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Friday, 14 May 2010

#FridayFlash: UCF Stories #9: Something Slithering This Way Comes


Gazing out at the cold grey dawn from an open window high in one of the fairy castle's towers, Titania sighed as her attendants dressed her, primping and preening her hair and wings. When one of them accidentally jabbed into her scalp with a jewelled hairpin, she backhanded the unfortunate fairy clear across the room before returning her attention to the smoke rising over the distant forest canopy; the Wyrm was at work.

It was at times like these, few as they may be, that she would really value the counsel of her consort, but where was Oberon? Drinking and whoring no doubt, Titania thought distastefully, certainly not here in attendance upon her, where he ought to be.

She had slept only fitfully, being woken frequently by her advisers with reports of the Wyrm's progress towards her kingdom. Most of the Pixie realm had been laid waste, and it was only a matter of time they felt, before the fell beast turned its attention toward her subjects. Border defences had been strengthened, all leave had been cancelled, there was nothing more Titania could do until the Wrym showed its hand. The UCF had been despatched to retrieve the Book, even in such dire circumstances she had made that a priority.

* * *

The Wyrm lowered its scaly head and sniffed the burrow opening. Pixies, it thought, recognising the familiar scent as it sent a jet of flame down the hole. There was no expectation of actually locating any live Pixies, the Wyrm had eaten enough of them to satiate its hunger, and it doubted if there could enough left alive to form the basis of mid-morning snack.

Smoke and embers from the Wrym's blast billowed into the dawn sky from the broken entrances of the Pixie citadel and from the many tunnels the Wyrm had dug while venting its anger. A mix of fury and pleasure coursed through its very being, fury at not being able to take its wrath out on those who had imprisoned it in the earth so long ago, and pleasure at the thought of its having finally being released from its earth-bound prison, for the first time in so many hundreds of years to stretch the kinks out of its sinuous body.

Scenting the air, the Wyrm's rage swelled even further as the faint smell of those who had caused its imprisonment drifted to it on the morning breeze. It bellowed, a deep-throated visceral roar, then rose up and dived towards the earth, burrowing quickly in the direction of the hateful aroma.

* * *

Marching directly into Oberon's chamber, Titania nearly tripped and fell over a pile of discarded nectar bottles just inside the door. Regaining her balance, she adjusted her crown and strode towards the bed, in which Oberon lay snoring, wrapped in the embrace of a young, blonde fairy. Titania grabbed the bottle from Oberon's bedside table and emptied the contents over his sleeping head.

'Wha...,' spluttered Oberon, jerking awake so suddenly he catapulted his bedmate onto the floor. Seeing the look on Titania's face, she beat a hasty retreat, wrapped only in Oberon's discarded cloak from the night before.

'Get your lazy arse out of bed!' Titania bellowed, seeing Oberon wince and clutch his head. 'The latest reports indicate the Wyrm is heading this way, so it's about time you got up, dressed, and took charge. You're not the commander of my army for the fun of it you know.'

Turning on her heel, Titania flounced out leaving Oberon sitting up in bed, rubbing his sore head and wondering how he ever let himself get talked into marrying her. As he pulled on his uniform he decided it was her legs, he'd always been a leg man.

Oberon reached the throne room just as a courier was reporting the Wyrm had been sighted heading towards the Fairy Kingdom's eastern border. Oberon belched loudly and all eyes in the room fixed him with steely gazes.

'We could, err...' he began.

'What?' snapped Titania.

'We could,' Oberon shuffled his feet, 'We could empty the camps and put the prisoners between us and the Wyrm.' He looked expectantly at Titania. 'That ought to buy us some time to get properly organised.'

Titania thought for a moment, then turned to a small group of officers waiting nervously in the corner of the throne room, trying to all intents and purposes to hide behind a single broad-leaved pot plant. Crooking her finger towards them, Titania called them forward.

'Proceed at once to the camps and give the order for the prisoners to be transported to our eastern border. They are to be held there awaiting further instructions.'

The officers made rapidly for the door.

'Wait a moment,' Titania commanded, 'Not the Gnomes. They stay. Anyway,' she added, 'I've always been quite fond of Gnomes, and we're going to have to fund this war somehow.'

The officers ran for the door.



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26 comments:

mariblaser said...

Enters Titania, and the whyrm! I never thought Oberon to be a leg man, lol. These gnomes must find some droppings soon. This is going to be an expensive war indeed! lol

Great one Sam! :)

Laura Eno said...

Titania is my kind of faerie queen...she backhands attendants and has a fondness for gnomes. :D

G.P. Ching said...

He'd always been a leg man! Ha Ha - I love the humor in your writing. I also think you have a gift for fantasy. The detail you are able to work into your world really made this series three dimensional for me. Nice installment.

John Wiswell said...

Heck yeah, gnome poop references!

Is it bad that I'm rooting for the wyrm?

Aislinn O'Connor said...

Don't you just HATE it when you trip over someone else's nectar bottles?! Love the witty details, and really looking forward to next episode. :-)

Tony Noland said...

This is wonderfully detailed, Sam. Great work!

mazzz in Leeds said...

Fabulous, Sam!
"all leave was cancelled" made me laugh, among many other things.
On top of the excellent light humourous tone, a very well written piece

Marisa Birns said...

Loved the tone throughout the piece.

Really wonderful continuation of your great story.

So Oberon married Titania because he was a 'leg' man? Wonder what part of Oberon attracted Titania.

Eric J. Krause said...

Another good one! Loved the title.

Patience said...

Like how the Wrym is actually worm-like; can burrow through the ground instead of being just a dragon thing like wryms are usually portrayed. Great voice too! This is the first I've read of your stuff, I def. will check out your previous installments. Cheers!

Estrella Azul said...

Your fantasy piece made my day, such a great installment! Well done :)

Gracie said...

Excellent as always, Sam. Oberon must not be very bright if he's being naughty right under Titania's nose. :)

And she's ill-tempered and awesome. Loving it.

Sam said...

Thanks to everyone who has read and commented! I'm so glad you're all still enjoying this serial.

Mari B - Thanks. I plan on introducing more details of the war in future episodes.

Laura - Oh yes, Titania is nothing if not fiesty.

G.P. Ching - I did wonder whether I ought to have said Oberon was a "wing man," tough I wondered if this might not have been too much of a cliche?

John W - Not at all, I figure the Wyrm needs all the help it can get!

Aislinn - Hehe. I don't think recycling has caught on at the fairy castle yet. ;)

Tony - Thanks. I'm still very much learning about how much story I can squeeze into the 1k limit.

Mazzz - Thanks Mazzz, much appreciated.

Marisa B - Well, Oberon is an inveterate philanderer, so he must have some way of attracting the ladies! ;)

Eric - Thanks. I seem to have a distant thought of a similar title for a movie or something, but can't quite bring it to mind.

Patience - Thanks for your lovely comment and welcome to the UCF Stories. Yes, I wanted the Wyrm to be more lizard than dragon, though with aspects of both. We will learn more about it as the series progresses.

Estrella - Thanks so much! :D

Gracie - I think you could be right, Oberon is not the sharpest knife in the box. ;)

Deanna Schrayer said...

Fun as always Sam! I just love these characters' blatant aggravation with one another. The picture of Titania backhanding the fairy across the room. The title is perfect.

Thanks for the continuous laughs!

Sam said...

Deanna - Thanks so much, I'm pleased you enjoyed it. I am having so much fun writing this series. :)

John McDonnell said...

I think there's a great battle scene coming! You build suspense well in this series.

Josie said...

Blimey, that Titania's not one to be messed with, is she? I'm not sure I want to imagine what the Wyrm looks like either - a giant lizard? - I'm thinking of something in Lord of the Rings. I laughed about the idea of fairies being just as naughty as some humans - out drinking and on the game when they could be enjoying a nice hot choc and helping defend the realm, like ;-)

Great stuff Sam, keep it coming and keep having fun with this writing! :-)

Sam said...

John - Thanks. I won't spoil the surprise, but you could be right. ;)

Josie - She certainly isn't! Titania's one of those people who could be described as fiesty. Oberon, on the other hand, err...isn't! Yes, I quite like the idea that magical creatures have foibles just the same way as humans do.

Your impression of the Wyrm is quite close to how I envisaged it, though it is a legless creature - think more of a slowworm on steroids!

J. M. Strother said...

A very different Titania and Oberon. I like what you're doing with them. Very fresh. Great humor throughout.
~jon

Laurita said...

Oooh! I see a huge scene coming soon. I'm glad the gnomes weren't sent out. I have a fondness for them too. They'd better get to work...

Anne Tyler Lord said...

Sam - this was another great installment - I love Titania and Oberon - will they have what it takes to beat the Wyrm? Can't wait to find out!

I love your funny details and compelling action!

Tomara Armstrong said...

I love your characters. It looks like I have missed a lot (my apologies)... I will try to do better.

Gnomes are pretty cute. I can see why Titania will spare them ;-)

~2

katirra said...

I haven't read all the series, now I must go back & read. I loved the story & bits of humor.

Cathy Olliffe said...

What does Titania see in him?
She is an awesomely drawn character. I like her.

ganymeder said...

I soooooooo loved this! Titania and Oberon were perfect. Loved the back and forth between them. Great job.

Sam said...

Jon - Thank you. It's been ages since I read the traditional stories of Titanian and Oberon, I deliberately didn't refresh my memory before writing this piece. Glad you enjoyed what I've done with them.

Laurita - Oh yes, there's definitely something big coming. I'm developing a soft spot for the gnomes myself.

Anne - Thanks for those kind words. I suspect Titania and Oberon may be in for a harder time than they expect battling the Wyrm.

Tomara - Thanks, glad you enjoyed this installment. Hope you enjoy the rest if you have time to back-track. Yay, someone else who likes gnomes - perhaps they need a bigger role in the proceedings.

Katirra - Thanks, and welsome to the UCF Stories. The rest of the installments can be found either on my blog, or over at The Penny Dreadful (under the author tag of Sam Adamson). :)

Cathy - Aw, thanks. I'm developing a bit of a soft spot for Titania myself though, unlike Oberon, I'm more of a wing man! ;)

Ganymeder - Thanks so much. I thought it would make for a more interesting story to have some friction between them, looks like I was right.

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