Challenge #02392-F202: Legendary OrphansteemCreated with Sketch.

in fiction •  2 months ago 

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What if the Human race were fantasy creatures to races we think are myths (ie elves, dwarves, kobolds etc...). -- AmberFox

The world is big, bigger than you think it is. A shire may be enough for a Halfling, but there are entire mountains and valleys that have not been traversed by one being. There are realms in which the people who live there believe that they are the only people in the world. Then they meet other people... and the world gets even bigger.

Omnidale is not one of those isolated towns. As a hub of trade and commerce, one can meet all kinds of folks operating under the Pax Mercator[1]. Goblinoids haggle with Dwarves and Dragonborn over the price of dried fish. Elves wrangle against ogres for building materials. All is well.

...until...

Until a covered wagon from the sprawling labyrinth of the Underdark hits a bump in the road and a cage spills out, breaking in the process. The creature once contained in it dashes for cover, temporarily unnoticed. Small things, mostly edible things, that dropped on the ground were quickly snatched up by this hidden creature. It wasn't until the evening that Klimantyne the Elven tapestry merchant discovered the small being hiding under his stall. It was skinny and underfed, and was in the middle of consuming an entire leg of ham that Klimantyne had purchased as a family treat.

It looked almost like an Elf, but was decidedly not so. The eyes were too small, the ears stunted, round, and immobile. Its limbs were too long for the creature to be Dwarven, its skin too smooth to be a Dragonborn and too red to be Orcish... It was, in brief, a puzzle. A puzzle that stared up at Klimantyne with frightened eyes as it desperately stuffed its cheeks with all the ham it could hold.

It was filthy, covered in sores, and had the remains of one manacle about its ankle. Well. Klimantyne had never much liked the slavers anyway. He offered the strange scrap of life a segment of apple.

The creature rushed to snatch it, making the fruit vanish with the same speed that it demolished ham.

"There, now," cooed Klimantyne... "I won't hurt you. I'll keep you safe from the bad ones."

If it understood, it gave no sign, but it was grateful for Klimantynes Prestidigitation cleaning it from top to blobbish toe.

"See? I'm good."

It took some time to coax the odd little creature out from his stall. Time, and hot food. It wore clothes, and could eat with a spoon or a fork, which meant it had to be civilised, and it had the scrawny look of a being not quite grown, so it had to be a child. Beyond that, Klimantyne was lost as to what it could be.

The slavers didn't miss it and, after some weeks of singsong chatter, it managed to speak more than a couple of words in the trader tongue. That wasn't the confounding part. The confounding part was that this was a creature of myth and legend. A Human.

Though the illustrated storybooks differed on the details, the general look was there. Tall as an Elf, round-eared like a Dwarf. Dappled like the Tabaxi, but almost as hairless as an Orc. How a legend had come to life was a miracle that Klimantyne could not unriddle. Yet, there it was. Alive and breathing and growing right before his eyes.

Klimantyne named the creature Ham, after their favourite fodder, and was grateful for their assistance. They seemed eager to do as much hard work as they could in return for all the food they could eat and more resilient clothing than the rags Klimantyne had found them in. It seemed like less than an eyeblink before Ham was as muscular as an Orc, too.

What a good thing that was, when some bandits attempted to break the Pax Mercantor, and perform a raid on the merchant's carts and stalls. Ham used a bolt of thick cloth as a cugel and -once they'd flattened five of the attackers- some of their own weapons against them. One Human could fight like five Orcs, too.

...just like all the legends said.

It didn't take long after that for the assembled merchants Ham saved to gather coin and materials enough to make them armour and weapons that were more than sufficient for driving away any other threat. Ham was happy enough to help.

One thing stuck in Klimantyne's mind. Ham had begun as a child. That meant that -somewhere- there was a land overflowing with these legends made flesh. He could only pray that the other races survived that inevitable encounter.

[1] The peace of Merchants. Loosely translated: We will sell you anything, so long as you allow us to live to sell again.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / tobkatrina]

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