So, I’m going to do more Slumberlord Chronicles: Darwin & the Fate Bracelet excerpts through the summer. I was thinking about stuff that would make things interesting, which is tough since I didn’t have my usual type of action. I was worried about spoilers too. Still, I think it’s safe to show Darwin’s first spell since everyone knows he’s a caster. Enjoy.
Chuckling and nodding his head, the dwarf puts a meaty hand on Arlinger’s shoulder and gives a tight squeeze. “Why are you in a rush? Bandits wouldn’t stand a chance against us, so we can protect you. Then, you can work off the debt that you owe. With two of you, it shouldn’t take more than a month. Maybe less if you turn out to be more capable than you look. Kind of strange that you didn’t try to ride through the night though. I’d be too scared to stop until either dawn or I reached a village like our own, which has lights on at all times. Those poles may stop animals, but bandits would walk right through, especially since you can see the rotten space from far away.”
“I said we forgot what they did.”
“Guess fear can do that.”
“I’d still recommend staying for a day or two.”
“But we’re in a rush.”
“Why if you’re just running from bandits?”
“Well, I feel like we should complete our town’s last delivery in its honor.”
“The vegetables you’re so quick to give us.”
“A delivery is a delivery.”
“Then, you wouldn’t be in a rush anymore.”
“We all grieve in our own ways.”
Arlinger grins at the red-faced dwarf, whose grip on the pitchfork is gradually tightening until his knuckles turn white. A whistle draws the other villagers towards the halfling, so he scrambles back into the wagon where Darwin is waiting. With the vehicle surrounded, he draws his shortsword and buckler, but has no idea how he can fight the angry mob. Famous for their strength and endurance, he knows dwarves are an impossible feat for a self-trained halfling to defeat alone. A loud creaking causes him to turn around and he finds two of the farmers have climbed into the front seat. They keep their scythes ready, but it is clear that their plan is to corner and capture the pair. Arlinger is mildly relieved to hear manacles being brought over, but he remains nervous enough to stay alert. Reaching down, he awkwardly slips his arms through a backpack’s straps and stares at the dwarf at the bottom of the wagon ramp. Licking his lips and nudging his cousin with his foot, he lets out a slow breath and prepares to charge with the hopes of getting through the line of farmers.
“Sleep!” Darwin abruptly screams at the top of his lungs.
A distorted wave of sparkling energy explodes off the halfling’s body and the startled dwarves collapse in snoring heaps. All of the flies stop buzzing and drop to the ground, their legs twitching in the air. Arlinger feels his eyelids get heavy and his vision blurs, but he musters enough focus to fight against the magic. A familiar voice in his mind whispers about him not being the target, which helps him keep the drowsiness at bay. Giving the side of his neck a pinch and twist, he shocks himself into staying fully awake. Leaping onto the nearest crate, he stares at the slumbering dwarves, all of whom continue to clutch their tools.
“Did you just cast a spell?” Arlinger asks as he jumps down. Seeing tears forming in his cousin’s eyes, he grabs him by the shoulders and smiles. “Don’t get upset. This is amazing and the lucky break we needed. You saved us, Darwin! You put all of them to sleep, so now we can escape. It’s a long walk to Soltis, but at least we aren’t stuck here. See what happens when you strike out on your own?”
“I didn’t do something bad?” Darwin counters while he peeks around the wagon. He is about to scream at the sight of the dwarves, but notices they are breathing before his panic gets too strong. “I don’t know what happened. I was really scared and thought they were going to kill us. The word came to my mind, so I shouted it as loud as I could. Then, I felt tingly like when you don’t move for a very long time. Only it was all over my body and jumped out of my skin. I don’t know if I can do it again.”
“We’ll figure that out after we get away because it’s time to escape,” his cousin states before clambering out of the wagon. He begins running towards the road, but skids to a stop when he realizes nobody is running with him. “Darwin? Where did you go? I saw you going down the ramp. Wait. Come this way! You’re running towards the village! Wrong way! Oh, this isn’t going to be fun at all.”
Aww. Darwin is so sweet here. This really seems like a different sort of story for you. That shows how multifaceted your writing is.
Thanks. I’m glad it’s coming off that way. He’s a challenging character to keep consistent since he seems to be wanting to change to accommodate those around him. It’s like he learned to mimic his surroundings to avoid getting in trouble.
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I enjoyed the teaser. Had to laugh when the flies went to sleep too.
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Fun stuff, and he is quite different.
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