This week’s Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge is called Fire-Owls, Magic Bands, Wizard Vans, Otter Gods. In this challenge, we were asked to read over a series of tweets that began with this one, which is the start of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style Twitter game. We pick something in that series of tweets that interests us, and use it as a prompt, doing whatever we want to with it, up to 1,000 words. I just took that first tweet and all its attendant choice options, and ran with it for 801 words. Please to enjoy, “Din”.
Faint starlight reflected off the veins of mithril webbing on my spidermail armor. In the absence of the moon’s guiding light I was stumbling blindly from tree to tree through the forest when I heard a soft susurration in my ear and felt a ghostly fingertip stroke the tip of my earlobe. A tickle that I had grown used to over the last few months, it was Mistress Murderbeak, warning me of trouble ahead. I heard her voice inside my head, a soft, not unpleasing, hiss. They are there, she silibanted, just beyond the next hill.
Are you sure? I usually trusted her information, but things being what they were tonight, I wanted to be sure. I was just the advance scout, after all. The rest of the Colonel’s forces were following a few minutes behind.
Just listen, she said. I did, and it was as if a dam had suddenly burst and released every scrap of noise in the world at the same time.
The din was unreal. Hoots and screams and ululations filled the air in a babble of pitches and octaves and keys, no two alike. The sheer volume drove me to my knees. I nearly drove Mistress Murderbeak through the side of my skull as I clapped my hands to my ears in a vain attempt to block out the noise.
“fnnnyaaaarghhhrbleraaah” I moaned, my brain trying to melt.
Buck up, little trooper, Mistress Murderbeak cajoled me. It won’t be long now. They’re right up there.
I nodded. I knew she was right. I steeled myself and rose to my feet. I crept forward, gripping her hilt so tightly that she squealed and then moaned. It sounded so realistic that I blushed in spite of myself. You’re such a flirt, she said, sounding a little breathless. I blushed again.
I stopped just before the crest of the hill and went down onto the ground. I crept forward, crawling on my stomach up to the very top and looked over. There they were, 300 demons. There were large ones, small ones, all shapes sizes, colors, and species, gathered together in our forest for an eldritch hoedown.
Some had paired off and were square-dancing. Some were playing fiddles or tambourines or washtub basses. Some were clapping and stomping their feet in time to the music. They were all, though, yodeling at the top of their lungs. Or whatever it is that demons have instead of lungs. I don’t know much about their anatomy except where to cut them or stab them so they die as quickly as possible.
One demon, the largest, was calling the steps in their harsh, dissonant language. It sounded almost musical, though, with all the accompaniment. I watched in amazement as the dancers followed its instructions, swinging their partners and do-si-doing and promenading as the beat and the volume of the music rose and fell. I had seen hundreds of dances like it all over the countryside—I’d even attended a fair share—but never with 5- to 12-foot tall demons in attendance, curved horns glowing, wicked teeth grinning, and sweat coming off of them in smoky, sulfuric waves.
What do we do now? I asked Mistress Murderbeak.
What do you think we do? she replied. You took an oath, trooper. I could hear the usual expectant note in her voice, the bloodlust that was building towards an eruption. As was her wont, she directed that emotion into me. I felt my own palms start to itch, could feel the waves of anticipation building inside me. Mistress Murderbeak was a knife. She couldn’t grin, but I had long ago given her an image in my mind, and the face she wore there was grinning wide and fierce. It didn’t touch her eyes, though. It never did. They were as hard and sharp as her blade.
Time for these nerds to eat some murderbeak, she purred. This party’s over.
We should wait for the others, I said. They’ll be here soon, and 300 demons is a lot.
They’re musicians, said Mistress Murderbeak. How hard can it be to kill 300 musicians? No butts, no glory.
I thought about it. She was right. I didn’t need the others. I’d take care of this on my own. The Colonel would finally see what I could do. No more scouting for me. I might even get to lead a platoon.
I jumped to my feet, raised Mistress Murderbeak to the sky, and joined in the yodeling for a second, then let loose a mighty war cry, announcing my presence with authority. Inside my head, her visage was triumphant as she joined her voice with mine.
YODELAYHEE! YOU DEAD!
300 demons went silent as I started to run, then they screamed and the din, somehow, was even louder than before.