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Flash Fiction – A Thousand Voices March 19, 2010

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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This story is part of a weekly series, updated every friday. Click Here to read from the beginning.  

Grimm stood on a featureless grey plain, staring out at the wall of black that was forming in the distance.  He had come back to the Long Road to avoid any temptation to read Galen’s journal while Nox had it open.  The curse had been more insistent of late, desperate to see what was written inside.  It was like having a whole room full of people whispering just behind his back, filling his mind with thoughts that were not his own.  Most of the time he could ignore the voices, but for the past few weeks the curse would not shut up. 

Grimm had a deal with the Long Road.  Every so often he took a shot at the spirits of the Shadowkin who made up the curse.  The Road did not like them; they had cheated death for far too long.  In exchange, it helped Grimm out from time to time.  It had given Grimm his sword, and sometimes it even shaped the grey terrain to aid him in his battles.  He had lost track of how many of the Shadowkin he had sent screaming to their final judgment at the end of the Long Road, but he still had a lot more fighting to do.  There were over a thousand of them left.

Today they had taken on the shape of jackals with oily black skin and brimstone red eyes.  Grimm took a look at the size of their fangs, and sighed.  He was going to have some interesting new scars by the time he was done.  Still, he enjoyed the chance to take a few more of them down, it was almost therapeutic.  And besides, he had called in the last of the debts the Road owed him to send Loki back to the land of the living.  Grimm rolled his shoulders to settle his armor, adjusted his grip on the sword and smiled.  It was time to earn a few more favors.


(The voices of the curse whispered to each other. “Quietly.” “Carefully.” “While the guardian is busy.”  “Slip through the soul-bond.”  “Look for a weakness in the girl…”)

Nox tried to shove aside the annoyance that was souring her mood.  Her parents’ mansion was crowded with visitors – courtiers, nobles, foreign diplomats – it was a typical business day for the Lord and Lady of the House of Ice.  Nox hated being around these people. Thanks to her talent for auras she could see, in full technicolor, all of the lies behind the smiles.  She had figured out how to suppress the sight years ago, thinking she would be happier not knowing how people felt.  But if she had read Roald’s aura when she first met him, she would have known that he was up to no good.  Guilt twisted in her guts, thinking of all the pain Loki had suffered because she had been too much of a coward to use her talent. 

(“There is an old wound there.”  “Pick at the corner.” “Make it bleed!” said the voices.  “Quietly, carefully, don’t let the guardian hear…”)

All of her problems came back to her powers, or lack-thereof.  She felt the old bitterness well up inside of her.  Half-human, half useless.  None of these people wanted a half-blood as the heir.  She wasn’t human enough to be a sorcerer like her mother, and she didn’t have enough of her father’s elemental blood to handle any of the greater castings. And no-one cared about what she could do with auras, everyone considered that to be nothing more than parlour tricks. The people wanted a leader who was strong enough to lead them in war, as well as peace.  As far as they were concerned, Nox would never be good enough. 

(“Tear the wound open.” “A drop of poison, like the burn of salt.”  “What delicious agony…”)

Nox glowered from the back of the great hall at her newly-adopted brother.  Kel was using one of the most ancient artifacts the House owned, the weather scope, to brew up an epic winter storm to hamper the movements of the Morning Lord and his followers.  It should have been her in there, but the best Nox had ever managed to do was to give the town down the road a few goosebumps. Kel would have the entire North socked in with snow.  He was better than she would ever be, and everyone knew it.   Nox couldn’t stand to watch anymore.  As soon as she was sure no-one was looking, she fled into the labyrinth of passages that made up the mansion.

(The voices crowded in closer.  “THERE!” “Play on her pride, push her desires.” “Cloud her judgment, blind her eyes…”)

It was like a dark mist passed before her eyes.  Nox stumbled through a secret passage that only members of her family knew existed.  The mansion was riddled with them, halls and rooms that had been abandoned or forgotten as new rooms were added.  She blinked, suddenly realizing where she was.  This was the way to the storage vault.  She had spent many days in there studying old artifacts, figuring out what made them tick. There was one artifact she had never had the guts to try using, until now.  So what if it had been made by the Shadowkin.  She was tired of being weak, tired of stepping aside for those with more power.

(“yes, YES!”  “hush, He has heard us!”  “Too late, she is ours!”)

Nox reached out to open the door to the storage vault.  They wanted a more powerful heir?  They were going to get one…

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1. Laurita - March 19, 2010

Nox and Grimm are such great characters.
I loved this sentence – “Grimm had a deal with the Long Road.” There are so many possibilities with that line alone. It just begs the reader to keep going.

techtigger - March 19, 2010

Oh yes, Grimm and the Road have had a long, and mutually beneficial working relationship. He collects shadowkin heads, the road doesn’t reap grimm’s soul. Win-win. *heh*

2. Maria Kelly - March 19, 2010

Another great story in this series! I can’t wait to read the next one! Oh, I hope Grimm finds a way to help her!

techtigger - March 19, 2010

thanks, glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

3. John Wiswell - March 19, 2010

Give ’em what they’ve got comin’!

techtigger - March 19, 2010

*lol* ah, now there’s the fun part – who gets their ass handed to them next week? nox’s family? the shadowkin? nox and grimm? tune in next week to find out! 🙂

4. Laura Eno - March 19, 2010

Oh no! I hope that Grimm and Nox will both kick some ass! But, I’ll have to wait till next week to find out. *sob*

5. Sam - March 20, 2010

I have the sneaking suspicion Nox’s foray into the vault is not going to end well. Drat and double drat that insidious curse!

6. Marisa Birns - March 21, 2010

Oh, yes, I hope Grimm can help Nox and that it’s not “too late, she is ours!”

Can’t wait to find out what in the world happens next week… 🙂

7. ganymeder - March 22, 2010

What am I going to do now? I need to wait another week to find out what happens? How could you do this to me? Uh…I mean, great job! 🙂

8. sdavidrichardson - March 25, 2010

A little scattered…and did I miss some action there? Didn’t really notice any action or dialogue…A lot of monologue and the narrator needs a little more…uniqueness.
Overall Good.

9. 2mara - March 28, 2010

one can only guess what happens next… or wait until next friday :-/

it’s such a long wait.

10. Walt - August 21, 2010

This story has gotten to the point where I wish it was a novel You’ve got so much going on that I wish I could just sit down and emerse myself in the story for hours on end.

11. Xanto - September 3, 2010

This would make a great novel! 😀 I’d buy it!

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