As promised, some Fiction.
Yes, I’m here again, not with a free ride on the rollercoaster of my downward spiral but some fiction! This bit of fiction officially part of the PFN Universe. There might be more of these. Hope you enjoy.
The old man staggered through the densely wooded forest looking for edible berries or fungi of some sort. He once picked a mushroom from the base of a large oak and consumed it without thought. He later had wild dreams of fantastical beasts. He now paid closer attention, but when you’re hungry, you eat what you can find.
His thin frail frame and shaggy head of hair and beard wasn’t all that showed his lack of home, the rags that draped poorly over his skeletal form added to the clues that gave away his status of homelessness.
He would be the first to admit to inquiring minds that he was his own problem. Gambling and losing, and seeking expensive pleasures led to his financial downfall just as much as anything else. Stubbornness when offered help aided in his continued path.
As he staggered and stumbled over tree roots and overgrown plants he imagined finding sacks of gold dropped by wealthy men on errant paths. He knew it was unlikely anyone with any money would be wondering the woods, but he still had his dreams, didn’t he?
He spotted a bush that looked promising, small red berries dotting it’s still green leaves despite the coming autumn. He attempted to pick up his pace to approach the bush when the toe of his leather booties, worn thin from long wear, caught on a particularly high root and he tripped.
He face-planted into the decaying leaves on the forest floor and an audible “Oof” escaped his chest. After taking a moment to despise his lot in life he then rolled over and began to attempt to detangle the threads of his booties from the rough bark of the tree. He tugged his leg and his foot yanked free of the bootie, which was still caught on the root.
He groaned and stood, frustrated his bare foot was now covered in decaying leaves. He’d stepped in worse but misfortune was something that was always frustrating, regardless of the degree.
He hobbled over to the root of the tree and bent to yank the bootie aggressively away. The bootie was somehow stuck more firmly than he realized and he pulled hard to disengage it. Just as he felt it loosen he saw something glowing in a hole under the tree, where the root emerged.
The root released its grip on the bootie just as he was distracted by the glowing light, and he lost his balance, falling backward on his thin backside.
He felt what could only be his tailbone crack, and thought, “that’s me not sitting comfortably for a while.” And realized he hadn’t sat comfortably in a long time. He stood, rubbing his sore backside and remembered the glowing light.
He pulled on his bootie, dirt and leaves and all, now with a hole in the toe, and got down on his hands and knees. He crawled over to the glowing light, not risking another trip and fall. He reached the hole, still glowing, and saw the light had a green tinge. Curious to a fault, he reached inside, and tried to grasp the thing that glowed.
He reached in, nearly elbow deep, until his bony finger just grazed the thing inside. For a moment he thought he felt a tantalizing warmth on the surface. Curiouser, he reached even further keeping the hand outside the unexpectedly deep hole holding right to the root of the tree.
Finally, shoulder deep, tired muscles aching, he reached the thing and grasped it with thin fingers. The moment he made contact he felt a warmth he’d not felt in decades, a warmth that seeped into his bones. And something else, something he’d never felt before. Power.
He quickly became desperate to retrieve the thing that glowed. He tightened his grip and pulled, but there was nothing. No movement save for the aching of his old hungry bones.
So, he did something his head and heart told him not to do. He let go. He released his grip on the thing and rose into his knees. And began to dig. His desperate fingers turned into claws as he raked dirt and rocks away from the hood at the base of the tree. He dug and pulled, tossing rocks over his shoulder, never noticing his fingertips had begun to bleed.
Dusk turned to dark, the only light he has was from the pals moon peaking between the dying leaves of the trees and the green glow of the thing he dug for.
The moon has risen to its peak and finally he’d dig deep enough to crawl inside under the tree and see the thing he so desperately tried to reach. He was in awe of its beauty. His eyes shined with the green glow that washed over him.
It was much larger than he expected, probably quite heavy. A Crystal of some sort, he could only imagine. He knew nothing of things like that, but it looked like a jewel of the highest grade and quality.
“I’ll be rich,” he whispered. He imagined the wealth he’d have, the things he could buy. “But first a hot bath!”
He began to frantically dig around the exposed parts of the thing, trying to release it from its dark prison.
“I’ll sell it,” he mumbled as he worked. “No, piece by piece! I’ll sell a little at a time, until I have everything my heart desires!”
As he dug he noticed not the clouds rolling in to cover the moon. He heard not the howling of wild dogs nor the cries of mountain lions in the night. He only had eyes and ears and hands for the thing he wished to retrieve.
He swept away loosened dirt exposing yet more of the crystalline structure of the stone, and grasped at it to try to wiggle it free. He felt that now familiar surge of warmth and power and shifted the thing side to side, and this time, finally, it moved.
He cackled with his exhausted, raspy voice, the sound echoing under the tree. He shifted it more, and with a final tug, it yanked free from the earth.
And it was heavy. Heavier than that farmer’s prized pumpkin he tried to to steal from the vine a few summers ago. He was chased off that time, with no spoils for her trouble. But he wouldn’t be chased off anymore.
He wrapped an arm around his prize, and shimmied himself backward, out of the hole he’d dug to reach the stone. His thin shirt rode up, exposing his chest to dirt and rocks.
Finally he sat up, cross legged on the ground cradling the glowing green shard like a very heavy baby. “I’ll never scavenge for food again!l he cackled into the dark forest. “I’ll never get disgusted looks from people. I’ll never be laughed at by men in fancy coats and shoes again!” He cackled again.
What the old man did not have a looking glass to see what others might see. If he had he would see the sickly pallor from the green glow upon his face, with sunken eyes and cheeks. And the frighteningly dark look in his eyes themselves, this look came from not the glow of the stone, but somewhere else. Somewhere deeper.