The Last of the Bearded Lady

The Last of the Bearded Lady

This fun little fragment was done as a write up to give some flavor to a fantasy game I was invited to participate in. The banter between the two scoundrels was a lot of fun, and although there is a lot of terms and jargon I feel like the thread is never lost as to what they are going on about.

Anyway, I thought I would give it a post here. Enjoy.

The Last of the bearded lady

      “You can’t get it anymore, not here, not anywhere so far as I know.  Not sold for gold, isn’t that what they say?” Birksham said from his comfortable crook behind the bar, “you could pay one of them stuffed shirts to zonk you out with the arcane, but believe me I know it ain’t the same.”

     “C’mon Birky, you must have some idea where a guy can find some Yellocaps these nights?” Said the sailor with a drunken insistence, “I’ve just come back from Hillcrest and I’ve got a stack of ore that’s just dying to jump out of me pockets.  You ain’t seen a gally come back that low since ol’ Azabasha was suppin’ on folk.”  

     Birksham looked at the yellowing teeth of the sailor and pitied him, he knew what it was like to long for the escape the Ragfall druids could provide.  He had been an addict himself once, and not that long ago, although he had always had the blessing of a lean purse to keep him from indulging too much.  

     “Look friend,” Birksham said pouring our a half a glass of Bearded Lady, the lowest shelf dwarven bourbon there is, for himself and the sailor, “the last time I seen Yellocaps was from a dealer that we all called the Vorpal Dreamer.  Used to frequent the Scaled Queen, that Dragonborn brothel down on Clapper street. Strange bloke, but I guess all them druid types are. Gave me a deal of a lifetime he did, a goin’ out of business sale he said it was”

      “Andross bless ‘em,” the sailor said taking a big gulp of the bourbon, “I don’t care how many rabbits they’re diddlin’ or what kinds o’ leaves they be rubbin’ round their privates, so long as they’re growing those sweet little shrooms.  I’ll tell ye, the last time I had ‘em I ended up with my breeches ‘round my ankles trying to climb onta’ tha’ statue o’ the-”

     Birksham cleared his throat to silence the man whose story was likely endless and headed into murky waters.  “Anyway, like I was saying, a queer man he was, tall sort, all dressed in black; and not tailored linnens or that dyed leather all the rogues ‘round here be wearing.  Always decked out in black wolf’s pelts and interlaced jet stones. Gave him an air of some lowly lord it did. The prince of devils dances in black, as they say.  

     About a year ago I comes to ‘im looking just like you sailor, walkin’ with a limp from all the gold I was carrying and he tells me he’ll give me the whole lot of his stock if I listen to his story.  Well, I reckoned that the ol’ tree molester is just hard up for a friendly ear, and if more than two dozen Yellocaps are in it for a patient man, I was more than agreeable.  

     “Two dozen!” the sailor interjected tapping his glass on the bar top for a fillup, “Gods almighty, you could fly twice ‘round Geisel with that lot of shroom.” 

     “Hm, so he takes me ‘bout a hundred yards back from ol’ Hammy’s Butchery into that stand of red pines that grows back yonder and shows me a standing stone type thing.”

     “What do you mean, standing stone type thing?”

     “I means what I says, you old barnacle.  Like a big ol’ rock the size of ‘alf a dragon stood on end with all sorta queer gibberish carved on it.  The dreamer says he made it as a sort of commemoration to a fallen friend.”

     “Wha’ like a giant’s tombstone or sommat?  By Andross’s bearded balls, who needs a marker like that?”

     “Apparently back when the Ragfall druids were at their peak, back when we were lads and the smell of long-pork was a waftin’ outa folks chimneys, those old men in the woods had a few run-ins with the ol’ gobblers.  With a twinkle in his eye the Vorpal Dreamer told me hows they done it too.” 

     “What’s that then?  Survive the knifey forkey?”

     “Nah, hows they killed ‘em.  How they kept the wood clean, or cleanerer.”

     “Well go on,” said the sailor, “and top me off here, don’ be stingy.”

     “Apparently all the moose fondlers from all over Dravahl would meet and draw stones outta some sacred log or something.  And if you were the unlucky sod that drew the black stone you were made to sacrifice yourself for the greater good, stuffed to the brim with the most potent herbs, drugs, and poison those deer groping bastards ever devised.  

     Ya see, the cannibals didn’t know the wood that well.  Hells, no one does except them that be out there. And so when the radin’ parties would come in they’d always be traveling on the main roads in big groups, and whatcha’ suppose they find then eh?  Some poor bloke slumped against a tree with his mind bouncing like a hot frog through the elemental chaos.

     Well you know how those ol’ cultists were, egre as anythin’ to taste a bit o’ blood and make oaths to that hump-back’d fiend they’d sold their souls to.  So there’d they go a carvin’ the poor sucker up, chantin’ their blasphemies and toastin’ to the gore to come. Then the shakes would come, and the visions, and the vertigo, they’d be carryin’ on tea parties with sea elves or waltzin’ with the burnin’ ‘ead himself in no time.  All the while those crafty shroomers would be stalkin’ in and layin’ waste to ‘em all.”

     “That’s a loada twonk! You expect me to believe that a bunch of old dirty owlbear wankers went toe to toe with Azabasha’s nibblers? I’ll eat my ‘at sir.” said the sailor stumbling backward off of the stool.  

     “Well that’s what the Vorpal Dreamer told me,” Birksham said with a shrug.

     “And the point of that yarn was that you don’t have any Yellocaps?”

     “And Bearded Lady,” said Birksham draining the last of the bottle. 

     And so, with a disgruntled snort the sailor left the bar and Birksham went back to serving the other thirsty scoundrels.  

Review: Abominations of Yondo by Clark Ashton Smith

Review: Abominations of Yondo by Clark Ashton Smith

The Abominations of YondoThe Abominations of Yondo by Clark Ashton Smith


This short story by CAS was one of the first things I ever read by this author. The fantastic use of language, the incredible imaginative landscape, and the imagery of the things that the main character comes across as he ventures into the desert really hit home for me. While I would not recommend this sort of thing to just anyone, those already steeped in the pulp fiction world will absolutely enjoy unpacking the parts of this little piece and savor the language.

I would consider it almost prose poetry, as it does not really follow the normal “rules” of storytelling. Perhaps a hidden Gem in the CAS corpus.

View all my reviews

Both Loud and Silent | Drabble

Both Loud and Silent

All the books were both loud and silent.  Brimming with epic love stories, cataclysmic machinations and diabolical conflict.  Minds spinning imagination into fabric of contrived realities.  Existence made real encoded in language.

Could there be anything more beautiful? Explosive? Profound?

Mankind prefers their immediate sensory apparatus to enjoy imaginative art.  But if one takes experience inward you will never regret it.  It is our true psychic ability.  To follow in the footsteps of great storytellers as they lead you down unknown paths and into remarkable places.  To live a thousand other lives.

All the books were both loud and silent.

drabble is a short work of fiction of precisely one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is brevity, testing the author’s ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in a confined space.

November Drabble | The Sleeping Faces

drabble is a short work of fiction of precisely one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is brevity, testing the author’s ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in a confined space.


The Sleeping Faces

The old library had never received a donation like it before.  The cover was faded, stained, and illegible, but the inside was splashed with vibrant red ink. 

Page after page of sleeping faces, depicted in impossible detail.  Dates and names written in french beneath each one. 

Then a shiver like a freshly plucked earthworm wriggled down my spine as the raggedness of the skin around the neck and the half drooped eyelids forced my realization.  The last wilting countenances of the guillotine’s work, looked out four to a page and lolled about between my hands as I thumbed the pages.

October Drabble | Justice

drabble is a short work of fiction of precisely one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is brevity, testing the author’s ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in a confined space.


Justice

The landslide had exposed the basement and beyond, for unbeknownst to the mob of angry villagers there were chambers beneath. 

The old man had not been quick enough to retreat to his subterranean chambers to escape the collapse of his shunned home.  

Apparatus of glass and metal could still be seen set up on tables, and the archaic glyphs still glowed with a baleful phosphorescence beneath the muddy water that seeped down from above.  

In the final chamber rested the old man’s life’s work.  The trapezohedron that the mob erroneously knew had crippled the burgomeister’s son.  It was smashed easily.