Monday, January 25, 2016

City of Curses: The Audacity of Gunslingers (Flash Fiction)

A brief tale set in the City of Curses, #Crux.  Agu Burning-Storm is a Tengu Gunslinger, and she's never found her people as fascinating as the foreigners in the city below her.  But sometimes, she can take things a bit too far.  Here's a #flashfiction of a sort on it.  IDK if this is complete, but it feels like it is a complete beat.  I need to collect these stories at some point I think.

  

Audacity is what gunslingers do.  It made her clan elders frown at her.  But so long as Lady Burning-Storm gave her usual mad approval, Agu knew they couldn't stop her.

"My past lives are too boring to be left in charge."  The raven-head tengu girl laughed to herself.  Even though Tengu couldn't truly fly, Sato Agu Burning-Storm glided through Crux with glee.

This foreign land always fascinated her.  Even after drinking Blue Rose Tea on her twelfth year, Agu never could find the ways of her people or her own past lives interesting. No more interesting than the strange people that walked the streets below them.  She had the memories of a dozen folk, but none of them had taken up the same class as she had.  Agu became a gunslinger.  She adopted the ways of the gaijin.  On top of that, her people hadn't exiled her for it.

Agu enjoyed the thrill of the wind fluttering in her wings.  Her red dress skirts fluttered in the wind.  She wore a dark crimson jacket over, covered with a bandolier and her gun's gear.  Agu had long dyed her head's feathers red, blue and white.  All colors of the Ithish flag.  More of her way of flicking disrespect at her people.

She landed on rooftops in Old Crux.  The long glide across the sleeping straits had filled her with a rush.  Agu giggled and dropped down to the street below.  With the sunsetting, the streets had become eerie and filled with twilight.  The evening crowds moved from one street to the next.  Drinking.  Singing.

"Ah."  Agu had a big tengu smile on her head.  Of course no human would notice it.  Oh well.

Agu began her rounds.  She'd visit several taverns and pubs in the Old Crux.  It had the most history of any part of Crux itself.  The quarter had the most colorful folk to meet.  People and stories Agu loved to hear.  One day she hoped to be the source of some of those tales.

The Tengu Gunslinger moved toward the Wayfaring Star.  The pub had a few regulars Agu had grown to adore.  But the strange wagon in front of it this night made her take pause.  The smell.

...Tojo mixed the powders proper as his master showed him.  Few knew this secret, but they would make the fireworks do their work.  A admixture of powders whose familiar smell made the Tengu apprentice feel a bit sick.  But still, Tojo did as he was told...

Agu's past life made her stop.  That smell.  The old memories of a Tengu Alchemist apprentice from five centuries before.  They told her what that scent was.  Gunpowder.

She popped her head into the wagon proper.  Her beak parted the canvas.  A trio of humans blinked back at Agu in surprise.  Their coats were a familiar red.  Agu tilted her head.  She didn't recognize them.

"Pray tell, what are you doing with this much gunpowder?"  Agu asked them.

They blinked at her.  One of them, a blond human, pulled out a pistol.  She or he, Agu could never tell, pointed it in her direction.  Agu looked down at it.

"Get back!"  The blond cried.

Agu rolled her dark eyes.  "Honestly.  You have a three barrels of blackpowder right behind you.  Aren't you a little worried about a spark?"

The blond blinked, looking down at the weapon.  The other two muttered curses.  Agu gave another hard-for-humans-to-notice smile.

The Wayfaring Star sat on a hillside.  The incline never had been huge.  Without thinking, Agu kicked out the blocks holding the wheels.  The three humans stumbled in her direction, grabbing for her throw the hole she'd made in the canva.  Agu then jumped onto the wagon, jarring it forward.  Forward and downhill.

She landed atop one of the three gunpowder barrels within the wagon.  Agu laughed, pulling out her own pistol.  The revolver clicked as she balanced on one of the barrels.

The audacity of her actions made the three humans stare at her.  The wagon rumbled as it picked up speed downhill.  Agu tilted her head.

"We're moving now."   Agu said.  "I wonder what these barrels are like when they hit something?"

"You can't!"  The blond exclaimed.  The other two didn't bother asking.  They just leaped out of the wagon, trying to get away from the doomed wagon.

"Traitors!"  The blond yelled.  "I refuse to let-"

Agu slammed her pistol into the blond's head.  The human's head snapped forward.  Agu tossed the blond over her shoulder.  Then she jumped through the back of the runaway wagon.  She opened a wing, gliding a bit on it, then grabbed onto a awning.  Agu hung there with her captive.

"I wonder what this all had to be about."  The gunslinger pondered.  The wagon continued to rumble, crashing into a set of stairs.  It then exploded.

She decided the discretion or something, whatever had to be the better part of valor, was needed here.  Maybe she should've asked before she had just blown up the wagon.

"Oops."  Agu added.

She needed to learn to ask questions before she did things like this.