The Curse

The following is an excerpt of a fantasy novel I am currently working on. It is out of context, but forms a whole mini story on its own. There are two things I need to explain to put it in context.

First: the central character, Hacronas, is an infamous thief and assassin. He is also telepathic. He has done horrible things up to this point in the story and has just been critically injured after falling off a cliff in the dark while trying to escape a dragon. He ended up on the shore of the river, which is where this excerpt begins.

Second: I am playing around with an experimental writing style for Hacronas’ viewpoint. It is a stream of consciousness type of narrative with italicized sentences thrown in to represent outside thoughts that Hacronas detects without even trying. They are typically completely unrelated to the narrative and hopefully they provide an interesting but readable representation of what telepathy might feel like. It is given a better introduction when it is first used, but it may not be clear in this excerpt without this explanation.  I’m not fully sure of its effectiveness yet, and I may change it to a more conventional style if it doesn’t work. I welcome feedback on the style.

I am posting this for an Internet content maker who goes by the name of Aureylian because her Minecraft persona fit one of my existing characters extremely well. This is intended mostly as fanservice for Aureylian and her fans. Also keep in mind that this is a rough draft and may change to a certain extent if I find it lacking. I’m not soliciting them, but I welcome critiques as long as they are polite and helpful. “You suck” is not an example of a helpful comment, even if it’s true. Feel free to comment on this blog, on my Tumblr account, or even via Twitter @bk_price. The post will not stay up indefinitely, but it should remain up for a decent amount of time, and I may repost it later if I get enough requests.

 

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“Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat the more you toot.”

The final word of the verse was punctuated serendipitously by a resounding fart, followed by a trio of titters. An odd bunch of travelers passed along the bank of the river. One, the largest of the five, bore the appearance of a bare-chested boy with curly brown hair and the horns, legs and waist of a gray-haired goat. His hooves dug divots into the ground as he skipped and twirled. He was accompanied, and oft-times pestered by, three tiny winged lasses wearing diaphanous gowns of pink, blue, and yellow. Leading the pack was a short hunchbacked old fellow with a gnarled and grotesque countenance arrayed in a fine red coat laced with gold, with a cocked hat of the same color and black buckled shoes.

The three pixie girls spun and flitted, casting rainbow rays about them. Their high-pitched chatter was frenetic and typically incomprehensible to anybody but themselves. Most of it that day concerned the sheer cliffs of the mountains and the dragon rumored to live in a cave somewhere high above. The deformed old leprechaun trudged ever onward, scouting for anything of interest along their way. The happy-go-lucky faun kept dancing along with a carefree vivacity, giving no heed to what surrounded him. He burst into the same verse of song as before. “Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you…”

The faun plowed into the suddenly stationary leprechaun, knocking the hat off of his glorious orange hair. Angrily he exclaimed, “Peter, watch it! I almost tripped over you.”

The crotchety old leprechaun scowled. “Me name ain’t Peter, Mike,” he reminded the faun in his thick brogue.

“Your name’s what I say it is as long as you’re under my geis.” He stuck his tongue out at the leprechaun. “And I told you not to call me Mike. It’s Tiri to you.”

Two of the pixies had whisked Peter’s hat up and were playing tug-of-war with it. Peter snatched it from them angrily. They buzzed away in annoyance and started pelting him with elf-shot.

“What is it you found, Peter?” asked Linsie, the pixie in pink. Her translucent wings flung a glittery aura about her with each flap.

They all looked down at the rock-strewn eddy where Peter had stopped. A man lay on his face – human from the looks of him. Blood covered the riverbank around him. “He sure doesn’t look good,” said Callie, the pixie in blue.

“He looks dead,” said Tiffie, the final yellow-clad pixie. She darted around the inert body, poking at it occasionally.

Meanwhile, Peter stared longingly at the motionless human. His shoulder-length black hair was matted and sticky with blood. His clothing was torn and ragged, revealing grisly wounds and bruises. His arms were covered with intricate tattoos that made Peter dizzy just looking at them. His battered face bore a beard trimmed to encircle his mouth. “He’s a bonny lad, ain’t he?” He reached out to touch the fallen man’s hair gently. Then he let out a prolonged fart that whistled a bit.

The pixies giggled uncontrollably. When they regained their composure they burst into an impromptu tune. “Peter O’Pooter, sitting in a tree. F-A-R-T-I-N-G.”

Enraged, Peter leaped up, trying to grab the little sprites, but he tripped over the man on the ground and fell in the mud. That sent the pixies into a spasm of sniggers. “Hey!” shouted Tiri. “Put a sock in it!” The pixies fell suddenly silent, drooping as they hovered in the air. Peter peered up through mud-encircled eyes as he carefully replaced his soiled hat. Tiri renewed his study of the fallen human with great interest. “Dead or not, let’s take him back to the village with us. If we can fix him up he’ll make a great pet.”

“Ooh!” exclaimed Callie. “What’ll we name him?”

“Captain Sparkles,” “Millbee,” cried out Linsey and Tiffie at the same time, quivering with delight.

“Vex,” offered Peter, stroking the man’s hair lovingly.

The pixies frowned. “That’s a stupid name,” they opined in unison.

Tiri stroked the triangular tuft of hair on his chin. “You know, what the heck. Peter found him first, so he gets to pick the name. Vex it is.”

 

Gasp. Eyes open. A foul smell. It’s dark. Not where I remember – what do I remember? He’s been sleeping for a long time. A dragon. Running. Falling. Squee! It was dark in the dragon’s lair, but this isn’t that place. I don’t think so, at least. Can’t catch me! There are others here. I can feel their minds. But they’re different. Not human, not elf. These are more frenetic; harder to keep pace with them. Knobby ain’t my friend no more. I’m on a bed. It’s comfortable. I should look arou… “Ow!” No, maybe not. Over here, where Mike can’t see.

Something beside my bed, stirring. “You’re up!” I think the ball rolled over here. Now the thing is running across the room. Door opens. Bright. Too bright. Hand up, shield eyes, more pain. Groan. “Hey, everybody, Vex is up!” What’s a Vex?

Head hurts. Light is stabbing my eyes. Yay, he’s up! Little things filling up the room. What are these things? Lamps are lit. I can see better now. Glitter on the lamps. Rainbow colors along the wall. Can’t see what they’re made of. Pink bedding, pink pillows, pink shuttered windows – so much pink. I can’t see. A loud fart. Giggles. Oh, so many giggles! Pain knifing through my head. These guys are really starting to piss me off! Little things like large flies swirling overhead, chattering incessantly. Oh, Gods, now I can smell the fart!

“Give him some room!” Someone else is in the room now. It’s a party. Oh, great! I get to play with him first. Some queer little boy with goat legs. Oh, say it isn’t so! Are these fairies? He looks so real. Bugger!

Do I know this knucklehead? Gotta wait for Mike. He seems to know me somehow. Let’s find out his name. Let’s see what’s in that head of yours. His name is Tiri, but his friends call him Mike. Where is my gum? He’s grinning widely. “My name’s Tiri, but my friends call me Mike.” You don’t say.

Wriggle fingers. “Afraid I’m in no shape to shake hands.” He has to be the one who can break the curse. Do the fay folk even shake hands?

“It’s okay, Vexie-poo. Ya don’ hafta strain yourself.” Calloused hands on my arm. He’s in bad shape. What is that thing? A leprechaun, maybe. Gods, it got a good whack from the ugly stick! This is getting boring.

“Can it, loverboy!” This Tiri fellow seems to be in charge. Tiri is pushing the leprechaun back. Another fart. Ooh! A shiny! More giggles slicing through my brain. “I beg your forgiveness. That’s Peter. He gets a bit over-excited when we have visitors.”

Where is everyone?  “And gassy.” That came from a little flying thing. A pixie. Hard to latch on to her thoughts. Oh, there it is. Linsey.

Everyone is laughing. Farts are funny. Chanting. “Peter O’Pooter, Peter O’Pooter.” Peter…no, not Peter – whatever his name is, rushing out the door in tears. He’ll never love me now!

The faun is upset. “Shut!” “Your!” I’m leaving. “Stinking!” I kind of like this little fellow. “Traps!” The room is silent now. “Get out, all of you!” This Tiri’s a hothead. “Scram! Let the poor sod get some rest already.” Meanie!

Tiri’s right. I’m pretty tired. I could go for a game of hurling about now. That impromptu party wore me out. I haven’t actually looked at myself yet. He doesn’t know what we’ll do to him when he gets better. Yikes! A lot of bandages. How bad off was I? “Hey, how…?” He’s gone.

 

“Vex.”

A voice. It echoes, but it’s muddled. A twitch at my cheek.

“Vex.”

Still asleep, I think, but I see light. Whiteness. A long white flowing dress. Scarlet cape. Wavy red hair. Smooth milky skin. Big captivating green eyes. Voice peppered with sweet euphony. In a word – adorable.

“This is me. This is the true me.” I don’t know what you’re talking about, woman.

She comes near, a hand placed on my chest. A gold pendant nestles just above her cleavage. The lust is rising inside me. She raises her face toward me. Her breath comes out slowly. It smells like cake.

“Do you want me?” she asks seductively, her hand tracing a path across my chest to my neck. She cocks her head, a dreamy look coming over her emerald eyes.

I swallow hard. “Of course,” I breathe, caught in the sway of her sensual allure. Her eyes are cast downward. Her lips approach mine.

We are at the verge of an impassioned kiss. “I am not what you think I am,” she whispers. Wind blows her gown about her. “I am not Peter.” Oh, the creepy leprechaun. I didn’t need that image in my head. I pull back. She looks up at me with soft eyes. “I am Aureylian, and this is my true form.” She pulls close again. I’m raring to go. She raises herself onto her toes. So close. “I need you to love me.” Hot breath on my neck. I’ll love you all night long, sweetie. Just stop teasing me. “Only you can break the curse,” she murmurs. Those lips. Almost touching mine. She’s drawing me in. “Only you ca…”

She’s gone. Where’d she go? Hey, girl, come back. I’ll break anything you want you little vixen.

“Get outta here.” Little bitch has gone too far this time. A gasp. A fart. I’m up, but pain. Oh, the pain! Tiri. He’s angry. Peter. He – she – cowers under his blows. Aureylian? Was it just a dream or…? Did he understand? She runs out the door.

Tiri’s face. Looking me over. What’s the racket out there? “Sorry about that. Like I said, Peter gets a little overanxious when new people come along. I hope he didn’t bother you too much.” I can’t let him stay.

I’m still confused and bleary-eyed from my sudden awakening. The each-uisge. “Relax.” A hand is on my leg. Tingling. Drifting off. “Just go to sleep.”

A faint image before my eyes – white and red and soft. A word on my lips. “Aureylian.” The hand grips tighter. Then darkness.

 

I wake again. Candy. How long have I been here? Candy. It’s the same house, the same damn fairies, the same… Candy. I feel no pain. That’s not the same. Shoulder. No bandages. Leg. No splint. I’m healed? Candy. And apparently somebody really likes candy.

On my feet. To the door. First time in – seriously, how long have I been here? Get away! It’s mine. Blinking against the brightness. I’m in the forest. Cottages. Fairies everywhere, most of them near a tree with something hanging from a branch. I can’t get it. I’m still a little wobbly. Ow! My head. Feels like I had a few too many flagons in the local tavern.

A path lined with flowers of every color. Bright colors everywhere. Pinks, blues, reds, oranges. A rainbow. This’ll be a good hiding place. Fairies running everywhere. “Vex!” Oh, damn! It’s Peter. He has to remember. He just has to. Hugging my knees. Just go away, you twerp. Or change back into that lovely thing from my dream. Candy.”Are ye well enough to play?” Fart. Like I said, give me the foxy redhead and we’re good to go. The stinky leprechaun, not so much.

“What’s going on over there?” I still don’t know what that thing hanging from the tree is, but it’s broken, and there’s a pile of fairies crawling over each other to get whatever’s on the ground.

“Oh, ‘tis a piñata. You hit the bugger and it’s got candy inside.”

Piñata. Okay. These fairies have the weirdest toys. Fart. I need to find that kitty. The annoying pixies are here. Great! “You’re all better.” That’s not Linsey. Don’t care enough to find out her name.

I almost wish those fairies would have left me to die. I like this music. Would’ve saved me the torture of this kaleidoscope nightmare. I need to get away. These freaks are holding me back. I have a job to do, and I don’t have time to play dolls. The Dragonhelm is my goal, and I’ve wasted enough time already. “I have to get out of here.”

He’ll think it’s just a normal horse, until it takes him into the water and drowns him. “Cant’cha stay even a bit longer?” Peter’s looking up at me. There is yearning in those eyes. “It’s nice here, don’ ya think?”

“Looks like a unicorn threw up all over your village.” A laugh. I can climb that tree.

Fart. I need him. Awkward silence. “I was just hoping…”

My patience has fled. “Hoping what, Peter? Hoping I could bang you to free you from your ‘curse?’” I wave a hand in his direction. “Look at you. You’re a big fat farting freak, not some winsome maiden. I can’t stand to look at you, or even smell you. So get lost!”

Everyone has stopped what they were doing. They are looking at us. Peter is crying. I don’t care. He runs away. At least the smell is gone.

Tiri is coming my way. Peter’s real miffed. He is leading a horse by its reins. I think he’s cheating. That must be the each-uisge. The “water horse.”

“Feeling better?” Water. You know the answer to that, chum.

“Good enough.” What’ll we do next? The horse is huffing. “Fine steed you got there.”

“Fastest horse to roam any land.” He’s telling the truth there. That’s good enough for me. It’s time for a tickle attack. Faster I’m out of here the better. I can keep the horse in line. “You can have him. My gift to you.” Yeah, some gift. I’ll go down to the river to look for dragonflies. “Nearest place you might be interested in is Lendoal, over there.” He’s pointing behind me. East, I think. Now I just need to tie these sticks together. “Full of elves – you know how it is.”

They are gathering around. Looking at me. A fairy send off, I suppose. Didn’t stay long, did he? Climb onto the saddle. They look even smaller from up here. There he goes. Does he know about the horse? Peter, standing far away. Moping. I wish that Aureylian thing were true. That could have been fun. Now he’s running. He’s got a hold of my pant leg. “Vex.” Not my name, moron. “Don’t go. Mike, he’s not good. He’s unseelie. He cursed me, and he’ll hurt you. That horse…” Tiri pushes him away.

Is Peter still at it? “Get lost, Peter, or you’ll get it.” Tiri isn’t lying. He means Peter some serious harm. Peter claws his way over Tiri. I really need to get a better hammer. He pushes the faun out of the way. He has some spunk after all. He’s grabbing my leg again. “It’s all glamour. You know what I really am.” Peter pauses, breathing hard. “I love you, Vex.”

“No you don’t. You don’t even know my name.” Kick her away. Don’t leave me. She falls to the ground. Fart. Her face is wracked with disbelief. Whip the reins. Feel into the mind of the each-uisge. Water. This bastard isn’t going to drown me. It leaps to a gallop, so fast the land is a blur. But in that blur I see a face, one face that haunts my every thought. Aureylian.

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