Sunday, March 10, 2013

Prompt: What’s a bird got to do to get a drink around here?

Thanks to Becky Barnes for permission to share this great visual prompt!

Throk patiently tapped a long, curved claw on the table. He could see how busy the barkeep and maids were in the crowded pub. While he waited to request another round of the rich, dark ale, he carefully curled the four digits on his left forearm around the wooden tankard, clicking his claws against the metal band. He concentrating on not squeezing so hard that he shattered it, as he had the first one the barmaid brought to him. She had jumped back, and he had apologized profusely, offering to pay for the cup as well as another drink. He had thought she did not seem overly perturbed, but now she had disappeared, and no one was looking his way or coming near enough for him to squawk his request.

Looking around the smoky pub, Throk realized he was the only non-human in the room. He cocked his head and turned his sight inward, thinking back along his trail. He was used to being the only indrigi in a crowd, but when was the last time he had seen anyone other than human on his long march home? Perhaps it had been awhile. That explained the persistent curiosity of the village children, but not the studied avoidance of the staff and customers here. His coin was the same.

His crest ruffled as his temper flared. Had he not served enough? Given enough? Sacrificed enough? Could this really be discrimination? Throk had been in service for so long, he had forgotten the ways of the outside world. In service, he was honored for his bravery and loyalty, respected for his leadership in battle, and afforded the friendship of the King himself.

Throk picked up his empty tankard and smacked it on the table. He tried not to flinch as it shattered in his grasp. “What’s a bird got to do to get a drink around here?” he roared. The room froze in a deafening silence, every face turned toward him. Throk refused to shrink before them.

A voice from the crowd called out, “Birds t'ain't welcome here. Ye’ll git feathers in me chicken pot pie!” There was a rumble of laughter and a rustle as the room relaxed around him, turning away to ignore him once more. Throk was stunned by the intent of the insult more than the words themselves. He pushed back his stool and started to rise, looming above the humans. Suddenly, a pale, slender hand rested bravely on his forearm. He could impale it with his foreclaw in an instant. He looked down and saw the young barmaid from before.

“Sir, I was called to the kitchens to help with a party in the back room. Please be seated and let me get ye another drink.”

Throk hesitated, then nodded and sat down on his stool. His anger rushed out in a flood, and he was left feeling tired and empty and wanting only to return to his nest. The lass returned with a full tankard and a plate of toasted meal worms. He looked up at her in surprise. She smiled shyly.

“My brother was in service five years. He came home without his right leg, but he said if it hadn’t been for a great bird warrior, he would have lost his life. It was you, wasn’t it, sir?”

Throk thought back a moment. He said simply, “Your brother’s name?”

“Greeley, sir.”

The memory snapped into place. The young man on a rearing horse, blade swinging and shield held high against the storm of flaming arrows. The spear through his thigh, into the ribs of his horse. Throk had pulled out the spear as the horse fell and barely deflected the storm of arrows as he dragged the youth to shelter. He looked up at the lass.

“I remember. I’m glad he survived.”

She placed her hand on his arm again. He couldn’t remember a human ever touching him so casually before. “Thank ye, sir. Ye stay as long as ye like to rest, and your coin’s no good here. Pay no mind to the idiots around you.” She raised her voice to be heard above the din. “They haven’t served the King as hero and friend.” The crowd grew quiet again. She smiled to him once more and swept away to clear dishes from another table.

One of the young men looked over at Throk and said, “You were in service with the King? Do ye know my cousin Rohkan, an archer?” Throk thought for a moment, then shook his head. Another said, “Do ye know my uncle Borshan, a horseman?” Throk shifted his crest in surprise. “Yes, he was in the same cavalry as Greeley.” 

Suddenly, the men were around his table, asking questions, sharing ale, sharing comradeship. One brought out a bag of dice and they included Throk in a game of parolchik, teasing him good naturedly as his claws slid around the faceted dice. Throk thought perhaps he could use a little rest before he continued on to the mountain aeries and his nest.
Dogs in house:
Houdini, Brindle, Bacon

Mediaeval Baebes, Mistletoe & Wine

Time writing:
40 minutes

March word count:


  1. Prompt: What’s a bird got to do to get a drink around here?

    Damn. Gertrude opened her eyes, then closed them again. Better to take things in slowly.

    The brief glimpse suggested the grittiness on the back of her neck and scalp was, in fact, sand. She patted the ground. Yup, sand.

    The air was dry, and her memory painted a vivid blue sky and blinding rays of sun. The sun would be to her left; she could feel its heat battering that side of her body. There was a breeze, but it was slight: little more than a waft of warmth. She breathed deep. No particular scents hung in the thick, hot air. She listened. A light tinkling sounded more like sand grains sliding across one another than a stream.

    At the thought of water, her tongue went thick and cloying: thirsty. Desperately thirsty. She sat up and opened her eyes a second time.

    The horizon was flat, and far away. Below a blue sky was the tawny yellow of which she had caught sight in her peripheral vision before. The sand stretched away from her in gentle waves, like a solid sea, ripples fading into obscurity in the distance. She turned. It was the same to her right. And left. And behind her.

    She began to raise a hand to her forehead in frustration and froze, blinking in confusion. Blue-black feathers caught the sun, sparkling a rainbow prism along their edge. She moved her arm. The feathers moved.

    This was worse than she had thought.

    1. Very nice! Good sensory descriptions. I'd love to see where you take this one...

    2. Thanks! And I'd like to read a book that follows off of yours...