2nd Place — “Forge Your Own Adventure”

This piece won 2nd Place in Zeroflash’s June Contest. So, progress, I guess. The prompt was to write a fantasy adventure akin to a choose-your-own-adventure novel but under 300 words. I decided on fun over phenomenal and literary fathoms. Credit where credit’s due—my pal Jevin Goleman came up with the title (mine—”Ironfell”—not so good).

“Forge Your Own Adventure”

You are in the forge when barbarians ride into the village, shooting flaming arrows, cutting down peasants in the streets. What do you do?

A) Get cut down in the street.

B) Focus on the customer. Offer the invaders your services. Produce cheap chainmail until they’re slain by the King’s Men.

You are in the forge when a dragon attacks. Fire, death. The people seek a hero. What do you do?

A) Sneak into its lair. Become human barbecue.

B) Offer swords to ‘wyrm-slaying entrepreneurs’ with a 25% investment in the dragon’s horde. Finally get lucky. Use the smoke-singed diamonds to expand the business. Hire an accountant.

You are in the forge but the nobility prefers a business not run by a woman. They go to the Nuric Brothers. What do you do?

A) Watch your business crumble. Die a toothless crank.

B) Open a brewery and spa, call it “The Forge.” Switch from smith to artisan. Sell merch. Tiny statues of the gods, trophies that say, “World’s Greatest Hero.” Bring a wizard into the ‘family.’ Sell flaming swords, sentient shields, quivers that never empty. Acquire the Nuric Brothers.

You are in The Forge sipping mead in a steam-bath when the Darkhand resurrects an ancient horror. Ghouls break from their coffins. Vortexes split the city like a jigsaw puzzle. What do you do?

A) Scream as the wave of corruption converts you into a many-mouthed slime.

B) Don’t thwart the end of the world, accept it. Offer axes to circling gargoyles, chains and fetters to your devil-faced masters, and one ring to rule them all to the abomination that has enslaved reality (along with black crowns to fit its many, many heads).

As your hands turn to claws and eyes pour out, rest easy knowing you always chose wisely.