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Flash Fiction – The Long Road February 26, 2010

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: , ,

This story is part of a weekly series, updated every friday. Click Here to read from the beginning.  

Loki draped an arm around Nox’s shoulders, grateful for something to lean on.  The wound to his hip was giving him more trouble than he had expected, but he could not afford to show any sign of weakness in front of the enemy guardsmen.  Fortunately they were honoring the truce around the duel and leaving peacefully.   He just wished they would leave more quickly.  Damn Roald, even in death he was a pain in the ass. 

“Where is Grimm?” he asked.

“He’s chasing off those cultists that were with the Morning Lord.  He’ll be here soon.”  Nox said.

The ghost hound materialized a few feet away from them.  “I’m here now.  So if you two are quite done standing around making goo-goo eyes at each other, can we get going?”

“We were not making eyes at each other!“she protested.

“Mmm-hmm.  Just like you weren’t getting cosy in that lover’s grotto while I was out here doing all of the hard work.”

“Roald buried us in there. We were trying to get out!”

“Riiiight… I’m sure you always think about cologne when you’re in a life or death situation.” he teased.  “We’re going to have a long talk about keeping your thoughts clear when you try to contact me, short-stuff.”

Loki got a broad smile on his face when he saw her blush.  Still, as fun as it was to watch Grimm wind up Nox, he was starting to feel a little woozy.   Maybe he should sit down, just for a few minutes, while they flagged down a carriage.

“Loki?” Nox said, as he sagged downwards.  “Oh no, Loki! Stay with me. C’mon, look at me…”

 Loki opened his eyes, but Nox wasn’t there.  Instead, he was standing next to an old stone road that ran straight as an arrow through a featureless plain. He turned around to look for any other sort of landmark, but there was nothing.  He shrugged to himself.  It seemed the only choices were to take the road, or stand here and do nothing.

“I wouldn’t step on that if I were you. Once you start, it’s hard to turn back.”

Loki spun around again, startled by the deep voice coming from right behind him.  A big, powerfully built man in antique plate armor stood just an arms-length away.  Loki eyed him up, trying to figure out how he had missed seeing him before.  He was at least a foot taller than Loki, and nearly twice as broad through the shoulders.  His hands rested with easy familiarity on the pommel of a sword that stood point down in the ground.  Everything about the man was battered and battle-scarred, from his face to his heavy steel armor.  His dark, graying hair was cut short in a military fashion, and his eyes were a dark grey as well.  Loki realized he had been staring and searched to find something to say.  “Those scars must be a bear to shave around!”

Fortunately the big man looked amused rather than insulted.  “Two thousand years of fighting tends to leave its mark on you.”

Then it hit Loki – he knew that voice.   It was just missing the rumbling growl that usually accompanied it.  “Grimm? But you’re not a…”

“A hound?  No.  That’s the funny thing about ghosts.  We are as we remember ourselves to be. And here, I remember everything.”

Loki was about to ask where here was, but he had already guessed. This was the Long Road, the last road a man ever took.  The sobering reality of it sent a chill through him. “Am I dead?”

“No, but not for lack of trying.” Grimm said, with a wry smile.  “You channeled too much energy right after losing a bit too much blood. Next time you want to impress a girl, buy her flowers.”  He reached out and pulled Loki back from the edge of the road. “I’ve been keeping you here on the border.  Nox would never forgive me if I let you slip past.”

Loki looked down, and noticed the road was a lot closer again. There was a constant, invisible tide that washed past him, pushing him towards the road.   Grimm reached out and patiently pulled him back away from it again. “How do you fight it?” Loki asked.

“The sword.  I use it to anchor myself in one spot.  Although, the Road and I have something of an understanding.” He rested his hand back on the pommel.  “While you’re here,” he said, looking a bit more stern, “do I need to say what I’ll do to you if you break Nox’s heart?”

Loki laughed.  “Her newly adopted brother already gave me ‘the talk’ as soon as the rumors starting flying about us.  Honestly though, you and Kel should be more worried about her breaking my heart than the other way around.”

“Nothing worth having is ever easy.”

“Now that I’ll drink to.” Loki looked around again.  “Speaking of drinks, I’m parched.  Where can I get a cold one around here?”

Grimm nodded.  “That’s a good sign, if you’re noticing your body’s needs, it’s almost time for you to go back.”  He sheathed the sword with a smooth, practiced motion.  Then he placed one broad hand between Loki’s shoulder blades, and started pushing him away from the road.

“Wait!” Loki said.  “Will I remember anything when I go back?”

Grimm looked thoughtful at that, but kept them moving. “I honestly don’t know.  If you do, tell Nox to blow on the pages. She’ll know what I’m talking about.”

“Do what?  For which book?”

Grimm chuckled.  “Get moving, boy.  Can’t you hear she’s calling for you?”

Now that he thought about it, Loki could hear something.  He kept moving forward, until the invisible tide eased, and the world turned from grey to white.  It was time to go home.

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Flash Fiction – Crossed Swords February 19, 2010

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: , ,

This story is part of a weekly series, updated every friday. Click Here to read from the beginning.  

Loki could feel the fire singing in his veins like pure adrenaline.  He was looking forward to giving Roald a long overdue thrashing.  The earth elemental couldn’t refuse to fight this time, the men with him were the elite guard of the fire elementals, drawn from the oldest noble families. If Roald dishonored himself by refusing to duel, they would never take an order from him again.  The thought put a smile on Loki’s face.  “I warned you what would happen if I caught you mistreating a lady.” he said.

Roald reached down and sunk his hand into the ground.  With a powerful jerk he ripped a crude sword out of the bedrock. Stone continued to flow up over his skin, making him look like a living statue.  “Talk is cheap, Loki.”  He swung the broadsword over his head, and a line of rocks erupted from the ground to mark out an area to fight in. 

Loki waved his hand around in a lazy circle that ended in a one-finger salute, and the rocks slumped into a ring of magma.  He gave Roalds’ stone broadsword an amused look, and the edge turned cherry red.

Roald took a swing with the 5 foot blade. “Remember the rules, fireborn.”  

“It was just a show of skill and will, dirtborn, and swords are a fair target.” Loki’s fiery saber screeched down the edge of the broadsword, peeling off a sliver of rock.  He raised an eyebrow as the guards of their blades slammed together.  “Having trouble with your earthcasting?”

Roald gritted his teeth and shoved Loki back.  He followed up with a rain of hammer-like blows, but the fire elemental just deflected them away and retreated smoothly across the ring.  Roald pressed forward, drawing up energy from the earth to add weight to his blows.  He knew he only needed one solid hit to crush Loki like a cheap tin can. 

Roald aimed a two-handed swing at his head, trying to force him out of the circle and into a forfeit.  Loki ducked under the blade, side-stepped and rolled around behind his opponent.  The saber slashed Roald’s shoulder and cut a deep line across his back. Chips of stone sprayed outwards and clattered on the ground before turning back into flesh and blood. 

Roald staggered, but managed to stay inside the circle.  By the time he got turned around Loki was standing dead center in the ring, saber at the ready. 

“First blood is mine.  You can crawl away now without looking too cowardly.” Loki said.

Roald just roared and charged at him like a raging bull.

Loki had to retreat again to avoid getting bowled over.  Roald was putting so much energy into his swings that he was pushing right through Loki’s parries.  Loki winced as he got clipped by a thrust that he hadn’t quite managed to turn aside.  He felt a sharp pain on his hip, and molten glass spattered the ground before staining it red. 

Roald locked blades with him again.  “You may have gotten the first hit, but last blood is the only thing that counts!” he gloated.

Loki slipped his saber loose and smashed Roald in the mouth with the bellguard.  “It’s not over yet!”  He shoved Roald back to buy time to see if his leg would hold his weight.  It hurt like Hel, but he could still move.  Roald wasn’t doing much better, the cut on his back had been pulling his lunges up short. He would have to fight in close to score a hit. 

Loki got a predatory smile on his face. He stalked around the circle, forcing Roald to keep turning with him.  Every time the earth elemental started to attack, Loki would close in with a furious attack of his own, forcing him back on his heels. Then he would slip back out of range.   

He was just moving in again when he felt the ground grab his ankle and cause him to stumble.  He didn’t fight it though, instead he threw himself into it and turned the fall into a knee slide. The vicious cut Roald had aimed at him whistled over his head.

Roald swung his broadsword around again, meaning to take off Loki’s head before he could get to his feet.  He gave a triumphant yell as he put all of his energy into what he knew would be a crushing blow.

Loki just smiled and whipped the saber upwards.  The broadsword smashed into it . . . and stopped dead in its tracks.

The reverberations nearly knocked the sword out of Roald’s hand.  “No. That’s not possible!”

“Did I forget to mention I’m from House Vulcan?” Loki said.  He drew in energy from the molten rock in the earth’s core, and strength from both earth and fire flooded through him. His saber turned into polished obsidian with a sullen red glow at its heart.  He surged up to his feet, sending Roald stumbling backwards.

Roald barely managed to block Loki’s attack, but the force of the impact brought him to his knees.  The next hit shattered his broadsword and broke his hand.  He felt a searing pain as the saber rested against his throat. 


“To You? Never!” Roald gasped.  He reached into the ground and pulled out a jagged chuck of rock, and launched himself in a last, desperate lunge.

Loki cut off Roald’s hand at the wrist, and then ran the saber straight through his heart.   The earth shook as Roald fell to the ground and all the energy he had been channeling released at once.   

Loki let his own energies drain out more slowly, and turned to find Nox.  She was already running out meet to him.  He kept telling himself not to fall for her, that it would be like trying to catch the north wind.  But then she gave him the victors’ kiss, and it lingered a bit longer than tradition demanded.

What the Hel.  He had always loved a challenge.

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Flash Fiction – Fire and Ice February 12, 2010

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: , ,

This story is part of a weekly series, updated every friday. Click Here to read from the beginning.  

This wasn’t the first evening Loki had spent with a woman in one of the ‘lovers’ grottos in the city park.  Normally, it had a gorgeous view of the river, and the small stone bench at the back provided a convenient place to sit and whisper sweet nothings into a lady’s ear.  Tonight, however, he paced back and forth like a caged tiger while Nox studied the pile of rock that sealed the entrance.  She was using her aura as a light to search by, but Roald had done a thorough job of closing them in.  If they didn’t find a way out soon, the grotto would become their tomb.

“How can you be so bloody calm about this?” Loki asked.

Nox raised an eyebrow, a faint smile on her face. “I’m thinking.”

“Any word from Grimm?”

 “No, but I didn’t expect to hear anything from him.  Earth and stone muffle telepathy. I’m sure he knows we’re in here though.” She got up onto the bench to give the roof a close inspection.

He turned and took three paces in one direction, then back again. “How much air do you think we have?”

 “I don’t know. But it’ll last longer if you quit pacing.”

That stopped him in his tracks. “You can be a very frustrating woman, you know that?”

 “I thought that’s why you liked me.”  She patted him on the cheek.   “If you’re that desperate for something to do, you can boost me up so I can reach the roof. There’s enough moisture in the masonry that I can probably freeze it and open a few cracks. That might get us some more air.” she said. “Hold me steady, I don’t want to drop the roof on us.”

He picked her up easily. “My mother was a Titan from the volcanic islands in the South Seas.  I can hold you for as long as you want me to.”

Nox smiled at that, but decided not to reply.  She reached up to place both palms flat on the ceiling, and frost patterns spread outwards from her hands.  It was quiet for a long while, only their breathing and the occasional groan of shifting masonry broke the silence.   Finally Nox felt a few puffs of air on her face.  “Okay, let me down.”

Loki set her down, but kept his arm around her waist.  “Well, since we have air and nowhere to go until Grimm brings help…” his voice trailed off hopefully.

Nox laughed.  “You’re a funny man. You can let me go now”

“You never take me seriously.”

“I refuse to be flirted with out of habit.”

“Ah, so you’re the fussy type. I’ll have to remember that.”

“That’s me, high maintenance.” She tried hard to keep the color from her cheeks.  Standing this close, she couldn’t help but notice the warm scent of his leather jacket, mixed with the expensive cologne he always wore.  She liked it just a little too much, and it was making her nervous. The look in his eyes wasn’t helping. 

“What would you do if I were serious?” Loki said. She caught her breath, and he leaned in towards her.  “Nox, I…”

They both looked up as the ceiling let out an ominous groan.  “…should probably not distract you while you are working.” he finished, with a chagrined look.

“That wasn’t me!” she said.  A small copper coin fell through a crack in the ceiling, and bounced off the floor once before disappearing into the portal hole that opened up.  “Not again!” Nox said, as they jumped onto the bench to avoid falling in. 

Loki reached back to send a blast of flame down into the opening, and Nox followed it with sleet.  Screams came out of the hole, along with a hail of bullets that ricocheted off of Nox’s aura shield.  The noise was deafening in the small room.

Nox yelled in Loki’s ear. “Slag the rocks blocking the entrance!”

He sent another sheet of flame roaring at the stone pile, causing it to slump into the hole. Nox cooled the molten rock so they could run out over it.  As they bolted out of the grotto, they could hear Grimm’s howls echoing through the trees.  Nox sent up a flare of electric blue energy from her aura to signal the hound.

They had just turned to head towards Grimm when they heard Roald’s voice.  “Do I have to do everything myself?”  The earth elemental was standing on the hillside above the grotto. A troop of heavily armed men wearing the Sun-in-Glory tabards of the Morning Lord’s personal guard were standing around him.  They had high-powered rifles trained on the pair below, powerful enough to punch through Nox’s shield.  “Take the filthy half-breed alive.  The other you can kill.” Roald said.

Loki skidded to a halt, causing Nox to bump into him.  He steadied her, then handed her his coat.  “Call off Grimm.  Let me handle this.”

“What? Wait Loki, no!”  Nox tried to grab him, but the heavy coat got in her way. 

Loki strode forward, a fiery sword in one hand, the other held up in the air.  As soon as he got beyond her aura shield he burst into brilliant flames, lighting up the whole hillside.

Nox’s jaw dropped.  Loki looked like a figure made out of molten glass, with living fire burning inside.  Only the most powerful elementals could manage a true manifestation like that. Her father looked like he was sculpted from ice when he did it.  But as far as she knew, no fire elements had managed it since Lord Kyrios of the House of Fire had died. 

The men on the hill shifted uneasily and traded looks behind Roalds’ back. Roald snarled. “What are you waiting for, kill him!”

 Loki continued to walk towards them, and in a voice that sounded like a blast furnace, he called out, “Roald!  You have assaulted my lady’s honor, and her person.  I challenge you to a duel!”

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It’s a Major Award! :) February 11, 2010

Posted by techtigger in Uncategorized.
Wow, you like me, you really like me!  (or you think I’m a fantastic liar…I’m not sure which *heh*)
Laura Eno over at A Shift in Dimensions, and Mariana Blaser at Mariblasers Randomities awarded me with Lesa’s Bald Faced Liar “Creative Liar” Award. Thank you??…

The rules for the award are simple:
1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you.
4. Tell up to six outrageous lies about yourself, and at least one outrageous truth – or – switch it around and tell six outrageous truths and one outrageous lie.
5. Nominate seven “Creative Writers” who might have fun coming up with outrageous lies.
6. Post links to the seven blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them.

Ahh… but are these 6 lies and 1 truth, or the opposite?  Let the games begin!

1. I, like Garfield, enjoy kippered herring snacks
2. I was once seen rappelling from the top of an amusement park ride
3. My other half is called Captain Freakin’ America
4. I have raced with ducks
5. I once fished for ‘skivvies’ with pirates
6. I own the grade-school edition of the Necronomicon
7. I rode an inflatable alligator inside of a hotel elevator

Now to pick victims awardees. Hmm…let’s see. Who might be good liars?

@cafenirvana – you knew I was going to hit you with this, right? 🙂
@wisneski – you too! 😉
@oodja – makes 3!
bah, too tired from shoveling snow to do more.  Take the meme and run with it, tweeples! *lol*

Flash Fiction – Auramancer February 5, 2010

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: , ,

This story is part of a weekly series, updated every friday. Click Here to read from the beginning.  

Nox walked through the city park with Loki, his arm around her shoulders, hers around his waist. The evening was mild for mid-winter, and all around them was the sound of melting snow dripping off of branches.  Street lamps cast a golden glow on the walking path, illuminating the pair as they strolled in and out of pools of shadow.  It was a perfect night to be out, neither too warm for Nox, nor too cold for Loki.  Fire and ice, their torrid affair was the talk of the season amongst the elemental courts.  If it had been a real affair, and not just a cover story, the evening might have gone very differently. 

As it was, her blushing glances downward were only a cover for checking the compass held in her hand.  It was made of brass and had a copper coin set below the needle.  The arrow held steady at south by south-east.

“You probably shouldn’t be out here.” Loki said. “Not so soon after that last attack.”

“Until we figure out who made these portal coins, and how, I don’t think anywhere is safe. Besides, Grimm is within earshot and I have you to protect me.”

Loki smiled, and there was a hint of flames in his eyes.  “Lady, my sword is yours…and the rest of me as well!”

 “You never give up, do you?” Nox said.

“Not while the stars shine in the heavens, or the sun rises in the east…”

Grimm’s rumbling voice echoed in their minds.  “Oh, brother.  Could you two focus, just a little bit?”

Nox laughed, and said, “We’re supposed to be in love, remember?  Have to keep up appearances.” She could just see the massive hound ghosting through the trees alongside them.   Curse or no curse, she always felt better knowing he was watching over her.

“I think Loki is more in lust than in love.” Grimm quipped. 

“Hey, I resemble that remark!” Loki fired back, with a smirk.

Nox checked the compass again.  The needle had begun sweeping slowly back and forth across the coin.  “Hold up a minute. I think we’re close.  Either our target is pacing, or going down stairs.” 

“We’re almost at the edge of the park.  He could be in one of the buildings up ahead.” Loki said. 

“It looks like we have a whole party coming out through the front door of that one.” she said.  

Loki steered them into the deeper shadows beneath a tree.  “See the way they walk, as if they’re used to wearing heavy robes? I’ll bet you anything those are New Dawn cultists.”

“No bet.  They’re armed to the teeth, too. Four, five, six… I’d say someone important is in town, to have that many guards.”

“Will you be able to make out which one of them made the coin from this far away?”

Nox nodded.  “I can see their auras just fine.  They are not nice people!”

“Nice talent you have.  Wish I had it, would make spying so much easier.” Loki said 

“It’s a pain in the ass.  The whole world is filled with moving colors, you have no idea how long it took me to learn what was physically there, and what was just an energy field.”  She glanced at the compass for a reference point, and then looked back at the men. “Still, it makes technomancy a snap since I can see how things go together.”

“Like a coin and its maker.”

“Yep.”  She pointed with her chin.  “The bald, pudgy guy is our mark.  I still can’t figure out what he is though, his aura is such a crazy mix.  The Morning Lord probably picked him up from some alternate dimension.”  She tensed as a tall, handsome blond man exited the building.  “Speak of the demon, and there he is.  Well, there’s proof of collusion, and it’ll hold up under a truth finder.  Let’s get out of here.” She sniffed. “Is something burning?”

Grimm growled.  “Get a grip, Loki!  The Morning Lord will see you!”

Loki’s hand had started scorching the tree where he leaned against it.  “Sorry. The last time I saw that man, he was standing over my parent’s bodies.”

Nox iced over the scorched wood, eyes still on the Morning Lord and his retinue.  “Oh crud, he’s looking this way!” 

The bald man made an odd twisting motion with his hand and the coin in Nox’s compass lit up like a tiny sun.  For a single moment, both parties could see each other clearly. 

“RUN!”  Grimm howled.

Loki grabbed Nox’s hand and sprinted back to the path.  Nox gave him the compass. “Slag this, they can track us with it!”

Flames so hot they were almost invisible wrapped his hand, and the metal collapsed into a molten puddle.  He whipped it into a fountain, which set off a hiss of steam. 

“They’re trying to surround you, I’ll scout ahead to find a clear path.”  Grimm said, giving them directions as they ran.  “Left.  Slow down a little. Right. Straight. Cut downhill towards the river “

They slipped and slid down the hill through the trees, almost tumbling into the river.  As they scrambled back onto the walking path, the stones ripped up like a carpet and sent them flying into one of the decorative grottos.  Loki somehow managed to place himself between Nox and the wall.  He slammed into it and Nox slammed into him, knocking the wind out of him.

A familiar voice spoke as a ton of earth and stone began to pile up over the entrance.  “Still together with this scum, I see. Well, no accounting for taste.”

Nox cleared the dirt from her eyes.  “Roald?”  She could just make out the silhouette of the earth elemental before the entrance was completely covered. 

“It’s funny that we should meet here.” he said.  “I had the same ending planned for the date you bailed on.  Well, the Morning Lord can’t say I didn’t finish the job this time.”

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