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Flash Fiction – Revelations May 28, 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.

Grimm’s ears swiveled forward, and back again as he looked up at the sigils carved in the stone next to the portal. “Odd. This is not the inner line of defenses.  I expected us to come out in a gatehouse, but according to this we’re right on the city walls.”

Nox gave the hound a philosophical shrug.  “The elements are mutable, furball.  Even enchantments cast in stone can wear down over time.   Look on the bright side though, this saved us a day or two of walking.”

“I suppose I should be glad it worked at all, after two thousand years.” The hound lifted his muzzle to the air as he paced down the hall.  “Fresh air this way.  Let’s see if we can get a look at her, shall we?”

“Her?” Nox said.

“The city, Zephyra.  We always spoke of her as a person,” Grimm said, his voice sounding almost reverent as it echoed in her mind.  “The buildings were shaped to catch and channel the winds into perfect notes.  The city had a voice, she sang to us…” He walked in silence for a few minutes, listening intently as they walked through the rubble-strewn halls.  Finally his ears drooped.  “I suppose it’s all gone now, except for ruins like this.  We’d have heard her if there was anything left.”

Nox reached up to put a comforting hand on his shoulder.  “It can’t all be gone, and I’m sure these thick stone walls muffle any sounds.”


“You could always go back to teasing me about Loki if it makes you feel better.”

The hound snorted.  “I am still trying to figure out how an ice elemental ended up falling for one of the fireborn.“

“He makes me blush,” she said, with a grin that put dimples in her cheeks. “But don’t tell him I said that!”

Grimm laughed so hard his sides shook.  “And here I thought you just liked his cologne.”

“I’m never going to live that down, am I?”

“Don’t think it so loudly next time!”

The hallway ended at a spiral stair that wound around the wall of a round tower. Grimm bounded upwards, eager to get a look at his old home.  Nox followed more slowly. “Wait up furball, it’s been a long night.”

“It’s only a few more flights, and it’s cool up here.  When the sun comes up we should be able to see for miles.”

As soon as they reached the top, Nox plunked down on the floor with a relieved sigh. She stripped off her socks and boots, and sat there wiggling her toes in the chilly, pre-dawn air.  “Oh, that’s much better.”  She leaned back, palms flat on the cool stones and whistled up a frosty wind to cool off.

As she did, a shadow darker than the gloom around them rose up.  Grimm spun around, hackles up and growling.  The shadow coalesced into a vaguely man-shaped figure.  “Who dares summon the winds?” it said, in a breathy, sepulchral voice.

Nox stood up and looked straight at the shade, her voice defiant. “Ice is my element, and I’ll dare to summon it whenever I choose.”

“Ice was not called here.  I guard this entry, and I will brook no falsehoods.   Who are you, that summoned the wind? Answer truthfully, or death will follow.”

“Stand down, soldier, she’s with me.” Grimm tilted his head to the side, ears perked forward.  “Tyrus?  Is that you?”

The shadow turned to look at the hound. “Captain?”  Mists swirled around the figure, and settled into the shape of a knight in antique armor.  “My apologies, sir!”  He stood up straight and pounded his fist to his chest in a salute.  “Lieutenant Tyrus, reporting for duty sir!”

The hound sat down, tail sweeping the floor in cheerful wags. “Forget the titles, Ty. The time for that has long passed.  I certainly haven’t been captain of anything since the Shadowkin got their hooks into me.”

“Begging your pardon, sir, but as long as any piece of the city remains, we stand at duty here. And you will always be our captain. The spirit remains the same no matter what shape you wear.“

Nox raised an eyebrow. “You said we? There are more of you?”

“Yes, ma’am.  One at every entry.  I must say, I was surprised when my gate portal opened, it has been so long.  The passcode was correct though, so I did not question your entry,” he said, with a nod to Grimm.  “It was only when the wind was summoned that I came to investigate.  You should not do that here, the creatures outside were bred to hunt the air kindreds.”

Nox shared a confused look with Grimm. “My primary element is ice.”

The guard shook his head. “I must beg your pardon again, but no, lady. It is not.  I can only speak truth, it is part of the ward spell that holds my spirit here.   You have an affinity for winter winds, to be sure, but you are Air.”

“That’s not possible, my father is the Lord of the Ice elementals.”

“Actually, it is possible,” Grimm said, thinking furiously. “Galen, you sly old fox.” The hound grinned. “Lord Galen had a wife, and two children.  He spirited them out of the city when he started losing the war with the Shadowkin.  He never told anyone where they went though.  The last thing he did was to bind me to guard his bloodline.”

“And he spellbound you to the graveyard next to the House of Ice.” Nox shoved her hair back out of her face.  “Bloody Hel, my father and I have black hair.  Ice elementals never have black hair, outside of the ruling family.”

“No wonder you’ve had so much trouble with the elements. You’ve been using the wrong one!”

“Recessive genes pop up every so often. Bloody effing Hel,” she said, and abruptly sat back down.

Tyrus gave them a deep bow.  “In that case, welcome home, to you both.”

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Flash Fiction – Jail Break May 21, 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 studied the bars of the cage that held her. Round stones marked with spiral carvings lined the floor in a square, and a matching set were embedded in the ceiling.  Roaring columns of pure, elemental fire connected the sets of stones and made up the bars of the cage.  She shifted her sight to view the energy signatures, squinting against the glare of the fire.  There was no doubt about it; she was not the first ice elemental to be held here.  There were traces of chill energy splashed about everywhere, right up to the edge of the fiery bars.  These bastards had been torturing her people.   Nox clenched her fists, and bit back her temper.  Getting angry was not going to get her out of here.

Grimm’s deep, rumbling voice was a faint echo in the back of her mind.  “I’m somewhere above you, little one.  I can probably break this cage they have me in, but they will roast you if I try.”

“Some of the stones of my cage are loose.  If you can growl a sound wave at me to rattle them, I think I can pop a few out.”

The hound’s voice sounded worried. “I can do that, but this place is in ruins.  It was one of the old watchtowers on the border of the House of Winds. If I shake it up, it’s likely to come down on our heads.”

“We’re running out of options. That spell the Morning Lord threatened you with is pretty indiscriminate; it’ll bind any spirits connected to you.”

Grimm let out a few colorful curses.  “We’re soul-bound. He’ll own you too.”

“Yeah. We’d better get started…aw, crap, I’ve got company.”

A young fire elemental in a guard’s uniform walked in. He took one look at her and headed straight for the cage.  Nox braced herself and said, “Grimm, NOW!”

Grimm’s howl was almost sub-sonic, and rattled the entire tower. The loose stones in the cage jumped around in their settings, and Nox slid a tendril of her aura under them to flip them out across the floor.  Then she dove out of the gap in the cage and rolled to her feet by the table which held her gear. She grabbed her bow, drew it back and aimed the glowing red targeting box right over the guard’s heart.  She motioned for him to back away.  “Don’t make me kill you.”

The guard had a bemused look on his face.  “Um, Hi. I’m here to rescue you?”  He pointed at the voice changing buttons on his collar. They were the same ones the snowborn courier had worn at the inn.  “Remember me? I’m on your side.”

Nox’s gaze remained icy cold. “Prove it. Ditch the disguise, and show me your real face.”

He sighed, took the buttons off and ran a hand over his face and hair to dispel the masking potion. “Hello, luv.  Did you miss me?”

Nox nearly dropped the bow.  “Loki?  But…what are you…you were supposed to go somewhere safe!”

“No, you ordered me to go somewhere warmer to finish recovering. “  He nodded to the cage, and gave her a completely unapologetic smile.  “Look, I found a nice cozy fire in a room with a beautiful woman. I feel better already!”

The tower shook with another of Grimm’s howls.  They ducked under the table and huddled together, with Grimm’s voice ringing in their minds.

“Balor, you coward!  Get back here and fight!  It’s not so easy when you aren’t picking on little girls, is it?” the hound howled.

Nox glared upwards. “I’m not little, I’m petite, dammit!”

The tower shook one more time before settling into an uneasy silence.  The ghostly hound materialized right next to the table.  “You can come out now.  The Morning Lord ran away,” he said, with a vicious, toothy grin. “I got a piece of him though. His face won’t be quite so pretty anymore.”

“Nice work!”  Loki said.  “Now all we have to do is get out of here.”

The hound tilted his head to the side.  “When did you get here… nevermind. There used to be a network of portals between the watch towers.  With any luck they are still intact.”

“Lead the way, furball,” Nox said, as she shoveled her gear back into her satchel.

Grimm led them deeper into rubble strewn remains of the tower.  Finally he stopped to sniff at a doorway.  “This is it. The portal will bring us out at a gatehouse along the inner defenses.”

“And here is where I leave you two,” said Loki. “This is too good of an opportunity to gain intel on the enemy. Lucien needs to know what’s going on in his back yard.”

Nox started to object, but caught herself. He was a spy, this was part of his job. “Be careful,” she said and squeezed his hand.

Loki said.  “Hey Grimm, give us a minute?”

“A minute, for what?” Nox asked, then blinked in surprise as Grimm disappeared.

“For this.” Loki pulled her close and gave her a kiss that made her knees go weak.  By the time they came up for air, her arms were twined around his neck and he held her so close she could feel his heart beating next to her own.  He gave her a boyish grin. “I’ve been wanting to do that for months.”

Grimm materialized at the far end of the corridor.  “Sorry kids, we’ve got company coming. Time to go.”

Loki let her go and kissed her hand. “I’ll see you soon.”  He gave Grimm a wave and trotted back the way they came, putting his disguise back in place as he went.

Grimm led Nox through the portal.  “That’s an amazing shade of red on your face, short-stuff.”

“Ohh, hush, you.”

“No, really, we might not need a lamp,” he teased.

“Paybacks are a bitch, and I’ll be doing the cooking!”

Whurfs of canine laughter echoed around the tower as the portal closed behind them.

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Flash Fiction – Somnolence May 10, 2010

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction, writing.
Tags: , ,

This week I am doing a chat on cliffhangers in serials at #thepennydreadful on Twitter – so my usual #fridayflash has been moved to Monday, as an example of how to write them.  Here we have not 1, not 2, but 3! Three cliffhangers! ahahahhh! 😉  And, three different kinds of them, which I will talk about more on Tuesday, May 11th at 4pm EST at #thepennydreadful 🙂

When we last left our intrepid heroes, an enemy agent disguised as one of their own guards had knocked them out with sleeping powder…

Nox woke up lying face down with her head pounding, and her mouth so dry it felt like sandpaper. She groaned and tried to sit up, but she was so weak she could barely lift her head.  All around her was a cage of made of raw, elemental fire, and the hard floor was hot to the touch.  There was no sign of Grimm, the courier, or the guard they had confronted at the Inn.  She lay still, trying not to be sick and waiting for the world to stop spinning.

The pudgy, balding man Nox had last seen with the Morning Lord regarded her with mild curiosity through the bars of her cage. “The effects of the somnolence dust will wear off soon,” he said. “I have been very much looking forward to speaking with you, there are so few technomancers of my caliber in this dimension.” He waved at a table, where a large pile of supplies lay next to her small, canvas satchel.  “The pocket portal inside of this bag is quite impressive.  We will have many, detailed discussions about your work over the coming weeks.”

Nox swallowed a few times to control her rebellious stomach, and croaked out a reply.  “If you don’t get me some water, I won’t be discussing anything.”

“I am monitoring your vitals, you will not expire just yet.  Let us start with this ring, shall we?  You tell me what it does, and I will turn down the temperature a little.”

“It’s just a ring.”

“I find it hard to believe that you would pack baubles for a long journey.”

Nox rolled her eyes.  “I’m a woman, with a handbag that can hold an entire room full of stuff. Of course I packed jewelry.”

The man gave her a thin-lipped smile, and pointed to the pile of weaponry.

“I like to accessorize for any occasion,” she said, then gasped as the flames moved closer to her.  The heat was unbearable, and she couldn’t seem to get any air into her lungs.

He waved his hand over a stone sitting next to her supplies, and the fires receded.  “Now then, let’s start again, shall we? What does this ring do?”

Loki woke up sopping wet, with the taste of salt in his mouth and a burning sensation in the cuts he had gotten in the battle.  He looked up into a pair of worried, sea-green eyes.  “I know you’re from House Oceanis, CC, but salt water stings,” he grumbled.

Chandra let out a sigh of relief.  “Thank goodness that worked!  Nothing else I tried would wake you up.”  She put down the bucket and handed him a blanket to dry off with.  “Nox and Grimm are gone. I’m sorry, I couldn’t see much of what happened.  I ducked back into the room when that guard hit you with the sleeping dust.  By the time I looked back out, you were lying on the floor and there was a portal hole closing next to you.”

Loki sat bolt upright, and immediately regretted it as his stomach tried to relieve itself of dinner.   He closed his eyes until the floor stopped rolling underneath him. He stubbornly stayed upright, nausea putting a sheen of sweat on his face.  “I have to get moving,” he said, through gritted teeth. “Nox figured out that the coins used to open those portals have a limited range. She may still be in the area.“

“How do you expect to find her? Even if that portal does have a short range, you’re talking about combing through miles of wilderness.”

He gave her a weak version of his usual devil-may-care smile. “The same way I’ve been keeping an eye on her this whole past week.”  He rolled up his sleeve, and slid an intricately woven arm band down to his wrist.  There was an acid-green stone set into the fibers, and one of the strands was woven from jet-black hair. “A gift from her mother. Serenna really is a top-notch sorceress.” He pressed his thumb to the stone, and a tiny pinpoint of green light appeared in front of him.  It wavered a little before settling on a spot to his left.  He pushed himself to his feet, the sick feeling slowly fading.  “She’s somewhere out in the wastelands, if I move now, I can get there before dawn.“

Chandra shook her head.  “Stop for a minute Red, think about this.  For all we know her guardian already went after her.  And unlike you, he can’t be killed.”

“Grimm isn’t perfect, and he certainly isn’t all powerful.  Even he needs help on occasion.”

“So do you, hot head.”

Loki squeezed her hand. “I appreciate the offer, but I need you to get word to her parents.  Tell them what happened here, and get reinforcements sent to the waypost.”

She thought about arguing, but she had known him for too long to bother.  Instead she just said, “Be careful.”

He winked. “Always am. “  Ten minutes later he was on his horse and heading out of the compound, riding hell-for-leather into the wilderness.

Grimm tested the shimmering curtain of energy that surrounded him.  The ghostly hound’s claws scraped across its surface with a noise like tortured metal, making the guards on the other side of the barrier flinch.  His cold, mocking laughter echoed in their heads, making them flinch again.  “Do you really think this will hold me for long?” he growled.

A powerfully built fire elemental entered the room. His hair hung down his back like a tawny mane, and his eyes burned like twin suns.  “How the mighty have fallen,“ he said.

Grimm gave him a disgusted look.  “Hello, Balor. Still an arrogant prat, I see.”

A cruel smile twisted the Morning Lord’s lips as he looked at the big hound.  “Prepare yourself for an eternity of silence, cur.  At midnight, the last words you ever speak will be, Yes, Master.”

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Mother’s Day Blog Tour May 5, 2010

Posted by techtigger in Blog Tour, flash fiction.
Tags: , ,

Welcome to the Twitter Chats Blog Tour, organized by Mari Juniper at Mari’s Randomities and Anne Tyler Lord at Don’t Fence Me In. Today’s theme is Mother’s Day.

You’ll be traveling with us through the blogs of some of the fantastic authors and writers who participate in our weekly — funny, entertaining and educating — Twitter chats. This tour will feature writers from #writechat, #litchat, and #fridayflash.

You will be directed to your next stop at the end of this post. Please feel welcome here, and have a happy Mother’s Day!

Serenna closed her eyes and let the seeking spell flow outwards from her.  The spell curled its way through the mansion that was her husband’s ancestral home like a pale, white mist.  Generations of ice elementals had lived there, each one adding to the rambling structure that covered the ancient bridge at its foundations.  And while the ever-changing floor plan served as a defense against spies from rival Houses, it also provided an endless number of places for one small, inquisitive five-year-old to hide.  Three hundred years the sorceress had lived, before deciding to have a child. Perhaps she had waited too long, but when life seems endless you seldom think about the passing years.

Serenna poured more power into the spell, while a nervous nanny stood at her elbow.  The girl wrung her hands and made worried noises that distracted Serenna just enough to make the spell dissolve before finding its target.  She reminded herself not to lose her temper with the girl – Nox was hard on her care-takers, and this nanny had lasted longer than most.  She gave the girl what she hoped was a non-threatening smile.  “The trail left off in the kitchens.  We will go talk to the head cook, and then proceed from there.”  The girl bobbed her head and mumbled ‘yes lady ambassador.’

The chef was in the midst of preparing dinner, his arms covered in flour.  “Yes milady, Nox was here for a while.  Had to shoo her out though, after she burned the cake to cinders.  No idea how she managed it, and I’ll be lucky to get its replacement done in time for the banquet. “

“Which way did she go after she left?” Serenna said.

“I suggested she go play in the garden, she always loves it there.”

Serenna thanked him, remembering again to hold her temper.   There was no way he could have known that the last time Nox was in the garden, she had climbed the tallest tree and tried to fly.  The child was fascinated by the old stories of the House of Winds, and had tried more than once to re-enact scenes from the tales.  The guards had managed to get there in time to keep gravity from doing its inevitable work, but only just.  The thought was enough to turn her irritation to fear.  Serenna hurried her steps, and called for the guards.

“Spread out, and search the mansion.  Brand, please check the weather scope.  Nox was trying to take it apart last week, she may have gone back for another try.”

The captain of the House Guard bowed, but not deeply enough to completely hide his smile.  “Yes ma’am, I’ll have my men comb the building.”

Nox had nearly everyone wrapped around her little pinky, even that horrid old ghost out in the graveyard.  She had made pets of every guardian around the mansion though, so it shouldn’t have been too surprising that the grim was no more immune than anyone else.  Several guards joined Serenna in searching the garden, but there was still no sign of her little girl.  The rest of the guards’ reports were the same, Nox was not in the mansion.

Just as panic began to set in, Serenna heard a deep, rumbling voice in the back of her mind.  “Lady Ambassador, I believe I have found something you lost.”

The grim was a huge, shaggy, soot-grey hound that haunted the old graveyard in the hills just beyond the mansion.  At six feet tall he towered over Serenna, but she refused to ever let him see that she was intimidated by him. Today, he looked amused rather than forbidding as he paced through the halls.  Nox was perched on his back, her tiny legs sticking straight out sideways and her arms were full of yellow flowers.  Her hair was a wind-blown mess, like a black dandelion puff, and there were grass stains all over the knees of her pants.  She bounced up and down, giggling.  “Mommy, mommy!  Look I what I got for you!” She tossed a leg over the grim’s neck and slid down his side.  “Aren’t they pretty?  They match your hair mommy!”

Serenna let out a relieved sigh.   “I have told you time and again, daughter, you are not to go outside on your own!”

Nox replied with her usual breathless chatter.  “But I wanted to make you something so I went to the kitchen, but the cake went boom and then I went to make a picture, but the guard said I couldn’t draw on the wall and then I went to get flowers but you said not to go in the garden and I remembered the flowers where Grimmy lives and I went to get you some. “  She held up the bunch proudly.   “Happy mother’s day, Mom!”

Serenna felt a little lump form her throat, she had completely forgotten what day it was.  She knelt down and tried to smooth Nox’s hair. “You know that I love you?”  she said.

Nox grinned and said, “Love you too, mommy!”   Serenna hugged her daughter tightly, despite her squirming protest.  “Mom!”  Nox said, drawing the word out into a multi-syllable complaint.  “You’re squooshin’ the flowers.”

Serenna let her go.  “We can put them in some water, I am sure they will be fine.”

“Ohhhkaaaay.  Can I go play with Grimmy tomorrow too?”

The grim chuckled.  “If she sneaks out again, I’ll keep an eye on her.”

Serenna pursed her lips, worry clear on her face.  “You will keep her safe?”

“Always,” the hound said, and bowed before disappearing.

“H’ray!”  Nox tugged at her hand.  “C’mon mom let’s get some water and a really big vase and we can put it in your room and you can see them every morning when you wake up and they’ll be pretty and make you smile…”

Serenna did smile.  It seemed she was wrapped around her little girl’s pinky too.

Thanks for stopping by! Your next stop for the Mother’s Day Twitter Chats Blog Tour is Donna Carrick of Donna’s Blog.

The complete list of participants can be found at the host’s blogs: Mari Juniper and Anne Tyler Lord.

Flash Fiction – Spy Games May 1, 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.

The compound had gone quiet, except for the groans of the wounded men and the occasional whinny from the horses.  Nox ached everywhere.  The energy that the creature’s claws had channeled through her was still making her muscles spasm, but she forced herself to stay standing. Her father had drilled that into head at an early age – a good commander never showed signs of weakness in front of the men.

Grimm gave her a worried look.  “Are you okay, little one?  Your aura took quite a mauling.”

“I’ll be fine,” she lied.  “Remember when I tried to bottle lightning?”

The hound snorted in amusement. “Your hair stood on end for three days.”

“Yeah, it felt about like that.  I’ll live.”  The muscles in her legs were still feeling twitchy, so she stayed put.  A faceplant would not instill confidence in anyone.

One of the guards trotted over to her and saluted.  “Ma’am, we’ve got thirty wounded and twenty two dead, including every ranking officer. Excluding yourself, of course.”  He gave her an apologetic look. “We’re still trying to get a head count for the civilians.  No one seems to know where the log books are for the gates.”

“Keep looking, and send over the owner of that trading caravan. We can at least get her people accounted for.”

“Yes ma’am.”  He snapped another salute and jogged back to the inn.

Grimm had his nose to the ground near the palisade wall.  He paused to peer closely at one of the trees.  “Take a look at this, short-stuff.  I don’t think this is standard issue at a waypost.”

She walked gingerly to his side.  There was a shattered wooden disc embedded in the bark of the tree trunk.  “Well, I’d say you found the focus for that dormancy spell on the trees.  These carvings channel the energy, works like a siphon to draw up power to run the casting. I didn’t think you could do it with wood though, these are normally made with stone.”

“If it’s an elemental casting, then someone had to touch it to activate it.  Like priming a pump.”

“Which means they were in the compound.  They probably stole the log book too.”

Grimm let out a rumbling growl. “They may still be here.”

“I guess we’ll have to flush them out then.”

The hound gave her a stern look.  “No. You are not playing bait, you can barely stand.”

“Do you have a better idea?  Any residual auric energy burned off the disc when I shattered the casting.  Whoever built this knew how to cover their tracks. I’ll bet that you can’t get a scent off it either.”

“Only the gunpowder from the shot you fired at it.” He flattened his ears. “I don’t like this one bit.”

Nox’s expression turned bleak.  “And I don’t like someone trying to murder my people. If we hadn’t been here, everyone in this waypost would be dead.”  She walked slowly back to the inn. “C’mon, let’s find this bastard so I can collapse.”

Chandra pulled Loki aside.  “What in the Hel is Nox doing?” she said, her voice a tense whisper.  “She just told her four-footed bodyguard to go get some sleep.  Then she announced to everyone that she can use that wooden disc to track down the people who messed with the palisade wall.  She may as well have painted a bullseye on her back!”

Loki looked across the common room of the inn at Nox.  “They’re up to something. Grimm never sleeps.”  He put a hand on her arm. “I need a favor, CC.  I have to ditch this courier disguise.  I can’t protect her if I’m running messages between wayposts.”

“Come up to my room, you can change there.”  She got up and gave him a smoldering come-hither look over her shoulder as she walked to the stairs.

The guard at the next table grumbled as Loki got up to follow her. “Couriers get all the girls. You lucky bastard.”

Loki smirked.  “Chicks dig guys that ride fast.” He hurried upstairs, as if eager to get his evening started. Chandra let him in, and then locked the door behind him.  He pulled out a hip flask and uncorked it.  “One fresh application of masking potion and I’ll be a new man,” he quipped.

Before he could use it, there was a loud knock at the door.  The guard that had talked to Loki called from outside.  “The Lady Ice requires the services of every courier.  Sorry pal, your evening ‘s about to be cut short.”

Chandra quickly mussed up Loki’s hair, shirt, and left some lipstick on his collar.  “So much for that idea. Be careful, Red.”

“I always am.”  He winked, and swung out into the hall, cussing loudly about having to leave her warm bed.  He stopped short as a rumbling growl came from the shadows.

Grimm materialized in front of him.  “I was wondering who would take the bait.  Did you think I wouldn’t smell the magic on you?  You have been following us for days, courier.” The hound loomed over him.  “You are going to start talking. Or I will kill you and question your shade.  Your choice.”

Nox walked down the hallway, the guard at her side. “Who did we catch, Grimm?”  Her eyes widened as she saw the man that had saved her only hours before.  “You?”

Loki could feel the armband Serenna had given him prickling madly as it countered Nox’s aura sight, and Grimm’s senses.  The disguise was holding, but it wouldn’t last much longer.  “Please, I’m on your side.”

Nox looked at the buttons on his collar.  “These alter his voice, Mother designed them for our spies. I think he’s one of ours.”

The guard took a step to the side and blew a glittering powder in their faces.  “He is. I’m not.” Even Grimm swayed drunkenly as he inhaled it. “Sweet dreams.”

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