelin’ freak shows. Even if he’s dead.”
Slave and freak show and dad, none of those were near at all what he expected from this world. There was supposed to be freedom here, no persecution based on his skin color. What he’d learned from the wizards was wrong. It was so wrong. He would go back and make them pay for their lies.
These three would need to be dealt with first, however.
He thought about thanking them for a moment, before he killed them. Thank them for showing him the truth of this world and making his stay blessedly short. He tightened his grips, and he charged, letting forth a great battle cry.
Jed, Quince, and Roddy raised their iron sticks as one and fire flew from the ends. The three projectiles struck Nightshade right in the middle. Each one blew out his back; one nipping his spinal cord, with the others shredding his lungs and piercing his heart.
Nightshade stood for a moment. He dropped his swords and brought one hand up to his chest. He looked at the blood there, astonished. How could they beat him? He was a weapon master where he came from… They were bumpkins… How could they beat him?
The dark elf tipped backwards, his legs giving way, and he came down on his back hard.
With eyes quickly glazing over he watched as Jed, Quince, and Roddy stalked around to marvel over their kill.
“It was supposed to be better here,” Nightshade said, his lips covered in blood.
“Bub,” Jed said, leaning down beside the elf. “Don’t you know we’re at war? This world is as full of shit as the next.”
Nightshade let out one last shuddering breath and fell still. The darkness that had first greeted him on arrival into this world wrapped its arms around him and he knew no more.
This also serves as the starting point for one of my story series. Well, it’s the inspiration behind it anyway. I’ve got a first draft of The Raven Stone: In the Dark floating around, and its an expansion of this story going into how Adnon was brought into our world and how he comes to meet his grisly end at the hands of Jed, Quince, and Roddy. Take comfort in the fact that this death is not truly the end of Adnon’s story. No, it’s only the beginning. His story will continue in The Raven Stone Quadrilogy.
Image credit goes to Helmuttt from DeviantArt.