Aug 25, 2016

Short Story: "Roommates"

"What iss itch with you and your perpetual lack of pantss?”
Sol looked down at himself with a shrug of his broad shoulders. “I'm losing at cards.”
In one swift- and flustered- movement, Firedrake snatched the discarded articles of clothing off the floor and dumped these on top of Sol's clearly empty head. “You are playing
ssolitaire.”


(I've come up with a system for randomly generating short story ideas: a numbered list of characters, a list of situational prompts, and a list of dialogue prompts. A few dice rolls gave me "Firedrake" and "characters move into together" and I decided this dialogue prompt would be perfect for that combination. This isn't quite a story, more like a few fun little scenes, but my husband liked this and said I should share it. :) This is MASSIVE SPOILERS for my series since this story is likely going to be edited and adjusted and slid into book 2. If you don't mind spoilers for a series that's not likely to be finished for several more years, read on!)

Unexpected Inspiration Short Story - "Roommates"


"Were you hit on the head or something? Why would you want to move in with Sol of all people?"

Firedrake tried to raise an eyebrow to indicate the asininity of the question and had to give up when their face didn't want to respond properly. Right, Firedrake didn't have those anymore; eye ridges weren't the same as eyebrows. Instead they gestured at the shifted body mostly hidden beneath layers of clothing and the tail that insisted on poking out from under their skirts. That was one small favor there. Firedrake didn't own a single pair of pants, so the addition of a tail was only a minor clothing inconvenience.

The scales and spikes that kept ripping through their sleeves, on the other hand... which incidentally ended in claws now, just like the first hand.

"He offered t-to keep the sstove on and hotch- hottchh-" Firedrake sounded the short word out slowly to get the ‘T’ to stick. “Huh-ot.”

That was yet another problem. Firedrake's tongue was no longer the same shape it had been and their words came out all wrong with obnoxious clicks and slurs garbling their speech. Awful didn't even begin to describe this unfortunate change.

When Firedrake's body shook with another shiver, Blythe walked over to drape a blanket over her sibling’s shoulders. "But he's a slob. And I don't care what he says about his Weaving. I'm not convinced that he can't accidentally set the wagon on fire if he's not paying attention."

Firedrake’s clicks stumbled them over the very first word in their reply and they threw their arms down at their sides in frustration. Blythe brought her hand up to rest it on Firedrake's forehead. A small smile crept over Firedrake's lips. At the moment Blythe’s one-way telepathy made communication a lot easier.

Instead of speaking the words, Firedrake thought them. -Don’t fret. Even if he does set it on fire, now I can control it, too. I'll be fine.-

Blythe brushed Firedrake's cheek with her hand in a gesture of affection before taking a step back. “If it's too much to deal with Sol or if you need my help with, you know, the lizard thing, you know where to find me. My wagon's empty until Addy and Etri come home.”

Firedrake nodded, then went back to packing their belongings. It was kind of her to offer, but it wasn't as though Sol was that bad. Firedrake would be fine living with him.

-----------------------

Firedrake pushed open the door of Sol's wagon and was greeted by a wall of warm air. With a grateful sigh, Firedrake nudged the door shut and dropped their bag onto the nearest bed. Already the warmth was seeping into their bones and making Firedrake want to curl up in comfort for the first time since this blasted change happened.

“Oh! You're here! Do ya need help with your stuff?”

“No, I'm-” The unspoken words faded out of existence when Firedrake noticed Sol's clothing- or lack thereof. “What iss itch with you and your perpetual lack of pantss?”

Sol looked down at himself with a shrug of his broad shoulders. “I'm losing at cards.”

Firedrake's claws clicked against the wooden boards as they stalked over to Sol. In one swift- and flustered- movement, Firedrake snatched the discarded articles of clothing off the floor and dumped these on top of Sol's clearly empty head. “You are playing ssolitaire.”

Sol moved his vest aside to look up at Firedrake with wide, confused blue eyes. “Yeah. And I'm losing.”

The sigh that escaped Firedrake's lips was more of a hiss. “Fine. Whatever. Now putch your pantss back on.”

-----------------------

With gritted teeth, Firedrake buried their head deeper under the nest of blankets. The shrill scraping sound continued. Lizards didn’t really have ears, right? Firedrake hadn’t paid much attention during biology lessons. It wasn’t as though they expected that this information would come in handy a decade later. If someone had told them “hey, in ten years you’ll grow a tail and, incidentally, lizards have ears,” Firedrake might not have skipped class that day.

Or they probably would have rolled their eyes and left because clearly that person would have been out of their mind and not worth listening to.

Scrape. Clang. Quiet mutterings. More scratching. It was the middle of the night. What in the Creators’ names was Sol doing?

Firedrake raised the blankets just enough to peek out with one eye. Sol stood hunched over the stove while prodding it with something. Firedrake let out an annoyed hiss and returned to the secure, warm nest before it struck them what Sol held in his hand.

Blankets and pillows exploded outwards as Firedrake clambered out of bed. That was their dagger! How dare Sol use their favorite prop for such a mundane task! Firedrake was halfway across the wagon before the sensation of something tickling their feet made its way to their consciousness.

Firedrake looked down. Tiny flamelets poked out from between their claws. Firedrake wiggled their toes and experienced a sensation akin to wading in shallow water. Huh. It looked like Sol really couldn’t set the wooden wagon on fire.

Speaking of Sol, Firedrake reached over to yank the blunt blade from his unresisting hand. “Whatch are you doing with thiss?”

“Oh! Hi, Dray! I needed something to prop the door open so my magic could reach fuel-”

“Sso you ussed my prop? Creatorss, Sssol, there are a billion other thingss you could have ussed than another performer’ss prop!”

While Firedrake chewed him out, they eyed the blade to make sure that the soft metal wasn’t chewed. If the blade was no longer balanced it would no longer function for dancing. The fact that Dray’s tail got in the way of simply walking in a straight line wasn’t the point.

“Umm… Dray?”

“You know carniess are notch suppossed to touch another performer’ss prop. That’ss nearly the firsst rule you learn before they’ll even letch you think about joining. Right after ‘do notch be a dinguss,’ I believe.”

“Dray?”

“And you’ve performed for yearsss. You know thiss.” Firedrake tilted the dagger to view it from a different angle. It seemed okay, but in this flickering light it was difficult to tell for sure.

“Your sleeve is on fire.”

It would have to wait until morning when Firedrake could look at this in sunlight. “Hmm?”

“Your sleeve. It’s on fire.”

Was that a nick near the tip or was that the flickering firelight creating a shadow? “Mhmm, I ssee.”

“Will you stop looking at that sword and pay attention? Your sleeve is on fire!”

Firedrake rubbed at the marring with their thumb. No, it was just soot. Sol must have pushed the blade into the stove before he tried to jam it in the door from the other direction. “It’ss a dagger and yess. Everything around uss iss on fire, Ssol. You sset itch.”

“But that’s not my fire. I mean, I’m not controlling it. That’s stove-fire. Your sleeve dipped in when you took the sword.”

“Dagger.”

Sol’s words caught up with Firedrake and their head snapped down. The draping hem of their left sleeve was ablaze almost to their elbow. That would explain the unsteady lighting. Firedrake batted at it with their free hand and only succeeded in making it spread faster. They waved their arm at Sol. “Why didn’tch you ssay I wass on fire? You know I can’tch feel itch!”

“I tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen!”

Through a joint effort they relocated the flame into the stove. Unfortunately the shirt went with it. Marvelous. Another piece of clothing ruined. Between scales, claws, and fire, Firedrake would run out of clothes by the end of the week.

Sol shrugged out of his vest while stammering apologies and draped it over Firedrake’s shoulders. It hung down to Firedrake’s knees. Firedrake let out a resigned sigh. With Sol’s penchant for being undressed, at least Firedrake had an entire second wardrobe to burn and tear, even if it was about six sizes too large.

Sol glanced down at the sea of flame that continued to slosh against his bare feet. “I’m sorry, Dray. I only wanted to make you warmer.”

“Yesss, I would ssay thatch ending up on fire ccertainly fulfillsss thatch goal. Congratch- congratttch-” Firedrake stumbled on their sarcastic retort and finally gave up. “Dammitch, I’m going back to ssleep.”


(The reference to Sol's lack of pants/clothes comes from this story, but it's really a running joke in the series. Gotta love Sol.)