When tyranny and social justice go hand and hand, it is time to make a stand for conversation. Today, I pick statues.
Democracy requires participation. The Founding Fathers of the United States of America prioritized free speech. The First Amendment to the Constitution states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Harmless Hamlet grows. It is an eclectic
settlement founded by adventurers and populated with men, monsters,
and even some women.
In a tall tent, Colgrevance stands with
his arms spread as his orc squire attires him in green-tinted full
plate. He is the defacto ruler of Harmless and the sheriff for the
Jutting out his chin, Colgrevance rolls
his shoulders and squats. “Feels like it fits, but how does it
“Magnificent.” The orc dips his head
and shuffles his feet.
“Be honest, Quad.”
“You are magnificent, Sir.”
Colgrevance snorts. Quadagh was born in
the way of orcs a month earlier, eating free from the womb after his
mother was slain. Colgrevance took him under his wing, raising him to
be a squire during the curcial imprinting and growth that transforms
an orc infant into an orc man.
“Fine craftsmanship from a past age.”
Colgrevance clips his sword and helm onto his hip and his shield onto
his back. “Martle has done well refitting this armor for me. I must
also thank Pipit for recharging its mystic power. It takes discipline
to praise useful people you despise. This is especially important for
“Yes, Sir.” Quadagh furrows his
hairless brow. “Praise people you despise.”
Heart thudding and out of breath, Solaris leans against an old pine tree. Through the needle leaf canopy, the sky brightens in shades from black to gray. The morning’s sunrise is still many heartbeats away.
She growls, shaking her head and clutching her fur-edged cloak. Water drips from skeletal branches and the tip of her nose. She wipes and breathes in the damp air, face relaxing and lungs refreshed.
Crackling underbrush jerks her head. Smithmage Martle scrambles clear of a thicket wearing a voluminous robe covered in twigs and sticky seeds. Legs wobbling, he falls and struggles on with knees and palms.
“Calm down!” Heart steadying, Solaris holds up her hand. “It’s a mystic fear. Pause, and let it clear.”
“No!” Martle recoils with wide wild eyes. “Run! He Comes!” The older man staggers to his feet and stampedes into more underbrush.
Storm clouds smother starlight, and a breeze chills Beorn’s cheeks as he walks the length of an ancient rampart. He coughs into his fist and adjusts his warhammer and shortsword, making sure both are in easy reach at his waist and don’t clank against his dull gray armor.
Below, Jacob waves a torch. “Belazar’s having another vision!”
Beorn grunts and charges past the knotted rope he used to climb up. The rampart ends broken, as if an age ago something colossal took a bite out of the castle wall. Beorn hops over the edge and skids down the steep side. A mini avalanche of crumbling stone rolls after him. He stumbles into the grass but keeps his footing as bits of wall pelt his heels.
Jacob jogs over, quiet as a cat with only his loose tunic and trousers. “Not bad, considering that turtle shell around you.”
Messoack wipes his face with a dripping rag and drops it on the floor, missing the wash-bin he took it from. “I am the candle in the dark for fluttering thoughts.” He kisses his smooth, blue-gray knuckles. “I am the eye within the maelstrom for argonauts.”
The barkeep is draped over the bar-top, a cauterized hole through his neck and red foam covering his lips. A pair of wenches lean against each other at the door, holes through their buxom chests. A minstrel is slumped over his mandolin on the stage, and a half dozen patrons are scattered about the floor. Everyone in the inn is dead, and Messoack doesn’t remember what compelled him to kill them all.
“I am Voice for the Unnameable, but my mind is my own.” He straightens his collar and strides outside.
Voices of Belazar’s companions echo around him, blunted by the smooth walls of the rose quartz room. As their sounds are lessened yet drawn out, so his torchlight is dimmed but reflected. Everything that influences his senses is dispersed throughout the spherical space and stretched between the gaps of his breath.
“This place assaults my perception.” Belazar crosses his thick mountain-climbing legs and sits like a boy mesmerized by an all-night campfire. “I’m drifting.” Time spirals and thoughts from yesterday, last season, and his childhood compete for attention with parallel intensity.
Solaris waves her pale arm in front of his face. “Whatcha doing?” She holds the edge of her short skirt down as she settles onto her knees and reaches for his cheek. “Are you okay?”