Friday, June 9, 2017

Story 235: Trial and Error

"Okay, one more time.  What were his exact words?"

Arthur thought about doing an impression of the White Mage's voice, but it seemed just a tad disrespectful with the man's still-fresh corpse not twenty feet away.  "Use the orb, it is the only way.  Um.  Then he called me some rather nasty names, and then he said... open it now, and be sure to."
"And that was it?"  Taran looked at the brass sphere in his hand.  It didn't look like it could open.
"Yes, that was it.  Be sure to, and then he coughed blood all over me and died."
Taran tapped the orb and listened, just in case.  "Arthur, you left out the part where you dropped him."
"He coughed blood at me!  Right in my face!  I was leaning in to listen, and - you would have dropped him too!"

Taran was pretty sure he wouldn't have dropped the legendary White Mage, just as he was sure he wouldn't have accidentally stabbed him in the first place.
"You know, Arthur, this is the second person that you've killed."
"Sardon wasn't my fault."
Taran squeezed the orb.  "Well you stabbed him and he died.  So."
"It's!" Arthur gestured wildly, not managing to indicate anything in particular.
This wasn't the first, or even the hundredth time Taran had brought up Sardon's death.  Every time Arthur got just a little bit less articulate.  Finally he took a deep breath, and lifted the Sword of Courage from the floor where he had tossed it.
"Fine, Taran.  Fine.  You're just jealous because you wanted to be the chosen one and you're not."  Arthur held the sword out to Taran, who jumped backwards melodramatically.
"Don't point that thing at me, you're a menace!"
"No.  Take it.  That's what you want.  You want to be me, fine.  You can be the chosen one now.  I'd give you the birthmark too if I could!"
Taran grinned as he idly spun the sphere on a workbench.  "Keep waving that thing around and you're bound..."

Arthur hesitated.  He liked to treat Taran as his servant, but more and more as they traveled together Arthur was learning that between the two of them Arthur was the dead weight.  And when Taran passed up the chance to finish an insult it could only mean he was having an important thought.
"Arthur, take the orb.  It has to be you, probably.  Look, the sword is what you're supposed to use to kill the Dark One.  So this must... I don't know, activate it or something."
He took it, and tried to concentrate on it opening.  It remained stubbornly in one piece.  He tapped it against the blade.  He put down the sword, and rested the orb on the hilt.  "Um.  I could, like, try to chop it open?"
Taran shook his head.  "No.  No, because then it'll turn out that you're wrong but the stupid thing will be broken.  Maybe it's not for the sword.  Maybe it's for the armor?"
"But we don't have the armor.  Willis stole it, and probably sold it."
Taran sighed.  "You're so, so bad at this.  Just... give me the orb.  Let's get the hell out of here before anyone finds out we killed another legendary hero."

The two marched out and slammed the door behind them.  Unnoticed, a brass and silver sphere sat in a nook that had been hidden by the open door - candlelight gleaming across its finely crafted hinges.