Deadfire Part 3: A BARD, BEETLES, AND A FOUR-LEGGED SAVIOR.
More beetles came out of the waves, and Farson did his best to crush them under his boots. They were tough little buggers to kill. He had to drop his heel on them as hard as if he were cracking open a walnut.
“Farson is getting upset. Serenity now…” he muttered. Farson knew the world he was in was dangerous and treacherous and any moment could be his last, but he really didn’t see how screwing another man’s wife could lead to him being devoured in such a slow and painful way. There seemed to be a deep unfairness in the events as they had transpired, and his frustration made him struggle and wiggle more and more.
Suddenly, there was the sound of thunder to the west. Farson turned his head and noticed a white horse, a beautiful but tired and emaciated looking animal, come running toward him. He thought for a moment that this was, perhaps, the end—that he had died and seen death show up, somehow, as a gentle-looking horse. It was a stupid idea, he knew.
Farson shook his head.
“Oh, my savior,” he said sarcastically, spitting his words out. “What I’ve been waiting for. A horse, of course.”
The animal neighed and began to trot up and down the beach. Farson noticed it had a beautiful leather saddle covered in rare and expensive looking jewels on one side.
A couple of beetles began crawling up Farson’s leg. He started to squirm and scream, rolling and pressing the hilt of his sword against the little bugger in order to kill it. The horse stopped and noticed him finally, blinking its big blue eyes a few times before zeroing in on him. In one, smooth movement the animal charged forward and began gnawing at Farson’s ropes with its large white teeth. He got his right hand free and grabbed one of the beetles, which immediately took a small chunk of flesh, making him bleed. He crushed it in anger, then another crawling up his leg.
Farson untied himself after a moment only to see that hundreds of those beetles were coming out of the surf. He grabbed his pack and the lute next to it the boat captain had set down. He had told Farson that he was a fair man with a leer on his face that had let Farson know he was lying.
The horse stood apart fro him, looking slightly confused, before Farson grabbed it by the saddle and pulled himself up with a grunt. He spurred the beast forward as all the beetles swarmed over the stake he had been tied to. Hundreds of the neon glowing insects began to cover the beach. Farson dug his heels in and the horse began to move. He rode the horse for a good twenty minutes before the animal slowed to a stop, looking confused and blinking, as if it had remembered a forgotten task. They were still on the expansive beach but far away now from the beetle swarm that had threatened his life. The waves crashed against the gravel and sand of the beach, and Farson remembered a time before that was much nicer than now.
Farson leaned forward and put his head against the horse’s hot, sweaty neck, ignoring the perspiration coming off the beast “I’m tired, too. You know, that probably would have been sooooo bad…”
The horse neighed in response and Farson climbed off, giving it a chance to rest. He could tell that something was wrong—yes, it looked half starved but it had an incredible saddle on it. That meant two things to Farson. One, the rider was long gone, or the horse would’ve been better card for; and two, the horse hadn’t been seen by anyone in quite a while or it wouldn’t have still had the ornate saddle. This was the Trade Lands, and in every misspelled and small little tome he had managed to grab on his trip to the Trade Lands, he always heard about the ravenousness of the people there. An exaggeration perhaps, but inside every exaggeration there was an ounce of truth. And Farson couldn’t believe that any peasant or slave seeing a runaway horse with such a bright and expensive saddle wouldn’t cut it off the moment they saw it had no owner. A small mystery began to bloom in Farson’s head.
“Looks like you’ve been on the run for a while, Mr. Horse. You got a story, I suppose.” He sucked on his wounded hand for a moment as he took a look at the jewels on the saddle’s side. “Beetles better not be poisonous, goddamn beetles. It’d ruin my whole vacation here…”
He shut himself up. The jewels, which were emeralds, pearls, and diamonds, had been arranged to spell out the name “LORD GALEN OXWAGON.” He could sort of get the gist of it from his awkward viewpoing of looking down. He moved his left leg to be sure.
“Oh shit-snap,” Farson said to himself. “You be some lost property, son. I’ll take you somewhere and sell you to gypsies for gold, and then to dwarves as an appetizer.”
Farson took a deep breath, smelling some of that salty-brine odor coming from the sea. He could see a creature the size of a jet-plane cruise over the waves, crying out in the odd telltale song of a flying whale. Farson shook his head, thinking to himself that such sights before his journey would have blown his mind. Now, he found them oddly quaint. His exile via experiment was exciting and exceedingly dangerous. He would have to live with the consequences of living on this plane of existence.
“Well… I’m lost. And you’re a horse. So here we are,” Farson said to the horse, patting it on the side and then wiping his sweat-covered hand onto his black trousers.
“You wouldn’t happen to know a Farson Anaris, would you?” He joked to the creature, who stared at him with wide, blue eyes. Farson chuckled to himself and licked his lips, thinking of where to go next.