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Flash Fiction – Nightfall April 16, 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.  


After six days of heading south and east, Nox and Grimm arrived at the last waypost in the territory controlled by the House of Ice.  A palisade of living trees lined the compound, and the guards kept up a constant watch on the high walkways formed by intertwined branches.  The waypost only had three buildings; a rustic inn, a large stable and an even larger guard barracks. 

They sat together at one end of a rough-hewn trestle table in the main hall of the inn. Nox regarded the small mountain of food in front of them with dismay.  “Um, Grimm?  How much did you order?”

“I’m going to have to eat your cooking for the next two weeks.  I decided to fortify myself,” the ghost hound said loftily. 

“Fortify, eh? Is that the new term for gluttony?” Nox teased.

Grimm wolfed down a pile of roast beef. “Staying materialized takes energy, short-stuff.  And you should eat too, this is probably the last hot meal we’re going to get for a while. Fires attract all kinds of unwanted attention out there.”   

That thought robbed Nox of her appetite.  Knowing what was out in the wastelands was one thing. Getting ready to hike right out into the middle of them was quite another.  At the end of the war with the House of Winds, the Shadowkin had unleashed all of the horrors their biomancers created.  Many had been hunted down over the years, but hordes of mad creatures still roamed the highlands beyond the mountain passes.  Nox pushed aside her plate and dug into her satchel instead, re-checking their equipment.

Grimm picked up on her nervousness through the soul-bond they shared.  “We don’t have to do this you know. You said there were other ways.”

“Going back to your old home is the best chance we have of getting your memories back.”

“You know, I keep trying to wrap my brain around the idea that I wasn’t always a dog,”  he said. “I know that I was something else before this half-life. I remember fighting the Shadowkin, even if I don’t remember how I did it. But I can’t imagine not having a tail.” His telepathic voice held an indignant note. “I mean, your ears don’t even move, how do you people talk?”

Nox had to put a hand over her mouth to stifle a laugh. “I’m sure you’ll remember how.” 

“No tail. Hunh.”  He shook his head in disbelief.

Nox smiled and went back to rummaging in her bag.  “Eat your dinner, furball.  You don’t want to let your last decent meal go to waste.”

—-

A light mist had rolled in with the sunset, and Loki could just see Nox through gloom. She was chatting outside the inn with another woman, who was the owner of a trading caravan spending the night at the waypost.  He made sure to stay on the far side of his horse, in case Nox looked his way.  So far his disguise had held, but he did not want to push his luck.

He was posing as a courier today.  A bit of masking potion over his hair and eyelids gave him the appearance of a silver eyed, white haired snow elemental.    He had even shaved off his short beard, since no winter kindred would wear one.  He grimaced as the chill mountain winds prickled over his freshly shaven chin.  He missed the beard.

His horse gave him a reproachful nudge as he stopped brushing it to watch Nox.  “Sorry, old boy, but she’s a whole lot better looking than you.” The horse whickered and nudged him again, and Loki laughed as he went back to currying it.  “That’s it. I’m calling you Sybarite.” The horse just leaned into the curry comb.

The woman shook hands with Nox, and headed towards the stables.  She was a tall, blond water elemental with a golden tan and sea green eyes.  Loki waved to her. They had worked together as spies before, and were friends as well.  “Hello CC.  It’s been a long time.”

Chandra stared at him for a moment before returning his smile.  A quick touch to a spell gem in her necklace made sure no one could overhear them.  “Red!  I almost didn’t recognize you.“ She looked him up and down.  “I see you finally got rid of that scruffy beard.”

“Hey now, don’t mock the manly stubble. And the name today is Lance.”

She let out a delicate snort.  “Subtle.  I don’t have to ask why you’re here, what with all the rumors flying around.  Making a play for the boss’s daughter?  That’s a ballsy move, even for you.”

He went back to brushing his horse as it gave him another nudge.  “Don’t believe everything you hear. I am merely part of her security detail.”

“It’s only a rumor then? That’s good, considering I’m delivering a load of gifts from her next suitor.  Some young lordling with an influential father, ready to make a deal with the House of Ice.  Poor girl, I would hate to be in her shoes.  Must be terrible to know your future will be decided by politicians.”

The brush stopped moving.  “She’s not for sale.”

 “Honey, you know she’s out of your league.”

“There’s a lot you don’t know, CC.”

“You’re an orphan, Red. No one knows who your parents were, and your foster parents were only minor nobles. Without a lot of money or political clout…”  She was cut off as Loki’s horse let out a frightened whinny and tried to bolt from the stall.

Loki quickly grabbed the bridle and calmed him down.  “Whoa, easy, Sybarite.”  The other horses started to panic and kick at their stalls. “What’s gotten into them?”

“Red, the guard’s lamps just went out.”  

Something rattled the wall next to them, setting the horses off again. 

Loki stared into the darkness beyond the doorway, and large yellow eyes stared back.  “Oh, that can’t be good…”

 (to be continued…)


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Comments»

1. lauraeno - April 16, 2010

Another suitor? Large yellow eyes? Won’t Loki ever get a break? LOL!
Fascinating as always, Angie!

2. Julie (Okami) - April 16, 2010

Blast! I hate it when I catch up. I want more, more!! what’s next????

3. Deanna Schrayer - April 16, 2010

You know you’re going to have to post the next part before next Friday – I can’t wait that long!

4. Mariana N. Blaser - April 16, 2010

Oh cliffhanger master, would you please not kill us out of curiosity and grand Deanna’s wish? I’m dying here! heh

5. Marisa Birns - April 17, 2010

No, large yellow eyes staring, and Sybarite kicking out in fear can’t be good!

Here I am again, captured by this wonderful story and your masterful story telling skills. 🙂

6. J. M. Strother - April 20, 2010

You really weave a wonderful scene, Angie. Simply delicious. Sorry I fell by the wayside, but life got complicated a while back. I need to go back and catch up with what I have missed. These characters simply demand it.
~jon

7. ganymeder - April 20, 2010

This was wonderful. I love reading about Loki following them around in disguise. How dare you make us wait for the next installment! 🙂

Well done.

8. Gracie - April 20, 2010

Wonderful, vivid writing. I love all these characters immediately though I have a good deal of catching up to do.

Very, very good. 🙂

9. Walt - August 21, 2010

Loki is right, “Oh, that can’t be good…”

10. Xanto - September 3, 2010

:O


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