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Flash Fiction – Dragonfire Part 1 June 18, 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.

It had been two thousand years since the fall of the House of Winds, and time had not been kind to their infrastructure.  Loki eyed up the decrepit watchtower in front of him with a bit of concern.  The three story pile of rock that straddled the narrow mountain pass looked like it was ready to collapse at any moment. The remnants of a metal portcullis hung in a jagged line over the entry tunnel, making it look like a gaping maw, and the ever present wind made a hollow moaning sound as it blew through it.

“Yeah, that’s not creepy at all, is it?” he said. “I suppose if we are really quiet it might not fall on our heads.”

His horse let out a nervous whicker and tried to back down the road.  Sybarite hated anything that did not involve him being groomed or fed, but for once Loki agreed with him.

“No help for it, old boy.  It’s either this, or spend a whole day backtracking.” He had to dismount and toss a rag over the horse’s eyes to get him to enter the tunnel.  The wind groaned and small rocks rattled down around them as the entryway swallowed them up.  The darkness was oppressive, and even the flames Loki summoned could not cut through the gloom that surrounded them.  Their forward progress slowed to a crawl as Loki carefully felt his way forward.  “How long is this thing?” he muttered.

A sepulchral voice rose out of the moaning of the wind. “It goes on for eternity, unless you answer truthfully.  Who are you, and what is your purpose here?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” he said, stalling for time to identify his opponent.

The ghost of a knight materialized in front him, holding a sword inches from his throat.  “Answer or die.”

Loki scowled, but caution held his temper in check.  “I’ve worn a lot of names lately.  But today, you can call me Loki.  As for what I’m doing here,” he paused, and the scowl turned into a wry smile, “I’m making a fool out of myself over a woman.  Or so my friends keep telling me.”

The ghost laughed and lowered his sword. “The captain told us to expect a fire elemental with a glib tongue.”

Loki raised an eyebrow. “The captain?”

“We do not normally use the name the Shadowkin gave to him, out of respect. But you would know him as Grimmalkyn.” The ghost waved a hand, and the gloom lifted. He drifted towards the now sunny exit to the tunnel. “This way, please.  The captain formally requests that the Lord Dragon clear the enemies from the east gate of the city.”

Loki gave him a hard look.  “The last Lord Dragon was murdered fifteen years ago, along with the rest of his family. I am not him.”

The ghost pointed towards Loki’s arm.  “The Dragon’s mark is not an easy thing to bear.  You are right to fear it.”

“Fear it?” Loki let out a short laugh.  “No.  I love it.  That is the problem, I like the power just a little too much.” He led Sybarite out of the tunnel, and mounted up. “Tell Grimm that Loki is on the way,” he said, putting emphasis on his name, “and forget that you ever heard me called Lord Dragon.”

The ghost turned, as if listening to someone.  “He asks that you hurry.”

“I am not going to…” He paused as he topped the small rise leading out of the tunnel.  “use it…” The valley below him was crawling with Shadowkin creatures, as if a black tide had washed over it.  More creatures were streaming in around the sides of the city walls, and a cloud of dark shapes wheeled in the air overhead.  “Well, that explains why I didn’t run into anything last night. The monsters were all here.”

As he looked up, a glimmer of electric blue plummeted from the sky like a falling star, only to twist at the last second and soar back up into the clouds.  The flying creatures followed it closely like an oily comet’s tail.   Loki didn’t have to ask who that was, he knew Nox’s aura when he saw it. “Dammit, Grimm. You were supposed to keep her safe.”  He tossed the reins towards the ghost.  “Watch Sybarite for me, would you?”

“Good hunting, sir,” the ghost replied.

The lord of every great House has access to more than their own, inborn powers – energy stored in artifacts that let them tap into heart of the elements – but unlike most elemental castings, the key to the House of Fire was burned into the living skin of its rulers.  Loki’s pulse started to race as the power rose around him, warm and seductive as any lover he had ever known.  A stylized tattoo of dragon rose to surface of the skin on his shoulder, and coiled down around his arm until its toothy jaws gaped open on inside of wrist.  A ball of fire formed in his hand, as if the dragon had breathed it out into his palm.

He kept his gaze on Nox’s flickering blue aura, to remind himself there were things here that should not be burned, and set the dragon fire loose.

From overhead, it looked like a scarlet heat wave enveloped half of the monsters outside the city walls.  One minute they were bathed in light, the next there was nothing left but charred skeletons.  Nox took advantage of the confusion amongst her attackers to fly higher.  She ducked into the clouds, but not before getting a glimpse of a dragon made of fire and smoke stalking down into the valley.  She was so startled by it that she forgot to keep moving upwards.

A telepathic bark from Grimm brought her wandering attention back.  “Nox, they are boxing you in!” he said.” You have to keep ahead of them!”

Nox dodged a swipe from the claw of a huge flying rat that had closed in on her. “You know, you only call me Nox when you’re upset.  I just noticed that.”

“Keep focused!”

“I’m tired, furball.  If I admit you were right, will you spare me the ‘I told you so’s’?”

“Break left, dive… now up!  Gain altitude!”

“Sure. No sweat…”

“Use the thermals from the heat waves Loki is throwing around, they will make ascending easier.”

“Loki is here?”  Nox craned her neck to look for him, but all she could see was scarlet flames.

“Pay attention!”

Nox twisted to avoid another attack, but she did not see the second creature until it was too late.  It latched onto her aura shield, slowing her down enough for more of them to pile on.  The weight soon became too much and they all tumbled downwards towards the holocaust of fire below…

(to be continued)

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1. KatharinaFive - June 19, 2010

O, sure leave her falling to the ground. 😛
You would have to leave it there. I love the new twists on the Nox and Loki makes me wonder what is going to happen with Grim. 🙂

techtigger - June 19, 2010

what’s the fun of a serial, if you can’t say ‘tune in next week…” 🙂

2. Marisa Birns - June 19, 2010

I don’t think you have anything to worry about with this installment. It is fabulous!

Just love how you describe the dragon tattoo rising from Loki’s shoulder and coiling down his arm and breathing out a ball of fire onto his hand.

Of course, you would have to stop in a place where I’m biting my fingernails! 🙂

techtigger - June 19, 2010

thank you! I guess I’m just letting my inner perfectionist get the better of me. I keep thinking, ‘if I revise it just one more time, it might be as good as the story I hear in my head’… *lol* oh well, at least having a friday deadline each week forces me to quit dithering and post it 🙂

I’m glad you liked the bit with the tattoo, that was the one part I was happy with!

3. Sam - June 19, 2010

Thereb you go again with the twists and turns…wonderful! Here’s hoping Nox doesn’t get burned to a crisp. Guess I’ll have to tune in next week to find out!

techtigger - June 19, 2010

I’ve been wanting to do more with Loki for a while, but had to wait for the right time to fit it into the story. Will make for more interesting twists and turns down the road 😉

4. Mari Juniper - June 19, 2010

Loki is even cooler now, with the dragon fire!
Where’s the next installment? I want it now! *stomps feet* heh

techtigger - June 20, 2010

already in progress – and I may post it early 🙂

5. ganymeder - June 20, 2010

Ending the story on another cliffhanger. You have no conscience…

I love this series!

techtigger - June 20, 2010

thanks! actually, I didn’t want this one to be a cliffhanger, but I ran out of words. That’s the problem with flashfic, sometimes you just don’t have space to tell the story you really want to

I may post part two early in the week 🙂

6. Gracie - June 26, 2010

Whoo, excellent. Sorry I’m late, though. Your cliffhangers are a thing of beauty, always.

Love, love, love it!

techtigger - July 7, 2010

awww, thank you! 🙂

7. xantojones - September 13, 2010

Loki is even cooler (tee hee) than I realized! Why to develop character! 🙂

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