Saturday, June 22, 2013

Short Fiction: Rogue-Ish

(I wrote this on a whim to show that I could write something fantasy-ish. It's short, but... I don't know, I kind of like it).

The thing about rogues is that they are, at the end of the day, profoundly roguish. And sure, that sounds great in the tavern. Everyone’s heard stories about the party that would have been chewed apart by scorpions at the bottom of a pitfall, if not for the tireless efforts of an auric-hearted rogue. Or of steel-eyed queens charmed into leniency (and out of lingerie) by a talented bard.

Sure, they were, technically, thieves. But, the stories always emphasized, FUN thieves. And when the chips were down, at the end of every story, wasn’t it always the seemingly traitorous rogue who came back to save you? A glint in his eye, aiming a crossbow bolt at your chest, but no! He was only shooting the orc behind you. He might steal your gold pouch, but he’d never stab you in the back to do it.

Which presents the question, Thak of Grimmeld, Warrior Lord of the Far Steppes, mused to himself as he lay bleeding to death on a filthy stone floor with a dagger wound in the small of his back: Who’s making up these stories, anyway?


Glenn, as he had called himself, was the most roguish of rogues, if his own stories were to be believed. Despite his simple name and unassuming appearance, he claimed to have stolen more gold, platinum, and jewels than the combined efforts of years of work from the Steppe Horde raiders who had trained Thak in his youth. He claimed to be the assassin of The Unknown Emperor, which, Thak thought now, he probably should have been more suspicious about verifying. And Glenn had a reputation, one that, Thak’s wife, the ‘Virgin’ Sorceress Aurora, assured him, made him the ideal, trustworthy companion on their next venture: He had betrayed every single person he had ever worked for.

It had taken Thak some time to work through the logic of this benefit. The flask of mead he had consumed (paid for, of course, by Glenn [with money, of course, taken from Thak’s own purse]) had made the efforts doubly difficult, but eventually he had grasped Aurora’s points (while failing to notice that Glenn was, when Thak wasn’t looking, doing some grasping of his own):
    1) Everyone knew that in stories, the least trustworthy person could always be trusted. After all, the story wouldn’t be very interesting if it was just ‘The bloodthirsty psychopath turned out to be the murderer’, right?

    2) Who could be less trustworthy (and thus MORE trustworthy, by this new logic), than someone who had betrayed everyone he had ever worked for?

    3) This is damn good mead, isn’t it?

Persuaded by this iron-clad argument, Thak had found himself, the next morning, bleary-eyed and barely able to hold his fabled double axes, Krew and Krag, following behind Glenn and Aurora in pursuit of the fabled treasure of Mak Goughin, which Glenn had conveniently known the location of. Through his raging headache, Thak couldn’t help notice that his ‘virginal’ wife and the youngish rogue were walking closer than comfort would suggest was feasible. But he held his thick, fuzzy-feeling tongue, not wanting to give Aurora ‘paranoid jealousy’ as a weapon in their increasingly constant arguments. And so, as they ventured into the filthily-floored dungeon, he simply watched.

Not closely enough, it turned out. And so, he lay dying on the incredibly poorly kept stone floor of the dungeon, bleeding swiftly from the wounds in his back, one placed by Glenn with a merry laugh in his throat, and the other by Aurora, cold as a winter’s sunrise. Was the flickering in his vision the last of his life ebbing away? Or the guttering of the black, oily torches that illuminated the chamber? Or, possibly, the Lichstone he had stolen, years ago, from the Wizard Jandar, finally fulfilling its dark purpose and reanimating him as a murderous revenant bound to avenge his own demise?

It was that last one, happily. And as the last of his mortal existence faded away, Thak smiled at the thought that Glenn really, really should have done more research before seducing his wife and murdering him. But then, that’s the thing about rogues.

They’re roguish. That’s not the same as smart.

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