Flash Fiction – Mirror, Mirror November 25, 2011Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: #fridayflash, flash fiction, Nox and Grimm
The mansion was never silent. From the thrumming of the river that rushed beneath it, to the chatter of guards and servants in the lower halls, the building was alive, and Serenna knew all of its moods. Today, however, the sounds were muted, as if the very stones held their breath. She sometimes wondered if the mansion was truly aware of what went on behind its walls, and whispered its secrets to its master.
A small prickle of fear ran down her spine at the thought of what Lucien would do if he discovered what kept his wife occupied in his absence. The fear was quickly followed by anger. This was his fault. If he had not insisted on getting their daughter involved in the dangerous politics of the elemental Houses, Serenna would not have had to take such drastic measures.
She swallowed to moisten her dry mouth, and made the preparations for her summoning spell. “Never show fear,” she reminded herself. That was the first rule when dealing with the undead. “You have done this many times. Courage, Serenna. It is for the best.” She knelt down to touch the edge of the summoning circle embedded in the floor, and activated it.
“Talking to yourself? What an odd little thing you are.”
Only a supreme effort of will kept her from jumping at the disembodied voice. The creature must have been waiting for her call. Serenna frowned in displeasure at the entity slowly materializing in the middle of the circle. The creature wore its preferred shape – a young, auburn haired forest kindred – but nothing could hide the aura of ancient malice that surrounded it.
“I presume, by your early return, that you have failed,” Serenna said.
“Patience, my poppet,” it replied, in a sweet, cultured voice.
“I told you never to call me that,” Serenna snapped. It sounded too much like ‘puppet’ when the creature said it.
The entity cast its leaf-green eyes demurely downwards, but there was no submission in the gesture. “My apologies, mistress. It is true, Grimmalkyn has rebuffed my first attempt to regain full control of him. But I have made some small progress. You will now be able to adjust the course of your daughter’s life without his interference. Shall I show you?”
“You will do no physical harm to my daughter, Katya,” she said, invoking the creature’s name to bind it more closely to her will.
“Of course not, my mistress,” Katya said. A dandelion puff formed in its hand, and floated straight through the scrying mirror on the wall…
The night breeze blew little white dandelion puffs through the moonlight. Loki plucked one out of the air, whistling cheerfully as he rode into the valley that held the ancient waypost of the Air kindreds. Nox and Grimm had made a lot of progress in the weeks he had been away – the site looked more like a small town now than a ruins. The supplies he had secured would take it even further, from being merely habitable to downright comfortable. The waypost had become a rallying point for those who sought to bring justice to the Morning Lord and his New Dawn lackeys. More refugees from the occupied Storm territories were arriving every day. The House of Winds was once again becoming a beacon of hope in difficult times.
Loki waved a welcome to the ghosts of the Wind Knights who stood guard at the entrance, and led his weary horse into the stables. He was feeling a bit travel worn himself, having ridden on ahead of the supply caravan, but all of that fell away as he caught the scent of Nox’s perfume.
He smiled as Nox snuck up behind him and ran a teasing hand across his chest. She had a garland of dandelions puffs woven into her jet black hair, and an impish grin on her face.
“Hello, blue-eyes,” he said, returning the smile.
Nox slipped away before he could catch her hand. She stopped just inside an archway, looked over her shoulder and beckoned to him, her pale skin luminous in the moonlight. Loki’s grin broadened, and his pulse quickened as he gave chase.
She ran lightly ahead, always just out of reach. Loki began to laugh; she was probably channeling Air to speed her way. “That’s cheating, luv!” he said. Fire could move fast too, however, and he put on a burst of speed. He caught her in a courtyard that was still under construction. “No more running,” he said, and pressed his lips to hers.
Something didn’t feel right. He looked up as he heard a choked sob from somewhere nearby. Another Nox stepped out into the moonlight, her face rapidly going from stunned disbelief, to cold anger. “Welcome back, Loki. I’ll expect your report on the supply run in the morning,” she said, and turned to go. The woman he had been holding pulled away from him as well.
Loki sent a wall of fire up around the courtyard. “Oh no, neither of you is leaving until we straighten this out.”
The second Nox stopped, her shoulders stiffened. “There’s nothing to talk about. It’s perfectly natural for you to want to be with your own kind.” She made a slashing motion with her hand to try and cut through the barrier with a blast of icy wind.
Loki strengthened the barrier. “Look here, there are two Nox’s and until I know which of you is the real one, you’re staying put.”
She looked back over her shoulder, her dark blue eyes furious. “Last I checked, I did not have red hair.”
The other Nox was still backing away, and had not said a word. Loki called up a small amount of dragon fire, and there was a sudden pain on his chest where she had touched him. The glamour she had placed there burned away, clearing his eyes and revealing a scarlet haired Fire kin.
The fire kin gave Nox a furious look. “You are right, you filthy half-blood. The Lord Dragon belongs with his own kind!” she said, and sent a torrent of flames at Nox.
Loki dove between them and absorbed the blast. When the fires died out, the other woman was gone. He turned to Nox. “Are you okay?” he asked, checking for any signs that she had been burned.
“Yes. I think so,” she said, shakily, not looking at him.
He reached out to cup her face in his hands, and brushed away the frozen tracks of her tears. “It was a glamour. I swear on my life, I thought she was you.”
“I saw the mark when you burned it off. It just…shook me a bit.” She blinked and visibly pulled herself together. “I guess we had better get used to that sort of hostility from your people.”
“That was too malicious, luv. I’d say our enemies had more to do with it than a jealous stranger.”
“Maybe,” she said.
Serenna waved an irritated hand across the scrying mirror, not wanting to watch the rest of the sappy reunion. “You have failed again, Katya,” she snarled.
But Katya looked triumphant. “I have succeeded! Think! Your daughter is soul-bound to Grimmalkyn, and yet there she was, surrounded by fire and drowning in anguish, and he did not come to her side.”
Serenna gave the creature a startled look. “What did you do?”
“The mark the imposter placed upon the boy is a subtle, but strong enchantment. It befuddles the senses and clouds the mind. I placed the very same mark on Grimmalkyn, and he has no dragon fire to remove it,” Katya said, giving Serenna another graceful curtsey. “The way to your daughter is open.”
“Even if he cannot sense her distress, the guardian still spends most of his time at her side,” Serenna said. “You can keep him distracted?”
She gave it a wary look, measuring any gains against the very real danger of it getting loose. “You will do nothing without first seeking my permission. Do not forget, I released you from your prison, and I can put you back.”
“I never forget, poppet,” Katya said, and smiled.
This flashfic is part of an ongoing web serial, updated every week as a part of #fridayflash on twitter. If you are new to Nox and Grimm, you can Click Here to read from the beginning.