Tales from the House of Winds – Aradann, Evergreen April 8, 2011Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: #fridayflash, flash fiction, Nox and Grimm
The main Nox and Grimm story is still on hiatus while I work, but I’ll be posting some shorts based on the rhyme in the beginning of A Story for Japan – stories of the Elemental Lords who lived when the House of Winds still stood, and fought its war against the Shadowkin. I hope you enjoy them!
If you are new to Nox and Grimm, you can Click Here to read from the beginning.
2000 years ago, in the heart of Zephyra, city of the Air kindreds…
Grimmalkyn paced around the castle garden, snapping and snarling at the voices that plagued every waking minute of his day. It was only a few weeks since his fellow Wind Knights had rescued him from the Shadowkin, but any chance that he might be freed from their enchantments was fading along with his memories. Even now, his shape wavered between the man he was, and the demonic hound they would have him become. He rounded a bend past the fountains, down the stepping stone path, past the lily pond, around the arbor and back up the side of a babbling stream to a resting bench, and then started all over again. Lord Galen had hoped that some time spent in this peaceful spot might bring him relief, but there was no peace for him.
Back around again, restless and unsettled, he almost missed the man sitting quietly on the bench. The dark brown skin, long braids and leaf mail armor of the Forest kindred blended with the garden around him.
“Aradann, you should not be here,” Grimmalkyn said, his voice carrying the hint of a canine growl in it.
“Why not, Captain? I do not remember any rules stating that you should be cut off from your friends.”
Grimmalkyn crouched down, resting his weight on one hand and a knee, his head bowed low. “They would have me kill you all, you know. I can hear them even now.”
“I know they will try. But I do not think they will succeed today, hmm? And what sort of friend would I be, to let you wear the garden path down to bare rock all alone? I can at least walk with you.” He got up and clasped Grimmalkyn’s forearm, forcing him to stand up with him. “If it is hard to walk, lean on me. Goodness knows we have staggered back from the bars often enough this way.”
“It is not so hard to walk, as it is to remember that I should.”
Aradann grinned. “Well then, let me remind you. What was that song we were singing for Gilraith’s batchelor party?”
“I don’t think that’s proper music for here at the castle,” Grimmalkyn said, but a hint of a smile crossed his face. “I still don’t know where Jurda found all those dancing girls.”
Aradann started laughing, setting the wooden beads in the ends of his braids clattering like a bamboo forest in a storm. “Don’t forget the krumhorn! I believe you took a turn playing it.”
“It sounded like a dying cow, how could I forget?” Grimmalkyn’s shape settled into that of a tall, broad shouldered man with black hair and grey eyes. He still wore the tabard of the Wind Knights over his plain, homespun shirt and trousers. “It was a wonder that Gilraith made it to the wedding the next day. I have never seen a groom looks so green.”
“I think his bride was half afraid to kiss him!”
They had made it back to the bench again. A horn sounded in the distance, and the smile faded from Grimmalkyn’s face. Aradann clapped him on the shoulder. “They are playing my song. I will stop back later with some cards and a few friends. I am sure you have not forgotten how to cheat your men out of their hard-earned pay.”
“I never cheat. And they are your men now.”
“Just until Lord Galen straightens you out. Do not think that I will let you saddle me with that bunch so easily,” Aradann said. “You will be answering the horns again soon enough. Have faith, my friend. Do you think the Shadowkin would be so insistent, if Lord Galen was not close to finding a solution?” He made a smart salute, and disappeared into the foliage that lined the path back to the castle.
Grimmalkyn sat down on the bench, and thought long and hard on those last words. Maybe Aradann was right. If nothing else, he was still here, and willing to fight. There was always hope.