Adventuring Season (short fiction)

The barbarians were always the worst. Gendarme Wren did her best to avoid profiling, but anyone who walked the streets of her city in a loincloth was usually going to be trouble. Especially during Winter. It was cold outside. Have some sense. Put on a tunic.

After that, it was always the thieves. People stole. Wren understood that. Sometimes, even with good reasons. But anyone who actually went around calling themselves a thief with any amount of pride was bound to be an ass.

And wizards…

Everyone knew not to get Wren started on wizards.

“Taste the Fires of Asmadeun!” shouted the spellcaster as he summoned a howling orb of green flame above his head.

Wren shot the wizard in the shoulder. The caster’s concentration slipped, and the fire dissolved. A trio of constables jumped him and slapped the anti-magic manacles on him and clamped another around his neck.
The barbarian was harder to bring down. A dozen officers wrestled with the lumbering brute and still, they were losing. He laughed.

“Do you think Barry the Slayer will fall to a few puny men?” With a shrug, he threw several officers across the tavern. “Give my regards to whatever gods in hell you worship because your gods are stupid and in hell. Just like you will soon be.”

Wren, in the middle of reloading her flintlock, appraised Barry’s banter as above average for barbarians.

Half the tavern ended up leveled before they brought down Barry. Wrapped in chains, muscles bulging in unseemly ways, he scowled at Wren. “I will be no one’s slave.”

Wren thought about shooting Barry then. Just to put the dumb brute out of everyone’s misery.

“You’re not being enslaved,” she said. “You’re being arrested.”

“Whatever diabolical fiend hired you—”

“The people hired me,” said Wren.

A pair of officers dragged in the thief. “Just like you said, sir, we caught her trying to sneak out the back.”

Thieves, thought Wren, better than assassins at least.

She fired her gun just over the shoulder of one of her officers across the room, striking the assassin sneaking up behind the man.

“Son of a bitch,” growled the wounded assassin. “That hurt.”

“You’re lucky I didn’t kill you,” said Wren. “Trying to stab one of my officers. And from behind too. Not very sporting.”

The assassin was dragged out with her allies. In the street, a black dragon (mid-sized as the full-sized variety had trouble finding places to fit in the city) waited.

“Aha!” shouted Barry the Slayer. “You have been corrupted by this monster’s foul influence and mean to sacrifice us to appease it, but you will find—”

“Oh, shut up.”

Barry did shut up, but he seemed genuinely hurt by the interruption.

“Are these the people who stole your gold?” asked Wren.

“Yes, officer,” replied the dragon. “Humans do tend to look alike to me, but I’d never forget that one.” She pointed at Barry. “He nearly slayed me.”

The barbarian said, “You must be mistaken.”

“Word of advice,” said Wren. “If you want to deny attempted slaying, you should probably avoid having the words The Slayer in your name.”

The “adventurers” were taken away for processing. The dragon’s statement was taken. Due process went into action. Gendarme Wren took a moment to enjoy this quiet moment. They were all too rare during the questing season.

An officer stepped up, followed by an elderly goblin couple sporting bruises.
“A paladin smashed up their bakery,” said the officer.

Wren adjusted her cloak.

Paladins were the worst.

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One Comment

  1. thebibliomancer
    Posted December 6, 2014 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    This story hits so many of my interests. Primarily not treating the ‘monster’ races of fantasy like ambulatory providers of XP and loot.

    I hadn’t even realized how much I wanted this story until I read it.

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