The Sweltering sun beat down unmercifully upon a dry and barren land, the ground bleached to a blinding white and baked to a hard crust, tiny jagged fissures spider-webbing across the landscape. No life could, or was meant to survive in this desolate place, except perhaps the few desert shrubs, and even they were dry and crumbling.
Despite all this, one person dared to defy the elements, though not by his own choice. Crax Greenmay, third and youngest son of the elven king of Torrestor Forest, had wandered for what seemed like days without a bite of food nor a drop of water, exiled and left to die a slow and agonizing death out in this wasteland. His body lagged more with each step as the heat sapped his remaining energy, his feet no longer taking proper steps but dragging across the ground.
Finally he succumbed to the hopelessness of it all, falling to his knees and looking up to the pale blue sky in despair. This was it, he thought to himself, this was where he would meet his end. He held his arms out wide, inwardly begging whatever gods graced the heavens or would bother to listen for forgiveness for what he did, then fell face first into the dust. His blonde hair, once long and flowing as was the custom of the Torrestor elves, now cut short just below his pointed ears as a symbol of his exile, draped across his face in wiry strands, offering slight shade to his weary eyes.
Consciousness slowly left him, his mind becoming numb, his vision blurring and fading into darkness. He didn’t hear the mournful howls, nor see the black smudges coming towards him from the horizon…
Ever so slowly, Crax could feel his mind returning to him. Gradually he became aware of his senses, and as they became more acute, clearing through the fog in his head, he began to hear voices, rough guttural voices like two stones being ground together.
“So hot!” said one of the voices closest to him. “What I wouldn’t give for a bit of cool wind!” This was then followed by a faint trickling of water and a satisfied sigh.
“Splash some of that water on the prisoner,” said another voice. “Make sure he’s still alive, we don’t want to carry dead cargo all the way to the Caverns, do we?” There was a chuckle, and suddenly Crax could feel water being poured onto his face. He coughed and sputtered in the surprise of it all, but was relishing the coolness. He blinked his eyes open, but when he did, he wished he had never regained consciousness. He had been captured by a band of orcs, seven of them total. Their skin was a sick green, their arms thick and muscled like tree trunks, and from their bottom jaws protruded two fangs. Crax tried to move his arms, but they were securely tied behind his back, and with how weak he was from dehydration, he couldn’t even put up much of a struggle.
One of the orcs, presumably the one that splashed him with water seeing as he was holding a water skin in his hand, roughly grabbed his face and tilted it upward, then poured water down Crax’s throat. Most of it spilled down his chin and front, but a few drops got through to revive his voice.
“Where am I? Release me!” he cried, struggling against the bonds with renewed vigor.
“Relax, elf.” grunted the largest of the seven. He stood up and stepped towards Crax. It was obvious that this orc was the leader, his greasy black beard adorned with jeweled beads in the braids and being dressed in the finest clothes (fine being not tattered or torn like the others).
“It is no use trying to escape,” he continued “the desert is four days in every direction. You’ll be dead before two.”
“But why am I here? What do you want with me?” Crax demanded.
One of the other orcs looked up from a haunch of meat he was gnawing on to grin at Crax. “Naive little elf, aren’t you?”
The leader chuckled. “Is it not obvious?” he said. “We are traders, both in stolen goods and slaves, and you are sure to fetch us a fortune! If you are a good little elf, then we might even give you some food!” every orc laughed at this remark, and the leader, having done his job in telling the way things were going to be, returned to his own spot among the orcs and paid Crax no further attention.
To all outward appearance, Crax seemed calm and composed, but inside he was screaming. A slave, NEVER, he cried to himself. He would die before he became a slave to some vile orc! Crax took this opportunity to observe his surroundings. They appeared to be camped in some kind of oasis, surrounded by lush green pine trees and ferns. In the center of the oasis was a sparkling pool. Tied close to the pool so they could drink were seven large coyoges, desert wargs that were the mount of choice to orcs, and behind them were several large wagons loaded down with goods. If I could just free my wrists, Crax thought, and somehow make it to one of those coyoges, then I might have a chance of surviving the desert! But Crax knew that that was only if he could make it past the orcs somehow. His only chance was to wait till they were asleep or…
“YEEEEEHHAAAAAA! LOOK OUT BELOW!” came a cry from a steep hill at the side of the oasis. Crax turned his head to see a creature that appeared to be a giant rabbit with the long, thick tail of a kangaroo and the horns of a deer sprint down the hill side, and on its back was a miniscule figure that he couldn’t make out.
The rabbit-like creature skidded to a halt at the edge of the camp and the tiny rider leaped off. It appeared to be a child, though the face was concealed behind a deep red bandana and shaded under the wide brim of a leather hat. In the gloved hand of the rider was a device that Crax had never seen before, a hollow metal stick with a wooden handle and a trigger underneath.
“Tremble in fear ya green varmints,” shouted the rider. “ ‘Cause Whistlin’ Vixie is here to kick some can!” The rider, hereby known as Whistlin’ Vixie, then pulled down the bandana mask to reveal the cherub-like face of a gnome. And not just any gnome, but a FEMALE gnome!
The orcs, who had jumped up and brandished their weapons at the first cry, now started laughing uproariously. All of them, that is, except the leader, who stepped forward with a scowl on his face.
“YOU! I should have known that you would be foolish enough to follow me out here!” he said.
Vixie returned the scowl. “You have somethin’ that belongs to me, Grog. Give it back or I start blastin’!” she then turned to notice Crax, and added “While your at it, release pretty boy over there. I don’t know what manure he kicked on your boots, but I’m sure its not worth what you’ll do to him.”
Grog sneered at the little gnome. “I hope you realize that you’re dead already, runt.”
“Oh?” said Vixie, never even flinching. Grog pointed at the device in her hands.
“I happen to know that that metal blaster stick of yours can only fire six shots before you must reload, and if you haven’t noticed, there is seven of us! Even if your aim is as good as you brag, you’ll never kill us all!”
“Don’t you worry your ugly little head about that, Grog.” Vixie retorted, taking aim with the strange device. “Now, are you gonna respect my terms or are things about to get real loud around here?”
In response, Grog hefted a heavy axe that had been resting on the ground at his side and yelled “KILL HER!” Every orc then charged with mighty yells, weapons raised and ready. Vixie, meanwhile, never moved a muscle. She just stood there, the back of the metal stick raised to her eye and a finger on the trigger. When the orcs were nearly upon her, she pulled the trigger five consecutive times, and with each pull there came from the end of the stick a sound of thunder with flashes of lighting. Six of the orcs fell to the ground in mid-charge, their war cries instantly silenced, and Grog, the last one alive, stumbled over the body of one of his suddenly fallen comrades. He looked up from the dust to peer into the barrel of the dreaded boom stick.
“Now, I bet you’re askin’ yourself, ‘did she just fire five shots or six?,” said Vixie, smiling down at him. “But what you should be askin’ is ‘do I feel lucky?’” she took aim. “Well, do ya,…orc?” Her finger pulled back on the trigger, but, instead of the thunder, there came an ominous click. The smile melted from her face in an instant. “Oh bugger…” was all she could say before a green fist flew up and smacked her right in the center of her face, making her fly back and skid in the dust. Grog got to his feet and once again picked up his axe. He towered over her helpless form, the axe held high.
“Now I’ll cleave you in two!” he said in triumph. Vixie eyes went wide with fear, expecting the end to come sharply down in her. But then she saw what was sneaking up behind Grog, and the smile returned to her cherub-like face. Grog, seeing this new found optimism, was puzzled for a moment, but didn’t have time to figure it out before a club made contact with the side of his head. Crax stood there, the club held ready in his hands. Lucky for him, and Vixie, for that matter, the orc that tied Crax’s bonds was not very good at knots.
“Good work, Stretch, good work.” said Vixie, brushing the dust from her pants and vest. She then began padding down Grog’s clothes, and from one of his front pockets extracted a rolled up scroll, which she tucked away into her own pocket inside of her vest. Without even so much as a glance at Crax, she walked over to the pack of tied up coyoges and the wagon of goods and got to work with a coil of rope. In the end they were all linked up two by two in front of the wagon with one coyoge leading.
“You can take the lead coyoge. We can travel as far as Duswallow Village, sell the goods and split the profits fifty-fifty. Then your on your own.” she said, and after whistling for her strange steed, she climbed up to the saddle and waited for Crax to do the same. The coyoge growled at him a little, but after a little friendly prompting, soon warmed up to Crax and allowed him on its back.
“Lets move ’em on out!” Vixie cried, and with a kick of her heals sent her rabbit-thing off in a hopping trot. Without any further words spoken, Crax nudged his own mount into motion, following obediently and silently.
“Um, excuse me, Miss Vixie…” Crax stammered, pulling the coyoge up beside her.
“That’s Whistlin’ Vixie to you, Stretch.” she replied, her eyes ever on the horizon.
“Ok, um, Whistlin’ Vixie, then. I just wanted to express my sincerest gratitude for your gallant rescue. I owe you my life!”
“You can keep your life debt, if I hadn’t been tracking those thugs already, I never would have bothered.”
“But what did they steal from you in the first place?” Crax dared to ask. Vixie gave him a piercing glare, apparently trying to decide whether or not to release that information.
“I’ll tell you what,” she said after a minute of contemplation. “You tell me what an elf is doing in the middle of the desert, and I’ll tell you what it was the orcs stole from me, deal?”
Vixie took a deep breath, and began. “I grew up in the mountains. My pappy was an inventor for a dwarf mining operation. He would make all sorts of inventions to help make their jobs easier, dynamite, rock dissolving solutions, you name it. He even invented this here gadget.” Vixie patted the blaster stick strapped to her side. “He called it a “shot gun.” The dwarves used them to fight off the goblins and trolls that occasionally invaded their mines. Anyways, before he died, he invented a giant drilling machine that ran on a steam engine, his finest work. What those orcs stole was the plans to that drill so they could alter it into a deadly war machine. Grog must have found out who my pappy was and picked my pocket when I wasn’t lookin’.”
Vixie then turned to Crax. It was his turn. Crax, on the other hand, didn’t know where to begin. He just stared at the back of his coyoge’s head, biting his lower lip.
“You can start with your name,” Vixie prompted. Crax looked at her. He did owe her something. So, without trying to think about it, he rushed right into it.
“My name is Crax Greenmay…” he began. “I’m the third born prince of Torrestor Forest.” He paused, unable to voce the final part, but choked it out anyways. “I…I’m in exile because of a terrible crime I committed. If, if its alright with you, I would rather not go into more detail than that.” Vixie nodded, ok that Crax didn’t have to explain his crime if he didn’t care to. “I was left to die out in the desert, but was picked up by those orcs. They were going to take me to this place called the Caverns and sell me as a slave.”
“Ah, the caverns.” said Vixie. “The secret orc city, the gathering place of all the earth’s scum.” Her face shrank in a silent anger, very out of place on such a tiny gnome. “They didn’t say where it was, did they?” Crax shook his head.
“Oh well,” Vixie sighed. And together they rode off into the desert as the blood red sun shrank in the desert horizon.
|27 Jul 2008|| Glo 'the Bug' Bowden|
Whistling Vixie is AWESOME! *first comment YEEEEEEEEEEEEHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWr*
I love the wacky combination of Western elements with the fantasy genre. Vixie sounds like my type of gal. Love her crazy Jackelope mount too.
I’m really curious about Crax though! I want to know what it is he did! -- And you’re absolutely certain you won’t write more on Vixie? She’s such a fun character... I don’t know how you can stand to just give her up! Allison L. Miller
replies: "I do have something of a story for her, but i’ve been focussing so much on my Dragon Knights story that i havn’t really got it started. She is awsome, isn’t she? She started out as a total joke that i just HAD to make a story for. I really think that she’ll be back, oh...and the whole Crax thing...*whispers*its a secret, hehehehe!"