A Pastiche: The Grayling and Blue Hawk

Sometime in 1980, after I was given an electric typewriter for Christmas, I began not only writing stories longhand, but typing some of them and sharing them with my father.  The first one I was inspired to do was a Fritz Lieber pastiche, based on his Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser characters.  I hadn’t read the first collection in the series, yet, but I had read descriptions of the two characters and their adventures in the first edition of the First Edition AD & D supplement Deities and Demigods.

My creations were called The Grayling and Blue Hawk.  The Grayling was the big barbarian from the far northern lands, of course.  The name has two references.  First of all, he had gray hair, borrowed from the barbarians of The World of Grayhawk, even though he was only in his twenties.  Second, a “grayling” is a rather ordinary salt water fish found in the North Atlantic which has a rainbow stripe of scales on it.  Blue Hawk, was of course named for a color and an animal, like the Mouser.  Blue is one of my favorite colors and I am partial to hawks, when it comes to birds.  I used to watch them when a rare single one would fly over the house.

The actual story wasn’t much of a standout.  It was a typical adventure for two Fafhrd and Mouser type characters, a fetch quest.  They agreed to retrieve a magical artifact for a wizard.  It was held by an evil cult, of course.  They crossed as fantasy continent I had cooked up for the story, nearly killed their horses by riding them so hard and eventually ended up in far southern lands where the cult had their weird, forbidding temple.  You know, the usual stuff for swashbuckling adventurers.  Like Lieber, I added humorous touches to some of the scenes.  The final confrontation was of course epic, dramatic and violent, with several cultists being cut down when the charged the mock heroic pair in attempt to stop the theft of the artifact.

I didn’t write gory details, even then.  That was mostly because I modeled my writing on the pulp fiction I read, starting in the late Seventies.  The pulps from the Twenties onward had to be restrained in what they wrote, or the parents of the kids who read their magazines would wrathfully get them shut down.  For some reason, the neo-pulp writers of the Seventies also follow that convention.

The ending was weak.  The pair get whisked off by a wizard-ex-machina teleport spell to the wizard’s home, back in their home city.  They get their reward for delivering the artifact.  I don’t remember clearly what it was.  I think it was an appropriate reward for swashbuckling heroes as written by someone in their late teens.

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