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Flash Fiction – Duty Before Self September 18, 2010

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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This flashfic is part of an ongoing web serial, updated every week as a part of #fridayflash on twitter.  If you are new to Nox and Grimm, you can Click Here to read from the beginning.

Nox gave Loki a kiss and walked with him to the door of her room. “Thanks for the help with my chainmail.”

“I will be happy to help you back out of it again later,” he said, with a wicked grin.

Nox laughed. “Focus, sweetie. We have critters to dispatch. Do you need anything from the armory?”

The dragon tattoo rose from Loki’s arm and wrapped itself around him.  When it settled, it changed into armor made of obsidian scales, and a cloak of scarlet flame sprung from the shoulder guards and rolled down his back. “I think I am all set.”

“That is so not fair.  You aren’t supposed to be prettier than your date!”

“I can’t help being beautiful. It’s a curse,” he deadpanned, getting another laugh from Nox.

A flicker of green light from the hall outside caught Nox’s eye.  “Could you saddle up a horse for me? I have something to take care of before we go.”

He gave her a florid bow.  “As my lady commands.”

She shooed him towards the door. “Go, fop.”   Once he was out of earshot she crossed her arms and scowled. “All right mother.  You obviously wanted me to see your aura. What do you want, I don’t have much time.”

“You have all the time in the world, daughter. You are going to take off that ridiculous armor and get back to our guests,” said Serenna.

“I will do no such thing.  Duty before self, you taught me that. My duty is to protect our people.”

Serenna looked calm, but the air around her was charged.  “Your duty is what I tell you to do. This selfish desire to play with the elements nearly killed you. I won’t allow it to go any further.”

A bitter cold wind whipped around Nox. Every surface in the room was slowly covered by patterns of frost as she lost her temper. “Selfish? Every minute you delay me leads to more of our people getting killed by Chimaera! Are you going to explain to them that their loved ones died because you insisted on having a party?” she said, her voice dripping with scorn. “Father’s battle plan depends on me being there. I am the only air elemental left that can pull this off.”

Serenna gave her a quelling look. “You are not Air. You are Ice, and barely that.”

“I. Am. Air.” Nox said, putting emphasis on each word. “Or I will be, when you undo the spell that strangles my powers.”

Serenna let out an exasperated sigh.  “Do you not see what I have done for you? Without the elements, you cannot be the heir, and will not have to deal with the brutal politics that got Loki’s family killed. He may wish to continue that fight, but I will not lose you to it.  If you marry Mikael, you will never be expected to fight again.  I have even chosen a husband who shares your interests.  Is it so hard to believe that I want your happiness?”

“Maybe it wouldn’t be, if you had ever bothered to ask what it was that makes me happy, instead of always telling me.”  Nox made to brush past her mother, but a blinding pain shot through her head that dropped her to the ground.

As she started to black out, she heard Serenna say, “I am sorry. But it is for the best.”

This was not the first time her mother said those words to her. Nox had blotted out the memory of the childhood trauma, but it came back clearly in that instant.  She remembered wailing in pain as her mother cast the spell meant to cut her off from the elements.  Serenna’s face had been pale and tear streaked, and she kept saying, “Hush baby. Hush. I know it hurts. But it is for the best.”

Ice cold fury let Nox hang on to consciousness. She was not a child anymore, and there was no way in Hel she would go down without a fight.  She pushed herself up to her hands and knees. “This is your only warning.  Let me go.”

Serenna grabbed Nox by the arm and dragged her upright. “You are a disgrace, daughter. Your father has indulged your whims far too often. But no more.”

“You’re a bully. An ordinary thug who would be nothing without father’s influence.”

Serenna’s face turned livid.  “You will obey me, by force if necessary!”  Acid green energy lashed out from her hands, but was met by the electric blue of Nox’s own aura. Serenna’s head snapped back as she was struck by Nox’s counter attack.

“I can pay back every ounce of pain you inflict on me,” Nox said, as she hammered into Serenna’s defenses.  “I am not afraid of you anymore. But if you don’t let me go, you will damned well learn to fear me!”

Serenna reeled backwards as Nox blasted apart her aura shield apart.  “Stop this! I am your mother!”

Nox gave her a look that could have frozen the sun.  “I don’t have a mother.“  She grabbed Serenna by the throat and gathered in energy for a final strike.  She held her fist cocked back, her blue aura crackling around it like lightening.

Serenna looked horrified. “You wouldn’t dare!”

“You have tortured me my whole life. Why should I show you any mercy?”

Grimm materialized and paced into the room. “Because you are better than her, little one.”

Nox clenched her fist until the knuckles turned white.  “I asked you to stay out of this.”

The hound gave her a stern look. “Defend the living, and honor the dead.  Fight with courage, and show mercy to the defeated. In all things, act with honor. That is the oath you took as a Wind Knight.”

“Damn you,” Nox whispered.  She shoved her mother away, spun on her heel and walked out.

Grimm bared his teeth at Serenna. “You owe me your life. Remember that.”

<–Previous Back to Start Next->



1. Nishi - September 18, 2010

This was simply awesome! I liked the flashback scene, shows us exactly why Nox is so angry with her parents.. Finally, Serenna gets her due (Although I don’t think she will be dissuaded so easily from interfering with Nox). Great work, and I am thrilled Grimm shows up in this version!

techtigger - September 18, 2010

I almost didn’t put in that flashback scene – was hard to write, ugly, but I think it was necessary

2. lauraeno - September 18, 2010

Oh, damn…that oath got in the way. LOL! Very exciting. I’m so glad that Nox was able to stand up to her mother!

In this line, you need to drop ‘are’…

Every minute you delay me leads to more of our people are getting killed by Chimaera

techtigger - September 18, 2010

thanks for the catch! Was up writing/revising till 2am, not surprised i missed one 🙂

3. Gracie - September 18, 2010

Woohoo! Go, Nox! But I’m glad Grimm was able to talk her down. She IS better than Serenna. And Grimm’s last line, “You owe me your life. Remember that” gave me chills.

Excellent episode!

techtigger - September 20, 2010

Thanks! heh, Serenna is not going to be thrilled about that – you can’t exactly pay off a life debt by sending a thank you card *grinz*

4. Aidan Fritz - September 19, 2010

I love what you are doing with the mother/daughter relationship here. They seem like real people.

techtigger - September 20, 2010

thanks! I always try to write them as real people, who just happen to have unusual powers.

5. Mari Juniper - September 19, 2010

WOooo! This is thrilling! I love everything about this episode, but the best of all is the final line. Grimm rocks!

techtigger - September 20, 2010

Indeedy! 😀 As if Serenna didn’t hate and fear Grimm already, now she’s in his debt *muhhwwhaahaaa!*

6. Anthony - September 20, 2010

oooooo, now I want to see more. Will have to read the older stuff for now 🙂

techtigger - September 20, 2010

Welcome aboard! Feel free to ping me on twitter @techtigger, I’m always happy to chat about the series, or about writing in general 🙂

7. ganymeder - September 29, 2010

I’m glad that Nox stood up to Mommy Dearest, but she got a bit dark there! Can’t wait for the next installment. 🙂

techtigger - September 30, 2010

yeah, having someone mucking about in your head is going to knock you over the edge a bit 😉

Will have the next one up on friday, sorry about the delay!

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