Farwell Delighte Fortune My Foe
By Jeff Baker
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This one will need a rewrite if I ever publish it elsewhere, but it was fun writing! Once again, a tale of 20-something Prince Almazotz; youngest son of a youngest son on the run from an arranged marriage to a guy he wants nothing to do with. (He probably didn’t have money!) On an unearthly fantasy world, the possibilities for chaos are endless. The title is from an old Renaissance-era song; the setting made me think of Renaissance Faires.—jsb.
Prince Almazotz breathed deep. The air was full of the scents and spices of the weekend festival, which had been going on since before dusk.
“Where to first?” he said aloud. “Find some place to spend this money or maybe make some more.” He jangled the gold coins in his pocket and wandered down the hill to the array of booths set up in the streets. He wandered around, looking from side to side, not looking like a runaway lesser member of the royal family, actually enjoying himself. Anything beat working but that helped him pay for his room a few blocks away.
“Hmmmm…trinket, food, food, trinket, hey! Simmuldian Wine!”
Nothing at a Festival is cheap, especially if it’s cheap, watered-down wine. Three pieces of gold later, Prince Almazotz leaned an elbow on the booth and sipped the stone cup of wine as he looked around. His eyes rested on a sign towering over the booth across from him: FREE MONEY. He gulped the wine and with his lighter pockets rushed to the next street.
Under the sign was a buff young man in a loincloth, standing on a large platform. The sign read in full: MONEY For Those Who Challenge The Strongest Man Alive! He eyed the man up and down, lingering for a moment on his biceps and shoulders, and then he glanced back at the sign and the word in capital letters.
“Here! Over here!” Prince Almazotz said waving a hand. “I challenge! I challenge!”
“Wait your turn,” a man to one side of the platform said.
The man strode to the platform as the shirtless man flexed his biceps for the small crowd. The challenger pulled off his shirt, revealing an equally huge set of biceps. The crowd gasped their approval.
The first man sneered openly at the challenger. He then leaned down, picked up what looked like part of the trunk of a large tree and hoisted it over his head. He plopped it down as the crowd applauded. Then the challenger reached down, grabbed the tree trunk with both hands, pulled and…nothing. He grunted with surprise and frustration. Prince Almazotz’ eye was caught by a movement of shadow behind the curtain that backed the platform. He stepped away from the crowd and caught a glimpse of the full scene reflected in the metal side of the next booth, not too visible unless someone was looking at it right. And the Prince was. It showed a blue robed man making gestures through the curtain at the stage—a Sorcerer! Prince Almazotz had studied about magic, just enough to recognize some basic types, even though he couldn’t do any of them. This was not an advanced mystic, but advanced enough. He felt for the white-blue metal amulet under his shirt and pulled it out: Moons-Metal was a supposed counter to this form of enchantment. As the challenger left the stage, Prince Almazotz bounded up, handed the muscly guy a coin and gave the assumed name he was using that week. He stood as the man hoisted the tree trunk over his head again, fingering the amulet with one hand. Then it was the Prince’s turn: He grabbed the trunk on the platform, pulled at it and when it didn’t budge, the Prince let the amulet fall on its chain down to touch the trunk. He wasn’t anyone who was going to throw boulders around, but he figured the trunk was hollow anyway. There was a sizzle and a snap. The trunk suddenly flew over his head, his hands stuck to the sides. He hung there for a moment, then there was another crackle, the amulet popped off the log and flew across the platform, snapping the change and Prince Almazotz and the log crashed to the floor, thankfully not on top of one another. He managed to jump up and pull open the curtain.
“See! It’s rigged!” Almazotz yelled. “Sorcery!” He awaited the cheers of the audience.
When the Sorcerer, the muscle guy and the audience had tired of chasing him around the festival grounds, Prince Almazotz bought another cup of wine and watched the moons soar into the sky.