The Harder They Fall: A Storm King’s Thunder Tale – Flash Fiction Challenge: Who the **** is My D&D Character (1000 word version)

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The night’s chill reminded Zanici of the time she had fought in Icewind Dale, alongside an elf named Ah’ele Baequi‘ghymn. The elf had been cunning, but gnomes were brilliant at it, excelling in such a manner that other races were jealous. That thought made Zanici grin.

“We have our orders,” Tyauld grunted. “We can’t do whatever we like.”

“Gnomes always do what they like,” Zanici smirked. “Nothing else matters!”

“When you joined us,” Tyauld continued, spittle spewing from his grotesquely bearded mouth, “you made a promise.”

Did barbarians know so little about gnomes? Gnomes only did what they liked. So, Zanici joined a band of giant hunters hailing from Waterdeep, only because it would ultimately suit her desires.

Istean Ciselbe was the leader of the giant hunters. He was a meek and pale-skinned presumptuous human with long grey hair, from a small village along the Sword Coast, and he displayed no real combat prowess, though he spoke with uncharacteristic vigor and authority.

Zanici was mortifyingly shocked at the human’s treatment of the barbarian. You see, Tyauld was a spirited Half-Orc; his beard constantly full of crumbs, his breath rancid. But he was stronger than any full-blood orc Zanici had ever known.

Zanici knew that Rohanna was the true reason Tyauld was so passive. She was a stunning woman with curly chocolate hair. Shocking to see such a fascinating balance of bronzed skin and vivid emerald eyes, Zanici knew right away that the human female shadowed a secret from the others. But none kept secrets like a gnome.

Zanici was allowed to join the band of giant hunters only because their magic user had been recently swallowed by a giant. An opportunity presented itself and Zanici seized it, claiming she knew rune magic. It was not a lie, not really. She knew of the magic, but just was not very skilled at it. That was unimportant though; the band provided a means to an end.

“I’m doing just that!” Zanici finally said. “I made promises I intend to keep.” She pulled a small gem from her satchel, uttered some arcane words, and then was engulfed in an amethyst haze.

The haze was charismatic yet purposeful, just like Zanici. It billowed up from their hiding spot, and then dashed toward the Frost Giants’ fortress with a speed not unlike that of a fierce flood. Darting between stones and patches of ice and snow, the haze made its way toward the gates.

Just before reaching the gates Zanici allowed the haze to evaporate so that she could be seen in all her gnome glory. The three guards gave no notice of her as she circled their massive feet, scattering small pebbles about. With the pebbles aptly placed Zanici spoke a few words, and then the fun began.

From the pebbles, threads of intense light shot skyward and then fell back to the earth, crisscrossing over the giants, whom groaned in pain. It was an impressive imprisonment spell designed specifically for Frost Giants.

“No giant is a match for a gnome!” Zanici boasted with a wide grin.

From the barracks burst enraged Frost Giants, their mighty swords slashing at Zanici. Easily, she maneuvered away from them as she threw out a handful of small beads. And from these beads emerged numerous giant Rust Monsters, their fangs dripping with anticipation. Each of these conjured beast set their beady eyes upon the swords the Frost Giants wielded; iron delicacy. Zanici howled with laughter as the beasts fell upon the giants, their mouths chomping away at anything ferrous.

“A frontal assault on a giant’s fortress?” Istean gasped. “That gnome is mad!”

Tyauld watched delight come over Zanici as she attacked the giants, and something inside him churned. “That mad gnome is fierce and blood thirsty.” He swung his battle axe high and roared a battle cry that would have given even the fiercest of orcs pause.

The giant hunters rushed from their hidden place and charged the fortress. Zanici could not have planned it better.

The giant hunters crisscrossed the glacier plains quickly, and entered the fortress wailing as they attacked the weakened Frost Giants. For a moment Zanici watched, but then snuck away further into the fortress. Promises, promises.

 

Three weeks later Zanici entered Baldur’s Gate, hastily making her way through the murkiest of neighborhoods. When she found a cistern grate, magic was all she needed for removing it.

She lurked around beneath the city for an hour before finding a concealed entrance to a Drow encampment. Excitedly she descended toward the interim ruler. The guards gave her no gruff when she passed through the opening of the leader’s tent. “I kept my promise,” Zanici called out into the murky interior. She looked around and was disgusted by the filth. “Soon, you’ll be elevated again, Soora Magrora.”

“Of course I will!” Soora emerged from a shadowed corner, her vivid white hair falling over her poignant violet skin.

“Where’s my payment?” Zanici snorted.

Soora smiled. “Did you have no trouble?”

Zanici smirked, “None.”

“Really? Then you did not mind betraying those giant hunters?”

“I only promised I would use magic to handle giants, not keep anyone alive. Their thirst for revenge led their paths.” Zanici paused a moment. “The Sword Coast is safe from giants, for now. I maintained my promise of ensuring Rohanna would die.”

Zanici tossed a small satchel to Soora. “It’s there, what you asked for.”

Soora opened the satchel and reveled at what was inside, the crevices of her lips salivating. “That it is little one, that it is,” Soora chortled. She tossed a red bag to Zanici, “And here is payment.”

Zanici snatched the bag up hastily, fled from the tent, and raced back to the surface. Inside the bag was a gem of great power, and along with the sword she took from the Frost Giant fortress, Zanici had one final promise to keep: the one to herself.

Gnomes only did whatever they liked.