I like this scene, which I wrote some time ago. I’d need to flesh it out some to use it, and obviously go somewhere with it.
I’ve never figured out what story goes with it … though I have dabbled with leaving it as a free-standing short story that leaves the end somewhat open.
I think I’m using it in a YA-level fantasy on which I’m working, though it will need a lot of changes (not the least of which, there won’t be a drunk 15-year-old in it).
The file name on my computer is “Chapter One – defunct.”
Anyway … here goes:
A lone man strode down the street. His brown robe billowed around his legs, and a cloak hung behind him. In his right hand he held a walnut staff. The man was certainly not young, and he appeared to be very feeble. However, his grey eyes were full of power – a fact apparent only to those few who noticed.
Men and women on the street gave the man a wide berth, though they were not aware of it and had no idea why. They simply stepped to one side or the other and let him by. Children, though, looked at him with a combination of fear and awe. Children, and a few other people ignorant enough to know better, saw that there was something peculiar about the man. They were simultaneously terrified to look at him and drawn to do so.
The man himself paid no mind to the townspeople. He walked along their street and made his way to his destination, never looking up at the signs or at any of the people he passed. His white hair, receded from the front half of his head but grown long in the back, was unkempt and frazzled. He turned to enter a large inn, still not looking up at the signs or the markers. He seemed simply to know where he was going, though no one had seen him here before.
He pushed open the door with his left hand, and stepped in, his staff tapping along his way before him. He strode into the common room and walked over to a young man sitting alone in the corner. The man, little more than a boy, looked up at the elderly newcomer.
“Yeah?” he asked.
“In many ways,” the old man pulled back a chair and sat down, still holding his staff in his right hand. “I would think to lecture you for the fact that you are far too young, and it is far too early in the day, for you to be this inebriated.” If he felt anything at all emotionally, it was not carried in his voice despite the rebuke in his words.
“I don’t remember asking for your permission,” the young man snapped. His face had at least two weeks’ growth on it, and his dark brown hair made the elderly man’s seem neat. He pushed the hair away from his eyes and looked the man over. “Wha’ d’you want?”
“Ah, well, straight to the point. Wonderful!” the older man replied, his voice calm and level. “I have a need for your talents, my good man. I believe that you would be very useful to me, and that I could enrich you greatly.”
“I,” the young man scoffed. “I’m useful to no one. I have do’ my du’y, and I am not int’ested in being enriched in any way.”
“Ah,” the older man leaned back in his chair. A barmaid walked over, but the elderly man waved her away. The younger man opened his mouth to speak but she didn’t wait long enough to hear anything that he might have to say. “Then you intend to live out the rest of your days in this town, collecting a pension, and simply getting by on the generosity of the patron lords?”
The young man smiled and nodded. “Yep.”
The old man leaned forward on the table and spoke very softly but firmly. “That is a waste of a life.”
The young man laughed uproariously and leaned back, clapping his hands. “A waste of a life! My life has been a waste. What’s left of it is useless! I had a place in this world, but it’s done. Now,” he paused, looking at the empty mug that sat in front of him. “Now, I have nothing to make my life worthwhile except for sitting here, drinking, and collecting my pension.”
“And what is the point of your drinking?” the elderly man asked.
“Little enough,” the young man answered. “To be drunk!”
“You will find, my good sir, that that is much more difficult these days. In fact, I imagine that you’ve noticed by now that the room is spinning considerably less than it was when we began speaking.
The young man looked around the room. “You’re right. What did you do?”
“I have given you a small blessing. A token of appreciation, really,” the elderly man answered. “Please, help me.” The younger man leaned forward. He curled his hand around the handle of his mug, then picked it up and threw it. The young man wasn’t sure how it happened, he didn’t see the man move, but the mug flew past the other man’s head.