â€śThisÂ ain’tÂ gonna work, Vargus,â€ť the embarrassed impÂ said as he flew behind his two friends. He was having a difficult time seeingÂ out of his face mask and his wings were chafing at the edges of the fat suit theyÂ had squeezed him into. â€śWho ever heard of a blue porkasis?â€ť
Though none of them had ever actually seen one of theÂ famed flying pigs, everyone knew his Lordship Ker Sevikrage kept several of theÂ talking creatures as petsâ€¦until he ate them. Grogen shuddered that someoneÂ might actually try to eat him. He vowed to ear-flame the first creature to comeÂ at him with a fork.
â€śThatâ€™s why itâ€™s going to work,â€ť Varga assured him, herÂ voice surprisingly deep and raspy for an imp not yet past her seventy-fifthÂ birthday. â€śWhen we present a rare, blue porkasis, the guards will have to takeÂ us inside the castle.â€ť
â€śTheyâ€™ll have Grogen for lunch,â€ť Snork quipped. Though largerÂ than his two friends, Snork had been declawed at a young age. But he made upÂ for it with his sharp tongue.
The three imps had been flying low to the purple andÂ green tree tops but suddenly found themselves in the open air above a smallÂ castle. Grogen immediately sensed the magical nostril tunnels inside theÂ guarded walls. Those tunnels were their way off-worldâ€¦but only if everything wentÂ according to plan.
Fat blue chance!
Grogen didnâ€™t see how anyone would believe he was a blueÂ porkasis. But if they did, he had no intention of becoming someoneâ€™s dinner! HeÂ gagged as Varga dragged him down into the courtyard.
â€śKeep fluttering,â€ť she whispered, even as her own clawedÂ red feet settled onto the lush green grass.
Without claws that were almost necessary for landing, SnorkÂ nearly knocked her over.
They had no more than touched their feet to the grassÂ when a towering gray creature stomped across the moat bridge to challenge them.Â He was covered in metal armor and a helmet with four protruding spikes. Any oneÂ of the imps could have fit inside the enormous creatureâ€™s shoe.
â€śWhat come you for?â€ť the stupid creature asked, staringÂ down at them. The deadly rows of teeth that split its thin gray lips suggestedÂ intelligence wasnâ€™t required for guarding castles.
â€śWe brought this,â€ť Varga said loudly. She yanked onÂ Grogenâ€™s leash.
He gagged but managed to stay aloft at about the heightÂ of the creatureâ€™s shin.
â€śItâ€™s a rare blue porkasis,â€ť she continued.
â€śFlying Porks not blue,â€ť the orc spat. Its eyes narrowedÂ as it leaned down.
Grogen prayed the onions Varga had mixed with his blueÂ dye would work.
The orc took a deep wiff and might have sucked GrogenÂ upward if Varga hadnâ€™t been holding tightly to his leash.
â€śMe smell stew,â€ť the orc said.
â€śOnions,â€ť Varga corrected. â€śBlue porkasi eat lots ofÂ onions.â€ť
The orc didnâ€™t look convinced but turned and startedÂ back toward the castle.
â€śCome you,â€ť the creature boomed. â€ťYou show Krage Lady. ThenÂ maybe orc stew.â€ť
Grogen panicked and struggled to get away. His wingsÂ flapped wildly.
â€śStop it,â€ť Varga hissed. Flames shot out her ears.
Grogen didnâ€™t care. Obviously the orc had its next mealÂ planned and blue onion imp was on the menu. He grabbed to free himself from theÂ leash but the fat suit was too tight and his hands were stuck inside the hoof-shapedÂ gloves. Obviously, what Varga said was lotion was actually glue. What kind ofÂ mess had the she-imp gotten him into?
Suddenly, he remembered various events from their past,Â like the way she had once tricked him into eating goblin dung. And then theÂ time she had tied him to a baby dragonâ€™s tail while he slept. Only luck and aÂ well-positioned ear flame had gotten him out of that mess.
I knew I couldnâ€™t trustÂ her!
â€śCome on, Grogen,â€ť she hissed and yanked again.
He bared his teeth but realized the face mask hid hisÂ expression. Defeated, he allowed her to pull him along like a childâ€™s kite.
â€śOrc stew,â€ť Snork whispered then grinned and moved up toÂ walk beside Varga.
Seventy-two yearsÂ old and this is the best I can do for friends. I deserve to die.
The castle seemed much larger inside then out. The orcÂ lead them down several wide stone hallways to an immense room filled withÂ colorful wall tapestries. An old Pandemone woman dressed in red silk sat on aÂ throne against one wall. A black cat in her lap hissed at them. She stroked itsÂ head.
â€śWhat have we here,â€ť she said.
â€śI present you a rareâ€”â€ś
â€śShhh, shhh,â€ť the woman said holding up a hand heavilyÂ adorned with rings and bracelets.
â€śJasper, please throw these three imps into the dungeonsÂ until their master can retrieve them. Itâ€™s the blue porkasis scam again.â€ť
(anÂ 800-word flash fiction story from the Zachary Pill universe)
from â€śMaineâ€™s Other Authorâ€ť(TM)Â Tim Greaton