The prompt for this story once again came from the ever wonderful Tale Foundry. But even more exciting, the following short was read aloud on their Twitch stream they do every Friday. Let me tell you, I screamed out loud, shook my husband like a crazy person, and generally disgruntled Hephaestus (the cat, my editor). The recording of the stream is available on their Youtube channel called “Tale Foundry Scrapyard” and you can listen to Mr. Benji Cook bring my characters to life. My story begins at the 49:21 timestamp but I highly recommend listening to all of the stories from the video because there is some great talent showcased. There are also tons of other great short stories done by others in the Tale Foundry community that are part of those videos.
If you would like to rifle through the Scrapyard for yourself, I’ll include the link for you!
Now, on to the actual prompt. The prompt given was “A different kind of war.” If you watched the stream, you might notice that I haven’t changed anything after the criticism. This is not because I don’t know how to take criticism (I appreciate and welcome any and all constructive criticism I can get), it’s because this site for my ramblings is for the raw stuff. If I chose to polish a piece, it will be because I think it has a chance of being accepted should I submit it somewhere much more professional than this site. Please enjoy what grew out of this wonderful prompt.
Swords to Plowshares
I stared at the pile of weapons the man had brought. The collection consisted of mostly blades, but here and there a spear or pike could be seen.
“You’re sure you want these melted down?” I asked.
The warrior, for he couldn’t have been anything else, gave an affirming grunt.
“And you want them turned into… tools?”
“Farming equipment, yes.”
I looked at the weapons again. Many tools could be made with what he’d brought.
“I am able to pay you,” he said, mistaking my thoughtfulness for worry about payment.
“That was never a question.” A dagger with swirled etching caught my eye and I tugged it from the stack. “The question is why. You could sell most of these, buy the farming equipment you want, and have money left from your sales. The King’s war has them in high demand.”
His hand running over his stubbled cheek sounded like sand on rock. “If I did so, they would find their way back to the likes of those I took them from in the first place. This way, I know they will produce life, rather than death. The King’s war is not mine.”
I wondered then if this warrior knew the losing battle he was fighting. There would always be weapons in the wrong hands. The King would continue to take able-bodied men from their villages, leaving the women and the infirm behind to fend for themselves. If those left had the right tools, perhaps they could survive. Maybe this battle-field veteran knew what he was doing after all.
“You’ve brought me a lot of material to work with,” I said, putting the dagger back down. “What kind of farming equipment are you needing?”
“Everything a single farmstead could need. As many of each item as you can make.”
We discussed prices and method of payment then. Surprisingly, he agreed to most of my terms. I had expected to haggle more.
“I will return in three weeks,” he said as he walked to the open front of my shop. “Perhaps I will bring more business for you.”