Alrighty – this was a bizarre piece, even for my weird experiments, and done to combat writer's block. It's more poetry than anything, or at least is written in prose of some kind. Posted because there are one or two lines within this that are, I think, the best lines I've ever written in original fic or fanfic. Please enjoy (and kudos if you figure out what event this is describing before the end).
It is best read aloud.
~~~~~ Our Stranger ~~~~~
Our stranger watched.
Thunder shook the foundry - not violently, but with a slow, ominous quaking that ground them to extremity; great snarls and groans lilting in chorus with the pitch of the walls.
Nay outdone, the patrons' voices rose as well. Never louder than a whisper, nor ever quieter than a yell, their machinations ebbed like waves against a creaking stern; and the vessel swayed, the storm raged and the light was seen to dim.
Our stranger stood.
A shrouded hand he'd waft to sweep the smoke before his face; amongst the blinded mob he'd wade, a tidal sway afore the counter's shore, expression stern and expedition firm in conquest, and he laid eyes upon the giant's table.
Company is fickle; few remained at his approach. His prize's gaze reproached the fleeting rears before he turned and spoke: 'What bus'ness?' he intoned.
Our stranger smiled: 'My business is my own.'
Bristling, the giant reared, with narrowed eyes betraying just the slightest hint of fear… but our stranger spread his palms and said 'a drink, my friend?' with open arms; the giant paused for thought, his glare reposing into mirth, and without further cause he cast his dregs into the hearth and held his bucket out, and calling 'Abe!' he gestured to the vacant bench before his girth.
Afore descent, our stranger licked his lips; over the bench he leant and table's corner he did grip, his shrouded knuckles white with tension no more eased by prior sips; a breath he drew with hunger as he grasped the giant's tumbler and, when eyes met, in shallow tones, our stranger quietly confers, complicitly, 'my friend, I heard you like them nifflers?', and the giant swears explicitly.
Our stranger sat.
'You're selling?' comes the urgent hiss; our stranger winces. The giant's try at subterfuge quite thoroughly evinces for those nearest dropping from the eaves or feigning mere disinterest. 'Better than a niffler,' winks our stranger with tight reigns upon his grimace. 'But first we'll drink to absent friends and health; though good health's absence this night will surely not go sorely missed.'
With great humour, the larger hefted the pail onto his bearded chin and drained. The smaller man – our stranger – made to sip, but it was feigned, until he saw the glimmer in the giant's eye begin to wither, then to die, as he succumbed to Dion's whim and whiskey dribbled down his chin.
Our stranger drank.
He feuded with the urge, the instinct as it burned, to simply cut his mindful prize from within the giant's eyes and make way into the night with what he'd learned… but with tongues advancing just as far, the dice were rolled and, growing bold, our stranger did behold the giant's hand, and from within his folds, a giant deck of cards were polled, and one by one their fellow seamen drowned until the evening blurred, the walls stilled and the storm died and with dawn out came the birds, and gossip slurred, and left alone the two were left unheard; a dragon's egg was placed within the pot, the stakes grew once, twice and then a third, talk turned upon a cur, our stranger probing catechisms - most deterred - until when all was said and done the giant won…
But oh, our stranger heard.