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22 January 2015 @ 01:04 pm
LJ Idol Season Nine: "Tales Half Told"  
Tales Half Told
idol season nine | week 34 | 1175 words
Lost the plot

x-x-x-x-x

Against the verdant hills of the sacred seventh kingdom, Sir Harold Wickham battled the dragon Darkwing to determine the fates of the citizens of the realm. The fighting had raged since dawn, both man and beast caught in a war pitting strength against agility. Sir Harold sought to claim both honor and the king's youngest daughter, and the dragon envisioned treasure-filled storerooms and legions of frightened farmers pledging loyalty and livestock in equal measure.

Although both parties were growing fatigued, neither would grant the other an easy victory. Sir Harold traded his spear for his broadsword, raising it to counter the beast's fearsome attack. The dragon roared the fullness of his wrath, when suddenly—





"What just happened?" Sir Harold whispered.

"It appears that the words ran out," the dragon murmured.

"Oh, dear," Sir Harold said. "I don't recall such a thing having occurred previously. Do you? What shall we do?"

"Let us delay a moment. Perhaps they may yet return."

The knight and the dragon waited for a bit. Sir Harold shifted in his armor and poked holes in the earth with his sword. The dragon examined his talons and brushed off some loose scales.

"I wonder if anyone is even aware that a problem has arisen?" said the dragon. "We've been here ages, and there hasn't even been an announcement."

"How much longer shall we wait? This is frightfully dull."

"At the moment, I have lost all interest in our battle. Do you suppose we might find a more amusing way to pass the time?"

"I have a chess board in my satchel. I left it at the river," the knight said. "Perhaps a game?"

The dragon adored chess. "Delighted."

They strolled down to the river and began.

~*~


In another part of the forest, a wolf menaced a little girl.

"There are many paths to your grandmother's house. A child your age might so easily become lost! I, however, know several shorter ones. I would be terribly pleased to guide you. Come, let us take this one that goes into the deep, shady parts of the forest…"

The little girl pulled her basket closer. "Mother said not to talk to strangers."

"Did she?" said the wolf. "Still, I am not a stranger. Your grandmother and I are great friends."

"I am grateful, but I must refuse. I shall continue alone."

The wolf was forced to admit that his initial plan would not work. Instead, he would simply—

simply—

Oh, dear. The wolf knew there was more, but he could not begin to remember what came next. He searched his memory, he recalled the basic archetypes, but nothing felt quite right. He tapped his foot, and came to a decision:

"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff—"

"What are you doing?" the little girl asked.

"Improvising," the wolf said.

"That is expressly forbidden! It is in the rules of your contract!"

"Very well." The wolf scratched his chin. "So what comes next, then?"

"When?"

"After where we left off. How does the rest of the story go?"

"Oh!" said the girl. "It, well, um…hmm. Oh, for goodness' sake. What indeed?"

~*~


Off in the deeper, darker part of the forest, an old woman tended the fire in her hearth. She was chewing on a bone when she heard voices calling to her from outside.

Oho! she thought, as she peered out the window. Two plump, juicy children stood behind her gate. What a marvelous surprise!

She went to the children and listened to their sad tale, as they told of being sent to live with her and do as she wished. She set them to impossible tasks, promising she would eat the children if they did not succeed. Then she waited for them to fail, as all the other children had.

Days went by, and the children did not fail. No matter what impossible chores she assigned them, they somehow managed to complete them. Then one morning, the children disappeared.

The old woman raged, knowing she had somehow been betrayed. She looked at her little black cat and her dogs, and then—

then—

Oh, what was the next part? It was something, but there had already been a great many "somethings" and she was old, and what did it matter when her dinner had just escaped?

She did, however, suddenly notice that there were far too many animals about for such a small home. She decided they should leave, and told them so rather forcefully.

Then she sat next to the hearth and thought and thought, hoping things would soon make sense again.

Her little home thought too, and in the absence of any narrative or specific direction, it decided to eat her.

Feeling full and revitalized, it rose up on its chicken legs and went in search of a much sunnier place to live.

~*~


The wolf waited and waited for some hint of what he ought to be doing, but nothing transpired. He had run out of patience, for the little girl was tiresome, and this was not his preferred part of the forest to begin with.

"I'm afraid I must leave you," he told the little girl.

"But we aren't finished yet!"

"Our story may not be finished, but I am no longer convinced it is worth pursuing," he said. "Farewell."

The little girl seemed perplexed, but she did not stop him.

Within two hours' time, the wolf had crept out of the woods and found a flock of poorly-protected sheep. The one he caught was delicious, and already he felt more at ease with the idea of this new life than the one he had obediently lived for so many years.

~*~


The knight and dragon had taken to alternating games of chess with a simple variant, one in which only the colors of the pieces mattered.

"It has been so long, I can scarcely remember what we were fighting about," the knight said.

"Nor I," the dragon agreed. He hopped one of his black chessmen over several of the knight's white ones, collecting the pieces he'd taken. "There was a princess," he remarked.

"Yes," the knight said. "The beautiful Princess Aldera. I would still wish her for my wife."

The dragon traced a talon along the edge of the chess board. "It occurs to me that there are other kingdoms to attack," he said. "I might, for instance, decide to leave this one alone and conquer a different realm altogether. If, that is, you would consent to visit me at my cave and play chess now and again."

"That is a most elegant idea!" the knight said.

"I supposed we ought to part company, then…" the dragon said.

"In time, perhaps." The knight set up the chess pieces again. "It's a lovely afternoon. Care for another game?"

"Certainly! Would you like another helping of roast stag before we begin?" the dragon asked.

"Oh yes, dear friend." The knight skewered a piece with his sword. "White or black this time?"

"White," the dragon said.

"I'm feeling decidedly adventurous."


--//--


If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.

 
 
 
gratefuladdictgratefuladdict on January 22nd, 2015 10:34 pm (UTC)
This made me smile. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 23rd, 2015 04:49 am (UTC)
Yay! That's a nice feeling to take away. :)
bleodsweanbleodswean on January 22nd, 2015 10:35 pm (UTC)
This is so much fun! Great job! And I love how you interject a life lesson in there regarding writing your own story!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 23rd, 2015 04:50 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it-- and I knew the knight and dragon would wind up happier when this began, but the wolf was a surprise even to me!
Direst Ryl: Snow Dropsryl on January 22nd, 2015 10:39 pm (UTC)
This must be what happens to bedtime stories when the child falls asleep before they're finished.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Fantasy Foresthalfshellvenus on January 23rd, 2015 04:51 am (UTC)
The chance to run amok, unscripted, is probably something they'd look forward to!

(no subject) - dmousey on January 26th, 2015 10:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
lriG rorriMlrig_rorrim on January 22nd, 2015 11:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, I loved this so much! Taking down and taking apart folklore and fairytales is so much fun.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 23rd, 2015 04:52 am (UTC)
I haven't twisted as many fairy tales this season as I've thought about, but this was such a perfect opportunity!
Jennkickthehobbit on January 23rd, 2015 01:57 am (UTC)
This was cute. :D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 23rd, 2015 04:52 am (UTC)
I'm glad you thought so! :)
Jemima Paulerjem0000000 on January 23rd, 2015 04:17 am (UTC)
Awww. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 23rd, 2015 04:53 am (UTC)
The knight and dragon wound up with a much better arrangement than they were headed for!
Es'kaeska818 on January 23rd, 2015 04:46 am (UTC)
I really liked this! Especially the little homage to Baba Yaga (I do love houses on chicken legs! XD ) Very creative, and well-written. ^.^
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 23rd, 2015 04:53 am (UTC)
I couldn't resist adding Baba Yaga here, especially if it meant her tale would turn on her. Finally, the hut won!

Thanks so much for reading and commenting. :)
fodschwazzlefodschwazzle on January 23rd, 2015 07:02 am (UTC)
I think this is one of my favorites from you this season. It has so much play in it that the reader cannot help but grin.

Edited at 2015-01-23 07:02 am (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 23rd, 2015 10:19 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it! I hadn't initially intended to do comedy two weeks in a row, but that's the direction most people took, and I figured better safe than sorry.

Also, Baba Yaga finally getting what she deserved was too good to pass up. :D
rayasorayaso on January 23rd, 2015 02:44 pm (UTC)
I love this! It is so .... The part about .... Nothing better . . . Words fail me. Before they leave altogether, this was so creative and such a wonderful idea. I loved the phrase about the plump children. There's nothing like having self-delivered dinner. Also, the knight and the dragon becoming friends was something I was not expecting.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 25th, 2015 08:54 am (UTC)
There's nothing like having self-delivered dinner.
Twisted, but also true!

The knight and dragon seemed like they could easily find rapport in this setting. Once they go "off the clock," there are all kinds of possibilities for common interests. :D
Lisa: discworld: children don't skipmeridian_rose on January 23rd, 2015 07:13 pm (UTC)
I loved the opening line, and the almost metafiction nature of the stories as they realise they can change their nature now the plot is lost. A little reminiscent of the Discworld in its examination of and twisting of well worn narratives. Beautifully done :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 25th, 2015 09:00 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! All of these tales would normally end poorly for someone, and a new outcome can be beneficial for all parties. Except sheep.

Thanks for reading and commenting!
i_17bingoi_17bingo on January 25th, 2015 09:00 am (UTC)
"It appears that the words ran out," the dragon murmured.

"It's never happened to me before! Honest! I'm ordinarily such a raconteur... No, it's not you... No, no, I really do want to trade words with you. I knew it when I first saw you talking. You're such a storyteller, baby. Maybe I'm just tired."

This calls for some Verbal Viagra!

Maybe it's a byproduct of me getting older, but I'm finding more and more satisfaction in stories where conflict and violence are avoided, against all odds. Therefore this story was very satisfying.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 25th, 2015 09:04 am (UTC)
"It's never happened to me before! Honest! I'm ordinarily such a raconteur... No, it's not you... No, no, I really do want to trade words with you. I knew it when I first saw you talking. You're such a storyteller, baby. Maybe I'm just tired."

Hahahaha-- I never would have forseen that line morphing into a "failed performance" metaphor. Verbal Viagra indeed!

In terms of conflict, I've always been happier when a non-violent resolution happens. Failure to resolve the conflict at all is usually NOT satisfying, but a compromise or simply changing the game altogether can make a real difference.
(no subject) - i_17bingo on January 25th, 2015 09:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
Laura, aka "Ro Arwen": Gold Dragonroina_arwen on January 25th, 2015 07:31 pm (UTC)
Brilliant! I love the way you turned the expected stories on their heads!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 25th, 2015 09:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :D

*icon envy*
crisp_sobrietycrisp_sobriety on January 25th, 2015 07:51 pm (UTC)
I like this, it's really cute. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 25th, 2015 09:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Sometimes, it isn't all about burninating the peasants and their thatched-roof cottages... :D
alycewilson: Alice cardsalycewilson on January 25th, 2015 11:57 pm (UTC)
Loads of fun! Are you going to see "Into the Woods" when it comes out?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Fantasy Foresthalfshellvenus on January 26th, 2015 03:34 am (UTC)
We (three of us) wanted to see it around Xmas time, and my daughter balked. So, either my husband and sone and I will go, or we'll see it on video. My son seems to have read the play (?) for school, and thought it was neat, and the art direction already has me intrigued. :D

Have you seen it?
swirlsofblueswirlsofblue on January 26th, 2015 04:30 pm (UTC)
Absolutely hilarious! Love this interpretation of the prompt, very witty.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 26th, 2015 04:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! Fragmented and morphed fairy tales are a lot of fun. :)