I knew Worsan had to be getting close, but I wasn’t sure if I had taken a wrong turn at the crossroads. I ought to know this area like the back of my hand, considering how often I used to hike up here, but thick fog was covering the horizon. Besides, since the loggers came through here to sell lumber to Rainos, it looks so different. Off to my left, I saw out of the corner of my eye a jet of flame spurting from the undergrowth.
“Whoa, there, Buck,” I said to my ox, and the cart slowed to a halt. Another flame shot up, and I recognized it as a fire-toad, out hunting. Fire-toads were valuable, both among explorers for their ability to light a fire anytime and anywhere, and also among the rich as household status symbols. In a place as diverse as Warson, he could get a nice price for one.
Sliding off my seat, I plunged into the undergrowth next to the path.
The going was rough, and the ground dropped away steeper than I had expected. Maybe I had come down the wrong side of Bucksaw Ridge.
I halted behind a fallen log. The fire-toad had roasted a small bird and was shuffling towards it. I tensed myself for a spring.
I leaped and caught the fire-toad by the tail. I sprawled flat on my face in the grass, and slid towards the edge of a small outcropping.
When I opened my eyes, I realized that the fog has dissipated, and also that it was not a small outcropping I was lying over. Almost a hundred feet below me, the waves crashed onto the beach.
Scrambling to my feet, I saw beneath me the mighty port of Worsan. The bay was full of ships, and the cliff-sides were piled high with small, colorful buildings. On Drop Island, in the center of the harbor, stood the Governor’s great palace.
I hurried back to my wagon, the fire-toad in hand.
I quickly jumped into my seat…
(There we go.) …and drove off down the path towards the city.
The arcade leading into the bazaar was full of people. Traders and merchants had come from all over Mythron to sell their goods, and representatives from every faction were seeking weapons.
My wagon rumbled up to the end of the line. I groaned as I saw the long line of carts and horses ahead of me. At this rate, I’d be lucky to fit my cart into the square, much less have a stand reserved for me.
Then, I remembered the alleys. Of course! If I could cut through some of the steep alleyways and back streets of Warson, I could cut in front of the line and get into the bazaar before any of the other sellers. With a flick of my whip to Buck, I turned into the side street.
As the cart turned, it lurched over a large pothole, and the goods in the back shifted into each other with a crash.
“Sure hope nothing smashed back there,” I muttered to myself.
My apologies for the crummy photo. By the time I realized it was blurry, I’d already disassembled the scene.
The roads were narrow, narrower than I had remembered. Perhaps it was easier to fit through these alleys as a skinny boy than in a broad ox-cart!
Out of an alcove ahead, three men suddenly jumped out, wearing dingy, muddy Mythronian uniforms and long brown cloaks. Although they were unarmed except for a cudgel and one cutlass, the leader bore the sword with ease and skill, and the others hurried to obey his clipped orders.
“I know you have weapons on that cart of yours, trader,” the leader said, turning. “Hand them over, all of them. I’m not afraid to kill you,” he added, as I hesitiated.
“What weapons?” I asked, as I felt behind me for an ax I kept next to the seat.
However, it was wedged tightly into a bundle somewhere, and I couldn’t get it out. I saw the leader start towards me, and I gave another tug on the ax handle.
Whatever had been holding it broke free, and the ax hurtled out of my hand. The fire-toad was dragged out and thudded to the ground. An apple hit one of the Mythronians in the face, but their leader snatched the spinning ax out of mid-air.
“In the name of the Gov’nor, ye’re under arrest!” a one-armed city guardsman hollered from the street above, and with two others he rushed down into the alley.
The Mythronians and the city guard clashed in the street in front of me. I sat still in my wagon, hoping none of the crashing blades would reach me. Tossing the battle ax to one of his comrades and his cutlass to the other, the Mythronian leader plunged into the fray with a wooden club and an embossed wooden goblet that had fallen out of my cart. He fought like a madman, punching, kicking, and smashing the guardsmen anywhere he saw an opening, and before long, the guardsmen were falling back.
As the second guard fell, the leader of the Mythronians turned towards me, flinging his weapons away disdainfully. He picked up the fire-toad by the neck and squeezed hard.
Form the creature’s mouth shot a jet of flame…straight towards my cart! I leaped off as the flames coiled through the cart.
The fires found quick fuel in the wooden crates and oiled wrappings, and the canvas cover was soon ablaze. The flames crackled and popped, hungrily sucking my cart into a pillar of smoke.
The cart had been my livelihood and my home since I started journeying with my grandfather as a boy. Everything I had in the world- my trade goods, my possessions, my maps and notes- was gone. Was it the smoke, or did a tear begin to form in my eye?
The escaped Mythronians cared nothing for emotion, though. The leader threw the fire-toad aside, seemingly oblivious of its value, and picked up his cudgel. Aiming a ferocious blow at the ox’s hindquarters, he leaped astride the beast.
With a squall of pain, the ox started forward, pulling behind it the blazing cart and fanning the flames ever higher. The Mythronian leader ignored the cries of the other two, instead spurring the ox onward. But the ox needed no encouragement. Full of the fear of his blazing burden, he charged through the arch and out of the alley, heading for the bazaar.
At the bazaar, Falworth the pitch-maker and Yug-narth the wine merchant were doing excellent business.
From above, the patrons heard a crash and a bellow of pain. A wagon hurtled over the edge of the road above, trailing long tendrils of fire.
By the time the fire had been extinguished, the cart was completely consumed, and besides the ox’s rider, two people were believed to have died in the fire. Some people reportedly say a figure climbing out of the fire, but authorities caution citizens not to panic and suggest the figure was a result of smoke inhalation among the eyewitnesses.
Quoting David the Fire Ninja Jedi
Wonderful scenes man! Awesome microscale as well! Though a true Mythronian wouldn't act that way - in the future, ask Brick Boy if Mythronians would do things like that.
Quoting Kai Bernstein
Great story and build! I have to admit, in the beginning I was only skimming through it...but it got very good about a third of the way in and I was enthralled by the end! Again, great work! :D
Thanks! Often I like writing the story just as much as building the scenes, so I'm glad you enjoyed it!