Saturday, January 22, 2022

Three Shorts For Dandibuja

Dandibuja has gifted me with some fantastic fanart in the short time I've known him, and when I expressed the desire to return the favor he suggested that I write some pieces based on some original works of his, so here we go.

What Remains of House Leoviridius

The villa ruins had been as empty as the Jackal's stomach. Disappointing, but only mildly surprising: wealth makes an easy target for those in the trade and the summer home had predictably been stripped clean years ago. The windows were gone - some smashed but most carefully removed for the sake of the glass. The roof had collapsed in the east wing - years without maintenance to blame for that. Kitchen was bare - knives and pots too valuable to leave behind. Wood taken for firestarters, clothing taken for bandages and bedlining. No hope of jewelry being overlooked. Even the floor safe in the master bedroom had been torn up and smashed open. Likely nothing of worth in there, unless the lucky thief wanted gold for ballast or deeds for toilet paper.

The well in the central courtyard still had water. No bucket, but water - cold and heavy and barely gritty. Small mercies. The Jackal refilled their canteens (tying each one to a length of string), drank up, refilled again.

All the while, they kept ears open. Nothing but the dull wind. Not even an ambush of curious dune mice. Years in the trade prevented the Jackal from ever relaxing, but they settled into a state that approximated it and let their mind drift to topics unconcerned with survival and safety.

The crumbling west wall of the courtyard, shielded from the worst of the wind, still bore the icon of the Lords of the World. Green lion rampant, bleeding sun. Tongues of fire? The Jackal cast their mind back to what their grandfather had told them about the signs of House Leoviridius and their meaning, but found nothing. Grandfather had plenty to say about the Leoviridians, far more than anyone with real troubles could keep track of. "Officious cousin-fuckers", he was fond of saying that. Ranting about how they didn't know how good they had it, that they'd never seen a real sandstorm season and you can't trust anyone who'll sell you piss and call it water.

He was right about the sandstorms. When things were first falling apart, he spent his days in a constant chorus of "Told you! Told you just how it was!" He kept it up till he died. In retrospect it was a bizarre thing to take pride in, but the Jackal was charitable to the old man's memory. He'd been through enough to earn that.

The Jackal rested there for a few hours before they departed by the leeward road down out of the hills. They died ten days later, stabbed in the throat in a roadside mugging. The IDRS Madrid out of Arcturus, still the closest vessel that could provide aid, was thirty-nine years away. The sands would engulf the villa well before then.


The Monstrous Seagulls' Feast

The gulls had no questions at all about the great gelatinous corpse. It wasn't poisonous and something else had done the work of killing it, and that was all that mattered. Smart birds, seagulls.

(The crabs did question it, and came to different conclusions. They have yet to share.)

Speculation on the creature's origins exploded as soon as the news cameras started rolling, but it peaked early. The fervor couldn't be maintained through the next crisis of the week, especially when the answers that were forthcoming were so plain: the creature washed up on the Argentine shore during the night of April 16th, it was almost certainly terrestrial in origin, some kind of mollusk, and it was very dead. Within seventy-two hours it had dissolved into a mound of dirty translucent gelatin, and within two more days it had decayed completely. The final verdict was that it was some kind of long lost cephalopod from the abyssal zones.

The conspiracists remembered it, and the graduate students in biology departments around the world, and the unfunny Facebook memes lasted a couple months beyond that, and for the creature this was the end of it.

But it was never the important part of the incident, only the vehicle by which it arrived on the scene. The abyssotitan's flesh was riddled with parasites - minute corkscrew worms, near-invisible to the eye. Most died with their host, but the eggs survived, and the eggs were eaten by the seagulls, and the eggs hatched within the seagulls, and the seagulls shat them out and then...

Well, that's the end of it.

The Knight

Khuñ Khaphun, last knight of the Order of Unn, posed for only one portrait during his life. He was an intensely private man, and so it was only at the behest of his close friend Pricipio d'Ardevarke that he agreed to see the painter. This was in the spring of the year of the Golden Rabbit, a mere seven months before his death.

Khuñ's life had seen him pulled in opposing directions since his early childhood. As a youth he was enamored with stories of the great mountain-home knights and the adventures of the Sunrise Age, which put him at odds with his family of stonemasons. Dissatisfied with the trades, and likewise distasteful of the formal military, he became obsessed with the idea of reviving the knights of Unn. He was self-taught in combat, as provided by whatever training manuals of the era that he could find. Unfortunately, he was an withdrawn and introverted man, who made connections rarely. While he might have named himself a knight of Unn, he simply didn't have the social adeptness to attract others to his cause - the few volunteers who joined him quickly returned home in all cases, finding him too difficult to work with.

He came into the eye of the public after he slew the Giant of Gjanisang, but he found himself unable to follow it up with subsequent feats and spent the years to follow wandering up and down the Hojenvaid River valley. He refused offers of patronage, even from d'Ardevarke, claiming always that it was not knightly to do such a thing, and took payment only in exchange for monster slaying or performances of feats (he was fond of trick jousting, and this was more profitable in the long run than monster hunting).

He died without fanfare in his roadside camp of natural causes. Likely a disease of the heart. The Order of Unn went with him, and he is remembered only now by students of the historically curious and those who walk past his portrait at the museum of art in Harandara.


  1. Nothing like a bit of flash fiction to keep things going.

  2. I love it! Thank you very much for writing these texts.

    The sense of fatality and loss in the Jackal's story, the blend of everydayness and doom in the abyssotitan's tale and The Quixotic Khuñ Khaphun, I love them all!