Last Ranger


Doug Rivner looked from the window of the Hobbit hole and tried to assess his chances. He could count at least twenty-six orcs from his vantage point and he knew that making a break for it was against the odds. Fair enough, this was a Hobbit’s house and the pantry was well stocked, but he couldn’t hold out indefinitely. Eventually they would breach the door, or he would be forced to confront them. He hated the waiting game.

Only three years before he had become a Ranger, back before the dark magic brought orcs, goblins, and bugbears back from near extinction. This is insane, he thought to himself. I survived the Covid back in 2020-23 and the high water levels global warming had brought in ’27. He quickly counted the remaining bullets in his ammo pouch. Damn, 30 rounds. No way am I going to take them all out.

He double checked the barricade at the round door, and cut a piece of cheese. He then sat with his back to the far wall and munched his snack. He then placed his assault rifle across his lap and settled in. He would doze for a bit, and then come morning, Rivner, the last of the Rangers, would try to break out, or at least “go out” in a blaze of glory.


Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #114

Access Denied

Knight, Historical Fencing, Middle Ages, Fight, Sword

I am the guardian of this way

And to pass by me you must pay

The toll and tribute my lord demands

For he is the master of all these lands

And if you wish the enter by this gate wide

You will find that your access shall be denied

Unless you pay the forementioned fee

And perhaps a little extra for me


Arlan the Cleaver

“Are you sure you know the way?” Arlan the “Cleaver” asked.

“I’ve brought us this far, haven’t I?” Merla responded.

“Hmm,” Arlan snorted. He did know she had however, but he still resented being guided by a woman, much less rescued by one.

Arlan had indeed been rescued by Merla, who happened to come across the short, portly man as he was being accosted by seven brigands on the Nordland Road. The moniker “Cleaver” had not been given for any barbaric martial prowess on Arlan’s part, but rather for the fact that Arlan Kylhogg was the most prosperous butcher in the Kingdom.

When Merla intervened in the robbery, she managed to kill one of the miscreants, and wound two others before grabbing the merchant and dragging him into the woods. They managed to evade pursuit owing to her keen senses but were now making there way to the Capital by an arduous route. Worse still in Arlan’s mind was that he had lost not only an entire wagon-full of pork, but his team and money box as well. He was alive, however, that was some consequence. Unless, of course, this red-headed wench got lost and he starved to death in the forest. After all it had been nearly eighteen hours since he had eaten. He was hungry. His feet hurt, and above all she kept speaking to him in that over kind, patronising voice. It was almost as if she felt sorry for him. Him! How dare she! He really didn’t know how much more of this and that insufferable woman he could endure.

“Okay, You are on your own from here,” Merla said kindly.

“What, on my own?” he snapped.

She then pointed through the trees with her chin and smiled benevolently. There beyond the last of the foliage were the walls and towers of the Capital.

“I suppose you want some kind of a reward,” he grunted.

“That you are safe is enough,” she said smiling. “You take care now little man.”

With that she turned and headed back into the forest.



Invisible, Bowler, Suit, Hat, Glasses, Retro, Anonymous

“Whatever you do, don’t drink it. It is a lotion not a potion. It will make whatever it is put onto invisible, but it wont work on cloth. So, be careful, as if you get wet it can wash off and leave you exposed in more ways than one,” the merchant warned.

“Will it work on armour?” Helio asked.

“Anything except cloth, so metal is fine. I did have a customer complain once that after they stabbed a Goblin, the creatures could see the end of their sword blade where the blood had washed off the lotion.”

“So why this instead of a potion, or a cloak?” Helio queried.

“The decision is yours of course, but the lotion is 6 silver coins, the potion 6 gold, and the cloak 60 gold.”

“May I have three lotions then?” Helio said counting out the coins.

“Excellent choice,” the merchant said with a smile.


Tale Weaver – #314 – Lotion

Career Change

3 Men in Black Leather Jackets Standing on Brown Wooden Fence
Gioele Fazzeri at Pexels

Rory the Sword-slayer stood looking at the little pile of yellow powder in his hand. It seemed ridiculous that some ground-up flowers could be worth more than gold.

“What’s this called again?” the mighty warrior asked.

“Saffron,” Wilma the Druid responded.

“And it comes from flowers?” Rory asked, seeking confirmation.

“That’s right, Rory,” Alanor the Mage replied.

Rory shook his head in disbelief. Had he had it wrong for all these years? Now what seemed ridiculous to him was that he and his band had spent so much time in dank smelly dungeons, and risked their lives battling Bugbears and Trolls, when mere NPC Farmers held so much wealth.

“Comrades, I have decided to cancel our quest to The Citadel of Quarf. We now have a safer and more profitable endeavour to undertake,” Rory announced.

“What is it?” Debin the Half-elf thief asked greedily.

“Saffron,” Rory replied, pouring the spice back into the small wooden chest.

“What, be farmers?” Debin replied.

“Too much hard work in that,” Rory replied. “I was thinking about raiding florists. Once a Berserker always a Berserker, I always say.”



FOWC with Fandango — Ridiculous


Armor, Coat Of Mail, The Middle Ages, Uniforms

The dice tumbled and the table leaned forward with held breath.

Three months of adventuring had led to this moment. The party was now on the brink of obtaining untold riches.

Rania (Alice Martin) the Thief had just moved to the door of the treasure chamber and inspected the lock.

“This will be simple,” she said confidently shooting a smile at the rest of the party.

“Be careful,” Dillonian (Henry Dillon) the Mage warned.

“I’m always careful,” Rania retorted. “I place a wedge at base of the door and gently slide it in to avoid vibration. I then use my listening cup to monitor the mechanism as I insert my pick.”

“Make an ability check,” the Game Master (Will Fox) instructed.

“Um – Nat One,” Alice said with obvious distress in her voice.

“Rocks fall, you all die,” Fox said coolly. “Again next week?” he said stuffing a Dorito into his mouth.


First Line Friday: The dice tumbled and the table leaned forward with held breath.

Cutting The Mustard

Mustard, Shell, Spice, Sharp, Food, Eat, Kitchen, Cook

Wayne nimbly swept down the passageway occasionally ducking into doorways to scan the hall for onlookers. At the end of the corridor he found the door locked, and he adroitly picked it in mere seconds. With another quick check of the passage behind him he closed the door and prepared to descend the spiral stair.

Before proceeding he took a small metallic bowl from a compartment in his trouser pocket. Inspecting that the rubber rim-guard was in place he silently placed it on the landing floor, and placed an ear against it. Some muffled sounds of life were detected, but there was no indication of movement on the stairs themselves. He returned the listening device to its compartment, and dextrously made a near-noiseless descent to the next level.

On arriving he again checked for movement above and below, before silently wedging the door at that level shut. He then made his way to the next floor where after checking, silently made his way into the corridor beyond.

This was the place he needed, on this level was the General’s private pantry. On entering he made note of the varying amounts of dust on more costly bottles of wine, and any indications of shelves that seemed to have the greatest traffic. It was then that he saw exactly what he was after – jars of spicy mustard on a shelf that was well used. He had heard that the General was passionate about the condiment. Taking the nearest jar, he used a strap of treated cloth from his sleeve to build friction on the jar’s lid. Once warmed it opened easily, and he drew a small envelope of powder from his other trouser compartment. He added just about a quarter of it to the jar, and stirred it thoroughly before again heating it and returning the lid to get a near perfect seal. Near perfect, but it would provide enough resistance that a casual opening would not reveal it had been tampered with. He then looked at the remaining two jars, and decided to make a sure thing of it. He followed the same process with them, being sure not to use too much or too little of the powder. It needed to be strong enough to kill the General, but not enough to cause symptoms in any would be food taster, at least not until the fat commander had eaten some himself.

The task completed; Wayne retraced his own steps until he emerged on the battlement just before dawn. A skilful descent of his hidden rope, and he was away free with another contract fulfilled.


FOWC with Fandango — Adroit

Midnight Tremor

Moonshine, Lake, Reflection, Night

The lake was a mirror of black glass, and a paraselene moon shone upwards from its surface.  It was still – too still.  The absolute calm was unnerving to Talbert as he stood guard on the edge of the Baron’s camp. 

Suddenly the stillness was shattered by a tremor which was so violent that it toppled several of the tents, and Talbert himself received a sharp blow from a branch that broke away from the tree under which he stood.  In fact if it hadn’t been for his helmet and neck stock he was sure he would had been fatally wounded.

As the men of the Baron’s retinue scrambled to rescue him from his collapsed marquee, they found that their lord was not inside.  

“Over here you fools,” the familiar bellow rang out, as the Baron tried to free himself from a fallen limb.  It seems that the Aristocrat had a dream just before the incident in which a beautiful elf-maiden stood before him in a dazzling jade glow.   She beckoned him to follow her to the tree line, unseen by his guards.  

Kiss me,” she said with a sweet lilt to her voice.

As the Baron leaned in, the entire earth seemed to shudder.  The next thing he knew was that he was pinned to the ground by a heavy branch.

As Talbert and his colleagues endeavoured to lift the bough from their lord’s legs they failed to notice that the joke was on them as enchantress who had conjured the dream and the quake absconded with the chest containing the Baron’s tax revenues.


Wordle #219

  1. Lake
  2. Paraselene– a bright moonlike spot on a lunar halo; a mock moon.
  3. Abscond– to depart in a sudden and secret manner, especially to avoid capture and legal prosecution.
  4. Lift
  5. Blow
  6. Jade
  7. Lilt
  8. Tremor
  9. Collapse
  10. Joke
  11. Kiss
  12. Dazzle

Beyond Magic

Alchemy, Wizards, Magic, Witchcraft

Ban was a mysterious old fellow. He was balding and had a tangled white beard. His left eye wandered some, but that just made his entire form the more creepy. No one knew for sure what he did, nor did anyone remember him ever doing more that tending his strange instruments and bottles in the old cottage at the edge of the wood. Rumour had it, however that he was some sort of alchemist, for he seemed never to be lacking in a few gold pieces. Some young bucks considered robbing him from time to time, but none ever went through with it. They might even get as far as the front porch, and then the strange smells and bubbling pots would make them quickly turn tail and run.

As Ban’s eyes were beginning to fail, he placed a notice in the market stating that he was in search of an apprentice. Even with an opportunity to learn his secrets, the young of the settlement shied away. The man’s eerie appearance dissuaded them.

Finally, Allen Little summoned the courage to brave an interview.

“Who are you,” the old man snapped as the lad stood at his door.

“Allen Little, Sir,” the youth said quietly.

“And what are you wanting from me?”

“You posted that you wanted an apprentice,” Allen said hesitantly.

“That I did,” the old man said. “There are two conditions.”

“Yes Sir.”

“First, you must do things exactly as I say. No variation in the method or the ingredients.”

“I can do that,” the lad replied.

“Good, and the second is that everything, every ting mind, that you learn here remains a secret or I will see that bad things happen to you.”

“Yes Sir.”

“Now to keep you honest and to show my trust, take this here gold piece and give it to your Ma. Tell her you will be living here, but she is to bring a fresh loaf for you each morning. Do you understand, Boy?”

“Yes Sir. Excuse me, Sir, do you make gold?”

“In a sense lad, in a sense.”

Allan looked at the old man with an air of confusion.

“It’s simple, Boy. We make whiskey and sell it to the forest-dwellers. They pay handsomely for it. But that’s one of the secrets. Whiskey is better than magic when it comes to conjuring gold. Now go give the coin to your Ma, and hurry back. And not a word to any of the town folk, we don’t need them cutting in on our market.”



Door, Portal, Goal, Input, Gate

“Are you sure this is the right place?” Dion asked.

“The smuggler said it was a blue door on the south wall.  This is the south wall, and that is a blue door,” Brema said.

“Yes, but it looks a bit – well, too convenient for a secret way out of the city.”

“Maybe that’s why it’s a secret exit, because it seems too obvious for the authorities to suspect it,” Brema retorted.

Dion pulled the key they had paid the smuggler handsomely for from his pouch and placed it into the lock.  The two spies then pushed the door open to find six members of the city watch standing there with weapons drawn, while a seventh handed a bag of gold to the smuggler.