I glanced discretely at my companions and judged them none-the-wiser, so—with grandiose bravado and poise—I unbuckled my lantern from belt and unshuttered it. As the golden hue chased away the shadows cast by the canopy overhead, I proclaimed in my most practised baritone. “Greetings to the denizens mighty. May the forest bring you joy.” I turned to the fool that had hired a charlatan to guide him and his family safely through the Faelands.
Having convinced Marcus Delamiir—of the Riverbrand Delamiirs I’ll-have-you-know-thank-you-very-much’s—that I was an intrepid adventurer, he had hired me immediately. My scars had become tales of wounds earned swashbuckling against pirates; rather than the whippings my father had given me. The way the village folk huddled low and scurried past me were thanks to the thousand orc raider scalps I had taken the previous spring; rather than the silver I had pressed into their hands moments before.
Now, I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m a bad man—I’m truly not. I just see things a little differently than the average folk does. If this pompous fool thinks he can claim the Faelands for himself, despite how the current inhabitants feel about the matter, well I say he is deserving of a swift trimming of his coin-purse.
“Speak, m’ lord.” I urge him. “My welcoming shall put you in great stead amongst the tree-kin. They long to hear from you.”
The broad man—slightly over-ripened in his middle years—took several long strides before his family, taking the lantern from my hand. “I claim these lands in the name of Delamiir—Riverbrand Delamiir’s I’ll-have-you—”
A ghostly hand pulled free of the tree, followed by the gaping maw of ghoulish death, Marcus’ blood fresh upon its breath.
And in that moment I came to realise that I—Vincent De Atriaz—had run my last con.
Written for Aussie Speculative Fiction’s – Make-it-up Monday.
Each week a photo prompt is posted for the group to write a flash piece (under 300 words) inspired by the image. One flash is published on their website – check out the winning entry here.