500 Word Writing Challenge #1: Three Coins in the Hand

Rory MacLeod started a Facebook Group for Columbus Writers with sort of vague intention but I’m always drawn to supporting other writers and getting inspired to do more myself. So I joined and suggested a weekly challenge. The limit would be 500 words but each week we would seed the writing with just an image, a snippet of an idea. It would be open to wide interpretation and I think some of the fun is seeing how others take the same snippet in completely fresh directions.

This is my entry for the first week. The theme is “Three Coins in the Hand”. These are two characters I’ve messed around with fictionally as sort of classic partners (a’la the Gentlemen Bastards, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, etc.). I also wanted to see if I could write an entertaining one-sided conversation. I’m open to feedback.

Three Coins in the Hand

Bern opened his large hand revealing three silver coins which Corso snatched out of habit.

“Three shillings? What will three shillings do for us? Not that I’m one to turn away the dependable stalwart coin but we have crown-sized problems, not shillings.”

Bern sat on the long table’s bench, making the wood groan and the other patrons shift themselves away from him. He made a motion a slave brought over two large bowls of suety stew. Corso sat down opposite to his friend with distaste at the whole experience.

“Bern, time is running out. The King’s men are still looking for us and now that the Ibarites have decided to lay siege to the city, we can’t be on our merry way as usual. My local friends aren’t going to be friendly enough without some serious money.”

He looked down at the stew and made no move to partake even as Bern shoveled it into his mouth. Glancing around, he frowned as he saw more King’s soldiers march by the front of the squalid, crowded eatery.

“Where did you get the shillings anyway? You are many things my friend but a pocket filch is not one of them, at least without taking the pocket along with the coins. The King’s the only person with money in this city anyway.”

Bern ignored him, waving for more food.

Corso’s eyes opened wide.

“You took the King’s shilling!” Bern glanced up for a moment and resumed eating.

“You fool! Don’t you think walking into the King’s Court is just a few steps away from being walked into their prison?? We’d be recognized on the spot! I blend in easily anywhere but you are a man of proportions quite difficult to miss.”

A thin man stumbled into Bern and bounced back as if he’d hit a wall.

“Many pardons, sir,” mumbled the man as he faded into the crowd.

“What’s the big plan, eh? Swear our loyalties to the man who wants our heads on pikes, get kitted out in the Royal Blue, and die for him defending the gates? Or better yet, get volunteered for a suicidal sally force outside the walls against horde of Ibarite… archers and… axe…” Corso fell silent, his mind working.

“Where we fake our deaths, drop the Royal Blue, and disappear into the good night! Bern, you’re a genius!” whispered Corso his face filled with glee. “Dangerous to be sure but dashing as well and we do dangerous and dashing better than anyone!”

Bern favored his partner with a smile. “You going to eat that?” gesturing to Corso’s cold stew. Bern pulled it to himself.

“So where is the rest of the money? With the siege, the King is offering ten shillings a man.”

Bern didn’t even look up from his stew.

“What?!”

Bern raised an eyebrow.

“The money would be perfectly safe in my care. Money and I have the finest friendship. To be sure we have our spats but we always fall in love again.”

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