Today’s story, based on another writing prompt, features a man with a long, unbroken lineage of heroic ancestors… who is absolutely determined not to follow in their footsteps. However, the fates have other ideas!
On a lazy, sunny afternoon, everything in the cottage was absolutely perfect — ham sizzling on the stove, flowers blooming on the window sill, birdsong echoing down the chimney. All was just as Louis liked it, which should have been the first sign of trouble.
Someone thumped on the front door and Louis, brushing crumbs from his apron, went to answer it. On any other less-perfect day, he would have checked the peephole. That was his mistake.
The door creaked open to reveal a glimpse of a long beard and a pointy hat. With a yelp, Louis tried to slam it shut again. The intervention of a wooden staff prevented him.
“Go away!” he hollered, trying to kick the staff out of the way. “I wish for a quiet life, with no adventures!”
The wizard meanwhile crammed his foot and elbow into the gap. “Come now, all I want is a cup of tea.”
“Oh, sure, it always starts small, doesn’t it? First it’s tea, next thing you know I’m slaying dragons!”
“Show some hospitality to an old man.”
“Said you to my Great Uncle Tobias! He was just my plain Uncle, not ‘great’ at all, until you got your hooks into him!” Louis desperately stretched for the table beside the door and grasped a glass spray bottle.
“What’s that, some perfume? I prefer my earthy-“
Louis spritzed the intruder, who vanished in a puff of smoke. “Wizard repellent, thank you very much. That should keep you away another year.”
His nose twitched, and he groaned. Returning to the kitchen, he found his ham burned to a crisp.
A mysterious voice shared his thoughts, “Tsk, tsk, what a pity.”
Louis nearly jumped out of his skin, and found a jester seated atop his dining table. “Who are you, then?”
“No one of importance. Though many know my name. You must be so hungry. I could fix that spoiled ham… for a price.”
“Yeah, you know, I can do without lunch. Is this really how you recruited my grandfather Martin? Or should I say, The Dark Lord Martinus, A Plague Upon the Realms…”
They finished reciting together, “May He Slumber Forevermore in Hell.”
“Yeah, he was a good sport,” the jester continued. “Only wanted half a boiled egg — he’d dropped his breakfast partway through, you see.”
“Well, I’ll manage, thank you. Could stand to lose a pound or two.”
The jester had barely departed in a puff of smoke when the window swung open and Margaret, the next-door neighbor, leaned inside. Louis’ heart did a little pitter-patter.
“I was hoping you could help me,” she cooed.
Surely he could trust sweet, guileless Margaret, at least. “Certainly. What’s wrong?”
“Those darn vermin got into my pantry again and ate half the grain.”
“Easily taken care of. I have some spare traps you can set, and-“
“No, Louis. I need you to slay them. I need you to slay 10 rats.”
Thanks for reading, and check back often for more stories!