Flash Fiction – Aftermath May 6, 2012Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: #fridayflash, flash fiction, Nox and Grimm
Grimm walked with Nox around a small formal garden that graced one of the courtyards scattered throughout the mansion. He carefully guided her steps with a hand under her elbow, and sent a small Air casting whirling ahead of them to clear the path of anything that might cause her to stumble.
Nox took a deep breath and sighed as the breeze ruffled her dark hair. “The flowers smell lovely Grimm. But there isn’t much point in me strolling around a garden I can’t see.”
“Your nose still works,” Grimm said, temporizing, “and you need to get more Air if you are going to recover.”
She scowled and came to an abrupt halt. “All right, out with it, you big lug. You and father have been tip-toeing around me for weeks. Blind or not, I will kick both your asses if you don’t start telling me what’s going on.”
Grimm chuckled at that. “While that would be entertaining to watch, it will not be necessary. Let’s sit down, and if you promise to quit growling at me I will tell you what we’ve been doing.”
“I’m sorry. This is just so bloody frustrating,” she said, throwing her hands up in the air. “Every time I turn around there is something else I can’t do. Technomancy is right out, and so is sorcery. I can’t touch the elements without getting flattened by mother’s spell. All I can do is listen to petitions and decide what will be on the menu for dinner. If I don’t find something to do I’m going to go batty.”
Grimm caught one of her hands and gave it a sympathetic squeeze. “You will soon, don’t worry.” He helped her settle onto a decorative stone bench and sat down beside her. “Now then, what Lucien and I have been up to is researching ways to break Serenna’s spell. We have two possibilities, involving sorcery or dragonfire. Unfortunately we can’t risk waking Serenna and even if Loki weren’t busy wrestling a volcano you do not have your own elements as a buffer. You would fry to a cinder.”
Nox drummed her fingers on her knee. “Hmm, either one requires me to be functional. I’m guessing you have a third option?”
“I want to renew the spells that bound me to serve your family. The protective enchantments will open up a whole host of new possibilities for us.”
Nox jumped to her feet. “Are you out of your mind? After all we’ve been through, you would throw it all away for something that might clear up on its own? Father put you up to this, didn’t he?” She crossed her arms and shook her head stubbornly. “No way. I am not going to let you do this.”
Grimm sat patiently, waiting for her rant to run out of steam. “Do you trust me?”
“Of course I do,” she said.
“But not enough to think I might know what I’m doing?”
Her shoulders slumped a little. “It’s not that. You are just too self-sacrificing for your own good.”
“Now there is the pot calling the kettle black,” he said, with an amused chuckle. “Hear me out, little one. The enchantment can be altered so that it only lasts while we need it, and we can cut out everything but the useful parts – letting you see through my eyes, working spells through me, letting me lend you my powers.” He could see her wavering and pressed on. “You would do the same for me if the situation was reversed, and you know it.”
“Hoist on my own petard,” she grumbled. “All right, we’ll do it. But we put in a trigger to break it if something goes wrong.”
“Agreed. We can do this now if you like. The original enchantment was based on the oath of fealty between a knight and his liege. I have always thought of myself as your knight, so I do not mind doing that.”
Grimm waited for her nod, and drew his sword. He knelt before her with it held point down, and placed her hands over his on the pommel. He focused on hanging the casting marks in the air, only murmuring the appropriate responses in the right places. Their soul bond hummed in sympathy, a silent chord that sang through both of their minds.
And then it stopped.
Everything stopped, the breeze, the butterflies hovering mid-flutter above the flowers. Even Nox had frozen in place, unmoving as a statue. An empty grey suddenly tinged everything, and Grimm got a sinking feeling in his stomach.
Death waited on the far side of the garden. The Long Road stretched out behind him into the grey haze, and the sword he had given Grimm to hunt the Shadowkin was in his hand.
Grimm braced himself for the worst and walked over to meet him. “I am guessing you object to me swearing fealty to another while I still serve you,” he said. Death made no reply, so he continued on. “I would have come to settle accounts after the curse was broken, but I could not find the way to you anymore. And I refuse to take the easy way down that Road.”
Death ignored Grimm, looking over his shoulder at Nox.
The pieces fell into place in Grimm’s mind. Hel needed its guardian. Grimm had been soul-bound to the last one, and ended up taking his place. Now Nox was soul-bound to him.
“Wait sir, please!” Grimm said, moving between them. “There is still the matter of several hundred Shadowkin spirits sent to their final rest. I am owed the bounty you placed on their heads, and I ask to call in that debt. I wish to keep serving you in her place. My task is not done, there is still one Shadowkin left for me to hunt down.”
Death turned his gaze on Grimm, and a chill cut him to the bone. Grimm could not meet his eyes, no matter how hard he tried. He bowed his head low. “Please sir. Do not punish her for aiding me.”
Death moved to stand in front of him. He placed the sword back in Grimm’s hand, but did not let go of it. “She will share your fate.”
Grimm’s head snapped up and he nearly dropped the sword. “What do you mean? Wait, don’t go, what does that mean!”
But the world had already shifted and Grimm found himself kneeling in front of Nox again. The sword between them now was Death’s.
Nox finished the last words of the oath before Grimm could stop her, and shivered as the enchantment gripped them like a vice. “Was it just me,” she said, “or did that feel awfully permanent?”
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.