A free humorous short story…
… originally written for the Reddit Fantasy Writers Group
I’ve been a member of the Reddit Fantasy Writers (r/fantasywriters) forum for a little while now, but until last week I hadn’t been all that active. Then, on Wednesday of last week, all that changed when I spotted the mid-week writer’s challenge. The premise of the challenge was to write a minimum of 500 words covering the homecoming of a hero and their subsequent reconciliation with their father. Naturally, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that, so I immediately set to work. An hour or so later, I’d crafted the following excerpt in the style of my first fantasy novel, Drynwideon. The only problem now, is that I enjoyed writing it so much, I’m thinking of turning it into a proper story!
I hope that you enjoy it and do let me know whether or not you’d like to see it developed further at: email@example.com
Ezeran strode through the door of the small wooden hut that had been his home so many years ago and slammed the remains of it shut behind him.
“You’ve grown,” said his father, not bothering to turn around from the cauldron that was bubbling away over what passed for a fire in the tiny stone hearth. “I’ve made rabbit stew. There’s enough for you if you’ve a mind to eat,” he continued, giving the bubbling pot a stir with a spoon fashioned out of an old willow branch.
“You’re doing it wrong!” cried Ezeran, as he watched the bent and twisted figure of the man he’d once looked up to and feared, stir the thin, watery broth counter-clockwise.
“What would you know about it? Running off, gallivanting all over the countryside, questing like a bullish oaf. You’ve got no appreciation for hovel cookery, you never did,” spat the old man bitterly, sending a few drops of greasy sputum splashing into the cauldron, where it gave it some additional body, if not a uniquely displeasing flavour.
“But father, I do know! I understand it all now. It’s you who doesn’t understand! I stole the cookbook of Bloominheck the Saucerer and now all of the knowledge of the ‘Kulynary Arts’ is mine. I am the master and you are the student,” gabbled Ezeran, unable to stop the words from flowing once they had started.
“Hah!” replied his father. “Grown up and grown cocky with it! I always knew you were a big head. I blame your mother, may she rest in peace,” he continued, looking down sadly into the steaming pot as if it somehow reminded him of her. In some ways it did: she had a pot belly and was always hanging around food.
Ezeran began crossing the floor of the hut and stopped abruptly as his head struck the first crossbeam, snapping it effortlessly in two and sending a warning ripple through the building that suggested it would not react kindly to further abuse. Bending his head and stooping heavily, he continued the journey to the fireplace without further incident, although it took a great deal longer than it would have had he just stood up and smashed his way through the room. Finally, he reached his father and placed an enormous barbarian hand on his shoulder, causing the old man to drop to the floor screaming in agony. Ezeran picked him up and wisely moved away, still fearful after all these years of the biting wrath that dwelled inside the ancient figure.
“Look, Dad,” said Ezeran, adopting what he hoped was a gentle and soothing tone. “Allow me to explain. I’m not the same man that left here all those years ago. Yes, I went questing like a bullish oaf and I know that I abandoned you and Mum in the process, but I won and now I’m back. Admittedly, I did die at one point: that puffer-fish soup wasn’t properly prepared, but I survived and together we’ll make a better life, you and me. A simple barbarian I may have been when I left, but on my return, I’m now the world’s finest barbarian chef. Let me show you,” he continued, gently wresting the willow spoon from his father’s unresisting hand.
“Round and round the rabbit goes, where it stops, nobody knows,” he muttered to himself as he began stirring the pot clockwise, tossing in a small bouquet garni from a pouch slung around his impressively narrow waist, to neutralise the effect of the unintentionally added saliva from his father’s earlier outburst. Then, he stopped and dipped the spoon into the stew, gently blowing on it as he thrust it in front of the old man’s face. “Go on. Try it,” he said, holding the spoon in much the same way as another barbarian would hold a broadsword.
Ezeran’s father gazed ruefully at the mountain of well-toned flesh towering above him and then pursed his lips and took a sip of the broth. He rolled it around his mouth for a moment or two, savouring the taste as it flowed over his tongue. “Not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, I have to admit that it’s even better than my own creation. Well done. Well done indeed!” he said with a smile that perfectly displayed the handful of rotten teeth that he still had within his head.
Ezeran stepped back, a solitary tear threatening to fall from the corner of one eye. This was the first time he could ever remember when his father had paid him a compliment. “Father, does this mean that I’m forgiven?” he asked haltingly, fearing that his voice might crack with the emotion he was feeling.
“Well, I forgive you, but there’s something that I need to tell you,” replied the old man, trying his best not to look guilty as he spoke. “You see, I’m not really your father… he is,” he went on, pointing a wavering finger into the shadows in the corner of the room.
Ezeran span around, still brandishing the willow spoon before him. There, sitting on a bench in the darkness was the outline of a massive and even more terrifying figure than that of the man he’d always known as father, Eriksson the Brutal (retired).
“Hello son,” rumbled Eriksson casually, as he slowly rose from the bench and extended a hand the size of a small pony towards Ezeran.
“But, I don’t understand. Why didn’t you tell me?” asked Ezeran, reduced from a bold and fearless barbarian chef to a frightened and confused four-year-old in a matter of seconds.
“Well, I was never really the fatherly type, was I?” boomed Eriksson as he put a tree-like arm around his son. “Anyway, how old are you now?” he asked, steering the stunned young man towards the shattered doorway.
“I’ve just turned eighteen this year,” replied Ezeran, turning his gaze towards the grizzled old man, who it had to be said bore more of a resemblance to him than the stick thin figure, he’d called Dad for all these years.
“Good. In that case, we’re off to the pub,” said Eriksson as he ducked under the lintel. “I want to hear all about your adventures. I’m proud of you, son!”
As always, please feel free to share and don’t forget to let me know whether you think I should develop it further at: firstname.lastname@example.org
*STOP PRESS* I’ve got a ‘Writer of the Day’ slot on the Reddit Fantsy forum (r/fantasy) on Weds 25th of July. Please tell your friends and start thinking about some fiendishly difficult questions that you’d like to ask me!