The Brute and The Riaex

Submitted into Contest #143 in response to: Write a story involving a friendship between two different species. ... view prompt


Fantasy Friendship Fiction

 “My life can’t possibly get any worse.”

The accursed little creature that I had the pleasure of calling my sister took the last swig of her ale, “Oh Albert,” Aella grinned, “it can— just give me a moment,” she put on her green hat with its gold tassel, and a mischievous smile that made me feel queezy.

Oh, dear spirits of the ancients no…

She took her mandolin, leapt up and started strumming a peppy tune. Confidence marked her stride as she began to sing.

“There once was a man who lived under a wall; He hid from the birds and their happy songs; There once was a girl with no friends at all, she searched for a man whom her heart had longed.”

I was hit with a terrible realization. I was far too sober for this.

Grabbing my jug, I walked to the bar and placed it on the polished mahogany bar. I watched as the people in the tavern clapped and sang along with Aella and her voice that filled the warmly lit tavern.

I found the song irritating. Perhaps from having heard her sing it since our childhood.

Aella was a bard and I was a history scholar, much to the dismay of our parents who were a noble Lord and Lady of the king’s court back in my homeland of Riarid (Ria-rid). My father had planned for me to become a physician and marry the king’s youngest daughter (who I always thought had the face of a frog and the personality of a dead fish), but instead I became a scholar of the great library in Magrok (Mag-rohk), a town that was a two days riding from Riarid. Despite the fact my parents disowned me, I was happy with my decision. I got to enjoy quiet nights in the library and read thousands of great books, sleep in after late nights and learn about many cultures. I got to have a normal life. Until Aella decided to mess up our parents dream for her life too.

Aella was born with an uncanny knack for being able to pick up any instrument and play it like a master. So my mother, bless her soul, attempted to make her a skilled lady musician in hopes of attracting a lord. But Aella was repulsed by the idea of marrying a stuffy lord who would only marry her for her talents. So, she rebelled against the path that had been chosen for her and she set out to become one of the finest bards in the southern midlands. Then somehow the sly girl ended up befriending a group of scholars and librarians who were recruiting professionals for an assignment to research and translate ancient texts and runes from the western continents. Aella proceeded to bring them to my library to have them recruit me.

I found it absurd and embarrassing. I wasn’t the only translator in Magrok by any means (and certainly not the best), but I apparently was the only one who had studied and been proficient in western text and its translation into common language. So they actually decided to recruit me, take me and Aella to the west and work on the assignment.

I found the work a nice challenge. Often it would take a week just to translate a couple of pages of text. There were thousands of books, enough work to last a more than a persons lifetime— hence the team of skilled linguists, translators, historians and librarians. Our group was fairly small. Finding people who were interested, let alone passionate about this type of work was a challenge in of itself. It was especially difficult finding humans who were interested. I was the only human in the group.

Our head historian, Silas, was a troll and was in charge of handing out tasks to different members and looking into the history of the ancient west. He was, of course, a towering ugly creature with (oddly enough), the manners of a king: hard-working, charming, polite and extremely persuasive. The kind of man that could talk you into taking on a daunting task convincing you it would be utter child-play.

Then there was Clair and Fortin, dwarf-halfbreed twins from the south-western dessert. Both dark skinned with white cultural tattoos that were truly works of art. Clair was a librarian with excellent organizational skills. Fortin was a linguist who spoke at least 7 different languages, all of them ancient and forgotten by the rest of the world.

Then there was our elvish scholar, Huxley, a librarian with a knack for reading ancient runes as if they were written in common language. He was a quiet fellow who usually kept to himself. He would usually sit under walls and columns for hours, transcribing the runes into common language.

I am a historian and translator in charge of making the book texts understandable to read. I worked closely with Fortin on the translation of the language. We got along and made a good team, until Silas moved Fortin onto the research of the languages evolution and proceeded to set me up with Solice, an Agoised.

That’s when things went downhill.

An Agoised (Ah-goi-seyd) is a race of beings that are descended from dragon half-breeds and elves. They are also referred to as Moon Giants due to them being unusually tall and unnaturally white like the moon. The Agoised are not a race that is favored by many. Agoiseds are a race known for being trouble-makers, thieves, and masters in the arts of stealth and puzzles. Throughout history they had often played traitors, murderous deviants, tricksters, and terrors to travelers on lonely roads. They are intelligent and skilled with weaponry, especially spears and double-ended blades.

Solice was a young female, strong and able bodied (her lean curves attested to this), her skin as white as the moon itself and it held an ethereal glow that would make stealth difficult. She cleared me by at least a head, (maybe a head and a half). Her arms were oddly long, her hands delicate save for the iron strong nails that looked more like claws. She was mostly legs. They took up almost 3/4ths of her body. She was the strangest thing I’d ever seen. Everything about her was unnatural, unnerving even.

Solice and I worked together about as well as oil and water. She was quiet and cold. Always seeming to be in a foul mood. She never spoke to me after we were introduced. It didn’t bother me. I didn’t trust her—stars forbid I respect her even as co-worker. She was an Agoised. She was not to be trusted. There was no telling how many of the ancient texts she had purposefully mistranslated to set us behind and cause confusion for her own amusement.

I tried to warn Silas repeatedly that he should be careful about Solice, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He was far to optimistic about her. All because she knew the ancient western language and texts so well that you would have thought they were her primary language. But I refused to be so easily swayed by her abilities. No, I would wait til the end of the day when everyone had gone to their chambers then I’d sneak back to the expansive library and check her work. Only I could never find any of her work and sometimes a book or two would be missing from stacks of text we were studying. I tried to tell Silas about this trickery, but when we’d go back to the stacks everything was where it should be.

Little riaex. (Rye-ehx)

Solice listened to Aella’s music from a lonely corner. Her thin dark eyes smiling as she watched Aella dance about the tavern floor.

Proud little shadow-being. Too good to sit with common folk aye?

Then again…I too would be sitting alone if it were not for Aella. Not that I didn’t enjoy my companions company, I just couldn’t offer much to the conversation. I was not witty. I had no adventures or exciting stories to tell. I was terrible at making jokes. So I decided to avoid socializing.

Her long off-white hair was braided and resting over her shoulder. Her pure white coloring clashed with her rich blue tunic and brown trousers. Her style of dress was normal and human. She looked comical.

I took a swig of my now filled jug.

Aella practically adores her.

Aella knew I disliked Solice and resented me for it. On the evening after Solice joined our team we went for a drink. Aella let me have it, “You know, Albert, if you weren’t such a pompous dossk (daw-sk) and actually showed some sign of humanity perhaps she’d be more open to you!” The statement had yanked a few gasps out of listeners at nearby tables. It was an absurd statement I blamed on the ale.

And yet something in me knew Aella was right.

Solice would change when Aella or Silas came about, but not in the way you’d watch a stage performer change roles. It was like she slipped into a normal state, almost relaxed. With me she was quiet and cold. I suppose there are just some people you don’t get along with. I must have been one of those people for her, her loss.

“The girl sang her lovely call like a lark ‘Oh my love, when shall I find you?’ The man heard her calls, but his heart stayed stark; But her song like a breeze, still to him flew.”

My arm was yanked and I found myself stumbling around the tavern. Aella was dragging me along by the arm in attempt to get me to dance. But just as quickly as she had pulled me, she spun me toward Solice’s table, where I stumbled into a seat.

I glared daggers at Aella, her eyes dancing with mischief.

Little fox.

Despite my bumbling Solice remained rigid, acting as if she hadn’t noticed Aella’s attempts to throw us into conversation. Literally.

Not happening. Sooner would the fiery hounds from Hades pit come up and take a dip in the ocea—

“She’s very good. You must be proud of her.”

Solice’s face remained neutral as if she was simply talking to herself.

I watched Aella, “Yes, she’s always had a way with words.”


She remained rigid, “You dropped your ale.”

“Yes I-

“May I get you another?”

“Absolutely not.”


I stole a glance at Solice. She looked like a small child as she fiddled with her hands. Her voice was quiet, “I don’t blame you for not trusting me. Despising me even. I know my kind. I know they are anything but virtuous.”

A long pause.

What was I supposed to say? If she knew all this, why be upset over my caution?

Solice turned her head, dark eyes peering at me, “I’ve seen you sneaking back to the library. I’ve seen you searching my station. You look for my work. Why? To destroy it? To mar me and get me kicked off the team? You’re a proud arrogant man. Don’t see that you are no better than the ones you despise?” Her white complexion turned dusty pink and the light in her dark eyes sparked.

My anger went up like a bonfire, “How dare you! I was going back to check your work. Make sure you weren’t slowing us down. But what did I find? Certainly not your work, but books missing from the stacks to be studied.”

“I took them so I could continue the work in my chamber.” She sat back, her expression unreadable, “I am not like the rest of you. I have no one to talk to in the evenings. I have no one to write letters to, no one to think about, no one to think of me or wish me home. Those stuffy old books are all I have,” She took in a deep breath, “Yes I take them. They’re all I have to occupy my time. But when I’m finished I make sure to return them. You must have at least noticed that, proud man.”

“Oh! So I’m the proud one? You who sit alone and speak to no one you deem beneath you.”

“What part of I have no one to speak to don’t you understand? Honestly you have the wits of a marble.”

I sputtered, “You’re about as friendly as a mad badger.”

“You have all the warmth of a frost.”

“You have the charms of an ogre.”

“And you have the face of one.”


“Yes, I am. Just because I don’t agree with my kinds morals or ways of life doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to have fun with trickster traits.”

“The longer the man listened, the more he realized after all this time he had become sore; The silence of the dark which he once prized was not what he his heart desired anymore.”

Solice’s fire had dulled to glowing embers. Amusement was plastered to her features.

I, on the other hand, didn’t share in her amusement. She was right. She had put the books back. And as far as I knew wasn’t close to anyone but Aella, who spent evenings late in taverns amusing crowds.

I felt my resolve against Solice beginning to crumble like the ancient runes we coveted.

“You’ve never even tried to speak to me,” I said.


“You said you have no one to speak to, yet you have never tried to even speak to me.”

Solice hesitated, “You never acted like you wanted me to.”


She was right again.

“You think you’ve been sneaky and subtle in your hatred of me but you are about as sneaky as a behemoth. You really do have the wits of a marble when it comes to social matters.”

“Moving on.”


I took the hem of my coat and polished a spot on the rich mahogany table. Mulling the current string of events.

Had I really acted like I hated her? Did I hate her?…No. There was no reason to. She had done me no harm and to my knowledge she had never tried to secretly poison me or some such.

I really was a dossk.

I noticed the change when I started the lonely work at Magrok nearly two years ago. I became harsh, unhappy, and rather alone. My father would have been ashamed of my existence if he could see the man I had become.

“To be honest Miss Solice, I am not a kind person. I am ashamed to admit it but I’ve chosen to be this way. I have chosen the life of a lonely scholar, a hermit, and it has had an unexpected effect on me. I am unsure of how to reverse the effect.”

“Well you can start by saying ‘good morning.’”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You are pardoned.”

“No, I mean why say good morning? What will that do?”

She smiled, “Instead of completely ignoring everyone that enters the library you could at least say ‘good morning’ or ‘beautiful day isn’t it?’ You don’t need wits to do that.”

I could feel annoyance creeping its way to my face.

“You really think I’m that bad at socializing?”


I paused.

“I am pretty terrible at it aren’t I?”

“Yes, my friend, you are.”

My queeziness returned at the words my friend. I wasn’t ready for that yet.

I paused a moment. What now? I wanted to change my attitude toward life and the people in it, but I was not entirely ready to look past Solice’s…defects. (If I was being honest, I was doubting that she had many).

The weight of my actions and Solice’s words began to seep in. I had been the biggest idiot since Damaris the huntsman had tried to build a house underwater so he could live near the sea-folk and attempt to charm one of their women into marrying him.

“Miss Solice, is there anything I can do to make amends for my brutishness?”

She thought a moment, “Yes,” she smiled, eyes half-closed. She reminded me of a fox, “You can start by letting me get you a new jug of ale.”

The sly expression on her face wasn’t exactly helping me in my attempt to befriend her.

And,” She said, “you can let me mock you whenever I want, just to remind you that you are trying to mend your ways.”

“All in jest, aye?”

She wore a sarcastic smile, “Of course.”

“I don’t believe you.”

Our corner was filled with her bell like laughter.

I couldn’t complain about Solice not letting me live my actions down. I had been a brute. I deserved every bit of her teasing.

“So out from his wall he came, covered in dirt and debris; Running after her he returned her refrain, ‘You have found him my love, come now back to me!’”

April 29, 2022 03:21

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22:33 May 04, 2022

What we see when we look at ourselves in the mirror is not quite the same thing we see when someone else holds up a mirror to us. As humans our self deception skills are our armor against the world. But what keeps out slings and arrows also keeps out hugs and kisses. I've been assigned to critique your story, but I find myself incapable of doing so. It is very good! Thank you


Mary Duke
13:57 May 05, 2022

Thank you Anthony! That means a lot.


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Graham Kinross
01:03 May 04, 2022

“the personality of a dead fish,” harsh, some dead fish are charming, especially on rice with some soy sauce. Great description though. “she rebelled against the path that had been chosen for her,” it’s almost like children want to make decisions about their lives. It’s amazing how many parents don’t understand that a person has their own ideas. You need to find a band to sing the song for YouTube. You should continue this. It was a nice story with some great world building. Encore.


Mary Duke
15:37 May 04, 2022

Thank you Graham! I appreciate the feedback. I wish I could take credit for the song. My best friend wrote it for this story, bless her soul. Her family has a lot of musical talent. She's going to give her sister the lyrics to see what she can come up with.


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Tricia Shulist
19:03 May 02, 2022

That was an interesting story. Self reflection and self realization are hard some times, especially from someone you don’t like. There’s a saying — if everyone’s an a-hole, maybe it’s not them. Thanks for this.


Mary Duke
01:27 May 03, 2022

Self reflection and hearing difficult truths is something I grew up with (Clearly it's followed me into my writing haha). It's something I find rarely practiced now. Thank you for reading!


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