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Author Topic: PC680: Ashwright  (Read 419 times)

Ocicat

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on: May 25, 2021, 09:06:23 PM
PodCastle 680: Ashwright

Author: Robert Luke Wilkins
Narrator: Wilson Fowlie
Host: Summer Fletcher
Audio Producer: Peter Behravesh

Previously published in On Spec, Issue #107 in April 2018.

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Content Warning:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)



Show Notes
Rated PG-13, with a content warning for rituals for the dead, including children.



 

The plains town still smouldered, its once-strong gates blackened and ruined, but the bandits were long gone. The townsfolk were gathering the bodies of the dead into a great heap, and though he had caught the smell on the air hours earlier, Moran still arrived in time to see them working.

It was easier if he arrived when they were finished.

One of the men threw an infant girl’s body onto the heap, and Moran turned away as he fought down old memories—it was neither the time nor the place. Today was about their grief.

He walked up to the gates, and waited to be invited in. The townsfolk who noticed him at first threw him strange looks, which came as no surprise. He was a tall man, with a warrior’s build—if he were carrying a sword, he could easily have been mistaken for a bandit himself.

But the muscle was as much a tool of his trade as any he carried, and the robes he wore were unmistakable. Unchanged in more than a century, their gray-trimmed white contrasted with his sun-darkened skin—but the silver that had crept into his brown hair matched them well enough. And beneath it, always hidden, he wore a necklace—a single length of thick black cord that held twenty-seven forged steel pendants.

His heavy pack held all he needed to practice his art. His shovel and long-handled sledgehammer were tied together across the top beneath a rolled blanket, and the mighty bronze hammer’s head leaned the entire pack a little sideways. A broad brass pestle and two copper pots were tied beneath with rough brown cord, and they clattered as he walked.

It never took people long to realize who he was—and today was no exception. The whispers grew, crept from mouth to ear, and soon enough the Town Elder came out to meet him.

“You’re Ashwright.”




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Álex Souza

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Reply #1 on: September 29, 2021, 02:00:43 AM
This story has content warnings for rituals for the dead, and the narrator has lost his wife to cancer. That alone tells you that he’ll read the story with passion. I believe that must’ve been special for him.

The MC being named Ashwright reminded me of Askeladd from Vinland Saga. They look alike: someone who works with ash and gets laden with it. The story also has a Witcher/Claymore vibe. The talismans on the MC’s chest reminded of a witcher’s talisman, he does supernatural jobs for money, and talks just like Geralt or Clare.

The lone wandering ronin is a trope that I like a lot. In many stories we see a man--almost always an ignorant hunk--wandering around with a child. Lone Wolf and Cub started that, but it was popularized by The Road and The Last of Us. In Ashwright, the child is walking with the MC, just not physically.

He losing someone being the reason why he was so committed to his work was predictable, but well-executed. While he was working, I kept thinking, “Ok, so where’s your dead son or master? I know they’ll be showing up sooner or later!” Seeing the reason why earlier in the story would’ve made him more compelling, and wouldn’t leave waiting for his dead daughter to appear for more than half of the story; however, I like the way it has been revealed: in a fight.

I also liked the fact that the ritual didn’t work at the end. It defied expectation, and tells you that he will just keep trying. That’s when the story reminded me more of Berserk (R.I.P. Miura Kentarou): the theme of fighting, as a man, destiny and casualty.

Good story.

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