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Silt

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A collection of ideally amusing shorts relating to a very boring man and his considerably less boring friends companions people he happens to travel with.


Silt

“Sand becomes glass, clay becomes pottery. What do I become?”


Before

The young man of nondescript features grins as he saunters towards the family holdings, each of his hands occupied with an undoubtedly expensive silver bowl filled to the brim with a grimy, dark substance which seems to have enveloped him up to the forearms.

The guard at the gate sighs, knowing full well what terror approaches him.

“Would you like a pie, Theoric?” asks the young man impishly, practically dancing from toe to toe with eagerness, his expression not only hinting at mischief but most assuredly guaranteeing it.

“Are they full of worms again, young master?”

This is a game the two have played before, a well rehearsed play which one never tires of performing while the other dutifully enacts his role.

“Only if you’re lucky,” winks the young man, waving his ‘pie’ below Theoric’s nose invitingly.

“I’m afraid I’ll have to decline, young master. M’wife will be expecting me to eat whatever form of stew she happens to be cooking tonight, and should I gorge myself on your undoubtedly delicious culinary creation, I’ll be in for a right earful.”

The young man cocks his head to one side, throwing another wide grin at the guardsman. “Your skills are wasted as a guard, Theoric. Why, you should be a statesman with that clever tongue of yours!”

“Then I’d need be listening to even more folk demand things of me, and one woman is quite enough, m’lord. Be off with you, and deliver those pies before they…grow cold.”

Chuckling, the young man skips past and into the estate proper, going to great effort to ensure he loses his footing and trips as he passes by a woman only a few years older than himself, dressed in a fine gown. Miraculously, he manages to spill only one pie, the other remaining deftly gripped in his right hand.

A shriek pierces the warm evening air.

“Oops,” says the young man, with an utter lack of sincerity, spreading his arms wide in what might be considered an apology, if one was feeling gracious.

“You are the WORST brother EVER!” scowls the young woman, stomping away towards the small keep they both call home. “I’m telling father!”

“Tell him I have a pie for him too!” the young man shouts after her, chuckling to himself.

“You shouldn’t taunt your sister so,” chides a different voice, that of his mother as she approaches from her carefully tended flower garden. She looks old, but to the young man, old is a greatly encompassing description.

“But it’s fun,” is his rebuttal, with another cheeky wink thrown her way.

“You’re sixteen years of age, now. You should have outgrown such frivolity and be engaged in the family business by now. Perhaps even engaged to that lovely-”

A name rings out across the estate, a most exasperated roar.

“That’d be father calling me in for supper,” chimes the young man, sprinting away from his mother and towards the keep, setting his ‘pie’ down upon the edge of a small water fountain as he dashes from one disappointed parent to the next.

“At least wash your hands!” his mother calls out behind him, with a slight shake of her head. “And for goodness sake, stop filling the fine dining pieces with mud!”

The fountain bubbles away merrily in response, its new accompanying ornament catching the dying light of dusk as it contents begin, ever so slowly, to dry and harden.
Posted Apr 18, 14 · OP
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After

A nondescript man in his third decade of life strides towards the abandoned family holding, each of his hands occupied with a small globe of faintly pulsing light to ward away dusk’s approach.

No guard steps out to intercept him at the gate, and instead he turns to his companion, a woman several years his junior.

“Would you like a pie, my ever present shadow?” he asks her impishly, his expression hinting at mischief but concealing deeper thoughts.

“Do you have a pie?” she responds, her brow furrowing as she glances over his personage

“Well…no. Never mind, then. We could only be so lucky,” winks the man, flicking his left hand and causing the globe of light nestled within to rotate around his companion’s head.

“That’s not a pie,” she grumbles, poking away at this new annoyance as they enter the estate proper. The man remains steadfast of foot as they walk through the abandoned grounds, overgrown with weeds and infested with bugs and small animals.

Behind him, a shriek pierces the warming evening air.

“Uh, spiderweb. There was a…” mumbles the young woman, dragging the sticky strands from her face and doing her very best to avoid the older man’s gaze.

“You killed a spider,” he remarks offhand, tapping his foot against the uneven earth.

“That was different,” she pouts.

“How?”

“It was as big as I am and trying to eat me!”

The man considers this before nodding his head in acquiescence. “It didn’t do a very good job, did it?”

The woman glances up sharply, her eyes narrowing as she continues to claw web from her hair. “Are you making fun of me?”

“Me? No. Never,” he assures her with a wink.

Further examination of the situation is cut short as a name rings out across the estate, a most awful and unnerving roar.

“That’d be father calling me in for supper,” chimes the man, glancing away towards a long dry fountain, his eyes alighting on a dust caked bowl lying upside down within.

“I remember this,” he says softly, traipsing over to retrieve the bowl and turning it the right way up. Its contents are a dull grey, hardened by the undisturbed passage of time. Almost wistfully, he prods a finger into its centre, though the hard grey mass refuses to yield.

“What is it?” enquires the young woman curiously, wiping away dust and grime with her gloved hand to reveal the shine of silver under the sun’s last rays of light. “It doesn’t look very appetising, to be in such a fine bowl.”

Smiling, the young man tosses it to her, clasping his hands behind his head and taking a deep breath.

“It’s your pie,” he chuckles, his mirth increasing at her confused expression. “Come along Flit, father does become ever so bothersome when one keeps him waiting…”
Posted Apr 18, 14 · OP
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“What are we doing here,” sighs the pacing woman with no small amount of exasperation as her companion chews upon a chicken leg, the accompanying sauce dripping down his chin in a most uncouth manner.

“Eating,” he informs her between mouthfuls, earning him the now well practiced ‘persecuting stare’.

“I mean, what are we doing in Wayrest? We came here for a reason, right? Yet all we’ve done for the past two weeks is lounge around in this tavern.”

“Mmm, it’s been very relaxing, hasn’t it?” agrees the man, taking another bite of his meal.

“No! Uh, well, yes, but, we can’t just do this forever.”

“Can’t we?”

“No!”

“Why not?”

“Because…because there are things to do. There are always things to do in and around cities. And your father said-”

The man’s eyes rise from his plate, fixing his young companion with his own version of a steely stare, somewhat ruined by the sauce splattered around his mouth.

“What my father said is irrelevant.”

“He seemed pretty, uh, adamant.”

“Yes, well, father always was a terrible bore. Speaking of boar, we should order some!”

“Fine,” scowls the woman, taking her seat. “But after that, we’re going to do something.”

“Like what?” queries her companion, signalling to a serving woman.

“Like…helping people?”

Her companion’s face scrunches in a most peculiar way, his free hand rising and tilting from side to side in a gesture of apathy.

“Well…what about mercenary work? We could earn some gold. Maybe we could help people and they’d give us a small sum as thanks,” smiles the girl earnestly.

“If I desired riches, I’m fairly certain I’m entitled to them,” the man replies lazily, waving his chicken bone around. “I never was much for wealth and power, you know that.”

“Well…uh…we should help people anyway.”

“Should we?”

“Yes!”

“Why?”

“Because it’s the right thing to do.”

“Is it?” asks the man doubtfully, attempting to bounce his chicken bone from his plate to hers. “I helped you, and look what that got me.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” the young woman growls.

“Nothing,” grins the man.

“If you didn’t want to help people, then you wouldn’t have helped the new girl. You would have sent her back home and you certainly wouldn’t be teaching her.

“The new girl?” repeats the man, with evident amusement. “I don’t suppose I could send you back home?”

“No! And if we don’t do something constructive soon, I’ll tell the new girl all about your father,” the woman threatens, trying her very best to deliver a stern and imposing look.

“No, you won’t,” he counters with a smug smirk.

“Yes, I will.”

“Well, that’s not very nice, Flit.”

“You’re not very nice, sometimes!”

The man lets out a sigh, appearing to consider that statement before running his tongue over his lips and chin and peering across the table at his female companion, her arms folded across her chest.

“Oh, alright then. If we must.”

And now the woman grins, her face lighting up as she does so. “And don’t call me Flit, I hate that.”

“Won’t happen again, Flit.”

“Good. Wait, you just-“

“Look, the boar is here! Boar for all! Or at least for you and I, if the new girl fails to return from the privy. Boar, with a delicious side dish of ‘helping people’. How very appetising.”

But the woman only smiles, the sarcasm lost on her as the aroma of the meat tugs at her senses.
Posted Apr 18, 14 · OP · Last edited Apr 18, 14
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The nondescript, middle aged man sat with his back against Wayrest’s walls, feet stretched out before him at an equidistant angle, a slight wind tugging at his attire. Many feet beyond him stood a small sapling, gamely attempting to grow in the shadow of the great city.

A feminine voice interrupted the man’s reverie, his gaze flickering upwards towards this new arrival.

“What are you doing?” the young woman asked, her hands on her hips.

“Gardening,” he replied, pointing at the yonder specimen.

“That’s only one little tree,” the woman countered, not at all convinced.

“It’s a very small garden,” agreed the man with a grin.

“You’re not even anywhere near it! You’re not planting anything, you’re not pruning, you’re not watering the soil…”

“I did that last night.”

“What? No, you didn’t. We were inside the inn all night because it was raining and you said you didn’t feel like getting wet when you could stay inside and be dry.”

“Exactly.”

The young woman opened her mouth, her expression betraying her confusion, then her annoyance at his answer.

“Oh, don’t be such a nag, Flit. We’ll do something much more interesting later today after I’ve finished the gardening.”

“Really?” beamed the girl, her vexed look swept away by hope and eagerness.

“Absolutely! In a few hours it will be time to commence studies in gastroenterology! I think you’ll agree that is significantly more exciting than the prospect of studies in hostile biology.”

The young woman’s initial reaction of a blank look slowly transitioned into a perplexed stare as she pondered the meaning of his words. Her eventual reply was flat and almost toneless.

“You’re going to sit here until noon and then go and eat lunch, aren’t you?”

The older man winked and graced her with a gesture involving his two thumbs being raised up otherwise curled fingers.

“Urgh! We never do anything fun! You’re so boring!” she scowled, stomping away from him, back towards the city gates.

“Witty banter is fun!” he called out after her. “And I’m not boring!”

Waving her away, the man once again settled his back against the wall and resumed his dubious attempts at gardening.

“I’m lazy,” he said, nodding his head definitively. “It’s entirely different.”
Posted Apr 18, 14 · OP
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“You see, the crux of the problem lies in the delusion of self importance. If you manage to convince yourself that you’re important, and as you might expect, most people do, you begin to believe that world to some small extent revolves around you. That being the case, should you encounter a situation whereby you find yourself to be inconsequential, you will attempt to fashion yourself a form of relevance, because naturally, you’re the focal point of your own destiny.

“Believe in yourself enough and others will begin to believe in turn, feeding the delusion of self importance and resulting in that most common of emotions – angst. What if I can’t do this? What if I ‘do’ do this? What if so and so disagrees with me? What if I ask the pretty girl to marry me and she says no? What if she says yes? Trust me, that’s likely to be even more terrifying. What if I’m bitten by a vampire and nobody likes me any more? What if I’m bitten by a vampire and nobody really cares?

“Angst – it drives people to strive to be the centre of attention, for the loss of relevance strikes at one’s very soul and digs down into a common fear amongst humanity; that you might die alone, unimportant, and be summarily forgotten. Have you ever witnessed a vampiric troll moaning about its lot in life? No, because although there have no doubt been vampiric trolls, they likely haven’t even realised their new strengths and limitations, and one day that fire that used to be a real bother is suddenly quite the unfortunate inferno. How about a mudcrab werewolf? Some puppy person prowls the night, sinks its teeth into a poor, unsuspecting crustacean, then spots some warm blooded and frankly less nippy prey. The next full moon, poor Mr Mudcrab sprouts bristles and performs an astonishingly convincing impression of a wandering sea urchin.

“The point I am trying to make is for those of us with cognitive functions surpassing that of a troll or a crab, and by the way, I’m not suggesting my own peers to necessarily be capable of fulfilling that criteria, but for those of us that fret and worry and imagine a future beyond the next day…angst clutches at us like a baby to a breast. Now, if we can take a step back and, just for a moment, admit we’re not as important as we might like to think we are, that we’re ‘not’ special, and we’re not destined to be the centre of attention because it sounds a lot more appealing than milking a cow or planting grain, then maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t be ruled by angst. Maybe we’d be capable of civil discourse without someone desperately trying to make it known that they have a terrible, deep, dark secret, or perhaps we could avoid being beset upon by the issues of those in the throes of torrid love affairs.

“Hngh. Well, that’s really all I had to say! I may have woken up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, and I might be a tad grouchy at Flit’s insistence that we help the helpless shortly after the crack of dawn, because to be honest, that girl is just brimming with angst, despite my best efforts to introduce her to the joys of casual apathy. I do, however, feel much better now that we’ve had this little chat. Now, where were we before I spewed forth my self indulgent diatribe? Oh, yes, you said something about stabbing me with your spear?”

The goblin, his eyes having been glazed over for some time, snapped back to awareness at the mention of stabbing.

“Uh…yes! Stab! Stab you, stupid human!” it cried, glad to once more find itself on both reassuring and common ground.

“I really think it should be rather evident that I’m not,” pouted the man, affecting a hurt expression as the creature charged towards him. “And I really wouldn’t do that.”

The goblin, certain now that stabbing the annoying, talkative man was indeed the correct course of action, failed to slow, the tip of its spear driving within inches of the man’s face before a bolt of searing, intense light fell from the sky and struck the creature, his entire body lifting several feet into the air as it was flung backwards. By the time it hit the red clay it had stood upon moments before, little remained but ashes which wafted over its former conversation partner, who coughed a little and waved a hand in front of his mouth.

Glumly, he stared at the creature’s powdered remains before glancing over his shoulder at a young woman, whose eyes met his with hopeful enthusiasm before swiftly breaking contact.

“I think you got him,” he informed her dryly, running a hand through his ash caked hair. “Come along, then. Let’s go find Flit beaming amidst a pile of goblin corpses and bathe in the warm glow of a good deed well done. Then I think I’ll take a nap. Teaching is so exhausting.”
Posted Apr 18, 14 · OP
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