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Flash Fiction – Broken Wings June 4, 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.

The faint light of dawn filtered into the ruined hallway where Nox sat, trying to bring some order to her jumbled bag of supplies. She could just see the ruins of the city through an arrow slit in the walls. There wasn’t much left of the ancestral home of House of Winds.  Only a few broken walls and columns poked up above a lush green canopy of vegetation. As far as she could tell, only Lord Galen’s castle and the city walls where they had set up camp were still intact.

Grimm and the ghost of Lieutenant Tyrus were standing to either side of the opening, discussing the family ties between the Houses of Ice and Winds.  She tried to pay attention, but exhaustion won out over curiosity. She picked up a blanket and smelled it, then tossed it aside.  “Crud,” she grumbled.  “The sausages got smashed into the blankets.  Shoveling supplies back into my bag probably wasn’t the brightest idea I’ve ever had.”

Grimm snorted.  “We were a little too busy breaking out of the Morning Lord’s prison to be careful about repacking.  Don’t worry, I’ll take care of the crumbs.” The hound licked his chops and eyed up the offending blankets with undisguised glee.

Nox laughed and made a nest out of her spare clothes.  “Well, this will have to do for a bed.” She balled up a bunch of socks into a shirt to make an impromptu pillow, and then lay back with her hands laced behind her head.  “You know, there’s a really big hole in this theory of yours.  If I’m an Air elemental, why is my control of that element weaker than Ice?  Hel, most times I have to use the two in tandem to make even small things happen.”

Tyrus gave her a curious look.  “Have you ever tried a major working with wind alone?”

“Sure, when I was five.  Climbed a tree and tried to fly,” she said, with a wry smile.  “Mother stopped me before gravity could introduce me to the ground.”

“How do you know you couldn’t have flown?”

“Well, I was convinced I could at the time, but back then I was also certain the moon was made of cheese.”  She let out a huge yawn.  “I’d say we’ll talk about it in the morning, but that’s already here. Wake me up if anything unpleasant comes to visit.”

Grimm nudged her shoulder affectionately.  “Sleep yourself out, little one.  We’ll keep watch over you.”

Nox woke up hours later with a bright beam of sunlight hitting her in the face.  She could hear Grimm in the back of her mind, his telepathic voice muted to a whisper.  He was still talking to Tyrus, and she was about to roll over and go back to sleep when she realized they were talking about her.

“A compulsion is holding her powers back? Are you sure? “ Grimm said.

Tyrus sounded angry. “Yes.  It is set very deep in her psyche, and it has been there for some time.  But who could do something so sadistic to their own child?  Losing an eye or hand would be less traumatic than being cut off from the elements. ”

“Serenna is human, she has never understood what the elements mean to us. If she thought those powers put her child in danger, she would cut them off without hesitation.”

“Why should it matter whether their heir has Ice as a primary, or secondary element?  It never did in our day.”

“Politics,” Grimm snarled. “Her parents have spent the past few hundred years making the House of Ice the leader of the Winter Kindreds.  If word got out they had come to power on a lie, even their own allies might challenge their rule. It would not be a peaceful transition of power. Lucien is far too dangerous for  a rival to leave alive, and they’d take down his whole family with him.” Grimm looked disgusted.  “I’m sure the words ‘greater good’ and ‘necessary sacrifice’ were bandied about when this was done to Nox.   Damn Serenna.  And damn Lucien for his ambitions…”

Nox lay still, staring blankly at the ceiling.  She knew she should have been upset, but she was too numb to care. The scientist in her noted that this was shock, and that the repression of strong feelings was not a good thing. She didn’t care about that either.  At some point she must have gotten up and slipped away without the other two noticing, because she found herself standing alone, barefoot on the parapet that lined the top of the city walls. The sun drenched plateau stretched out below her, and the breeze whipped her dark hair into her eyes.

She closed her eyes and tilted her head back, remembering how it had felt the last time she tried to fly.  The exhilarating rush as the air answered her call, the brief moment of weightlessness… and the screaming agony in her mind as her mother’s compulsion set in.  Nox teetered on the edge of the parapet, clinging to a crenellation as self-preservation instinct kicked in. Her heart pounded wildly, her head ached and her stomach was tied in knots.  Again, the scientific part of her mind noted all of the classic physical symptoms that were a reaction to a compulsion kicking in.  She had lived with them for so long, she hadn’t recognized them for what they were, until now.

As the symptoms receded, the numbness returned, along with one thought:  Every compulsion could be broken.   She closed her eyes and reached out for the winds again, but her concentration was shattered as someone yanked her back from the edge of the wall.  She found herself lying on her back, looking up at Grimm’s furry face.

“You have to stop, little one!  The creatures the Shadowkin unleashed here were made to hunt down air elementals. What were you thinking, you have just rung the dinner bell!  I can’t fight them all, there are too many of them!”

In the distance, the wails and howls of hunting packs gathering filled the air…

(to be continued)

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1. Marisa Birns - June 4, 2010

Rushed right over when I saw your link to story! Of course, it was worth the dash. 🙂

Gripping story, as always!

2. Gracie - June 4, 2010

Aah! Suspense and cliffhangers! Darn overprotective mothers. 🙂

Great story. I rushed right over, too, when I saw the link. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

3. Vanessa - June 4, 2010

Well done!!! Definitely can’t wait to read the continuation.

4. ganymeder - June 5, 2010


5. Cecilia Dominic - June 6, 2010

Yep, saw link and had to see. Love the scientific/emotional dichotomy. And then she doesn’t get to fly… Poor Nox!

Great stuff, as always!


6. Walt - June 8, 2010

I stumbled onto your story after having opened a dozen or so #FridayFlash links that were labeled as fantasy. Starting off in the middle of the series is a little confusing but I enjoyed it so much that I plan to go back and start from the beginning.

Thanks for sharing

techtigger - June 10, 2010

Thank you, I’m glad you liked it! Welcome aboard 🙂

7. Mari Juniper - June 10, 2010

I knew she’d try it! I would too, heh.

You left me on hold again, you wicked woman. At least we’re close to Friday again… ;P

Ah, a small thing you might have let pass. I think you missed a “she” here:

She knew should have been upset

techtigger - June 10, 2010

ah, thanks for the catch! 🙂 And yeah, I’d try it too *grinz*

8. xantojones - September 13, 2010


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