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Flash Fiction – On Borrowed Wings October 23, 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.

Loki reached up to send a blast of heat into the opening of the hot air balloon. “I have to admit, the view from up here is impressive,” he said.


Nox had cobbled the balloon together with silk sheets requisitioned from a nearby manor house, and merged them together with a simple cantrip for fixing ripped clothes.  Another stop to talk with a local gardener got them a basket and ropes woven from living vines to finish it off.  All Loki had to do was turn on the heat, and they were airborne.

Grimm looked cheerfully over the side of the basket, his ears forward and tail wagging. “The House of Winds used these as mobile observation platforms for our allies.  Of course, we had to use birds or signal flags back then to communicate with the ground troops.  Telepathy is much more secure and reliable.”

Nox looked over the side with Grimm, one arm tossed across the hound’s neck.  Getting aloft again had gotten rid of her headache and cheered her up considerably. The valley below them was filled with row upon row of tall, pale ice elementals in silver armor. Just beyond them, the ice drake Rakastar was busy freezing the surface of the river into a slushy icepack.  Nox looked out into the dark hills beyond, but she could not see any auras glowing, outside of the usual nocturnal animals. “We should have no problem seeing the Chimaera coming.”

“The Chimaera will have no problems seeing us, either,” Loki pointed out.  “Have I mentioned how much I hate being the bait for a trap?”

Nox dropped her voice to imitate Loki.  “Don’t worry, luv, I’ll protect you.”

He batted his eyelashes and replied in falsetto, “My hero!”

Grimm let out an amused snort. “Okay, children, playtime is over. Time to set up the turbulence field.”

Nox braced herself against the edge of the basket. “All righty then. Let’s see how much Air I can move before the Ambassador’s spell cuts me off again.”

Loki frowned at that.  It was the second time she had referred to her mother only by her title. Something had happened back at the mansion, but Nox refused to talk about it.  Now was not the time to ask, however; they were about to be up to their ears in monsters.  A chill breeze kicked up around them, and he had to give the balloon another blast of heat to keep it from losing altitude.  “Ease up on the Ice, luv.  I don’t know if I can defrost us without burning holes in the silk.”

Nox grimaced, her face set with the intensity of the casting she was attempting. “Sorry, I can only summon winter winds.”

Loki peered out into the darkness. “Heat signatures on the horizon. Lots of them. That did not take long.”

At this altitude, the wind can carry the scent of an Air casting for miles in just a few minutes,” Grimm said.  The hound sent a thought down to the commanders on the ground.  “Incoming.  Have the archers ready to take out anything we miss. Remember, shoot for the eyes.”

Nox straightened up and winced.  “Oh man, my head hurts. I hope this works, furball.”

Grimm looked confidently out into the night. “It will. Watch and see.”

Loki tensed. “Here they come.”

Dark shapes rose up on the horizon and spread across the sky like a stain, blotting out the stars. The drumming of a thousand wings beating the air hit them in a wall of sound, and Grimm’s deep, rumbling growl rose up in response.  The first wave of creatures broke off and darted toward them, making a straight line for the balloon.  Fifty yards out though, they hit the turbulence.  Scaly bodies were tossed around like rag dolls, up, down, sideways, colliding and dropping from the sky like stones.  Shrieks filled the air, and the ones farthest away wheeled around and took up position, circling at a safe distance.

Eerie cries echoed all around them, as if the creatures were communicating.  Nox put on her force gauntlets.  “I think they’re getting orders from somewhere. Can you pick up anything, Grimm?”

No. But I was not listening, either.  Their minds are slimy. I will now, though.”

Loki kept scanning the horizon.  “More coming from this side.  Bigger ones, and they don’t seem to mind the turbulence so much.”

“Let’s see what their master makes of this.”  Nox reached out and made violent pulling motions with her hands.  The gauntlets crackled and spat out sparks from the wires embedded in them, filling the air with the smell of ozone.  Every creature within sight screamed at once, and plummeted to the ground.

Loki looked impressed.  “How do those things work?”

“Most flying things use the earth’s magnetic fields to navigate.  I just twisted the local energy into pretzels.”  She winked at him. “Told you I’d protect you.”

He threw back his head and laughed.  “I will never doubt you again!”

Grimm cut in, his thoughts urgent.  “Take us down, fireborn.”

“I don’t see anything else out there.”


Nox sent a light stream of cold air out, making the Chimaera scream in frustration as their prey slipped past.  “I’ll handle the descent,” she said. “You two just worry about keeping the critters from boarding us.”

Loki shot bursts of flame out to the sides and curled them up around the top, to keep the creatures away from the balloon. Grimm’s barks stunned anything that he missed.  Nox stayed in between them, gently cooling the air to bring them down in a slow, controlled landing.

Grimm growled.  “Take us down faster.”


He cocked an ear at the roiling black clouds moving towards them.  “The Morning Lord has learned how to use the Storm key.”

“Oh, bugger. “ Nox looked at how far they down had to go yet.  “Hang on. This is going to be a rough ride.”

<–Previous Back to Start Next->




1. Ganymeder - October 23, 2010

And the adventure continues! Yay!

techtigger - October 24, 2010

oh yes, time to get things rolling again! 🙂

2. Sam - October 23, 2010

You’re back and so are Nox and Grimm. Yay! By the way, I think describing the chimeras’ minds as “slimy” has a wonderful evocative quality to it.

techtigger - October 24, 2010

hee, thanks! Everything about them is kind of oily and nasty, so i figured their minds should be too 🙂

3. Gracie - October 23, 2010

Something’s been off-kilter with the world lately… Oh, that’s right, I’ve been missing Nox and Grimm! 🙂

So glad you and they are back. And this is another great episode. Can’t wait to see how they deal with the Morning Lord!

techtigger - October 24, 2010

it’s good to be back! all rested up and batteries recharged from vacation, and I’m ready to rock. Next few weeks will be fun 🙂

4. Cecilia Dominic - October 23, 2010

Went back a few to catch up with what’s going on. Great stuff, as usual! I think that Nox calling her mother “Ambassador” is chilling and appropriate, although I’m sure she’s calling the lady much worse names in her head. I look forward to following the battle!


techtigger - October 24, 2010

yes, that blow up with her mother was a long time coming. And it ain’t over yet…

5. Roland D. Yeomans - October 23, 2010

I’ve new heroes : Nox and Grimm. Look forward to seeing how goes the battle. Check out my short entry to today’s MONSTER MASH.

techtigger - October 24, 2010

welcome aboard! always happy to see new faces here 🙂 Feel free to ping me on twitter, i love talking shop about writing, or the story

6. Laura Eno - October 25, 2010

That pesky Morning Lord is back…grrr. I can’t wait for the next installment!

7. Mari Juniper - December 1, 2010

Ohh, it’s getting even more epic! What a battle this is going to be! *huge grin*

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