He was used to roaring bonfires and dripping spits of meat, but for now a trashcan fire would have to do. He was used to castle halls or at least inns that smelled of warm cider and hay, but for now a classroom full of overturned desks in the junior high school would have to do.
Sir Larry was a knight, warming his aged hands with his fellow forgotten warriors. To his left there was an Egyptian drumming his fingers on his khopesh. To his right, a woman from a Scandinavian tribe so old it didn’t have a name anymore. A dozen more idly examined their weapons or stared at the little lines in their palms. They shared the warmth of the crackling fire, ignored the putrid smell of burning plastics, and swapped stories of their miserable fates. A young girl, a student trapped in the school by the goings-on outside, held her fear at bay long enough to help them out.
“You guys aren’t supposed to burn plastics,” she warned. “The chemicals aren’t good to breathe.”
“What are plastics?” a samurai in the corner asked while he cleaned his wakizashi. His voice sounded a bit like the wind, a bit like green leaves pulled from their branches and tossed together. It was the sound of the magic translating his words for everyone else to understand. It was one of the small benefits of the spell. If they understood each other they could talk about the situation they shared. The burden each of them bore. Larry wondered why the magic couldn’t just solve all of the conflicting world-ends outside.
“Clear stuff,” the girl said. “Like water bottles. I know you guys threw some in there.” The warriors lowered their heads in shame.
“We couldn’t find anything else to burn,” Sir Larry said. He wasn’t sure which apocalypse it was, but something was making it very cold.
“Why aren’t you guys out there fighting this? The girl asked as she peeked out the window. The night sky was purple, lit by magical fire and chaos in the universe just beyond the atmosphere. Mad dogs with bulging eyes tore at each other on the bloody grass outside. The girl stopped looking. She had a dog at home. A chihuaha. Missy.
“Give us a moment girl,” Larry said, running his fingers through his white beard. “We only got here today. I trained my whole life to do battle with the dragon that would end the world. Ever since Seer Calicos predicted the beast’s coming. I didn’t know that when the dragon came I would be tossed across time like a stone skipping along rainbow waters, to fight it in the future where it finally strikes. I didn’t know the Seer had spoken with these others and told them of different forces that sought to end the world.”
“I was told the world would be ended by a rogue root of the world tree, driven mad by infection,” the Scandinavian woman said. She displayed a tattoo on her arm as proof: a twisted green worm constricting a tower.
“My personal world-end is a wave of fire. It hungers for human spirits, especially the innocent ones,” an African warrior said. His worried perspiration made his war paint run down his face, like the whites of his eyes were melting.
“It kind of makes sense,” the little girl said. All the warriors turned to look at her. How could she know more about it than they? Had the Seer been here too? “If you’re going to break the whole Earth and you know someone else wants to do it too, you should make a plan and do it all at the same time. That way people can’t fight all of you at once. Somebody’s bound to break it then.”
“We are all soldiers,” Sir Larry said. “Trained as heroes… but merely pawns. Assigned our opponents. My time to fight has come, but I find myself frozen with fear. The dragon has possessed my mind with its shadow. These burning plastics, even with their foul smell, cannot move me from my terror.” Sir Larry bowed his head in shame yet again.
“I’m scared of the root.”
“I’m scared of the fire.”
“The shadow will kill me I’m sure.”
“I’ve always feared the swarm. I always knew I would be a coward when it counted. Why did I let this happen?”
“You guys are dumb,” the little girl said. Once again they all turned to her. “The Seer put you all here. Not in front of the big bad whatever you’re supposed to fight. Just swap with each other. Like secret Santa. Pick a monster you’re less afraid of and go fight.” They all looked at each other. The pyres at their core, the pyres the Seer had supplied with kindling, which the girl threw a match on, burst to life. Their souls roared like lions.
A barbarian woman beheaded a hydra ten times… and saved the Earth.
A samurai convinced a vengeful spirit to stop eating the sky… and saved the Earth.
A tribesman dueled a warlord… and saved the Earth.
An Egyptian roasted a dragon on its own flames… and saved the Earth.
Sir Larry silenced a witch… and saved the Earth.
It was a very busy night. When it was over and the purple was gone from the sky, the warriors crossed paths once again, and they each gave a favor to the small girl who helped them. The girl who had seen the solution. Of course it’s not hard to see when you’re the daughter of a Seer.
That is my second custom micro-story, created from this start by Grumpy Axolotl. I now pass full ownership rights of the story and its characters to them, with the caveat that the story will remain posted on this blog. if you would like your own custom micro-story, simply read this post and leave a comment. I don’t know how many I’ll have time for, but I’ll do my best.