Author Topic: Short Story - "A pen more dangerous than any sword"  (Read 1915 times)

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uthin

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Short Story - "A pen more dangerous than any sword"
« on: November 28, 2014, 12:39:10 PM »
Hi fellow Armelians.

Just wrote this. This is my first attempt at "publishing" anything anywhere.

I know I go up against future "canon" for Armello, but I had to tell this story anyway. Feel free to comment.  :)

Without further ado, I give you...:


A PEN MORE DANGEROUS THAN ANY SWORD

A short story fan fiction set in Armello,
By Jens Loldrup Larsen, Horsens, Denmark, 2014

(Edited a couple of times for language reasons and a couple of times to clarify things.)

A pale sun was rising outside the royal palace but neither light nor warmth seemed to be able to reach far into the home of the king of Armello. For a couple of days now, a torch in your hand was more often than not the only guarantee for sufficient light, even for deeds best done in healthy obscurity. Nobody knew why the palace had become so cold. Why, sometimes even a rat thought he would see frost spreading over the walls, if he turned around fast enough. Not that he ever did that. Well, not often anyway. It was disturbing to see nothing but bare walls where every instinct told him a thin layer of hoarfrost should be.

Anyway, he couldn't think about that right now. He had four deals to sour today before lunch and a touch of poison to deliver to a young Armelian. Walking down the cold, narrow corridor, counting the slightly protruding stones on the left hand side, he considered the young Armelian.
Not much more than a kid. Too young to be carrying a guard’s uniform, that’s for sure. Yes, and should probably have become a mason or lumberjack or some other occupation requiring as much strength as he had. Would have been much safer. Especially considering that he would be guarding a door tomorrow night that this clever rat had to get through.
12.
13.
14.
And 15.
A quick glance to either side to ensure he was alone, and then he pressed the 15th protruding stone. A small part of the wall opened slightly, just enough to allow a rat to slither through. He did so, making sure his fine clothes did not get too dirty. Court is court and that kind of thing would be noticed. Yes, advisor to the king - even a minor one - Amarillo (for his yellowish fur) the Crafty (so named by himself), could not afford to be noticed more than he already was. And especially not filthy when he had nurtured his foppish cover for so long.
Closing the secret door after him, he quickly skittered up a small, narrow circular staircase till he reached one of his usual spots. Very quietly, he pulled out another stone and peered through the hole, rather than opening the secret door that was also present and as far as he knew only known by him.

The rat on the other side was nicknamed Escapado. Always getting out of trouble as quickly as he was getting into it. He was scribbling something on a piece of parchment. He seemed hurried. Flustered even. Unusual, that.
Escapado’s good relations with the bear clan and the druids was frowned upon in the rat clan, but tolerated since he had time and again proven his loyalty to the clan, as well as being able to carry out even very difficult assignments behind enemy lines as it were. Just not against the bear clan.
Amarillo did not like Escapado. And that was because he did not understand him. And not understanding a fellow who was supposedly an ally made Amarillo uneasy. Loyalty to clan. Greed. Lust for power. Lust for pleasures of the nest. Basic drives that Amarillo understood and expected in a rat. But Escapado’s hankering for adventure and challenges was unusual in a rat. Those were mere means to an end. Not ends in and of themselves.
Escapado was pausing over the parchment as if considering. Then he appeared to waver as if about to fall asleep where he stood, but turned the motion into quickly rolling up the parchment. He sealed it with red wax and put it down on the worn oak table. He took a step towards a door and then paused again. For no reason that Amarillo could see, Escapado's hands sought the handles of the two long daggers in their sheaths on his hips, and Amarillo almost replaced the stone in the wall, but then stopped himself, berating himself for a fool. He was perfectly safe in the secret corridor.
Indeed, presently Escapado took a deep breath and then shook himself as if shaking water from his fur. Or something nasty and sticky. Even oily.

Now what had given Amarillo that impression?

A sound from the room brought Amarillo's attention back to the matter at hand. The rat champion (or Bait for Bandits, Amarillo thought) hurried out of the small room, his leatherclad back and trademark blue sash disappearing into the next room. That would be his sleeping room and wardrobe, Amarillo knew, eventhough he had never been inside that apartment. It was a big palace.
This was an unexpected opportunity. Making a snap decision, he opened the secret door quietly and snuck in. He estimated that he had maybe twenty seconds before Escapado or some servant would return, so he had no time to open the parchment and read it. He simply picked at random one of the four scrolls he had brought with him for other purposes and replaced it with the one on the table. And then hoped the difference in the seal would not be noticed by Escapado right away. Quickly returning to the secret corridor, he silently closed the secret door after him.
And allowed himself to breathe again. But he quickly stilled his panting breaths when he heard sounds from within the room. He risked another peek, absentmindedly ignoring a small voice that told him that Escapado’s parchment in his paw seemed a bit cooler than normal for a scroll of parchment. In a vaguely unpleasant way.
Escapado’s servant was packing a bag for his master and was apparently to include the parchment. The scroll that Amarillo had just sacrificed went into the bag before Escapado could lay eyes on it. Lucky.
Apparently Escapado was leaving in a hurry, and Amarillo would dearly like to hear his explanation for this behavior. Escapado had just come back from some adventure or other in the outlands a couple of days ago, and he usually availed himself of the comforts of civilization after his capers for more than the few days he had been in the palace this time. So this was also unusual and might be the key to understanding the contents of the parchment.

Amarillo had to hurry to reach the normal corridors, even risking a smudge on the way or a bit of dust, if he was to have a chance for getting this explanation. Well, he could always act outraged at the washing otters in the palace for not keeping his clothes clean. That had worked that other time, when the scribe had died. Something unclean in the wound where he had apparently clumsily pricked himself with his pen. “Clumsily”. Hah! Chuckling to himself, Amarillo finally came out into a normal corridor, though one rarely traveled by anyone, even servants. Winding his way between furniture so old it was nowhere near fashionable, and therefore an embarrassment that had to be hidden out of sight, Amarillo approached the more lively parts of the palace.
Escapado had been held up, it seemed, on his way to the bailey. Probably some rat or (old Gods forbid) bear fans. He would find time later to be properly indignant. He had to hurry if he wanted to be able to “accidentally” bump into him - well, maybe not literally - for a friendly chat.

The bailey was cold this early in the day. His feet felt the cold of the cobblestones through the odd things on his feet. Slippers, the gypsy had called them. He wore them to make people think him quaint rather than dangerous, and it seemed to work. Even among fellow rats.
He managed to corner Escapado on the steps just outside the palace gate proper. Escapado was apparently still in a bit of hurry and already annoyed when Amarillo greeted him. Amarillo used the vaguely obsequious manner that seemed to both put people off but also to disarm them somehow. Or maybe that was these slippers at work. Or a little bit of both.

“What’s this? The most illustrious hero ever to come out of the nest in Bilgetown leaving so soon? But you are barely back from the outlands?"

Escapado looked at Amarillo for a while, whiskers giving the odd twitch and seemingly debating something with himself before answering. In a quiet voice, sounding partly puzzled, and partly dangerous, he replied:

“Old Gods, why do I want to kill you? I see you there. A rat. One of my own. And yet not. But there is something about you. Familiar. Like the scent of a rabbit to the nose of the hungry wolf. Or of a wounded and helpless pretender to the nose of the Alpha."

This was not at all what Amarillo had expected. It was an effort not to display much more than feeble consternation, when suddenly every instinct told him to run away, to get as much distance between him and Escapado as he possibly could. Talking calmly was impossible. His voice shook and he suddenly felt cold. And soiled, somehow.

“Why, bold Escapado, champion of the rat clan, you are talking in riddles… First it was bears, and now rabbits and wolves. For a rat you are either very confused or very clever…?"

The morning sun appeared to share his apprehension, because it chose that moment to hide behind a cloud, and a shadow fell over them, blanketing them in shadow too deep to have come from only that little cloud. Amarillo’s survival instincts was clamoring for him to flee and hide. But something else told Amarillo, that that would be a mistake. That he must stay still, right at that spot.
Escapado twitched his whiskers again a couple of times, all the while studying Amarillo’s face. Every twitch bared more of his teeth. His muscles tightened as for a lunge. Inside Amarillo, his fear was bracing itself for the horror it just knew was about to come thundering in to replace it.

But just when Amarillo thought he would surely die, his throat savaged by a fellow rat, Escapado half collapsed, letting out a huge breath Amarillo had not noticed he had been holding, and started panting. The sun cautiously peeked out from behind the cloud, and decided that it was now ok to show itself again. It sent off the cloud with more relief than the usual panache.
Looking around, Amarillo found everybody else was oblivious to what was going on between the two rats on the steps before the palace gate.
Escapado seemed a bit smaller now. Or that may just have been because he was hunched over. Amarillo took two catious steps backward, to which Escapado reacted with a tired glance and then he said a curious thing in a voice as tired as prey that has been run down.

“The Escapado has been caught."

He picked up his bag where it had fallen to the ground and turned to go.
That made no sense. The words were out of his mouth before Amarillo could stop himself:

“Where are you going?"

Escapado turned back and considered him. Then he came camly walking over to him pulling a small vial loose from behind his blue sash with his right paw. That was wyldsap, a powerful healing potion. Nobody could mistake that warm orange color for anything else. A real treasure! Escapado slung his bag over his left shoulder and drew both daggers one after the other with his left paw. He handed it all to Amarillo. Then he turned to go once more and replied:

“To save all of Armello."

Some time later, back in his apartment in the palace, Amarillo was sitting in a sofa, staring at Escapado’s parchment, seal unbroken, lying on the low table before him, together with Escapado’s daggers, the wyldsap and the three other scrolls he had started out with this morning.
There was something about Escapado’s scroll of parchment that seemed odd. Off. In an unpleasant and disquieting manner. Like a dream in which you know that everything you are not looking at is a nightmare. You can’t see it, but you just know the horror is there all around you.
But how could that be? It was just a piece of parchment. Old Gods, parchment could be dangerous enough. He himself had seen and created more than his fair share of those. But this was different. He couldn’t get himself to break the seal, eventhough his curiosity was killing him. It was as if this was not meant for him. Yes, he could see that now. But to whom then? What had Escapado written, and why? And how could it make Amarillo feel that way about a piece of parchment? Why had Escapado acted like he had, and what had he meant by his last words?
There was simply no way to know. Not without opening the parchment. And reading it.

Tired from thinking in circles for far too long and getting nowhere, Amarillo took a long drink of spiced wine now gone cold, picked up the daggers and the wyldsap and put them in a drawer. And then he went to do what even kings and queens do.

While thus occupied, he heard his servant Castil come in to the apartment. say something no doubt inane and then start bustling about before leaving again. But this morning’s events had apparently loosened Amarillo’s bowels to a sufficient extent that for a while his attention was kept on the present urgent matter.
When he was finally done, he sat there for a moment, regaining strength, when suddenly he remembered what he had heard Castil say in the other room. Something about the king. And advice. And proposals. And Amarillo being late.

His eyes flew open in fear and apprehension. Without bothering with clothes or hygiene, he ran to the next room and stared at the now bare table by the sofa.

A moment later, a wave of black and purple anguish rolled through Amarillo's mind as he felt more than heard the king roar.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2014, 09:30:48 AM by uthin »

Lisy Kane

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Re: Short Story - "A pen more dangerous than any sword"
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2014, 09:07:09 AM »
That's so awesome Uthin, very creative indeed  ;D

Thank you for sharing!!

uthin

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Re: Short Story - "A pen more dangerous than any sword"
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2014, 06:57:42 AM »
My Pleasure, Lisy.  :)

Alvorn

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Re: Short Story - "A pen more dangerous than any sword"
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2014, 10:20:46 AM »
Hi uthin,

That was a great little story :)

Thanks for sharing. Is Escapado meant to be the Rat Assasin the was unlcoked during the Kick Starter ?

Any plans for a follow up ? Or maybe a differet story altogether ?

Alvorn

uthin

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Re: Short Story - "A pen more dangerous than any sword"
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2014, 03:03:58 AM »
Hi Alvorn,

Glad you enjoyed it!  :)

No, Escapado was not pulled from anywhere except from my general sense of Armello and what was required by the story. I tried to stay out of "canon" material. Except for the description of how the king got the Rot in the first place, of course.

As for further stories, I do have kind of a frame/idea/feeling set for another one. It will be even more removed from the official stuff, but still be as Armello as I can get away with. No telling when I'll get down to putting it to "paper" though.  Hoping for the weekend.

uthin

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Re: Short Story - "A pen more dangerous than any sword"
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2014, 06:44:26 AM »
I finally found the tkime to read this  ;D

It's pretty good Uthin. I think I know what's going on, and I personally love that you don't make it completely obvious what the whole thing is about.

Now to find the time to read your other stuff.

(Also, I live in Horsens too, what a funny world.)
In the interest of not putting anyone off their appetites... I hid the bodies elsewhere.


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