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Flash Fiction – Dragonfire Part 2 June 25, 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.


For the second time that day Nox found herself in freefall, only this time it was not by choice.  A horde of flying rats had attached themselves to her aura shield, and the sheer weight of them was dragging her down. She frantically looked around, but all she could see were beady red eyes, hairy bodies and sharp claws. She dredged up another burst of wind from somewhere, enough to put her into a spin and knock a few of them off. “Grimm, I need a little help here! I’m flying blind, what do I do?”

“Let them pile on,” the hound said.

“What!”

“Stay calm, short-stuff. I will get you out of this. The rats make a perfect heat shield. You will be safe from the dragonfire Loki is slinging around, and enough of them will burn off to let you gain altitude again. Let yourself fall.”

“But what about the ground, Grimm?  If I can’t pull out of the dive I’m going to make a nice, girly shaped crater.”  She flung her tired body into another twisting maneuver, and two more rats slipped off the ice forming on her shield.

“Ride the thermals back up. Never waste your strength in a fight when you don’t have to.” he said. “Can you change the shape of your aura shield, like this?” He sent a mental image of a simple airfoil to her.

“I think so,” Nox said, her voice starting to slur from fatigue.  She let go of the wind and focused on reshaping her aura. As the surface area increased more of the rats swooped in and piled on. Nox let out a pained gasp.  “They’re too heavy Grimm, I’m sorry.  I can’t hold the shield. I’m so sorry…”

“Don’t you give up on me! You can do this!  Just hang on a little longer!”

“I’m trying…” she said, her voice coming out as a choked sob.  “The air is too hot… I can’t breathe…”

Grimm bounded down the five flights of stairs to the foot of the city walls.  A wave of heat slammed into him as he emerged into the smoke filled valley.  Everywhere he looked, monsters screamed and died as the dragonfire caught up to them.   “Loki! She’s coming down, you have to ease up!”

The fire elemental turned his smoldering gaze to the sky.  “She’s stopped falling. They’re towing her westward.”  He flung out a hand and immolated a herd of scorpion tailed deer before they could get too close. “Can you handle the ones on the ground?”

“I’ve got you covered, go!”

Loki dropped his hand and closed his eyes, trusting Grimm to keep the monsters at bay.  Beads of ink from the dragon tattoo on his arm rose up to the surface of his skin, and ran down to pool in his cupped hand.  He hurled it skyward, and for a moment the image of the tattoo hung in the air in front of him.  There was a sharp, wrenching feeling in his gut, and then he was looking down on his body.  Some small part of his mind knew he was going to have a hard time getting his spirit back where it belonged, but for right now all that mattered was getting to Nox.  He coiled around the thermals rising from the fires and clawed his way up into the clouds.

Lighting crackled and thunder boomed as the superheated air met the cool winds of the upper atmosphere.  Good, he thought. A storm would slow the little bastards down. He could see the tangle of flying rats ahead of him.  Nox hung limp in their grasp, her aura shield fading.  Loki lunged forward, opened his jaws and unleashed Hel. The sky filled with light and heat, and dozens of the creatures vaporized.

Loki roared in exaltation as the dragonfire rushed through him, raw and primal. He had always loved the power, since the very first time he used it. How many nights had the craving for it robbed him of sleep?  He could not remember why he had ever held back, when it was so easy to let go and watch the world burn.  He lashed out with it again, and again, until the last few rats scattered and flew off as fast as their leathery wings could take them.   He let out a frustrated bellow and looked for a new target.  His eyes lit on one small figure tumbling down through the clouds.  The aching need to use more fire sent him darting forward…

…and he pulled up short as a familiar pair of blue eyes looked back at him, blinking in confusion. Nox. The whole reason he had come here.  A sudden, sick revulsion at what he had nearly done swept through him, and the fires inside him guttered out.  Without the heat to keep him aloft, his spirit was yanked violently down to earth and slammed back  into his body. He fell to his hands and knees and retched, until nothing came up but bile.  Nox made a barely controlled landing nearby, bouncing and skidding to a halt.

All around them, the ghosts of the last wind knights stood in a ring facing outwards. Loki recognized the one who had challenged him at the mountain pass that morning.  The knights chanted in unison, swinging their swords in precise lines, up, around, down and across, summoning a mass air casting.  Grimm’s keening howl rose up in an eerie counterpoint to direct their attacks.  At the end of each cycle, any monsters within thirty feet of them swayed and toppled over, like wheat mown down by a scythe.  It was a slaughter, but the monsters kept coming. They had been created to hunt down air elementals, and flung themselves at their ancient enemies with a mindless fury.

Overhead, the skies opened and a chill rain fell, dousing the last of the fires.  Nox crawled through the downpour to Loki’s side. “Grimm says we need to move. If we lean on each other, I think we can make it.” She slid her arm under his, and they staggered to their feet.   As soon as they were upright Grimm’s howl changed in timbre, and the ghosts turned to march deeper into the ruined city.  Nox and Loki stumbled through the streets for what seemed like an eternity, the pouring rain making every step a misery.  Grimm scouted ahead until he found a building for them to rest in.  The last thing Loki remembered clearly was catching Nox as she passed out. He carried her up a flight of stairs to a small, dry room and laid her down with her head pillowed against Grimm’s side before letting exhaustion drag him off into oblivion…

(next week: Under Siege)


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Comments»

1. Gracie - June 26, 2010

That description of Loki sending out his dragon spirit was simply magnificent.

Wonderful writing!

techtigger - July 7, 2010

thanks! That was the first thing I thought of when I started writing this – how would a tattoo lift off an arm? It seems my stories always build that way, I get one image or a couple sentences, and then the whole story grows around that 🙂

2. ganymeder - June 27, 2010

Incredible! Revealing how close Loki came to letting his urges make him do something terrible. Wonderfully suspenseful.

techtigger - July 7, 2010

I’m glad you liked it! I’ve been playing with tone and pacing, always trying to make my writing better. 🙂

3. Mari Juniper - June 27, 2010

Loved the action! 😀

techtigger - July 7, 2010

thanks! was a lot to squeeze into this story line 😉

4. Sam - July 1, 2010

Fantastic, as always. I was gripped!

techtigger - July 7, 2010

I’m glad! Was so worried this one was too long, or a bit rough. Glad it worked!


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