Flash: Porter Weaves

Previous story: Porter Gets Infravision – This is what happened when my Warlock gained her Pact of the Tome.

“We rest.” Filmore declared after the last of the bugbears heartblood finished pumping out onto the barrack floor. The two warrior women slumped, the adrenaline which had kept them moving through battle flushing from their systems leaving only the ache of injury instead of the rush of victory.

Outside the barracks, Porter shook her head, fearful the noise of the short fight carried at sufficient levels beyond the room, though little sound reverberated beyond the stone room to her location in the doorway. She snuck to the other door in the corridor and listened a moment. Less than five minutes had passed since the last time she had listened at the keyhole. The unchanged distinctive sound of dice rolling and drunkenness assured her the noise of the battle had actually been more quiet than the now deceased bugbears usual habits while living.

She sneered. These were the human guards who should have been at the back entrance the hour before sunset. Instead of protecting their compatriots, they were gaming and drinking. In her house, they would have been flogged, received extra chores, then extra training until the butlers decided the idiots were significantly impressed with the level of their stupidness. The Threshold offered mercenaries and warlocks to guard caravans. Whoever was on the other side of this door was beneath her consideration as a fighting equal. She briefly considered opening the door and showing them the error of their ways, but the butlers had cured her early of the stupidity of working solo when a team was available so she padded back to the demihuman barracks and closed the solid wooden door.

Tik nodded at Porter’s entrance from her position on the bed by the front door, continuing to clean the grime from her sword before she sheathed it. The half-orc then put the abused cloth cut from the goblin’s clothing to cleaning the worst of the splatter covering her armor. The half-elf was on the other door bed similarly taking care of her weapons, her armor, then herself in the proper order of those following a warrior path. A little more picky than Tik who crashed out as soon as she finished the basics, Selena wetted the a new cut rag from her water jug and used that for a second level of cleaning grime from herself.

“How long are we resting?” Porter asked in her developing alto voice.

Filmore looked over the group before declaring “An hour.”

Selena nodded, “That would be good.”

A snore issued from Tik, a true solider who could sleep anywhere.

The halfling, sitting on the only bed not splashed with guts and glory during the battle, shrugged. He was worrying the nick his bow received during the fight. From experience Porter knew it wouldn’t be repairable, but it would aggravate the owner until he replaced the bow. Replacing bows is like replacing sword, you never do it without at least a week to train with the new weapon. DeEste didn’t have that type of time at the moment. Instead his finger stroked the area back and forth hoping the injury to the weapon would instantly repaired.

A half-smile twisted on Porter’s mocha face, “Would anyone mind if I use the time to do a ritual for my patron?”

The dwarf grunted. “If you want to talk to your god …”

Porter interrupted. “Not my god, my patron. I don’t need to pray to Tempus right now. This is business, not worship.”

DeEste jerked in surprise. “Oh, well then.” He had thought the group’s wizard had been following a false god, but Tempus, while not the best ideals of war, had many things to recommend him and worked closely with HIS GOD in matters of Just War.

Porter carefully walked through the gore strewn room, getting nothing on her clothes. She had thrown magic through the door and managed to avoid the splatter-fest the hand-to-hand warriors’ wardrobes had suffered. Bending over one of the bugbears solidly hit by her magic, she pulled a thread from the burned area the Eldritch Bolt had hit. Humming she pulled a bone hook from her braids and wrapped the thread end around the hook, then touched the end into a puddle on the floor of the defeated enemy congealing icor. Standing up she walked over to the barrack bed where the halfling sat. The other three beds had been claimed by those who had suffer injuries during the battle.

The halfling scooted over, marveling at the burnt thread being pulled out of the bugbears clothing, connected to the floor puddle where it turned a blue-red-black and thickened as it passed through the icor and continued to the hook the mage was now running around a bracelet she had been wearing and had slipped off over her hand. The bracelet was a simple cooper piece bent in a hundred different hooks and spirals. As the humming grew softer DeEste could nearly make out words and the hook made tiny “tinks” hitting the metal bracelet. Within the bracelet, the beginnings of a cloth formed about the circumference of a halfling hat. The colors constantly changed through all the colors of the rainbow, line after line. The fabric forming below the line of weaving looked like a cross between fabric weaving and knitting.

With everyone resting, the halfling nearly nodded off despite being the guard on duty when the warlock, whose glazed-over eyes were clearly not seeing anything from this world, reach sideways with the hand not holding the hook and pulled another thread from midair. She brought the thread and held it a moment before reaching into her hair and pulling out another hook. Once the amazement of something coming from nowhere passed,  DeEste eyed the braids and decorative bits scattered throughout them speculating what else of value was hidden in Porter’s tresses. He didn’t notice when the bag closed at the bottom.

Close to the end of the hour, Porter snapped the thread with her teeth. The copper bracelet had turned into metal edging absorbed into the flap of the bag’s design with an eye. One of the hooks had been integrated into the front of the bag and the hook closed the bag through the eye.

Looking over at the halfling, clearly having returned to this world, Porter smiled slyly hefting the full bag in one hand. “Shall we see what is inside?” she asked quietly, the rest of the party still resting. Twisting the hook out of the eye, Porter opened the bag and pulled out a book covered in threads which DeEste had never seen before.

The human twisted her left ring finger under one string and her right index finger under another string, back and forth she worked, her tongue slipping out between her lips as she concentrated. Eventually her hands were covered in a Cat’s Cradle and the book opened to a page. Moving her hands in a manner not very much different from spell casting, the strings formed into a Witch’s Broom and the page turned. Page after page passed from one side to another as the string went through dozen of shapes of the children’s game, Soldier’s Bed, Jacob’s Ladder, Winking Eye, Open the Gate… and some he had never seen before even in the games his training had included to prepare his fingers for lock picking. Finally the spellcaster nodded and closed the book, wrapping the dozens of strings back around the book and tucking it back into the newly created rainbow cloth pouch.

“Not a bad selection. I may need to work on it a bit as we continue to adventure.”

Intrigued, the thief raised his voice some to be heard over the stirring of their warrior companions. “So what would happen if someone cut the strings so they could open the book.”

“Oh, my patron just loves providing learning experiences to the stupid and lazy.” Porter’s broad smile included a nose scrunch directed at the halfling.

(Words 1,327; first published 2/2/2020)