(Side Stories of the Iron Flower)
by Billy Wong
Bad Milk is an heroic fantasy tale featuring the indestructible female warrior known as the Iron Flower.
When an insanity epidemic afflicts bandits and wealthy merchants alike, well-scarred Rose's investigation sends her on an awkward journey into a temple of beauty.
This short story was previously published in Afterburn SF. It is a side story in the Iron Flower series and takes place after the events of Iron Bonds.
Big Rose watched the obese giant jump up from his seat with a scream, knocking over his chair so that it thudded down behind him. He continued to shout as he turned to and fro, swinging massive arms like a maddened bear. Patrons scrambled from their seats around him and scurried away, too late for one couple drenched by the mugfuls of ale his flailing launched through the air. The male victim cursed at him, and behind him the barkeep ducked to retrieve a stout club from beneath the counter.
Rose frowned, bouncing her leg up and down under her corner table while she struggled over her course of action. She had seen innumerable bar fights, and participated in no few. Her involvement here could make the difference between someone getting seriously hurt or not. But, far from home and without her braggart husband at her side, today was a rare time she got to enjoy a drink in peace without being recognized. So she sipped at her bowl of whiskey and waited, hoping things would not escalate.
The behemoth slammed huge fists down on his table, causing it to split and crash down in pieces. Rose bit her lip; it would have taken considerable force to do that. The barkeep stepped in front of him, talking to try and calm him. A backhand sent him sprawling as blood sprayed from his nose, and Rose stood.
The giant advanced on the stunned man, who two waitresses rushed to aid. One woman tried to drag the barkeep away, while the other brave girl grabbed his attacker in an attempt to restrain him. He flung her away and into a bunch of chairs. A youth ran to aid her, while two friends stepped towards her assailant. His hands shot out in a flash and cracked their skulls together. One fell, senseless at best; the other stood reeling, defenseless against the fist drawn back to end him.
"Enough!" Rose said as she caught the haymaker in her hand, a powerful blow but no more so than one of her husband's. She squeezed, relatively calm if resigned to unwanted attention later. Few men even of his size could match her strength, and she expected him to be incapacitated by pain. But when his glazed eyes met hers, she saw something she had rarely encountered off the battlefield - the madness of a berserker rage. No wonder he didn't speak. Nor did he show any regard for the crushing pressure on his hand, and before Rose could adjust to this surprise his other fist smashed into her face.
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About the Author
Billy Wong is an avid fan of heroic fantasy, with a special love for strong female warriors. He draws inspiration from the epic legends of old, and is on a quest to bring over the top deeds and larger than life heroes back to prominence in today's literary world.
Billy lives in Coney Island, Brooklyn. He has written numerous fantasy books, including the Iron Flower series and the Gothic Warrior series. The Iron Flower series consists of Iron Bloom, Iron Flower, and Iron Bonds. The Gothic Warrior series consists of Gothic Warrior and the Dark Man, Seeds of Despair, Gothic Gladiator, and Best in the Elf-ing World.