Parasite Control

They burst from the walls, horrid creatures of hard exoskeletons and proboscis designed for blood sucking. About the same size as a dog, the term the local tribes coined for them translated roughly as ‘blood-wraith’. Through the streets of Walkingburg dashed Weaver, in his element as an agile swordsman fighting a running battle.

When they leapt at him, his scimitar lashed out to carve chinks in their natural armour. When they curled up to roll at him, he simply danced over their balled forms. And when one blood-wraith surged up at him, it was met with a near-point blank blast from Weaver’s battered sawn-off shotgun.

“Jackass.” The blonde man muttered, ducking under a leaping bug before slicing clean through one of its leg joints. Another blast from his shotgun at the softer underside of a parasite emptied his barrels of ammunition, and started him running again.

Up close to the ruins of the town, it was clear that the sun and sand had done a number on it, without regular repair the wooden structures had been baked and sand-blasted by desert winds. The webbing of the blood-wraiths criss-crossed between broken homes and vacant businesses, and became his scimitar’s chief concern as he raced for the town square in the centre. As he neared it Weaver gathered arcane energy in his free hand, feeling the limb turn heavy and numb as power surged through it.

The torrent of light that shot up into the air hung about, glimmering a soft gold as he engaged his opponents amongst the remains of market stalls and once-picturesque benches. Outnumbered ten to one, sweat soaked his robes as he darted to and fro, sword biting into carapaces, cleaving skittering limbs and separating antenna and proboscis from their owner’s head.

“You’ll find I’m not much of a snack.” Weaver called as they amassed around him. “I’m stringy, tough, and a half-breed too. Not some gamey elf or juicy human.” He glanced up at the fading sight of his signal spell, wondering if he should cast it again. Spells weren’t his forte, and- his scimitar slashed out rapidly at the cluster of long, pointed appendages aiming to drain him dry.

Their behaviour suddenly changed. Some were turning their backs on Weaver in response to something, giving him the chance to press the attack. With both hands on his scimitar, he put power into every stroke as he advanced through his attackers to be greeted by a spear-tip rupturing through the body of a blood-wraith.

“Splendid day for a fight, eh?” A slender man called, his face angular and cheeks harshly pointed. In the desert sun, his pale complexion was made more pronounced.

“You could say that, Saddler.” Weaver grinned, getting into position by his fellow adventurer. “No one told me about the blood-wraiths.”

“And yet you charged in regardless. Most brave. Most daring. Most-”

“Stupid?” Weaver finished.

“I was going to say dashing, but I will defer to your superior judgement in this case.” The elf said with a slight smile, flicking haemolymph from his weapon as he readied it to strike out once more. Glancing across the crowd of bloodsuckers, he looked to his companion. “Twenty two left. Eleven apiece?”

“Take sixteen,” Weaver chuckled, “I wouldn’t want you to think I took your share of foes.”

The dark-haired elf pursed his lips. “Ten chore duties says that I defeat sixteen before you defeat six.”

Weaver’s scimitar flicked out at an attacker. “You’re on.”

Author’s Note: This week’s Three Word Wednesday words are Jackass, Rupture, Splendid, and continues last week’s story, Walkingburg.

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Bathing By Moonlight

From her vantage point, which was not really that advantageous, she could glimpse into the hot springs. A small gap in the wooden fence let her see a very narrow viewpoint, but that was more than enough for her.

Stood in the middle of the pool was one of her travelling companions, the mage Isarven. An Elf from the mountain city of Vadani, he possessed a lithe, toned frame. The light from the moon gave his pale skin a somewhat unearthly hue, and his pale blonde hair seemed almost silvery.

She bit her lip as he sunk beneath the water, clutching the fence as she waited for him to surface. So rapt was she that the pillar of ice-cold water that appeared overhead went unnoticed, until her dousing with it brought a shriek rising from the bottom of her lungs. Her hands clamped over her mouth, she peered back through the hole, expecting to see someone staring through, her position given away.

“I would appreciate it if you did not spy on me while bathing.” Isarven coughed politely from behind her. She whirled around to see him standing there, wrapped in a towel with a slender eyebrow raised. “The behaviour is most unseemly.”

She hung her head in shame, a rosy blush rising to her cheeks. At least the flush of warmth countered the fact she was dripping with near-freezing water, somewhat. “I’m sorry, Isarven, I-”

“I think you should go and take your own bath. With the other women.” He suggested, nodding over towards another part of the inn. “Standing around in wet clothes will not do you any favours.”

Her throat locking up prevented any form of reply. With a quick pace she hurried off back to the other baths, leaving Isarven standing on his own for a moment. With a heavy sigh, the elf glanced up into the trees. “You can stop leering too, Zachary. It’s unwholesome.”

From the mighty oak, a dark figure of a man dropped down into a crouch. Peering up at Isarven was a human, his beard and hair coal-black, and his blue eyes gleaming bright with mischief. “I always feel so naughty whenever someone uses my full name.”

“And that is because you usually are behaving so.” He chided, turning back towards the door to the spring. “I trust I can bathe in peace now, Zack?”

“Fine, fine…” Zack sighed. “Unless you want someone to scrub your back?”

The look Isarven gave made his feelings on the matter very clear: The only thing he wanted watching him in there was the moon.

Author’s Note: This Week’s 3 Word Wednesday words were: Douse, Pale, Naughty

Birl

“Yawana gew roun’da Emtwennyfi?” The barkeep growled, his lips and jaw twisted from deformities. There was an overgrown stockiness to his form, gnarled muscles bunched up under dirty clothing. As he looked at the pair of travellers, he took a whistling breath. “Das a birl.”

“Birl?” The young woman asked, clad in a forest-green hooded poncho that rustled as the waterproof fabric shifted. “I don’t-”

“Gambul. Birl’s ah gambul.” He explained with a huff. “Dere’s foopahds an robbahs dat whay.”

“We can take care of ourselves.” Her companion replied, opening his poncho to reveal the stash of sharp knives and firearms strapped to his waist. He towered above her, his lowered hood revealing a balding, scarred head with pointed ears missing notches here and there.

“Whells don say ah dinnah wharn yah.” The man behind the counter sniffed, before looking about his modest little property. Tattered advertising posters and stands had been gathered to give the place a bit of colour, and a variety of vicious polearms stood within arms reach of the bartender for taking care of trouble. “Whell, whanya wan?” He grunted, gesturing to his shelves of bottles.

“Just water.” The girl smiled, taking a small pack of batteries out from under her poncho for payment. “Nine volt. Pack’s sealed, you ken check thissen.”

“Goh eyes, donneh?” His face split in a grin, taking the pack quickly before handing out a shrink-wrapped eight-pack of water to them. “Dat Feah?”

“Plenty fair.” The burly elf nodded, taking the pack of water.

Nodding, the man looked between them. “Yawan els?”

The girl smiled at him. “Just not to be sold out t’any footpads or robbers what come by.” She said sweetly, gesturing to her companion.

The elf fondly patted one of his blades. “Aye. None of that.”

He had the decency to looked shocked. “Ahm nah snich.”

“Do nowt t’change that.” She said, nodding briefly before stepping out of the bar, her partner leaving after a few more pats of his hand against his knife. It wasn’t until they were a fair distance away that she spoke in a hushed whisper.

“He’ll sell us out for sure, Terrance.”

“Aye, lass.” Terrance sniffed, his sharp eyes and pointed ears already focused on their surroundings. “Better t’go round London than through it. We’ll slip off the M25, come back on at junction.”

She nodded, the pair carrying on walking in silence for a bit before she glanced up at the cloudy-grey sky. “Least it ain’t ‘sillin.”

A splodge of water hit the ground in front of them, followed by several more as the rains started to come. Terrance shot her a withering look as he pulled his hood up. “Press on, need distance a’fore we slip off the road.” He said while grabbing his young charges hand, leading her through the lumps of rust and glass littering the wide path.

The barman wasn’t half wrong, Lynn thought to herself as rain pounded on her Gore-Tex poncho. This whole trip was a gamble, but the auguries didn’t lie. She had to be at the Henge in time for the Winter Solstice.

Book Strong

“Oooh look, here comes yet another Elf.” A particularly brash human snorted, shoulder-barging the slender, blond-haired elf as he passed. He laughed as the elf righted himself and bowed his head to the man.

“My apologies for walking into you.” He spoke with a soft, musical lilt to his voice, eyes downcast. His mannerisms not only drew more laughter from the man who had hit him, but his gaggle of friends who loitered with him in the quiet streets.

“Well, I don’t think I accept, Elf. I think I need some compensation.” He stated, holding his hand out. “I bet you’ve got all kinds of treasures on you that you could pass over.”

“And there’s not a lot you can do about it either, your wicked magic is forbidden in the city, Elf.” Another man, emboldened by the prospect of treasure, spat.

The Elf looked between the four men and let out a weary sigh before drawing himself up tall, his features changing from a meek look to one of resignation for the troubles humans could cause. “You are correct,” he began to speak as he removed his glasses, slipping them into a protective case, “in that I cannot use magic. If the four of you seek to persist in this foolishness, well, I cannot be held accountable for any injuries on your part.”

“Oh shut up! Come on, let’s rob this tall streak of scum and get out of here!” The initial aggressor barked, before swinging out with a bodyweight-packed fist.

It was a simple feat to step back with the grace of a gentle breeze, before a vicious swing of the elbow drove the side of it into the man’s nose. As the man tumbled splurting blood from his crushed nose, the elf stepped forwards with several tightly practiced strikes, fists and palms striking crippling spots to fell his attackers into inaction. As the last of the four fell with arms wrapped around his chest, the elf let out another long sigh.

“Humans, you fixate on just one aspect of us, ignoring anything else in the hopes of grasping some comfort in this dangerous world. I leave you with your lives and your possessions intact. Be thankful of that.”

With that said, he turned on his heels and continued walking, resuming the more meek stance of the scholar as his glasses returned to perching on the bridge of his chiselled nose.

In the neat confines of his room, the Elf’s hands fondly traced the heavy tomes of arcane knowledge resting on his desk. Hours of his life had been spent pouring over them and the information contained within. They were like old friends now, travelling everywhere with him on his journeys across lands elven, human, beast and beyond.

Taking one in each hand, he moved back to the centre of the room to start his days exercises, going through repetitions of each lift with the books in place of weights. His old friends gave him strength in more than just mind.