Ego's Blog Challenge - #1 All for a Wish
All for a Wish
Bravery can be described as realizing one's own fears and still doing what needs to be done despite them. Bravery can also be described as willing to put oneself in the path of conflict to protect the innocent, or at least that was what Van was telling himself as he crouched low behind the rocky outcroppings of the creature's lair.
It had been a long and treacherous trip but here he was, finally within sight of his prize. Well, a prize was the wrong word, it was more an unfathomable horror that he was trying to dispose of for the greater good. What was this unfathomable horror? This terrible prize that he sought so hard for while repeating the definition of bravery in his mind like a mantra?
Not just any ring though, no this one held a terrible power that even the most stout of minds couldn't handle. The sort of power that was whispered only in legends and overwhelmed the most steadfast of heroes. At least that was what Van had been told, truthfully he neither knew nor cared what the ring was, only that it served his purpose.
See a specter of sorts had taken residence in his home after he and his wife had attempted some magic they shouldn't have. They were warned about what might happen but they didn't believe it, and thus had summoned the damnable specter to grant their wish. However, it required a payment first of this ring and had been tormenting them ever since.
It was for all these reasons that Van now crouched, knees aching and breath held as he peeked from behind the rocks. Immediately he gagged and ducked back behind the rock, eyes screwed shut as he took slow hissing breaths to calm himself.
He had seen the great beasts massive hairy abdomen and it sent shivers down his spine and into his very soul. Granted a twenty-foot spider would have that effect on most people, but Van especially seeing as he had a rather severe fear of spiders. Van had even been known on his worst days to leap at the very picture of a spider on a news printing, so now forcing himself to face this twenty-foot behemoth left him shocked that he had yet to pass out from the stress of it all.
All around the intrepid explorer were rocky outcroppings, bones, and the omnipresent sticky webbing that adorned every surface. The great beast shifted slightly prompting Van to take a peek, then he saw it. Amidst the webbing on the floor not five feet from it's hindmost leg was the sparkling of the ring. That accursed devil ring was right there, not ten feet away from where he now squatted.
His knees were protesting now and so he had to make the decision. The beast seemed to be resting, seeing as it had only shifted slightly in the past hour, and so taking a deep breath Van started shuffling from behind his cover and up closer to the horrible creature. It's furred abdomen lay still, sprouting it's spindly jagged legs, thankfully the front was obscured and Van was able to grab the ring.
Letting out the breath in a slow hiss he bowed his head and flourished with his hand as if to a shop vendor "Much obliged you great beast, may the hells claim you." and turned to leave, not taking ten steps before his foot was caught in a web causing several rocks to fall with a clatter.
Van's heart leaped up to his throat and he didn't bother turning around, instead reaching into his pocket and pulling out a flask. He took a large swig and began to run, pocketing the flask and pulling out a one hand flint and steel. He struck them together and spat the mouthful of alcohol into the spark causing a gout of flame to shoot from his hand to ignite the webbing as he ran by, the intense scuttling behind him fading away to the sound of panicked screeching.
The mouth of the cave flashed by and so did the field surrounding it, this was followed quickly by the trees of the forest as Van didn't bother to stop running. It was equal parts wanting to be far away from this place and the absurd fear that the monstrous spider still followed, though his hearing confirmed that it did not.
Van slowed down, panting as he did. He hadn't realized exactly how far he had run nor how out of shape he was. Now that he could compose himself, however, all these facts came to head as he leaned heavily against a tree.
"Ugh, I'm not the adventurer I used to be." Van mused, catching his breath and extracting from his pocket the handful of webbing that contained his prize. The ring lay among crushed spiders and gravel but there it lay, gleaming golden in the twilight.
It called to him.
It would be so easy to put the ring on, after all, it was already in his hand.
All he needed to do was...
Van shook his head and stuffed the thing back in his pocket, resting a moment longer before beginning the treck back to Fortune.
It was nearly nightfall by the time the town of Fortune was welcoming him back. A cold wind blew from the south and every shadow he passed seemed to be watching him making the welcoming less than comforting. He and his wife owned the local Inn and Tavern so it was there he was headed, firstly to confer with her about the evenings trip and secondly to drown out the evening in a stiff drink
When he arrived the tavern's windows were dark, which was expected since most sane folks were in bed, however, when he opened the door he saw a candle flickering behind the bar. Taking off his coat he hung it by the door, not two steps in when the door slammed behind him.
Van turned sharply and was met with a man, or rather the suggestion of one. The being was more ethereal than real and it's ragged breaths chilled Van to the bone.
"Did you recover it?" It wheezed, drifting lazily to the side and a step closer to Van causing the portly bartender to step back so as not to touch its wispy form.
Van gulped and looked around, spotting his wife at the base of the stairs watching the interaction. Her hand was on the massive hammers handle which usually stood leaned next to the stairs and Van knew at the drop of a hat his Missus would use that dwarven heritage of hers and heft that hammer through anything she perceived as a threat.
"Aye, I got the blasted thing. Will this make you leave us alone?" he pulled the ring from his pocket, once again hearing its siren call and staring down at it. He closed his eyes and held it out to the specter, feeling it's icy grip for a moment. Then his hand was warm again and he opened his eyes. The specter was clear across the room at the massive hearth and was knelt over.
Van's wife Elaine joined him near the door, watching the specter do whatever it as doing. They kept their eyes on it as it rummaged around in the hearth, muttering to itself in a language they did not know. Then it turned, drifting up to them and bowing its wispy form.
"Thank you for your service, you will find your wish fulfilled." It wheezed, standing and drifting towards the door. As it floated through the door once it was gone the hearth sprang into sudden life, a roaring fire immediately giving the room light and warmth as Van and Elaine both relaxed.
"Glad tha' ghoul's gone Van, we best not be messin' with anymore magics we've got no business messin' with. Like my gran used to say to me, 'dwarves ain't got no magic and we don't need no magic'." She opened her mouth to continue but Van put a finger to her lips, listening intently to the roaring flames in the hearth.
"Do you hear that?"
Now Elaine was listening too, then both their eyes went wide, they heard crying. A baby crying. In the hearth.
Quick as a shot they rushed over, Van wasting little time jutting his hands into the flame and pulling out a beautiful baby girl. She squealed and cried in his hands as both of them looked at her with wonder, though the baby was covered in ashes and soot there wasn't a burn mark on her. Van handed the baby over to Elaine so he could bandage his arms and she comforted the child, happy tears in her eyes as she bounced and cooed the baby.
"Van, Van bless my soul that ghoul wasn' lyin'. She's beautiful Van, my Gods she's beautiful." Van joined his wife and smiled at the baby, it's happy noises warming his heart as his wife began to cry happy tears. In between happy sobs, Elaine spoke again, bouncing the baby gently in her arms "Wha should we name her? Our little girl born from fire?"
"Ash." replied Van, hugging Elaine tightly as they just marveled at the sooty little baby gurgling happily in her arms. "Let's call her Ash. Our little hearth born, our little spitfire."
All three slept soundly that night, after all, it had been a long day and they had the rest of their lives ahead of them.
-Hi there! This was for my buddy Ego's blog challenge. The rules were we were given a prompt, and myself and plenty of others wrote on the prompt and posted it up in our blogs. Easy peasy right? Well this first prompt was to write a story including the following three elements: A stolen ring, fear of spiders, and a sinister stranger. So stay tuned for another Ego Blog challenge soon! ~Michael-