Happy Friday! Things have been so busy this week I barely know if I'm even doing anything useful anymore... I suppose I have to assume that 'useful' is relative, and getting the things done is the important part. I'm pretty sure we have our freeze dried stock quantities for small markets figured out (mostly), and people keep finding our shirt and sticker website (which is awesome), so it's just the tasks of keeping up with demands.
It's a cool problem to have lol.
I find the apps distract my brain without helping, though. All the anxiety is still there when I turn off the app. The nice part about Roblox is that I can play even for only an hour and it calms down my anxiety. No idea why it works for me, but I'm not going to start questioning it. Simple obbys make my brain happy, and focused happiness causes a confuddled retreat of my anxiety monster back into the corner. Wonderfully nifty little reset for me whenever I can carve out time for it, so I try to carve out the time on days when I need it. Easier said than done, I know, but healthy coping strategies do work well when used. Who knew?
I guess now it's time to post this up, log off, and get started on today's to-do list. First on my list: breakfast and coffee. Lol. I hope you get to have a great weekend!
2. Mercenary Morals
Draessellor tasted and sniffed the air more than usual as they were eating. Aston knew the behaviour meant there was another person around, but ‘around’ could mean anywhere from nearby to three days away depending on that person’s hygiene and if they were upwind. That estimate narrowed quickly to nearby when someone cried out in surprise within a distance Aston could hear. Metal clanged and there were more shouts.
Aston stood and turned, easily finding the direction the sounds of a scuffle were coming from. Draessellor stayed seated, tearing off and methodically chewing another bite of venison.
The noise of the fighting changed from scuffling to definite attackers and a single voice of being attacked. “Don’t you think we should...?” Aston left the question hanging and gestured toward the noises.
Drassellor rolled one eye to look at Aston before glancing toward the sounds. The big Reptillian shrugged one shoulder before turning back to his deer to bite off another chunk.
Aston’s hand dropped to the hilt of the sword he was carrying as whoever was being attacked screamed. He couldn’t tell if it was a rage scream or an injury scream.
“Lay hands to me again and I’ll carve your eyes from your skull to use as decoration for –”
The enraged threat was interrupted by whoever was speaking being struck hard enough for the words to abruptly end. Only coughing followed. Aston gestured, again, for Draessellor to stand and join him in looking for where the attack was occurring. The old lizard hunched closer over the small fire and flicked one taloned hand; as if dismissing a child from schooling at the end of an irritating lesson.
Aston struggled twice over with a flare of anger at his companion; first because the ancient creature apparently had no moral compass when it came to attacks of multiple people against one, and second because he’d been protecting and training Aston all these weeks and now couldn’t be bothered to help someone having a real fight. The fighting sounded like a roadside robbery. It wasn’t like brigands would be a problem for the mercenary!
The final word in that thought snapped Aston out of his anger: Draessellor was a mercenary. He wasn’t being paid to fight random robbers as they travelled. He was being paid to deliver Aston home. Aston didn’t have anything of value to pay the old lizard with for fighting random robbers, and Draessellor would have smelled if the one being attacked had the potential to pay for a rescue. If there was to be a rescue, Aston was on his own to provide it.
The Low Prince darted off between the trees in the direction of the yelling, pleased with himself for noting landmarks quickly so he would be able to find his way back. One thing for certain, it did feel good to be getting better at travelling, hunting, fighting, and hiding than when he’d first met the old lizard. It also felt like a good idea to use his new skills to improve the world a little bit, especially if the mercenary wouldn’t.
“Hold him down!”
“Get hands on the wings!”
“AH! He bit me!”
“I said hold him down!”
“What’s he muttering for?”
A blinding flash of light burst out from where the voices were yelling, turning the leaves into papery skeletons. Aston blinked away the after-images and crept further forward as the yelling resumed.
“I’ll feast on your spleen!” The one being attacked screeched the threat, this time their voice nearly squeaking as the attackers yelled and yelped without words.
“I got him!” one of the attackers called out triumphantly. He ‘umphed’ and something heavy thudded to the ground.
“Whose got who now?” The distinctly not-squeaking voice of the one being attacked asked.
“Get him off Ike!”
“Get the wings!”
Aston stopped behind a thick tree and peered around the trunk at the failing robbery. More people were running from the other direction to where the fight between four men and… the sparkle of iridescent wings had been a flash half as tall as Aston and then disappeared. He blinked and caught sight of twinkling zipping out between two of the attackers. One of the two spun and threw out a leaden blanket that fell over what could only be a fairy, pinning it to the ground. The attacker who’d thrown the blanket pounced and pinned down the fairy as it shifted back to full size in an attempt to throw off the blanket.
“Cut his wings quick now he’s big!”
“His?!” the fairy yelled, then grunted out “hers!” after being punched hard in the stomach.
“Yeah! Twice the bounty on wings from him being full-sized!” the thug who’d last punched her stated with a grin, completely ignoring her correction. Aston’s stomach turned as one of them produced a heavy knife and advanced on the fairy. These weren’t thugs; they were poachers.
In total, seven poachers encircled the three holding her down. Aston had only before seen fairies in books, except that one time he was bespelled by a harpy... This one didn’t look like a harpy in disguise. And she was… muttering?
He threw his arm up to block his eyes a moment before the searing light blinded the poachers attacking her.
“I lost him!”
“Don’t move! You could step on him!”
“Is he in the blanket?”
“Would I’ve said ‘I lost him’ if he was in the blanket?”
“Shut it! All of us got half blinded!”
Aston dropped his arm and looked around the tree. The fairy was small again and struggling overground to get clear of the stumbling and scuffling thugs, her direction angling for the nearest trees as she dodged and darted around stomping feet. No time for thinking up a better plan, Aston left his sword sheathed so that he could better hold his cloak and stayed low as he sprinted toward the fairy. She didn’t see him until his hand dropped in front of her, fingers open and palm up. One of her wings looked crumpled.
“I’m not with them,” he whispered. She frowned hard up at him.
One of the poachers stumbled over him and he twisted a bit to toss them further than if they’d just tripped. Their grunt as they landed caught the attention of a few others, and their wheezing was confused as they squinted and blinked back toward him, trying to see who or what he was.
“I think... I think... a rock... just tossed me,” they panted out as they tried to catch their breath.
“Rocks can’t throw people. Where was it?” another asked.
“I’m over here,” he wheezed. He started slapping the ground to make extra noise for the rest to find him faster.
“Last chance,” Aston whispered to the fairy.
Her jaw was clenched and her glare distrustful, but she climbed onto his hand and knelt on his palm. He curled his fingers up for her to hang on to and quickly scurried out of the little clearing. Two people saw him retreat and tried to follow. Once inside the trees he stood just straight enough to knock the first poacher into the second by pulling back and then releasing a heavy branch, sending them stumbling back into the clearing, and then slouched low and sprinted between the trees how Draessellor had taught him. The group of poachers fought among themselves, first about who’s fault it was for the fairy getting away, and then about how ridiculous it was to think a rock and then a tree could attack a person.
A weekly blog updating on Fridays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!