Luck Be A Halfling

Submitted into Contest #180 in response to: Write about someone losing their lucky charm.... view prompt


Adventure Fantasy

Holly Peddlewood twiddled the wood-carved three-leaf clover in her halfling hands as she scouted the hidden entrance to the temple before her. She loathed these one-person missions. When she was with the others, she’d be reassured against the disastrous scenarios an anxious mind conjures before a tense quest.

The carving fell from her hand and struck the earth with a

clatter. She glanced and noticed it landed, and stayed firmly, on its stem; a rare occurrence, but for Holly as clear sign of favor by Fortina herself.

She pulled a coin from her pouch and silently prayed before she flicked it into the air. Heads! She smiled and confidently pumped her fist once.

She started towards the secret entrance and thought of how high

priestess Aventine would chide her for being faithless; for having to confirm Fortina’s blessing with a coin trick. Still, this was a mission to make sure of things, especially with how fleeting and fickle luck can be.

A heavenly glow descended upon the area when the full moon

cleared the clouds and settled its gaze upon her. She pulled out her mission letter and unfurled it towards the moonlight.

"Dearest Sapling,

This is the moment we've been waiting for.

Reports confirmed that two prospective thieves have discovered a

long-abandoned temple to our dearest Lady Luck. We cannot allow anyone outside

the order to claim it and soil our good name. Speaking of, little lady, I better not hear one more peep of you abusing your holy charm! And in gambling halls of all places!

Remember this, what we're after is the evergreen clover. As the

name implies, it's a natural four-leaf clover that was said to have been grown by Fortina herself!

The knowledge of its whereabouts was lost, but all signs point to this temple. We know not the exact location, but there is an old rhyme in the journal of the last known possessor

Her Clover, Her Green

Mine to be overseen

Rammed under, asunder

where grasses have been

With Luck,

First Lady Aventine O'Shorn"

Holly grimaced at the reference to her gambling habits. “What's

the point of being lucky if you can’t use it?”

She reached a set of decayed oak doors that sat limply on their

rusted hinges. She turned the corner past the entry way and was stunned to find a warm glow dancing across the stone at the end of the hall. She was not alone tonight as she'd hope to be.

She approached the corner and stuck near the wall with her

stiletto knife in hand. No sound could be heard except the wind rustling the pine leaves outside.

She felt a sudden ramping warmth, almost painful, in her leg

pocket. She muffled her urge to gasp and reached into her pocket; one of the three leaves on her clover disintegrated at her touch. At the same exact moment, a loud snore broke the silence mere few feet from her. A groan rose in volume to a gruff growl, quickly followed by a snarky high-pitched voice.

"Blast it all, Fig, I can't sleep with you rumbling the

stone with your stinkin' breath!"

A snort accompanied a droll and dumb-sounding voice, "I-I'm

sorry Hop, I can't help what I'm doin' when I'm sleepin'!"

"You think I don't know that!?" he snapped back. Holly

would have giggled if she weren't so tense. She rubbed her clover in her pocket and thought a small prayer of thanks.

“Aagghhh... I can't sleep as it is anyway. I don't know why we’ve

to wait for the others... I mean, surely there's enough loot to go round for everyone anyway. No one would notice if a few baubles here and there weren't around when they arrived anyhow!"

"Uh, I don't know Hop, I don't know. We were told to wait

before we entered, we were told that, Hop."

"Blast what we were told! Ma told me I'd amount to nothin'

and look at me now! A bonafide member of The Eye and sitting just a few feet away from a castles worth of treasure! Besides, we should get a little something extra just for babysittin' the place if you ask me!"

“The Eye!? So they’re even out here…” Holly thought. Her palms

wetted at the prospect of this sacred place being swarmed by Determitus lackeys, soldiers, and priests.

"Well, you put it that way..." Fig rubbed his hands

together and imagined them lined with jewled rings. "I don't 'spose they'd be missin' a few baubles here and there...We best make quick work of it, we must. They should be here within the hour or so, I'd wager." Hop gave a triumphant, ”Yes!” and scurried to his feet, eager to get his grubby fingers on the loot within. 

She heard them walk on and followed in the shadows a few paces

behind, silent as the fog, before stopping at another corner. The stonework felt familiar on her hands, a more traditional Fortinian fashion, thousands of tiny pebbles thrown haphazardly among the mortar, texturing the area from floor to ceiling in a pleasant prickle; except for the floor which was worked smooth by foot traffic.

The movement of the light in front of her slowed to a stop

before she heard them speak again. She stuck her dagger out from the corner and glimpsed them both on the reflection. Though vision distorted, she made out two men, one large and one small. On their backs bore the white symbol of the wide-open eye of Determitus.

That familiar piercing gaze bubbled up nightmares, as if their backs created an uneven face of judgement, boring right into her. She would've been paralyzed if not for the startling curse shouted by

the shorter one.

"Blast it, locked! Of course, It'd be!" He said,

kicking the door.

"Any other way in, Hop? Another way in perhaps?" The

larger man said, scratching both his hairless head and rotund belly at once. He stared at the door inquisitively and tapped it before turning to his companion. Hop grabbed the lock and shook it. Rust snowed down, but it stood fast around the handles and chain.

"The main entrance looked collapsed as all get-out… Perhaps

we can break through a window, c'mon." At those words, Holly pulled her dagger back and prepared to make a stand. The familiar burn warmed her pocket before she heard Fig’s voice shout, "Woah!", followed by a great crash of splintered wood and chains hitting the floor.

"Fig, you blundering clutz!" Hop laughed and saw his

friend look up at him from inside the temple. "Don't know what I tripped on, but glad I did, I am!" he replied and laughed in kind.

Holly dared to look again and saw that Fig had indeed burst

through, the door ripped from its rusted hinges and busted on the floor. She fumbled for her charm. Second leaf now crumbled at the touch. 'Please, keep me in your favor for a while longer...' she prayed.

She carefully crept from the corner and entered the chamber

after a few moments passed. Her ears tracked the echoes at the end of the room, about a hundred paces off. She ducked behind a pew and looked up to find a carved archway adorned with green tapestry, a four-leaf clover in the middle of a white circle on a grass-green field, the center of which holding an emerald.

'Just like Aventine's chambers...' Holly pondered. She stepped

under the doorway and down a flight of spiral stairs.

She arrived at the bottom of the staircase and found herself,

again, at a locked door. This one smaller than the one upstairs and bound shut by an unassuming keyhole. She tried the door timidly and confirmed that it wouldn't move. "Time to make my own luck..." she said wryly, reaching for her lockpick. She made quick work of the simple lock, and thanked her troubled past for teaching her these skills. Gingerly the door creaked open and she stepped in, toe-to-heel.

Initial inspection of the opulent room would have dropped the

jaw of any commoner, though Holly was rather disappointed. It reminded her of Aventine's office at home. A gilded version, perhaps. From floor to ceiling there was art, statues, and other items all of a natural theme with enough clover symbols everywhere to make you sick of them.

Same bed, same desk, even the same taxidermized mountain goat

found so often in the temples to Fortina. The animals revered for their courage in scaling sheer cliffs; making every bound from level-to-level look effortless, as if they trusted that reality would acquiesce to them wherever they landed.

"Alright, you proud priest, where'd you hide the evergreen?" She scanned the yew desk and noted an aged letter written in beautiful handwriting. She peered over it with discerning eyes.

"To whom this will concern,

I've been instructed in my prayers by The Lady herself, much to

the befuddlement of the sect here, to abandon this temple, as is. There can no doubt that these words will confuse the others as much as they do me, but we’ve no choice. It will pain me to leave such a hallowed place, but let it be known that I know my duty, nay, my debt, to the one who has stacked the deck in my favor for well over seventy years of life. Additionally, she told me to leave

this note and a speakstone in the top left drawer. Should her message be for you, you've only to whisper your name to the stone and listen. Luck be with you, chosen!"

Holly opened the drawer and retrieved a smooth obsidian orb,

perfectly spherical, with an etched white rabbit’s paw. She awkwardly cleared her throat and whispered, "Holly Peddlewood." She waited for a few moments, accompanied by complete silence. She rested her eyes and sighed. Relieved that she was not caught up in some cosmic game she had no desire to be a part of. Her pocket lit fire again, the last clover leaf crumbling and burning away in her pocket, leaving her naught but a stem.

"Greetings, Holly!" Her blood ran cold for an instant

and she dropped the stone on the desk; it was as warm as her carving. The distant voice of an elderly man played a quarter second before a beautiful sing-songy voice overlayed the message. Her tone was warm as spiceberry ale next to a fire.

"Long will I have watched you when you get this, message.

You’re one that stands out from my followers, yet I find in you an honest

example of the values I hold most dear, my darling halfling. My order has as

much to learn from you as you from them, though I'm afraid both sides will

never admit it." Her chuckle calmed Holly greatly, she felt as if she had

rediscovered an old friend.

"We've much to discuss, but the hour is late and your luck

has ran out, I'm afraid."

Holly heard a distant clattering of boots on stone, followed by

the two screams of the men she had followed in. She gasped and instinctively

scanned the room for exits and scowled. Only the one. 

"I've instructed this friendly priest here to hide what you

seek where he deems best and to secretly spread the word of its existence.

Trust in yourself, dearie. Find it and keep it! Finally, as you'll be fond of

saying, it’s time to make your own luck! I believe in you!"

The stone cracked and crumbled into dust on the desk. Her mind

buzzed and nearly panicked with the sounds above fast approaching. She

scrambled towards the door and slammed it and blocked it with an oak bookcase

with a crash. She frantically scanned the room for something, anything.

She tried to breath slowly, in and out, while she fished out the

mission note in her bag. With adrenaline-trembling hands she pressed the note

against the desk and read it once again, paying close attention to the rhyme.

The door resounded loudly as boot struck wood and held fast

against the toppled bookcase. “By fate of Determitus, this temple is hereby

claimed by our lord, The Decider! Rejoice for your fate is nearly upon you,

Holly Peddlewood! Let us in and meet it with honor!" His voice boomed and

felt ominously jovial.

Her breathing grew fast as she grasped the barren stem of her

clover, thumbing it, trying to squeeze as much power from it as she could. An

axe broke through the wood.

The man in front reached his large, gloved hand in, trying to topple the stubborn door-block over. "Hand me that!", he shouted and grabbed the axe from the man beside him. He jammed it between the door and the bookcase, trying to pry it away enough for them to force it open.

All the while, Holly was mouthing to herself...

"Her Clover, Her Green

Mine to be overseen

Rammed under, asunder

where grasses have been"

Crash! The bookshelf fell free! Three of the men stepped back

and positioned themselves to charge with their shoulders. "Ram us in,

boys!" the leader shouted, his voice filled with dreadful mirth.

Holly's eyes flashed in realization and said, “Rammed under,

asunder, where grasses have been!" as she leapt and tackled the stuffed

mountain goat in the corner of the room. She hit it with such force that its

legs caved in, bending its hooves out; She found stuck fast under a cloven hoof

was an ornate golden locket. She fumbled it in a panic just mere moments before

she was thrown across the floor by the scuff of her cloak. She and the

locket tumbled towards the other side of the room before hitting the stone with

a nasty crack. A small trickle of blood ran down her short hair.

"You cannot escape fate, Holly Peddlewood. Nor can I. It is

my fate tonight to bring you yours! You see now that you have no escape, yes?

Stand and declare you accept your fate. May The Decider find better use for you

in your next life."

Holly looked up slowly to him and shouted, “My story is my

choosing, and mine alone!"

"None can defy their fates!" he boomed back

"Fate is nothing but whatever you and your evil god twist

into reality, you monsters!" She flitted her eyes around as she spoke and

saw the glint of gold five feet to her left next to the iron boots of one of

the men. She stood fully and wavered on her feet. She was surrounded now.

He scoffed, “Don’t you see, girl? Tis not by our own will that

we come here, but by the will of The Decider! He instructed our order to end

your story at this day, at this very hour. By your name, by your description,

your exact location! We follow the rule of order, to hold to the greater good

of things, by following the plan! For all of us! Your death will bring the

fulfillment of some greater good! You should be thankful to know, for a

certainty, that your life has meant something! Well…The ending of it, at the

very least!" He laughed mercilessly.

As he spoke, she mentally marked the distance between her and

the locket. As he approached the crescendo of his laughing fit, she closed her

eyes and pretended to faint towards her left. The locket was nearly in her

reach, but the man there moved to catch her and blocked the way. At the last

second, she quick-stepped to the right and snatched the locket at his feet,

grasping it firmly in her hand.

The man saw her ruse and moved to kick her, but she deftly

rolled between his legs. Surprised and off-balance, he tumbled into the man

next to him. No longer laughing, the leader screamed, “You fools! End her! She

cannot escape fate!"

She stood against the desk, about to duck her way to the side,

when one of the bowmen at the door let loose. The arrow flew swiftly before it

veered off course, striking the desk. Holly grasped the locket as tight as she

could, praying and scanning a route of escape.

The priest roared furiously, "I carry out your will, do I

not Determitus? Guide me then!" he yanked the axe from the bookcase and

brought it high over his head. He charged and stopped before her. She stood

frozen, staring at him as he raised his weapon high overhead. Holly only leaned

back in anticipation; her grasp still strong on the locket praying for

protection as the world spun around her.

A dull thunk lead them both to look up to find that the axe

stuck fast in the wood beam above him. The wood begun to splinter. He yanked as

hard as he could, more annoyed than anything, and with a great crack, the beam

above fell on him in two pieces, swiftly followed by a cascade of earth and


she moved to the side of the room and surveyed the carnage. She

let out a relieved sigh, the stone barely missed her by inches! What started as

ten imposing men quickly became the one bowman at the door. When the dust

settled, and his shocked faces turned to her. She crossed her arms and smirked,

dangling the locket at him, and said, “Feeling lucky, fella?" Holly never

saw someone ascend steps so quickly. She could only chuckle before saying,

"I'm not happy those nutjobs are after me now, but I suppose as long as

you're with me, I'll be alright, ey?" She flicked the locket up and

snatched it in midair before making her way outside.

She sighed and settled down to take a breather before her

journey and held the golden locket in her hand. The panel swung open and

contained a simple red velvet backdrop and nothing else. It was completely

empty! She looked up to the sky and could only laugh.

January 14, 2023 03:41

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Russell Mickler
22:25 Jan 19, 2023

OMG Blessed Fortina, Halflings (swoon)! I write about Halflings, too! Very imaginative. I really liked the dagger and the reflection of oncoming characters, the orb, the way the protagonist talked to herself, and even a smattering of poetry. I hope to see more of The Eye and Holly Peddlewood in future posts! R


Wendy Kaminski
23:42 Jan 19, 2023

Russell is one of my favorite fantasy authors that I mentioned! :)


Russell Mickler
00:03 Jan 20, 2023

OMG! *blush*


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Reece York
04:15 Jan 20, 2023

I'm so glad you enjoyed the story! There's something so compelling about the small-folk isn't there? I'm overjoyed to hear you'd like to read more about them! I'm sure Holly has plenty of adventures ahead of her! I'm looking forward to reading your work as well! Thank you for reading!


Russell Mickler
16:13 Jan 20, 2023

W00t! Halflings are _cool_. Even wrote a blog post one day ... Why I Write Stories About Halflings. Grin Hope to see more of your stuff around!


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Wendy Kaminski
22:30 Jan 19, 2023

This story was so terrific, Reece! There are a couple of fantasy-based authors on here whose work I really enjoy, and yours is right up there with theirs! So many things to like about this: the plot was great, the poem parts were really neat literary devices to throw in (and well done!), and I particularly loved the idea of the speakstone! What a cool invention!! Some of my favorite lines: - "I better not hear one more peep of you abusing your holy charm!" hehe Oopsie! :) - "thousands of tiny pebbles thrown haphazardly among the mortar, tex...


Reece York
04:22 Jan 20, 2023

Wow! What a thoughtful and motivational comment! Thank you so very much for taking the time to express your thoughts on my story; Nothing lights a fire under me more than to know that someone enjoyed something I've made! The spiceberry ale line was one of those wonderful moments when you're in the flow of things that just FEEL like you struck a good tone. Very cool that you picked that line out as well. Looking forward to reading your work as well, and thank you again for the motivation to continue on in my writing journey! <3


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Reece York
04:07 Jan 14, 2023

I apologize for the awkward formatting, I had to rush to scrub 1,000 words before submission because I misread the limit as 4,000 instead of 3,000! Woops! Haha, I was scrambling to get it submitted before the deadline, so I couldn't clean up the formatting as much as I'd like. Still, I hope you enjoy the story!


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