Tales from the Splinterlands 2: A secret revealed.
It’s not easy being poor. It's even harder being a poor, godless Khymian. Hardest of all? Being a poor, godless Khymian with a calling: to be the greatest poor, godless Kymian summoner the Splinterlands would ever know. This is the story of a pauper’s rise and, probably, fall.
“Hey, I’ve been waiting a damned age for my drink, boy”, a gruff voice slurred from somewhere behind me. Before I could turn to apologise, the concussive thud of a boot on my spine knocked the wind out of me and sent me sprawling across the polished board of my mother’s inn.
Did I mention that I’m poor? Yeah, well not any more. If you had untied the pouch at my hip you would have seen at LEAST 20 shiny new credits. My first attempt at summoning went better than I could have possibly expected and I walked away with a new companion, a handful of gold and a smatter of dark crystal. I groaned as I watched the crystals shatter before frantically tucking the scattered coins back into my pouch, wheezing with every movement.
“Sorry...sir...drink is coming...just...a...minute,” I gasped as I tried to regain my breath. I averted my eyes and began to slouch away until a thick hand slammed onto my shoulder. The same thick boots crushed what remained of the crystals into the floorboards and he spun me around a glared into my face. He reeked of stale liquor and cheap tobacco and he had a dangerous look in his eye. His tarnished city watch badge hung crookedly from a lapel. A lawman.
“Where did you get those?” he asked.
“I won them, sir. At the last tournament.” I tried to steel my voice with confidence and meet his eye.
He guffawed, “Is that so? Part time bartender, part time summoner, huh? Prove it. Or else I think we might need to have a nice long chat back at the station. His knuckles cracked as his grip on my shoulder tightened painfully.
Resisting wincing through the pain, I look up to him a cracked a little smile.
“Bakaww!” I uttered emotionlessly.
The man’s look of confusion barely had time to resolve when I heard an inquisitive response from the back room of the tavern.
“Bakaww?” it asked.
“Bakaww!!!” I yelled.
In a whirlwind of feathers, my trusty Chicken surged from the back room and barrelled towards my assailant in a cloud of feathers. Razor sharp claws dug into the mans hand as the furious fowl pecked viciously at the drunken watchman’s eyes. I manage to wriggle free of his grip and summon a fire beetle into my palm.
With a reassuring yell of “Bakaww..” I ordered the chicken to cease his attack and come back to hop on my shoulder.
At that moment my mother stormed into the bar room with a cast iron skillet raised.
“What is this about. Out! We won’t have bar fights in this establishment!”
On seeing me she froze with her mouth ajar. The staggering lawman mirrored her. My stomach dropped as the adrenaline subsided. My secret was violently and destructively out.
I turned towards her and looked at the pouch in my hand. I opened it to reveal what was left of the crystals and credits inside and held them out towards her.
“Mother, this is for you. I am sorry this man kicked me and then when I was trying to pick them up and then he grabbed me and the he said you’re not a summoner and I said I am a summoner and I know you don’t know I’m a summoner but the fact is I’m actually quite good and this chicken is my friend and I’m really sorry I didn’t….” the words sprayed out pathetically and at random.
I looked up at my mother’s raised skillet, winced and waited for the dull thud of it against my head. Instead, I felt a whoosh of air as it flew past my right ear and clattered directly into the chest of the stunned officer. It knocked the tarnished badge from his lapel and onto the floor.
Now it was my mother with the torrent of words. Many are too rude to repeat in this account so I will simply say the man left apologetically and promised never to return.
My mother turned to me, eyeing me up and down sternly. Even Chicken trembled and tried to hide behind my legs at the type of scornful gaze only a mother can give. The beetle was long gone.
“We’ll talk about this later once you’ve tidied up this mess,” she stated stonily before brushing past me.
I could swear I saw a small smile at the corner of her lips as she stormed back to the kitchen.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” I yelled.
“Bakaww…” Chicken replied.