Short Fantasy

And for our trusty dwarf… there’s a map to the Orchard of Lyre.”

Locrian of the pointy-ears knows I hate being called a dwarf. I’m not. I’m really not. I just need more time to reach my full vertical potential.

Lyre? Really? Is that a joke? You know I can’t sing.” Which is another point that says I’m not a dwarf, because everyone knows that all the little fellas can sing like a bird.

No, no, it’s just the map says it’s not far, and you’ve got the shortest legs.”

One day I’m gonna rip those pointy ears off his head and shove them up his nose. Instead, I took the map, which looked genuinely old and potentially real, and went to gather supplies. It’s hard to stay angry with Locrian when he waggles his ear-tips, and this was serious stuff – questing time to fend off the latest attack.

This year, Dark Lord Agnion has sent a plague of ravening gator rats. There’s not many of them just now, but by harvest there will be hundreds of thousands, devastating our crops. So, I got the Orchard of Lyre, and the possibility of a magical instrument to tame the gator rats and lead them out of our lands.

I sharpened my sword, took up my walking staff, and strode off westwards towards the fabled Orchard of Lyre. It was a truly uneventful journey, no more than three gangs of bandits that barely slowed me down, a grove of beguiling maidens that took me a week to escape because leaving too soon would be rude, and a really nasty splinter gathering firewood one evening. After barely a month, I found myself in a field of blue bells, graceful stalks higher than my head, and impossibly vast trilling bells that summoned rabbits from all around. Given a heavy cart and a team of oxen, I might have been able to get one of them back home in a year or two.

A ragged wind-chime bush clinked and chinked, and I could have stripped it and gone, but as any magical gardener will tell you, wind-chimes are just noise, not music, and will never tame any sort of beast, let alone a gator rat.

Beyond the blue bells lay the orchard itself, long lines of tall and stately fiddle trees, with bark so smooth I could never climb it, and the windfalls were nothing but smashed wood and broken strings. In the heart of the orchard I found a ring of duets, plump golden fruit in pairs, singing sweet arias, and easy to reach, but picking pairs is impossible – one fruit always comes away first and then they both shrivel and die.

Then I came upon the orchardess, who looked me up and down, but mostly down, and she told me,

Go down the far end.” She gestured and the bangles at her wrist glinted in the dappled light – simple brass bands but powerful symbols of her devotion to the orchard. “You might find something in your size.”

I thanked her and walked on, out of the towering fiddle trees, through a rolling rock garden, and then behind a rough hedge of wild plectrum shedding their flaky seeds, dotted with soulful jasmine and clusters of lively bluegrass. I skirted round a compost heap of faded melody, weedy arpeggio and chord wood, and there were the nursery beds of experiment and improvisation. Hybrid poppies and whistling reeds jostled with wild drum trees, humming reeds of all sizes and grumpy bass staves, but nothing was properly ready or seasoned, or even well-tempered.

In a corner, almost forgotten, was a shrubby piccolo tree, still too tall for me to pluck, and adorned with thorns to keep me from climbing. After all my efforts, my quest was going to end in failure, so I sat under the tree to think. From the low vantage point I saw a shadow, a hint that all was not lost. At the back, barely visible and tangled into a stand of whispering willow, was some wind-damaged wood, a branch slightly bent and drooping. Just in reach, and fully ripe, I found a low-hanging flute.

(This was written in response to the #BlogBattle prompt for May – Flute.

Image from Pixabay


13 thoughts on “Short Fantasy”

  1. Oh, how I do love puns! Your play on words was quite, well, playful, and this was certainly a fun read. The part about the rolling rock garden kicked my imagination up a notch as I pondered if rocks were actually rolling, perhaps to the tune of ‘The Beat Goes On’ or ‘I Love Rock & Roll.’ Great job with a rather challenging word this month!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cracking take on…oh my…last months prompt already with the new one liberated yesterday. Must stop fretting and… hmm.. danger of reciprocating the wonderful puns within this piece. Very well done Mark. Thoroughly enjoyed it and may there be many more….even though it’s now June!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes the words just get loose…
      Now I’m on liberate and… got nothing.
      Still got nothing.
      There’s a flower bed to dig over today, perfect for mind-wandering, so you never know.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahh, an issue you need liberating from ha, ha. Have to say I’m not getting much yet either for this prompt. Spent the day sanding back an oak pub bar and still nothing.

        Hope you had better fortune with the flower bed!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Digging the bed over got me nothing, but then there was the follow-up, planting two dozen edible lupin plants, getting the melons planted out in the greenhouse, a few decorative plants around our sitting are and getting everything ready for a hugely important event – after the driest Spring on record, we are getting rain.
          As I type this, the first hints have started. Water butts and rain diverters will need checking during the day, but starting any time soon it is *supposed* to tip it down.
          (Will not be happy if it doesn’t rain – temperatures feel like January!)

          Oh, and I had an idea as I was planting. Not many people know this, but Pandora had a brother, and he had a box of his own…

          I don’t think there are many puns in this one.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Diluting pun posts might assist in making readers anticipate the next one with high expectations of greater chuckles… positive thinking and all that.

            Sounds like the garden is getting up to speed at least. Surely that’s a liberating euphoria…rain absence and temperatures aside.

            I take it Pandora’s brother is making a cameo this month then too. Thus far I’m in an idea drought myself. To explore a WIP backstory world I’m avoiding writing or something new. Trouble with new is they either tie in somewhere or create new novel ideas. More of those I don’t need right now!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. It’s not so much a garden as small areas protected from the sheep, but yes, it’s good to see it all done. Now I can get on with the next job…

              Pandora’s brother is coming together, and it turns out that there might be a pun or two, but quieter and subtler than last time.

              I find that “writing new” can be relaxing. Last year with our little “health scare” and lots of time spent on hospital appointments, I wrote an opening for a story and just kept going – it’s still just an opening, but it’s 40k long. One day I might try to do the hard stuff and force it to make sense, but just writing something a little bit crazy without a long-term plan was very –sorry about this– liberating.

              Liked by 1 person

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