My husband (Ben Feehan) has been working on this amazing story since before we were married. It's the kind of writing that completely takes over your imagination! There's no way we can keep it hidden in a folder any longer. Hopefully his work will frequent this blog, with the continuation of this story and others. Stay tuned and check out Part 2!
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The Grand Vizier was everything an evil grand vizier should be. Tall and narrow with a hatchet face and a fiercely aquiline nose, the whole spoke of a sharp and canny danger. Under oiled raven hair, black eyes rimmed in gold were set like icy agates in pitted sockets. Beneath black silk, his arms were lean and hard and ended in spider-like fingers, each encircled by rings of amethyst, ruby, and emerald set upon gold and iron and silver. Grasped in these fingers was an axe carved from the shoulder of a dragon, the haft white and winnowed, the blade narrow and cresting to a fierce point.
The Grand Vizier’s hall was long and dark, with black pillars soaring away above into the acrid, smokey reaches where it was said, unspeakable horrors nested among the ancient rafters. The floor was an icy black marble, glinting and ribboned with quicksilver.
A figure in a leather jerkin was sliding inelegantly away from the Vizier across this floor, whimpering. A vivid crimson streak went in his wake. The Vizier swung the axe and rested it on his own raven black shoulder. “You’re bleeding on my floor, swineherd.”
“I’m…not a swineherd…”
“Oh?” The Vizier took a few more steps, keeping pace with the figure as he moved crabwise. “My ravens said you were a swineherd…”
“I am Prince Bryan…”
The dark eyed man slapped his brow with the back of his free hand, and made mock obeisance. “Oh, your greatness, how could I forget? You’re here to free your father’s benighted realm.”
“You and your evil hordes can never…stand…in the…way of…good…the laws of the universe…will…never allow it…it’s impossible…”
“Oh.” The tall man paused and tugged on his pointed goatee. “How is it that nobody tells me when they change the laws of the universe? The postage service is really dreadful up this way. It’s getting very near impossible to get a reliable periodical up here.”
The Vizier leaned forward. “Yes?”
There was a long silence. The Vizier cleared his throat. “Are you dead?”
He nudged the prostrate figure with a toe. “Oh da….”
There was a rustle of ancient parchments and suddenly the room blossomed with soft golden light and the smell of old binding. “You weren’t supposed to kill him!”
The Vizier looked down at his pointy toes where they peeked out from under his cloak and drummed his fingers around the haft axe. “Was he really Prince Bryan?”
The Storyteller adjusted his spectacles and sighed. “Would it matter? You’re an Archetype. You play a role here, Vizier. I let you have the spot after Evil Emperor quit because you promised to behave. Now what is this?”
“You have to admit he wasn’t one of your more stellar creations.” The black robed man let the axe fall from his shoulder to the floor with a thud. “Isn’t he supposed to take longer on the death traps and riddle doors and secret chambers? I mean, really, my hall of tumbling fire was a work of art.”
“It had a lever.” The bearded man waved his quill at the Vizier. “You’re getting too predictable. If’s he read anything by Prince Charming in that magazine of his, that…that…”
“Maidens and Dragons or Sword and Staff?”
“Which one has the free cologne samples?”
“Maidens.” The Vizier scowled. He had stopped getting the glossy rag after a feature article had described him as frog footed and smelling of old fish.
The Storyteller blinked for a moment and continued. “Yes…yes…well if you got it, you might have noticed the last issue had a whole section on ‘fiendish ploys’.”
The Storyteller raised a bony finger. “This is a strictly child friendly story here, my friend. No swearing.”
“I just killed the protagonist. I think I can swear now.”
“Nonsense. Now I just have to have him raised by a kindly magical being who will remind him that his work is unfinished.” The ancient figure produced a book and started flipping through it. “I’m thinking something in the glowy, white female department…”
“Which means I’ll get chucked from the top of the tower into the mouth of a volcano.” The Vizier snapped. “I’m rather tired of that, you know. Getting killed is not nice.”
“Oh, but the audience loves it. Rebirth and victory are important pay-offs.” The Storyteller looked down his nose at the book as he paused. “We should probably do this on a trash heap. Would you mind having his body carted away disdainfully?”
“What if I fed him to the dragon? What would you do then?”
The Storyteller looked aghast. “Smokey? Smokey is vegetarian. He has very sensitive digestion.”
“Fine. What if I dumped Prince Bryan into the volcano for a change?”
The Grand Vizier sighed and shuffled back to the Throne of Bones where it sat white and stark on the dais at the end of the hall. The seat was unbelievably hard and slippery, requiring one to firmly plant their toes in the crack at the foot of the throne and push the entire time to prevent sliding off in a most un-menacing fashion during an audience. “Carlisle?”
A tiny, grayish, hunchbacked creature emerged from behind a pillar. With a matching pair of arms and legs it was vaguely humanoid. “Yesh, mashter…?”
“Be a good little homunculus and put the swineherd on the north tower for the ravens.”
“Ooh.” The Storyteller clapped gleefully. “That’s good. That’s very good. Much better than the midden heap. More skulls and ominous bony bits. Also chains. Chains are good.”
With another rustle, the Storyteller was gone and The Vizier was left alone to watch the ugly little figure drag the boy down the hall and up the stairs. It was with only momentary pleasure that he heard the swineherds head meet the first tower stair with meaty clunk.