A Small, Sad Dwarf Part 5

A small sad dwarf part 1

Catch up on the story: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4

The small, sad dwarf found a new friend. But who is Dasher and where did he come from?

Dasher moved fast. He was unlike anyone the dwarf had met before. Frequently, he would bound on all fours. This helped him climb trees to scout out the road ahead. More than once, the dwarf noticed Dasher disappearing among the branches and leaves. The dwarf called to him.

“What are you doing?”

“Oh, nothing!” Dasher would say. Then there came a crunch. The flapping of wings. Dasher jumped down from the trees, wiping his mouth.

“This way, come on. Hurry!”

They had left the town far behind and entered a forest. It was nothing like the forest the dwarf had passed through earlier. Here, the trees were gnarled and cruel-looking. Only a little bit of light came through the canopy. The dwarf heard eerie sounds wafting from the sides of the road. Dasher laughed off his worries, saying it was normal.

“I didn’t think much was still left alive,” the dwarf said. “After the end.”

“Oh, not much is,” Dasher said. “In fact, what you’re hearing might not even be alive.”

Dasher refused to explain what he meant. It troubled the dwarf and he kept away from the sides of the road.

“Are you sure the man and his daughter went this way?” the dwarf asked.
Dasher spun around. “Are you doubting me, my friend? Do you have any better idea of where they went? As I see it, I’m the only soul left who has seen your quarry. Might as well trust me, eh?”

The forest grew thicker. It worried the dwarf that the road became hard to follow. Soon, it seemed to vanish altogether. He followed Dasher across flat, dry ground, with no clear path at all. The trees grew thick and close together.

Dasher didn’t seem worried. Yet he stopped climbing up the trees.

“It must be getting late,” the dwarf said. He realized they had been walking for hours. “Very little light is coming through the trees.”

“No, the trees are just getting thicker,” Dasher said. “There’s light, just up ahead. We have to get over this, though.”

Whatever path they had been following was completely blocked. A sheer rock wall was in their way. Dasher was pointing up. The dwarf craned his neck to see to the top of the cliff, but couldn’t make out anything other than the tree branches. And the darkness.

“I don’t know if I can climb that,” the dwarf said.

“It’s easy! See?” With a leap, Dasher sprung to the cliff wall. As easily as whistling, he scaled it, disappearing into the dark. He came back down.

“I’m afraid I’m not as nimble as you, Dasher,” the dwarf said.

“Nonsense,” Dasher said. “All you have to do is grab onto those cracks in the stone, see?”

“I think so,” the dwarf said. “I won’t be as fast as you.”

“Take your time,” Dasher said. “Maybe you’ll have a better time if you empty your pockets.”

“My pockets?”

“Sure. You can hand them over to me, if you like,” Dasher said.

The dwarf put a protective hand over his coat. “No, that won’t be necessary.”

He ran to the wall. Bumps and knobs stuck out all over the wall. They were small, but he was able to find them. Slowly, he moved up the cliff. He was sweating with effort. Dasher scrambled up past him, urging him on.

The darkness closed in around the dwarf. It felt like a million eyes were watching him. The air was close and warm. But also cold. He thought he heard voices all around him. He did not like what they were saying.

Pressing his eyes shut, he kept climbing. Something snagged his coat. The dwarf needed to pull it free, but he didn’t want to let go of the wall. Gritting his teeth, he let go with his left hand. He grabbed the corner of his coat and pulled. It felt like something was holding onto it. But it came free. The dwarf grabbed the rock again and climbed faster.

When he reached the top, he was cover in dirt. The dwarf collapsed across the flat, rocky ground. Light poured over him like a waterfall. He saw Dasher at the edge of the hill.

“You did it! I knew you could, friend,” Dasher said. He pointed further away.

“The road stretches that way. Care to take a look?”

Slowly, the dwarf got up and walked over to the edge of the hill. The land beyond was rough, full of caves and stony projections. Further away, though, it seemed nice. There even seemed to be a long road, stretching on for miles. The small dwarf could almost see houses. But they were too small.

“As I see it, we can go one of two ways,” Dasher said. “The Great Road goes North and South, past the Rock Valley.”

“Which way did the man and his daughter go?” the dwarf asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Dasher said. “Wherever there’s life.”

“Not much of that left,” the dwarf said.

“But they wouldn’t waste their time going to another abandoned town, would they?” Dasher said.

“I think I see a town, that way,” the dwarf said.

“Ah, but are there people there? Is it dead, like the last one?”

“I-I don’t know.”

“If only we had a way to see it better,” Dasher said. “We shouldn’t waste all our time going there, just to be disappointed.”

“I know!” From his pocket, the dwarf produced the binoculars he found at the man’s house.

“My goodness, looking glasses,” Dasher said. “You are full of surprises.”

The dwarf looked at the land ahead through the binoculars. The tops of the houses were big and crisp. He thought he saw a thin line of smoke coming out of a chimney. But he saw no people.

“There might be people there,” the dwarf said. “Somebody’s cooking. I see smoke.”

“No, that’s not smoke,” Dasher said. “It’s just dust, kicked up by the wind.”

“No, I think it’s smoke.”

“Let me see.” Dasher held out his hand for the binoculars. The dwarf held them back.

“No, these are mine.”

“Why won’t you let me use them?” Dasher demanded.

“They were left for me,” the dwarf said. “I can’t give them up.”

“All I want to do is use them for just a moment,” Dasher said. “Why are you being so selfish?”

“I’m not selfish, I’m just careful.”

“Give me the glasses, you little thief!” Dasher snarled at the dwarf. His face twisted into a gruesome scowl.

“No!”

Dasher moved closer to him.

“What else do you have hiding in your pockets? Did you find it? Did you find the gem?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the dwarf said.

“Don’t lie to me.” The dwarf turned to run, but there was nowhere to go.

Dasher howled as he pounced.

To be continued…

A Small, Sad Dwarf Part 4

A small sad dwarf part 1

Catch up on the story: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

The small sad dwarf left the old house and the burnout valley. What waits for him beyond?

The small, sad dwarf climbed up the burnt old ridge. He was right, there was grass on the other side.

In fact, the land sloped down into a bright green valley. He hadn’t seen anything so green, in such a long time. The land rolled away in rolling hills of grass. The sky was clear, with only a few traces of the marching army.

The stars faded as the sky blushed and became blue. A golden ball of bright light climbed up a far away line of mountains. The dwarf could see a long way, for the first time in a while.

Excited, he hurried down the slope into the awaiting grassland. The air smelled fresh and clean. He thought he heard the chirping of… birds? Yes, they were called birds. He looked around but couldn’t see any.

Climbing up from the ground were big, gnarly things. Small pieces of gree clung to their crooked arms. For a second, the dwarf thought they were people, frozen forever. But on closer examination, he realized there was nothing to fear. These things were supposed to be stuck in the ground.

The dwarf walked under them, enjoying the shade they provided from the rising ball of light. When the wind blew between their arms, there was a soft rustle. He liked that sound, though as a dwarf, he hadn’t grown up hearing it.

He walked for a while beneath the gnarled, greeny things. They were thick beside him. The ground, he realized, was flat and even. Very easy to walk on. It was almost as if someone places stones in a long, straight line, to make it easier to walk.

Wasn’t there a name for that? He had to think about it.

He suddenly forgot about all that when he reached a break in the gnarled things. The land spread out under the blue sky. Rising up in front of him was a great many houses.

The dwarf has reached the edge of a town.

Continue reading “A Small, Sad Dwarf Part 4”

A Small, Sad Dwarf Part 3

A small sad dwarf part 1

Catch up on the story: Part 1 and Part 2

A small sad dwarf found an abandoned home. What will he find inside?

The small dwarf entered the house. Creaking, the door swung shut behind him. It was dark inside, but his eyes were slowly adjusting. He thought he saw a small, bouncing ball of light, floating just outside his reach.

Floorboards creaked as he explored the house. It wasn’t very impressive. Just a single room with a pair of beds in one corner, a fireplace with a rusting cookpot, and a table in another corner. The dwarf looked at an old shelf against the wall. Strange, brown lumps were stacked side by side. He assumed they used to be books.

Everything about the house was brown and dirt-covered. Dust was kicked up into the air as he walked around. He reached the table, pulling out its one chair. It was a chair for a much taller person. A man, perhaps.

Continue reading “A Small, Sad Dwarf Part 3”

A Small, Sad Dwarf Part 2

A small sad dwarf part 1

A small sad dwarf sat at the end of the world. He remembered his name… now what?

There, at the end of the world, a small sad dwarf stroked the flower in his coat. The world around him was bleak and dark. Smoke floated away in an army of clouds. He had remembered his name. But he remembered little else. That was a start, at least.

The ground rumbled and he remembered something happened.
The dwarf kept walking across the field of blackened, burnt earth. There was not much to see. Through a break in the clouds, he thought he saw stars. Little twinkling fires, set in an ever-changing space. It wasn’t black, as he expected. There were reds and blues, pinks and orange like fire.

He wondered if there was something out there, tucked behind those little fires. But how could he find out?

And how would he ever get there?

It seemed as if the ground was rumbling harder. Or was it he was walking toward the source of the shaking? The wind kicked up, rustling the little flower in his coat. The dwarf cupped a hand over it, protecting it from blowing away.

But the wind grew stronger. It gusted like it was angry. Angry at the dwarf? Who could say? He had to crouch over, to prevent from being bowled over. The wind kicked up dirt and dust. The dwarf squinted his eyes. He considered turning back around to where he had come.
There was nothing back there. Why should he bother?

The dwarf found a hill and climbed it. It seemed like the wind calmed down just a bit. Below, the ground was a little less burned and little less… well, dead.

Somewhere in the distance, he saw something, sticking up out of the ground. It was big, bigger than a stone or boulder. The shape was kind of boxy, with straight square walls—

They were walls! Walls of a house. The dwarf had missed it earlier, because it was almost as black as all the rest. Dust must have covered the house, but it was still standing. Could there be something inside the house? Something that could help him remember?

Could there be someone inside?

Continue reading “A Small, Sad Dwarf Part 2”

A Small, Sad Dwarf Part 1

A small sad dwarf part 1

A small sad dwarf sat at the end of the world. Everybody else’s time had come… why not his?

A small, sad dwarf sat on a stump, looking out on the rolling landscape in front of him. He didn’t remember his name or much of anything. A black army of clouds wafted up into the sky. In his mind, it looked like the souls of the world ascending into space.

He chewed a thin piece of straw. He didn’t know where the straw had come from. Little was left that could grow. The dwarf didn’t know why he was chewing the straw. Maybe, long ago, he liked to chew things. Or smoke thing. Or stick things in his mouth. He had forgotten.

The ground rumbled and the dwarf almost fell off the stump. That was good a reason as any to get up and move around. His legs were cramping something fierce and he assumed there wasn’t much use staring and the charred, desolate hills. Getting up, he reached up to the sky, craning his neck.

He let out a groan, it echoed, hanging in the air.

Continue reading “A Small, Sad Dwarf Part 1”