hwango: (hermit crab)
[personal profile] hwango


1,285 words

--

Good morning, children. My goodness, there are a lot of you today. Well, what kind of story would you like to hear this time? Really? Very well, then.

Once, long ago and far from here, there lived a mighty hero named Gladys.

Now, there are many different kinds of hero. A hero might be a person who rescues someone from a burning building, or perhaps discovers the cure for a plague that turns people into zombies. Gladys, however, was the kind of hero more likely to set a building on fire because that building contained an evil necromancer, or solve a zombie plague by hacking all of the zombies into pieces with an improbably large sword.

As you can imagine, Gladys worked under a pseudonym while engaged in her heroism. What's a pseudonym? It's a name you use when your given name is Gladys but you want people to believe that you can single-handedly defeat a necromancer and his army of zombies. No, an alias is a different kind of false name entirely. You use an alias if you think you might get arrested for killing the necromancer. Although, it does happen now and then that you can't be sure whether you need an alias or not, because the variety of heroism Gladys practiced can be a little subjective at times. Someone who kills a rare and exotic animal like a rhinoceros is reviled as a monster, but someone who kills the Demon Rhinoceros of Vandercrook gets a parade in their honor with some very strange floats in it.

Anyway, Gladys went by the name Vystraka the Heartless while she was at work, which was pretty much all of the time. A career in monster hunting and villain thwarting doesn't leave much time for a social life, other than things like celebratory drinks at the local tavern, assuming the fire hasn't spread that far into town. Alas, that sort of socializing tends to be fairly superficial. It's hard to forge real, lasting friendships with people who are drunk and shouting all of the time. Remember that when you're older, children.

Now, Gladys had chosen the "Vystraka" part of her brand name, but it was the general population who tacked on the "heartless" part. This was because even though Gladys rescued the innocent from ghoulish dismemberment and saved the oppressed from being pushed around by people wearing skulls for hats, one got the distinct impression that the rescuing was less important to her than the terrible violence that led to the rescue. This was because Gladys found it difficult to relate to people, which both fed into and was in turn fed by her general lack of social opportunities. So Gladys was only really happy when she was chopping up something that was trying to kill her.

Then, one fateful day, Gladys was trying to chop up something that was trying to kill her, and her sword broke.

What was she fighting? If you must know, it was vampire elephants. Yes, I suspected you'd think that sounded stupid, which is why I wasn't going to mention it, but here we are.

Now, as I'm sure you've already guessed, Gladys's sword was powerfully magical. You've correctly assumed that no ordinary weapon could fell the Demon Rhinoceros of Vandercrook. Many tales of Gladys (or of Vystraka the Heartless, at any rate) say that her sword was forged from the metal of a fallen star and quenched with the blood of a mountain troll. This was, of course, a story plausible only to the ignorant masses. In reality, the sword was forged from the remains of a haunted bicycle, and as anyone with even the slightest knowledge of mountain troll anatomy knows, they don't even have blood. Quenching? It's part of the sword-making process. No, I've never actually made a sword myself, but that doesn't mean I don't know anything about it. Stop interrupting me.

Where was I? Oh yes, vampire elephants. Now, magical weapons can of course be very difficult to break, but getting stomped on by a vampire elephant was apparently a bit too much for Gladys's sword. It snapped right in half, and all of the ghosts imprisoned in the metal escaped and probably still roam the land to this day, free to lurk under the beds of ill-mannered children.

Fortunately, Gladys managed to prevail in her battle even without her sword, eventually strangling the last of the vampire elephants with its own trunk, a feat that we can be grateful was never commemorated by a statue, tapestry, or parade float. Though victorious, Gladys was disconsolate. It means sad. Really, really sad that she might have to give up being a hero.

Because for her kind of heroism a normal sword just wouldn't do. Do you know what happens if, for example, you try to kill a dragon with an ordinary sword? You know those paintings of dragons where they're sitting on their giant pile of gold and there's usually a few skeletons wearing armor mixed in with all of the coins? I guarantee you that before they were skeletons they were people who showed up to slay a dragon with the wrong tools for the job. And it wasn't as if she could just go get a new magical sword. They're rare, hard to make, and not commonly available for sale at any price. Even repairing her old broken sword would be difficult. For one thing, she'd need another haunted bicycle, and those aren't exactly common either. Why, I bet out of all the children in this room, not more than two or three of you own a bicycle secretly possessed by evil spirits.

And so Gladys found herself for the first time she could remember not devoting all of her energy to fighting terrible monsters and people who make terrible monsters. She found herself, lacking anything else to do, actually talking to people. Even growing close to some of them. In particular, there was a man that she thought perhaps she might be growing to love.

He was kind, and funny, and a good listener. Probably handsome, too. He tried to tell her that her life wasn't over just because she couldn't hunt supernatural evil anymore. He told her that there was no need to drown out her thoughts with terrible violence all of the time. That they could be happy together in peace, and that the world would get along without her somehow. And she was tempted. Tempted to give it all up and settle down.

Fortunately, before she yielded to that temptation, she realized that he was secretly a hive of demonic bees masquerading as a person, and she set him on fire. She then correctly guessed that a horrible demon bee colony person's bicycle was probably haunted, and after a quick trip to the mountain fortress of some dwarven blacksmiths she was back in business carving up evil things and making the world a slightly safer place for ordinary people and a much more dangerous place to be a necromancer.

The moral of the story is: don't become a necromancer when you grow up. It's a terrible job that makes you spend a lot of your time with disgusting corpses, and it's practically inevitable that some thrill-seeking do-gooder will eventually come along and burn down your house, kill your demon rhinoceros, and cut off your head. That, and if someone who claims to love you tries to get you to give up something you love, then they're probably secretly a colony of evil bees. But make absolutely sure before you set them on fire.

Now, I have things to do, so find yourselves some other way to spend the afternoon. Maybe go for a bike ride.

Date: 2016-11-23 11:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marlawentmad.livejournal.com
I adore your style! I found myself smiling the entire way through this. The narrative voice is so strong, I almost could hear them out loud. Brava!

Date: 2016-11-24 01:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Thank you! That's very kind of you to say.

Date: 2016-11-24 03:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] j0ydivided.livejournal.com
I really enjoyed this take on the topic! Thank you for sharing.

Date: 2016-11-24 09:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Date: 2016-11-24 06:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lilmissmagic71.livejournal.com
This was a ton of fun... :) Well done!

Date: 2016-11-24 09:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Thanks, glad you liked it. = )

Date: 2016-11-24 09:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bluegerl.livejournal.com
There was I sitting right in the front there, dear Mr. Hwango... all agog for your tale.

I am so sorry Gladys didn't end up with a lovely man to love, and he was just a nasty bunch of bees.. (it does happen, I tried it myself, and they all turned out very unpleasant). But sometimes how NICE it would be to be Gladys !!!

I don't blame her for being a bit anti- with a name like Gladys it seems inevitable. At least she's not had to spell the Welsh version, GWLADDYS. (I stumble over the W).

I bet she wore super tin dresses too. And had a waistline and a nice firm bust?

With love from your most avid listener, reader and sporfler atter.... Hunh. Lizzie. or Looloo... would Looloo make a good dragon slayer name?

Date: 2016-11-24 10:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Well, I'm sorry that the ending wasn't everything you'd hoped for. Perhaps someday Gladys found someone who loved for who she was and didn't try to change her...and also wasn't a colony of evil bees pretending to be a person. Because that's also important.

I totally believe someone named Looloo could slay dragons. = )

Date: 2016-11-25 09:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bluegerl.livejournal.com
If Hwango believes, then I believe...

I have to admit, I've found a nice kind person who is fearful fun to write to (NOTHING ELSE... just writing! CLEAN so far too!) but now I've read about Gwladys and her Bees man... I shall stand well back and keep the airgun spray handy.

Date: 2016-11-26 09:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
I'm sure it's not _that_ common for people to actually be colonies of evil bees. And maybe some people are secretly colonies of friendly bees.

Wait, maybe that's why people like to be given flowers! THIS EXPLAINS SO MUCH.

Date: 2016-11-26 10:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bluegerl.livejournal.com
He does have a couple of pet hedgehogs to care for... feeds them catfood every evening while he sips his double gin and tonic! (and probably counts the falling stars and wishes on them!)

So I think he IS full of friendly bees...

Date: 2016-11-25 01:36 pm (UTC)
meridian_rose: pen on letter background  with text  saying 'writer' (writer)
From: [personal profile] meridian_rose
What's a pseudonym? It's a name you use when your given name is Gladys but you want people to believe that you can single-handedly defeat a necromancer and his army of zombies. That line alone gets you a vote from me :)

Date: 2016-11-26 09:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Thanks for your vote! I hope the other lines were also amusing, though. = )

Date: 2016-11-26 09:53 am (UTC)
meridian_rose: pen on letter background  with text  saying 'writer' (writer)
From: [personal profile] meridian_rose
Absolutely! But that line grabbed me early on, making the rest something I wanted to read and putting the fic in my voting picks, and was definitely a favourite :)

Date: 2016-11-27 05:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Oh, I was just kidding - but that's good to know regardless. = ) Thanks again!

Date: 2016-11-25 11:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfshellvenus.livejournal.com
I loved this, start to finish. The dry humor in the voice, the density of the funny and absurd details, and the hints of creepiness. If she hadn't said she was taking the season off, I'd think this was lrig_rorrim.

No, an alias is a different kind of false name entirely. You use an alias if you think you might get arrested for killing the necromancer.
This distinction was wonderful. And the person made out of a colony of evil bees! "Reaper" tells us that's possible, and that the appropriate vessel is a defunct toaster (http://reaper-cw.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Vessels). Or perhaps fire, since there is no sword made of haunted bicycles handy. :D

Date: 2016-11-26 09:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Thanks, I'm glad you liked it! And thanks for introducing me to the works of lrig_rorrim - I just went and read some of those and they were great fun.

Wow, people that are secretly bees are more common than I thought! Now I wonder how many people I know might secretly be made of bees. Hmm. = )

Date: 2016-11-27 02:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] karmasoup.livejournal.com
Oh, REAPER! I totally miss that show! XD

Date: 2016-11-29 08:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfshellvenus.livejournal.com
Oh, me too. The writing! The weirdness! The snark!

And that fantastic cast... *cries* What was the WB thinking in cancelling it?

Date: 2016-11-27 01:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellison.livejournal.com
I guarantee you that before they were skeletons they were people who showed up to slay a dragon with the wrong tools for the job.

I don't know why but this just made me laugh. Very grandmotherly. The whole thing is surreal and great!

Date: 2016-11-27 05:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
I am all about imparting useful wisdom with stories like this. = ) Glad you enjoyed it!

Date: 2016-11-27 02:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] karmasoup.livejournal.com
I don't remember the last time I giggled all the way through an entire piece... this is fantastic! And, I'm adding you to my to-watch list!

Date: 2016-11-27 05:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Thanks! And I shall endeavor to be worth watching. = )

Date: 2016-11-27 05:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rayaso.livejournal.com
This was great, from beginning to end! I loved the sly humor, and what you did with the prompt. It was so creative and imaginary. Fantastic job!

Date: 2016-11-28 08:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Date: 2016-11-27 11:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anyonesghost.livejournal.com
I enjoyed this thoroughly. (And was really enthused to see you'd entered this season.) Keep up the good work. :-)

Date: 2016-11-28 08:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Glad you liked it! If you were pleased to see I'd entered...this is embarrassing, but I don't recognize your username. Do you know me from somewhere else? Or am I misunderstanding something here?

Date: 2016-11-28 10:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anyonesghost.livejournal.com
You would've known me as [livejournal.com profile] one_time_pad back in the Dark Ages. I've regenerated a few times since then.

Date: 2016-11-29 04:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Okay, that username I do recognize. Dark Ages indeed! Dang, that was back when the internet was still steam-powered, I think? Good to hear from you again!

Date: 2016-11-28 12:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eternal-ot.livejournal.com
This was a FUNtastic read! I loved the voice here, superb narration. *Applause*

Date: 2016-11-29 08:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Thanks! I've done a few others with this sort of narration and they're always great fun to write.

Date: 2016-11-28 01:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kajel.livejournal.com
This was so much fun to read! Great job.

Date: 2016-11-29 08:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Thank you! It was fun to write, too. = )

Date: 2016-11-29 12:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beeker121.livejournal.com
This is fun! I enjoyed the digressions that were believably caused by small children's questions and will take these morals to heart. Also, I may have nightmares about vampire elephants though I'll have to remind myself that Gladys killed them all.

Date: 2016-11-29 08:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Thanks! Glad to hear you'll be taking the morals to heart as well. If I can stop even one person from becoming a necromancer, I feel I'll really have made a difference in the world. = )

Date: 2016-11-29 03:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] my-name-is-jenn.livejournal.com
I was smiling my entire way through this. I'm glad someone is out there fighting the vampire elephants. I have enough troubles of my own. ;)

Very well done.

Date: 2016-11-29 08:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Thanks! And yeah, those vampire elephants are just downright creepy. It's enough to almost make you miss the demon rhinoceros. Almost.

Date: 2016-11-29 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dmousey.livejournal.com
Oh I loved the whimsy in this! It brightened my day! Thank You! ::hug:: and peace~~~D

Date: 2016-11-29 08:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Yay! Always happy to brighten a day. = ) You're very welcome.

Date: 2016-11-29 04:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yuniebaby.livejournal.com
I literally laughed out loud. Loudly. In the middle of my living room. Just after putting my toddler to bed. He snorted, but didn't wake up, thank goodness.

I absolutely adore this. The style is wonderful and the asides are perfectly timed. This is definitely an entry that will stick with me. I can't wait to read more throughout this season!

Date: 2016-11-29 09:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Thanks, that's great to hear! I've written a few other stories in this style, and they tend to be memorable for me as well. = ) I'm sure I'll be taking a few different approaches for as long as I'm around in the season (I don't think I could manage only these week after week), and hopefully those also prove entertaining. But I also hope I can conjure one or two more of these in there somewhere. They do tend to be great fun to write.

Date: 2016-11-29 07:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] penpusher.livejournal.com
This is an example of the fairy tale I should have been read when I was a child.

Date: 2016-11-30 08:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
You don't mean...you're not a NECROMANCER, are you?! If only you'd had this cautionary tale to keep you from being led astray!

= )

Date: 2016-11-29 08:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mamas-minion.livejournal.com
I enjoyed this, very fun.

Date: 2016-11-30 08:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Thanks!

Date: 2016-11-29 09:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] murielle.livejournal.com
Yes! (Cheers) Only I thought the moral of the story was: the right tools, for the right job.

Excellent read!
Edited Date: 2016-11-29 09:37 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-11-30 08:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hwango.livejournal.com
Also a good moral. Truly, it is a tale brimming with helpful guidance for today's young people. = )

Date: 2016-11-30 05:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] murielle.livejournal.com
It absolutely is!

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