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Janthyn the Desperate

by Charles C. Cole

Janthyn Desmond had intentionally caught a Far in a trapping pit, risking death or worse. Magical folk like the Far didn’t take kindly to mortal slights and had been known to take retribution out on an entire community or several generations of the same family.

The Far, a misanthropic dwarf-sized faun, snarled from it’s 8-foot deep earthen pit. “Where are you? I want to see my reckless enemy.”

Janthyn did not hesitate to step forward. “My apologies, oh great being! I was trying to catch a wild boar. I’d heard one had been seen this way.”

“The sooner you release me, the fewer of your loved ones will I torture,” said the Far. “So make this quick.”

“You’ve undone my careful work and possibly scared my family’s dinner away with your noisemaking. I will gladly help you out, but I ask a favor in return, in recompense.”

“Fine,” said the Far. “I will kill your associates quickly and relatively painlessly, I promise.”

“I need you to deliver a message to Methaglyn.”

The Far laughed at the outlandish request, though it sounded more like barking. “Is that all?”

Janthyn requested a meeting with the most powerful wizard on the island. One didn’t take such actions casually. Wizards were notorious for making steep demands in exchange for services and rarely offered free advice. But dire circumstances demanded extreme actions.

That night the woods heard the sound of rolling thunder. Janthyn climbed the tallest tree and tied himself to it, some ten feet up the main trunk. He recognized the wizard’s approach: a blindingly bright bolt slammed the earth only forty yards away. A column of dark red smoke rose out of the ground like a wispy vine. When it cleared, there stood the black-robed alchemist, Methaglyn.

“Your eminence,” called out Janthyn, “you honor me.”

“Janthyn,” Methaglyn responded, “when you saved me from the dragon and I said I owed you, I never thought you’d take me up on it. Why are you tied to that tree?”

“Because you love trees. You think of them as the First People, and I was certain you would not harm me while I was safely cradled in their protective arms.”

“It depends on my mood and the type of tree. Clever again. You have my attention.”

“A plague of crows has descended on the farms the next valley over. They have no natural enemy and are leaving no food source behind. Their movement suggests we’ll see them tomorrow. Only magic can save us. What about a flame storm that sends fire down from the skies, incinerating them in the air?”

“You’ve clearly not heard. Since our last campaign, I’ve taken an oath to not kill.”

“They’re crows.”

“And so, of less value than your villager friends. I cannot make this exception.”

“People will die. Children will starve. You had a child once.”

“I do not tell farmers to become fishermen or miners. You, a former priest, would never break a sacred oath, not under penalty of banishment or death, but you ask me to dispose of my inconvenient promise to the sky god. Why not ask me to turn them into something you detest, like locusts?”

“That would not avert disaster.”

“So, if I can translate human, your main wish is that I avoid the disaster. Anyway I want?”

“Please don’t move us hundreds of miles away!”

“What if I turned the crows into humans? Then they couldn’t fly. They wouldn’t have clothes or weapons. Your people could easily slaughter them.”

“That doesn’t seem like the most humane option. What if you banish THEM away to another island. And make sure they don’t have the tools to make boats?”

“That would be interesting. There’s an uninhabited island about 7 miles away. It’s rough-going, but I suppose they could fish. Do all humans know how to fish?”

“It’s as natural as walking, if one is hungry enough.”

“I could wipe their memories. Make them afraid of traveling on the water, but that might impact their fishing success.”

“Humanizing them and transplanting them is enough.”


“If it’s no difference to you...”

“Take it from the magic folk I know, the planet doesn’t need more humans.”

“Convince them you’re their god!”

“The big gods wouldn’t like it, but thanks for the idea. Next life. Being worshipped is a whole other level of magic. I’m a hundred times more powerful than you, but it’s a long way to the top.”

“We have a plan?”

“Yes, make me do everything.”

“Then your debt is paid.”

“I’m relieved. Had I known the price was so high, I might have hired someone to kill you for much cheaper.”

“We’re a good team.”

“You think of the idea and I do the work. That’s a very human perspective. Anything else?”

“Can you ask the Far to go gently on my community?”

“You’re catching him was not an accident? Brave and foolish. He knows I’m involved on your behalf; he won’t kill anyone. Expect non-life-threatening food poisoning one day. I can’t deny him some satisfaction.”

“If you ever need help with another dragon, you can count on me.”

“Oh, yes. I think you owe me after this.”

Methaglyn was gone in a flash. The rope tying Janthyn to the tree was gone. He fell, but like a feather, slowly to the ground and to his feet.

A voice from the clouds said, “I will find you when I need you. Count on it.”

Copyright © 2021 by Charles C. Cole

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