3 of 5 stars.
Fairy tales and folk tales often present a bit of the fantastical or magical along with a quest and perhaps a suggested moral. Nuanced character development is usually lacking as tropes of heroes and nobles [usually unquestioned in their born privilege] come with a ready package. This tight tale is no exception.
An ancient ominous tower of obsidian looms over a small idyllic village. Then, rumors of threats coming from the long abandoned tower scares the peasants into inactivity. Young Lady Varga, daughter of the ruling Lord, assumes the quest of finding out the truth and perhaps dealing with any threats to the village therein. If only she can rise above her own privileged arrogance.
Only one person volunteers to lead Lady Varga into the woods and up the mountain to the obsidian tower, a scrappy young guy by the name of Fiske armed only with a fishing spear. [He’s the only other named character in the tale.] Lady Varga is not impressed with what she sees, but hasn’t much choice in guides.
No surprises lurk in this story, but a beast up the mountain is surprisingly original and almost sympathetic.
This tale was a quarterly contest winner appearing in Writers of the Future: Volume 33 edited by David Farland.
[Check out my other reviews here.]