written as an experiment in Story Dice; Image at end of story
There was a sign.
Poul had not been expecting a sign.
That was not entirely accurate. Poul had not been expecting a literal sign, the sort that was on a post and had an arrow. Maybe an omen. Maybe an old lady who needed some berries picked.
If this was a storybook. If this was a fairy tale. Poul… sometimes was not too clear on if it was or wasn’t. That had caused some problems over the years, truth be told, but had, in the end, led to Poul setting out on a quest, because either there would be signs and something to do, or Poul would find someplace more interesting to live.
But there was a literal sign pointing down the road, “This way to the locked tower.”
This way to the locked tower sounded like a sign, all right, of both sorts.
Poul headed that way. The road was long, and it twisted and turned as it went, and the sun set long before Poul reached anything but another sign.
“This Way to the Locked Tower,” the second sign read, and below it, in smaller words, “Bring tribute.”
Poul had nothing to bring as tribute, so Poul looked around. The moon was a sliver in the sky, but it was a clear night, and Poul could still make out enough to see the flowers at the roadside.
Flowers were appreciated, right? Poul picked a large bouquet, and tied them up with a bandanna. Then the road beckoned, and Poul continued, adding other roadside plants as the night stretched on.
The moon was thinking of setting when Poul reached an intersection. In the middle of the intersection was a tall woman with bits and pieces of scavenged metal hammered into armor, standing between four barred roads.
“Halt!” She held up her hand. “You can only pass if you bring proper tribute.”
Smiling, Poul held out the flowers.
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