• T. Mark Mangum

Mr. Mason and the Frum of Cket-a3

When your purpose in life is, Adventure Travel guide in the Grand Taosan Galactic Empire, you have some very important boxes to check. One, know the world you are taking clients to better than you know the world you were raised on.

When your purpose in life is, Adventure Travel Guide in the Grand Taosan Galactic Empire, you have some very important boxes to check.

One, know the world you are taking clients to better than you know the world you were raised on.

Two, teach them everything they need to know to gain the greatest experience form their adventure.

Three, never lose a client.

Number three can be tricky you know because worlds are expansive and unpredictable and full of characters that don’t rightly care for the client the way an Adventure Travel Guide cares for the client.

Cket-a3 is one of the Ten Thousand other worlds in the Grand Taosan Galactic Empire or GTGE as we will say from here on as Grand Taosan Galactic Empire is a lot of words that don’t need to be repeated when we can agree that GTGE is fine among friends.

Possibly I should expound on what is meant by the Ten Thousand Other worlds. In the lives' of the Taosans, the Galactic Empire is a thing, a fact of life something that is. Taosans know all about the Included Fourteen Worlds for they are part of early education. Populations of species from the Included Fourteen exist on Taosa mixed and mingled throughout the system. The Included Fourteen Worlds are technologically advanced enough that imagining, seeing, and benefiting from the advanced technology of Taosa Prime is more like an exercise of thought.

The occupants of the Other Ten Thousand life-supporting worlds of the GTGE on the other hand have no idea that they are citizens of the GTGE but would be thankful they are if they knew. These planets are where the species from the included fourteen and Taosa could live well, or with some hardship. This is not of course, that there are no other life-supporting worlds throughout the Galaxy, just that these particular worlds are compatible.

The Other Ten Thousand worlds also and more importantly to a Taosan, present a unique environment for all citizens to gain greater knowledge through experience. These worlds are in a different place as far as evolution, societal, philosophical, and technological development goes. Zercats for example harbors a pre-space flight society, post-nuclear, that is in and out of war between nation-states. Roelth-1 is wilderness with isolated bands of intelligent beings trying to survive, grow their tribes, and tame the wilderness. Cket-a3, is a fabulous world, greatly populated, iron aged technology, with wildly diverse beasts and monsters; they embrace the mystical arts that still exist on Taosa but were widely abandoned Eons ago.

Citizens of GTGE know about the other Ten Thousand life-supporting worlds. Some like Mr. Mason know greater details of a few, and excruciating details of one or two of those worlds. In the case of Mr. Mason, Certified Adventure Travel Guide, and owner of Mason Travel, twelve worlds worth of excruciating detail. There are many reasons to learn about the different planets within the GTGE, whether it be simply for the increase in personal knowledge, or it is necessary for the completion of a citizen’s regular daily purpose, the accumulation of knowledge is a Taosans primary life goal. Experience being an integral piece of the gaining of knowledge, most Taosans wish to experience the Included Fourteen and the Ten Thousand Others in a personal way, Purpose or Adventure.

“Cket-a3 is in a binary system that has 12 planets moving about its two stars. Cket-a3 will be the 3rd planet furthest from the suns and comes closest at its Perigee to Cket-a”. Mr. Mason explained to his clients.

“Cket-a3 is a widely populated planet of Bi-pedal, sentient beings not dissimilar to Taosans making it a prime adventuring planet. You have made a good choice.”

“Masson Travel and associates have utilized an orbital observer class 5 at Cket-a3 for eight years now. We have had a presence in the city of Rostian now for two years. We guarantee a unique, in-depth, adventuring experience that only you can limit through your willingness to shed the technology and lifestyle you have here at home to embrace the brutal realities of the less advanced world that is Cket-a3.”

Six months later Mr. Mason and his clients Asher and Sylvia Torent of Taosa Prime, Capital Lane, were in orbit around Cket-a3.

“In fifteen hours, we will disembark the lander, it will redeploy to the ship here, and we will be on our own on Cket-a3 for 3 months. We have a support staff of four already there, they will help you stay safe. However, to truly experience Cket-a3 you will need to experience danger.”

Asher a fighter and Sylvia a user of the mystic arts found themselves separated from the party. The great hall of the decrepit castle feeling a bit smaller now, as the creature that Burges called the Frum, was fully exposed, out of the large hole in the floor. Too bad they had been so quick to make their way across the room to the golden statue that sat on the mantel of the large fireplace. Sylvia was quick though, having come from a family with deep roots in the Mystic arts, the air between them, and the frum exploded in flames, and smoke. The monster flinched backward toward the hole it had come from. Sylvia in a motion looking like a mime pushing on a wall moved the flames forward. Asher let two arrows fly through the flames that hit mid-body, small clumps of fur smoldered from the burning arrows.

Mr. Mason, or Saul the name he used on Cket-a3, Burges, and Hombre all showered arrows down upon the beast as they entered the room. Hombre stayed back taking up a position atop a table that allowed him continued view of the beast for the support with his bow. Hombre had a magnificent bow and the sharpest, strongest arrows and he never missed. Saul and Burges switched to their melee weapons, Saul a long Broad Sword, Burges a Flail with two large steal, spiked balls on chains.

The Frum, a hairy, beast with six legs with grasping appendages as feet hands, did not like fire so it moved quickly to the three that last gave it pain. Grasping at Saul, it received a nice poke through its front left clawed foot hand, swiping at Burges it caught the swinging flail just so, causing Burges to lose balance and fall to the floor.

Asher leapt forward and aided by Sylvia with an invisible force incantation, Asher seemed to fly across the room, landing on the back of the surprised Frum, as Asher brought the battle-ax down hard on what he hoped was the creatures spine.

Luckily for Burges, this happened a moment before the beast’s aggression towards him could unfold. Hombre continued to unleash arrow after arrow, soon they would all be gone, and he would have to use his sword.

The beast reared up at the great blow from the ax, thrashed about rolling, roaring, thrashing. Asher was thrown to the floor, slid several feet and fell into the hole, Sylvia moved forward to peer down into the hole across from where Asher had fallen.

Saul moved closer to the Frum waiting for an opening, when the thrashing and clawing spun the creature exposing his chest Saul moved in with a great arching hack, both hands above his head, Hombre also took advantage of the exposed underbelly his skill allowing him to unleash three arrows that hit its mark.

The Frum still thrashing a bit less wildly received its death-blow from Burges who had regained his feet using the Flail he hit the beast on the back of the head as it moved toward the hole trying to escape into the safety of its den.

Sylvia stood at the lip of the hole looking down, she had sparked a glowing orb and released it down into the den of the Frum so Asher could see. There was a pile of dead things, men, and beast in the middle of the den, a young Frum was circling Asher, kept at bay by the short sword and dagger Asher had acquired form the pile of rotting Frum victims.

Saul noticed a froggy lizard thing slinking toward Asher and leapt into the den atop the pile of dead things gaining the creature’s attention and highlighting it for Sylvia, Hombre, and Burges. In short order, a flaming dart of Mystic origins took the froggy lizard thing form the fight. Several arrows and the attacks of Asher, Saul, and Burges who joined the fray in the pit had dispatched the baby Frum.

They took account of the party, their surroundings in the Den of the Frum ensuring no other creatures were about to deal death to them and surveyed for loot. In all the take was less than expected but enough. After all, gaining experience and knowledge was the goal. To that end, Asher, Sylvia, and Hombre Deployed the medical scanner which hombre carried, it flew about the room above the creatures scanning, ex-raying, poking, and prodding the fresh kills and cataloging them for all of GTGE to see.

The flight home was uneventful, Mason travel was well established on Cket-a3, Asher, and Sylvia very satisfied clients with many adventures to relate to family and friends, and Mr. Mason was happy his purpose fulfilled.


The Mr. Mason stories are published in the Medium online publication Illumination. Please consider joining Medium as a paid subscriber. When you read my stories on Medium I get paid.

Copyright: T. Mark Mangum, 2020. All rights reserved. No part of my story may be copied, reprinted, or published without my written consent.

T. Mark Mangum, is the product of the 60s and 70s, his imagination, wonder, thoughts, and ponderings, emboldened by Star Trek, Star Wars, Conan the Barbarian, and The Hobbit. He loves a good story and hopes you will love reading his stories. Veteran, Father, TTRPG, and board Game Junkie. He spent 20 years in the United States Army, another 10 working for the government, before realizing he should write.

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