The marketplace is dull this time of year. It’s the same tired material by the same complacent vendors. The people of letters have grown rich and slothful telling variations of the same stories, while the newer voices need to spend much more time honing their craft before they can dare compete. They think too highly of themselves, and the drivel they write is pompous, deliberately outrageous. No chance they’d ever point a reflective eye inward to learn that lesson.
Maybe it’s time to travel again. Hire a porter and tour the exotic south. See how those people live an authentic life. Hire the tribe’s keeper of stories to return with me. Heavens know those people lack the refinement to produce actual literature.
“Nothing catching you, good sir?” The merchant has a wide, earnest smile. I must have made my displeasure too quiet. I continue looking through his selection with a deep sigh.
“Oh, plenty catching. Releasing just as quick.” I wave him away without raising my gaze.
“No, no. You’ll not find any substance in that pulp, to be sure. Not a cultivated mind like yours.”
“You pandering lout, I’ll have you–” I look up in a rage to see that same broad smile and the merchant holding a small, thin volume in his hand.
“What you need is something unique. Something exotic. I assure you, you have not read these stories before.”
“The Bird of Passage. A serial journal? Never heard of it. Looks low-brow.” I turn to leave, but there is something alluring about the book’s weathered cover, its uneven lettering, the musky aroma of far-away lands, sweat, blood. I stop and reach for my purse, a slight tremble in my hand. “How much?”
“No charge, good sir. Call it a reprieve from all of these other tired materials.” The merchant smiling his big, generous smile. He sets the small text in my hand, heavier than I was expecting. My eyes flutter closed and my knees buckle, but there’s no pain. I can hear the smile in his voice before I drift to sleep. “Caught you.”
THE BIRD OF PASSAGE is an experiment in tabletop roleplaying, collaborative storytelling, adventures, and other things. This is the introduction to the second issue, written for #RPGaDAY2019. FIGHTING AN ENORMOUS BIRD fittingly retrieved from Old Book Illustrations.