Monthly Archives: July 2018

Making Friends, Part 2

Rafe snorted. That myth.

“Don’t be crass!” Greta shot back. “This monster is the very reason for the Order’s existence. Without her cataclysmic past, there is no Flawed Snowflake. And the world very well may be lost to darkness.”

The half-elf wanted to retort. Or, more likely, he wanted to sigh and continue on in silence. But even he could not pretend to be bored about this. It was the foundation of the very Order that he believed in.

The Order of the Flawed Snowflake. The greatest collaboration of intellectuals the modern world had ever seen. Scientists, mages, engineers, scholars, even politicians. Those of merit and worth paid some measure of success to the Order and its continued efforts toward life’s progress, renewal, and defense.

Its acolytes ranged from those who studied the depths of magic and science, to those who sought to defend all life like Rafe Cauley, regardless of race, nationality or creed. If one was mortal, and in need of aid, the Order was there to help in some way, shape or form.

These tenets were what Rafe believed in. Despite his gruff personality, and stubborn refusal to accept anything from scholars, he did believe in the Order. It allowed him to help everyone, and train for a world beyond borders and petty differences.

The Order was old. Centuries, even millennia had passed and the Order survived. But it started because of this myth. A death goddess of vengeance that had almost broken the world. She had raged against gods and mortals alike, seemingly invulnerable by all efforts to quell her power.

Finally, she was captured. Trapped by the combined efforts of all living creatures, and condemned to an eternity of imprisonment. The Order of the Flawed Snowflake arose, both to strengthen the resolve of those who shuffle along the mortal coil, and to defend against the ever-present danger that the Scourge would pose if she rose again.

That was what Greta and Rafe were tasked with. Every century, the Order sent two of its acolytes to the prison. Its existence and location were shrouded in mystery, known only to select members for the protection of secrecy. For Greta, this was a Big Deal, something truly important that could only mean new and wondrous tidings for her life in the Order. For Rafe, it was another hassle, but at least it was another part of his life he didn’t have to talk about.

“We are going to witness one of the founding secrets of the Order!” Greta squealed. “The tomb of the Scourge is shrouded in so much mystery, they could not even give us an actual location!”

“Lazy bums,” Rafe agreed.

“Lazy!” Greta put her hands on her hips. “The Order has given us a tantamount mission! Just think what would happen if we were not there to check on the prison, and the Scourge were freed?”

Rafe shrugged, and suppressed a scowl at the misuse of “tantamount.” If the Scourge escaped, they’d probably all die and the world would be consumed by ten thousand years of darkness, lorded over by the most vile thing that had been birthed by this world’s anger and vengeance. Or they’d deal.

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

Making Friends, Part 1

“Do not be fooled. This creature is not some petty, insignificant thing. She has not been reduced to nothing by the ravages of time. Even now, after all these centuries, we must treat her like she is. She is vengeance. She is death. She is a goddess.”

Acolyte Rafe Cauley rolled his eyes. Someone was listening a bit too hard to the Masters’ lectures.

“We have been chosen,” Greta Von Hammersmit announced. The gnome woman strode forth, caught up in the rapture of her quest. “The Order of the Flawed Snowflake has given us this arduous task. In recognition of our years of service, and dedication to the tenets of the Order…”

Rafe gave a harsh cough, and bullied his way through another particularly dense patch of trees. A century of disuse was apparent in this little backwater area. Everywhere there was forest, followed by even more forest. He had to scrunch up and think tiny thoughts moving through a thicket of bramble. Being half-dwarf, half-elf, this was not exactly easy.

Rafe did not look like he was half-elf. Beyond the particularly green eyes, and the compound bow strapped across his back, he looked like a typical dwarf. He was taller, standing well over five feet. He preferred hardened leather over the more scholarly robes the other acolytes wore. And his dwarven heritage allowed him to touch iron, a boon that many of the fae did not have.

However, he was not blessed with an extraordinary amount of patience. So when Greta started to list the achievements of the Order, he did snap.

“Greta!” He shouted. “The Order does not care about you listing their accomplishments when they’re not there to revel in it!”

The gnome woman quailed. While Rafe was large for a dwarf, she was small for a gnome, barely gracing four feet. Her slight stature and pale orange hair only further diminished her appearance, as did the ornate spectacles.

“Don’t know why I’m stuck with someone who hasn’t left the reception desk in six years,” Rafe muttered. “To go tramping through the woods to find out if our myths are still where we left them.”

“Acolyte Cauley,” Greta said. “I can assure you that this mission is of the utmost importance. And as to questions about my personal character and ability…”

“Duck.”

The young acolyte dove to the ground. Rafe kept walking, and had well over a hundred meters of blessed silence before the gnome caught up to him.

“You’re a jerk!”

“Bookworm,” Rafe muttered. This was going to be an excruciating trip into nowhere with this woman. The boredom would be punctuated with busts of manic rage at her incessant babbling.

“Do you think what we do has no merit?” Greta asked.

“I think I’d be better suited at one of the major cities,” Rafe said. “Working with a city watch, or perhaps studying up on defense.”

“This is defense,” Greta said. “This is the greatest job you could be given with the Order. Do you even know who we are securing?”

Rafe shrugged.

“The Scourge of Darrenfell.”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder