This week’s Free Fiction Friday story from UnWrecked Press is “Meet the Madfeet.”
UPDATE: Now that the free week is over, you can read the rest of this story by downloading an ebook from Amazon and Smashwords. Then you can read it on your laptop, desktop, Kindle, iPad, Nook, iPhone, or whatever device you use to read ebooks.
This story is also part of a four-story bundle of fantasy stories, if you’d like to save a buck.
I wrote this story as my tribute to the beloved world and creatures created by J.R.R. Tolkien (though my version was definitely a tongue in cheek version!). “Meet the Madfeet” was first published in the DAW anthology Fantasy Gone Wrong. Tip: This story is supposed to be funny. 😉
Meet the Madfeet
Everyone who lives and breathes in our green land thinks that my predecessor, the Mighty Greybeard, could do no wrong. That includes the accursed little people, those smiling, singing, irritatingly needy little fur-feet.
I tried to stay away from their villages built into the sides of hills and keep out of their business, especially if it entailed a visit to the cramped caves that they call home. Without exception, I found their holes filled with mouse droppings, birds’ nests, and blue mold, not to mention the ends of worms and an oozy smell.
Yet the fur-feet kept calling me back, and my fellow wizards claimed to be too busy to respond to their summons. So I went, if only to keep my membership in the Guild active for at least one year more. That was the price I paid for my youth and my vocation: a fledgling wizard must serve the common good, for when he stops, he loses his power. My predecessor, now living a life of repose in the Far Havens, took this fact to heart.
Which explained how I found myself on an early spring day under a glistening white and blue sky, perched on the unforgiving seat of my mule-led cart, venturing into their distant, rural villages once again.
I looked down at the piece of parchment pinned to the grey cuff of my sleeve. These directions surely had to be the worst yet; our cartographer had been smoking too much pipeweed again. According to these scribbles, I was to turn left after the stone bridge over Wellwater Springs and continue up the slow incline leading west. I mumbled a quick spell of veracity over the parchment, and the ink glowed a confident baby blue. The directions did not lie.
I felt a tiny shiver run through my bones at the use of Magic. After only three years as a full-fledged Guild member, I’d thrilled at the way the power felt as it flowed through me. Though I must admit, I’d still hadn’t gotten used to all the energy the Magic required, taking it from me one bite at a time.
I turned off the smooth dirt trail onto the rock-strewn path, and immediately the sky began to fill with rain clouds. The cart’s wheels jarred against a boulder, then a hole as big as a small crater. As my mule honked in protest—oh, for an actual horse, like the rest of the wizards, I thought, and not for the first time—I realized where we were now heading.
The brown hills. Or, I should say, the Brown Hills. I’d never been this far west, nor had I encountered any fur-feet who actually lived in this hostile clime. Gone were the fields of wheat and barley hemmed in by quaint rock walls, past me were the ale houses and bakeries on each corner, and behind me were the dancing children and crowded gardens of flowers and vegetables big as your head.
Here, in caves carved out of the petrified mud and crumbling rock of the Brown Hills, lived the Madfoots.
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