Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Legally Dead - Dragonlance Fan Fiction

Before I became a Dragonlance author, I was a Dragonlance fan fiction author. Back then, there weren't any websites for fan fiction and we carved all our stories on stone tablets, which I sent to Dragon magazine. None were ever published there, but one of my fan fiction stories was eventually published in a Dragonlance anthology. It was The Restoration and the anthology was Relics and Omens. But that's another story.

I wrote Legally Dead sometime in the early 90s, which was before Dragons of Summer Flame came out. The setting of the story is Solace, after Legends but before Summer Flame.

Mama always said no good would come of that marriage, but some people wondered what business was it of hers anyway? Mama always had something to say about everything and everybody, whether they wanted to hear it or not, and it got so that people just quit listening to her and started shunning her. But she sure hit the goblin on the head about that Widow Burrfoot.

People called her Widow Burrfoot long before Uncle Tas was declared legally dead. You may have heard of Tasslehoff Burrfoot. From what he says, he saved Krynn from almost certain destruction at least five times, been to the Abyss and met the Queen of Darkness, seen the Kingpriest of Istar, and was close personal friends with Paladine. He wasn't my real uncle, as he was a kender, but Mama said he might as well have been my uncle as I seemed half kender anyway, because I was always losing what I needed and finding what I didn't. My pants had big pockets in those days and they were always full of useless junk.

Anyway, this Widow Burrfoot caused no end of talk around Solace. Mama said she behaved like a harlotous old gully dwarf, always running around on poor old Uncle Tas and him just sitting there taking it like a whipped dog. What he was thinking marrying a full grown human woman - that's what everybody wanted to know.

And boy was she ever full grown! She had half the men in Solace falling over their chins that day as she rode into town on the back of that horse, with Uncle Tas leading it by the halter and grinning like the goblin that drank the grog. But the widow (she wasn't a widow yet) just sat in her saddle scowling down her nose as though she didn't like the looks of Solace at all.

She was from Haven, and that's where Uncle Tas had met and married her. He always said he clearly remembered the first part, but not so much the second. He said that in Haven she had been a debutante in the hoidy-toidy, whatever that is. Mama said it meant she earned her keep by handing out towels to people after they visited the outhouse, like what you see at the finer inns in Palanthas.

I remember that first day like it was my Day of Life Gift. Mama and me were walking home from the market, me with a basket full of vegetables and Mama with a mouth full of nonsense, when we met them on the road from Haven. The widow wore these long white gloves that came up to her arm pits and a tall wizard cap with a bit of somebody's drapes hanging off the point. I suppose that was her hoidy-toidy uniform. Mama just looked at her and said there was no accounting for what a kender might bring home.

Uncle Tas had retired from the adventuring lifestyle and had opened this shop that he called Burrfoot's Museum of Krynn, where he kept some of the strangest and most wonderful things you ever laid eyes on. People would come all the way from Palanthas just to browse. Uncle Tas did business like a kender. If you found something you liked in his shop, you could take it, provided you left something behind.

One time I caught this old muddy boot while I was fishing in Crystalmir Lake. Uncle Tas wanted that boot, because he thought it might have been the boot that Flint Fireforge had lost that night they were escaping Fewmaster Toede and his toadies. He traded me a magic ring for it, a ring he said could turn you into a mouse. It was a most special shop that way, chock full of stuff you never would have thought of, and Uncle Tas had a knack for discovering the fascinating history of anything you might bring in.

But sometimes people didn't have anything to trade, so they would buy what they wanted. Pretty soon, Uncle Tas had become one of the richest people in Solace. Of course, him being a kender he didn't have much use for money except to buy presents for his friends or rounds of ale at the inn. He also donated a good bit of money to the Shrine of the Hat in Haven, which is where he met his wife. The kender had shrines to Paladine all over the place. There was the Shrine of the Feather and the Shrine of the Golden Span and of course they had the Shrine of the Fireball, until it blew up. But for all the money he gave away, Uncle Tas couldn't help making more. His shop was always full of customers, like gully dwarves in slop jar, Uncle Tas would say.

When he had about as much money as he could stand, Uncle Tas decided to take a vacation to Mt. Nevermind, where the gnomes live, so as to get some peace and quiet. I think he just wanted to get away from his wife, as she had started to run around with every sort of ruffian and scoundrel you care to name. He didn't take her with him, that was for sure. Maybe she didn't want to go, and I can't blame her, from what I've heard of Mt. Nevermind.

The widow stayed on minding the shop. You couldn't trade things anymore and all she wanted was money and lots of it, and she even tried to make me give back my magic mouse ring. I don't have to tell you, business slacked off pretty darn quick. After about a year, she closed up the shop and moved back with her family in Haven, 'to wait for Tasslehoff' she said. But he never showed up.

Part 2
© 2009 Jeff Crook

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