So, to get back into the swing of writing, I’ve being doing some more of the flash fiction challenges. Just 1,000 or 1,500 word things. Helps get me back into the pattern of daily writing because none of my ongoing projects are speaking to me right now and I know I should be writing because I’ve been having a terrible month in that regard. To help with this I went back through the archives of one Chuck Wendig and pulled out the Friday challenges. I hadn’t been keeping up with them until this week, but they were still there and the inspiration still stands, so I’ve been doing a few of those. And I just kind of liked what I came out with today for this one, so I thought I’d post it.

New plan for the blog is a Monday/early week post about writing and a Thursday/late week post about dragons. That’s my minimum that I’m aiming for, so if I get more than that, I’ll call it a win. Look out for a dragon post tomorrow or Friday as well. But, without further rambling on by me, here’s some more flash fiction.

Must Contain a Map

                Iva finished one last symbol, and then reached out to drop her quill back into the pot of ink, she’d clean it out later. Making a ‘come’ motion with her fingers, the tiny fire sprite rolled over, settling onto the stone weight in the corner before it flared up slightly, waves of warmth spreading out over the roll of parchment, the ink drying out, a rippling effect outwards from where the sprite sat.

She sighed as she leaned back, yet another request for a map completed. Looking around the oddly shape room, there were maps, both finished and unfinished, hanging up all around, the walls only seen in a few places now that their business was booming.

The fire sprit chirped at her, and she looked back down to the map as it rolled away. Carefully, she rolled it up into a tight scroll, then rummaging around in the single drawer under the desk, finding a ribbon to tie the map up with.

A thud, a jingle, and floor gently shook underneath her. Good thing she had finished the map when she did, not least because the dragonborn was the customer who has requested this rush job.

Petting the fire sprite, she exited the room, scroll in hand, and went down to the main shop area, giving her cousin a quick head ruffle as he hid behind the doorframe, eyes huge at the massive creature that stood in the middle of the shop.

“You did say a rush job would mean three hours,” the deep, rumbling voice said.

“I did, although you did ask for a very complicated job Dagnath, I’m sure it will done soon.”

“Now, in fact,” Iva smiled as the dragonborn and her Uncle Aldrick, “The map that you requested sir, finished but a minute ago.”

Dagnath took the scroll from her used delicately used one claw to untied the ribbon, rolling out the scroll so he could examine it.

“Excellent detail, a very fine map indeed.”

Iva came him a small smile of appreciation, then moved back, letting her uncle, who looked a little relieved at her timing, take over to manage the business part of the transaction.

As she was turning to walk back to her work room, she noticed a human, male, curiously examining some of the maps that were framed on the wall, examples of what they could produce. He was wearing cloth, not quite robes, but she recognised some of the symbols and paraphernalia hanging from his belt. An arcane caster of some kind.

He twitched slightly, and then looked up, noticing her watching him. Iva ducked her head away, not wanting to be rude, and gave her cousins another head ruffle as she went back up to her room to resume work on another map.

Sunset came, throwing long shadows over her work, and Iva decided to stop, putting her pen down, before stretching her arms up to the ceiling. The tiny fire sprite, which kept her company, rolling around the desk most of the time, was given a tiny lump of coal, good to keep it occupied for the night, before she left the room.

Leaving her family to dinner, she kissed her uncle’s cheek as he wrestled with one of the twins over the ladle, and left the shop, walking into town.

Stopping by her usual bar, she picked up a bottle of sweet wine, and exited out into the cooling air, walking along her familiar path to the outskirts of town, and up the hill, to the forest of the natural landscape around the town.

Here she could drink her wine in peace, and she could look over one side to see the town sprawled out beneath her, and on the other, the tamed expanses of nature, growing darker as the sun disappeared beneath the horizon.

“Mind if I join you?”

Iva looked up, blinking as she recognised the arcanist from the shop, earlier in the day, “Uh. No. Not really.”

He flopped down on the grassy hill, sprawling out as he relaxed, “Nice confluence up here.”

“Sorry?”

“Confluence. Place where magical rivers join up with each other? No?” he frowned, “Sorry, thought you were a caster, you’ve got a pact after all.”

Iva looked down at the back of her hand, where an invisible symbol was etched onto the back of her hand, “Oh, no. That got done for me by a sorcerer in town. And it’s just to the smallest fire sprite you could ever meet. Kept happy with firewood, otherwise I’d never maintain it. I’m not a mage at all, or anything else really. Just a commoner.”

“A commoner who makes exceptionally good maps.”

She shrugged, “Have to earn money somehow.”

He smiled, “Quinn, by the way.”

“Iva.”

“So what brings you up here Iva?”

“The view. And it’s quiet. Well, normally. Ah, sorry, that probably came out wrong.”

Quinn smiled, “No offense taken. Adventurers, by our very nature, tend to intrude on things.”

“You’re with the dragonborn, Dagnath?”

“Aye, I’m with him. And a few others as well, of course.”

“Going up to the Phirith region, yes?”

“Well you did draw us the map.”

Iva gave a small smile, “The city up there is meant to be spectacular, surrounded by water on three sides, they’ve never had a drought, the architecture is astounding, I’ve seen pictures,” she paused for a second, “I’d love to visit someday,” she said quietly, internally anticipating the next question.

“Tied down with the family?” Quinn looked over at her sympathy on his face.

Iva blinked, and looked over at him, startled by the lack of the typical response, “Not tied down per se. Well, yes. But I love them, it’s no burden to stay here.”

“Your uncle runs the shop, but you make the maps? I guess even if you wanted to take a holiday that would mean less, even no money being earned.”

“There’s a small backlog of standard maps, but mostly the custom work and the rush jobs bring in the most money. And everywhere I’d want to visit is pretty far away,” she studied him a little closer, “You know, this isn’t how this conversation with adventurers usually goes.”

“Oh, I can imagine. ‘Well why don’t you? Just up and leave, it’s easy.’ That sort of thing?”

Iva nodded.

Quinn smiled, and shook his head, “Adventurers are funny people. And I know the irony of saying that as one myself. We don’t really have the ties that normal people have, family, jobs, friends. Well, okay, that last one is a bit of an overstatement. I have lots of friends. But, getting up and walking out the door into the wide world? Yeah, not as easy as people think.”

“Not everyone wants to either. I mean, I’d love to visit places, but, I love my family, and I like my work, I do. That, and going around, killing monsters, camping out, actual down to earth adventuring? Yeah, doesn’t sound like my cup of tea.”

“It is really exciting. About twenty percent of the time. Seventy percent is travelling and camping and moving, and the other ten percent is trying to find money to buy all the things we need to keep living and adventuring. Honestly, I have no idea why I still do it.”

Iva looked back over him, and there was a smirk on his face as he talked, looking up at the stars.

“Liar.”

Quinn grinned at her in response. Then shifted forward, and drew a symbol in front of him, “Name a place.”

“Sorry?”

“A place you want to visit. Name one.”

Iva blinked, “Uh, Oresmitt.”

“Haven’t been there, pick again.”

“Brulon then.”

There was another symbol, and a shimmering surface expanded over the grass in front of them, resolving itself into an image of a city.

Iva felt her mouth fall open slightly, leaning forward on her knees as she examined the city from, well, it would be the point of view of Quinn’s memories she suspected. She could see the stout building’s that were typical of dwarven architecture, a pub on every street, sometimes two, and lots of the smaller sized humanoids bustling about, flowing around the viewpoint as it moved around the city.

“Might be second hand visiting, but I think it still counts right?” Quinn still had the grin on his face as Iva looked up at him.

“Yeah, it can count.”

Quinn hadn’t been to everywhere in the world, mostly the northern and north-eastern parts, but that was still a view that she’d never had the chance to have before, and she was ecstatic as he showed her his memories of the various places he’d visited.

Midnight had drawn near, and the bottle of wine had been drunk, as they walked back down the hill to the town again.

“Thank you. Really, that was…so nice of you.”

“Nice?” Quinn laughed, “I’ll take nice.”

Iva ducked her head and blushed, then looked over to him again, “I know you said you’re going tomorrow, but, if you ever do come back this way, look me up again. I don’t suppose I’ll have gone anywhere. And, well, I’d love to see your memories of Phirith.”

Standing on tip toes to reach, she kissed him on the cheek, and then turned away to walk back to the shop.

“Count on it!”

Iva smiled to herself, without turning back as Quinn called out after her. If he really did come back, then she was looking forward to more second hand visiting.

map_of_eltar_by_fragless

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