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Flash Fiction – Winds of War October 1, 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 stormed through the mansion, every footstep leaving patterns of frost on the floor.  Grimm paced along beside her, his claws clicking on the icy marble.  The ghostly hound’s forbidding presence kept any curious guests at bay, which just as well.  The last thing she needed was to start a diplomatic incident by snapping at a visiting dignitary.


“Save your energy for the battle, little one,” Grimm said, pointing his nose at the frost trails.

She let out a blistering curse, and shoved through the doors into the entry hall.

“You can be mad at me all you like, but you would have regretted it later.”

“I’m not mad at you.”

Grimm snorted.  “We are soul-bound, little one.  If you were any angrier, I would be putting up a shield.”

“Oh, I’m angry all right, but not at you.” A burst of frigid air from her out-flung hand tossed the main doors to the mansion open with a bang.  Several of the guards in the courtyard jumped at the noise.  “Brand, are the men ready?” she asked.

The guard captain saluted.  “Yes, Lady Ice.  Loki is waiting beyond the gates with your…steed?” Grimm cocked his head to the side, one ear up inquisitively, but Brand just shrugged. “Best if you see it yourself.”  He led them out through the gatehouse to where the fire elemental was waiting.

Loki turned and gave Nox a jaunty wave.  “He keeps calling me fire-brother. He seems to like me.”  As he spoke, the ice drake that guarded the river below the mansion reared up its head.  “I thought you might prefer Rakastar to a horse.”  The huge beast let out a sound somewhere between a purr and a kettle boiling as he saw Nox.

“It’s your aura,” she said. “It looks like a big, black dragon whenever you use the tattoo.  You’re lucky he didn’t see you as a rival.”

“No worries there, Lucien introduced me to him a while back. Can’t have his spies getting eaten, eh?”

Nox gave him a faint smile. “Good point.  And thank you, this was a good idea.”  She turned to Brand and said, “Send a runner and tell the Ambassador she will need to initiate the secondary river defenses.  Oh, and tell her to inform the guests that they will need to stay the night.”

Loki was taken aback at her lukewarm response, until he noticed the frost creeping across the ground at her feet.  It took a lot for an elemental to lose control like that.  Add to that the fact she was calling her mother, ‘Ambassador,’ and it was not hard to figure out what had happened.  “What did she do to you?”

Another burst of cold air surrounded her.  “I don’t want to talk about it.”

They both turned as they heard the Marche Warden’s voice coming from inside the courtyard.  “I demand to know what is going on.  Where are my hosts?”

Nox spat out another curse and headed back up to the gatehouse.  “This night just keeps getting better.”

The Warden was badgering Brand, with an embarrassed Mikael standing behind him.  “A guard captain doesn’t tell me where I can and can’t go,” he said.   “I will see this menace myself.  They could be in my own territories next.”  He looked down his nose at Nox as she walked up.

Nox ignored his disapproval and snapped orders at him.  “You can go as neutral observers.  Stay with the runners and medics.” She jabbed a finger at Mikael.  “You will not, under any circumstances, interfere.  A random casting could endanger the lives of my men.  I will have you packed on a horse and sent back if you so much as lift a finger. Understood?”  Mikael mumbled assent, and his father was too busy staring at Loki’s dragon-scale armor to reply.  Nox gave Brand a curt nod. “Good. Saddle up, gentlemen.”  She headed back out to where Rakastar and Grimm were waiting.

The Warden put a hand on Loki’s arm, but quickly snatched it back to keep from getting burned.  “Not a fake then.  I haven’t seen that armor since Kyrios passed on.”  He gave Loki a shrewd look. “So, which of his boys are you?  Kyle, or Cole?”

“My name is Loki.”

“Hah!  All right then, Loki. What do you think I should tell the Morning Lord when I see him again, hmm?  Word will get out about this.”

A brief, predatory smile crossed Loki’s face as he turned to go. “Tell him I said not to turn tail and run next time.”

The Warden’s eyebrows shot up so high they nearly disappeared beneath his hair.  “Well, well, well.  Lucien had an ace hidden up his sleeve! That does make things…interesting.”

The gathered troops filed out through the gates and assembled on the road.  Moonlight glistened off of armor and the ice drake’s pearly white scales.  Nox addressed them from between the long, curving horns atop the drake’s head.

“Listen up, men. You need to know the reality of what we face.” she said. “The Chimaera have stings in their tails, barbs on the horns, and poison in their claws. They are killing machines, and they would like nothing better than to eat you for lunch.” That drew a chuckle from the men who were with her at the House of Winds.  “I will draw them into the trap, and wipe out the aerial attackers.  I leave the rest to you.  Use coordinated warcastings to pen them up, and keep them at arrow range.  Archers, aim for the eyes, it’s their weak spot. Do not let them close on you, the line must hold.” She gave them a fierce smile.  “We will be the anvil to my father’s hammer.  These creatures have threatened our people for long enough. Tonight, we end this.”

Nox signaled Rakastar to head downriver as the troops cheered and wheeled their horses into formation for the long ride. The House of Ice was going to war.

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1. Gracie - October 1, 2010

Woohoo, let’s go! That Warden is bit too full of himself, isn’t he? Great episode, ramping up the excitement. Look forward to the battle!

techtigger - October 2, 2010

Thanks! And yeah, the warden is a bit of a windbag, but what do you expect from a politician? *grinz*

2. Mari Juniper - October 1, 2010

Wooot! Great tension here, and also building of tension. Can’t wait for the battle. *grinz*

techtigger - October 2, 2010

heheh I am having fun writing it! 🙂

3. ganymeder - October 2, 2010

Waiting for the battle. Fire & Ice- what a team!

techtigger - October 2, 2010

they do make a great pair, don’t they? 🙂

4. Blackbirdsong - October 2, 2010

Some really great characters and descriptions. I’ve always loved the name “Loki.” I like the way you create a sense of something on the horizon here. Well done.

techtigger - October 4, 2010

thank you! it is a great name, so much potential for mayhem 😉

5. Laura Eno - October 2, 2010

I like Rakastar! I hope the Warden doesn’t cause Nox any grief during the battle…

techtigger - October 4, 2010

rakastar showed up once before, in “night raid”

I love giving personalities to the beasties in Nox’s world, makes them as much a character as the main ones 🙂

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