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Flash Fiction – The Best Defense January 21, 2011

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 circulated through the crowds at the mansion, gauging the mood of the guests. Their relief at being rescued from the firethorns had put their guard down and made them chatty.  Once a spy, always a spy, and this was the perfect opportunity for him to gather intel from the allies of the House of Ice.

A change in the noise level at the doors to the great hall caught his attention; a hush, followed by a spike in conversation. His first instinct was to find Nox, but she was at the far end of the room.  Whoever had come in was moving towards her though, and he cut through the crowd with practiced ease to intercept the newcomer.  He was surprised to see it was Serenna.  Nox’s mother had been the hardest hit by the firethorn, and he had not expected her to be on her feet for days. The sorceress looked tired, and her voice was hoarse, but she moved with more strength in her step than he would have expected.

A good spy cuts off a situation before it gets out of hand, and the last thing anyone needed was for Nox and her mother to throw down right here in front of everyone.  He moved to Serenna’s side and slipped his arm through hers. He steered her toward the small stage where the band would normally play at a ball.  “You should not be up yet, Lady.  Here, rest yourself.” He settled her into a chair and radiated a gentle, soothing warmth around her. “I do not want you catch chill,” he said, giving her his most charming smile. “Winter kin never realize how cold these drafty halls can get.”

Emerald green eyes bored into him. “I appreciate your concern, but I think I am a better judge of my own health than you.”

Loki leaned over to speak quietly to her. “I know you came out here to show them that the leadership of your House is still strong, and you have done that. Let them come to you.  To move among them is to put yourself down on their level.”

“Are you my advisor now, as well as my physician?” she said.

He pitched his voice so that only she could hear him. “I have information you need to hear, Lady.” It was a gamble, but one that paid off.  He had always reported to Lucien, and this deviation played to her ego.  Hopefully it would buy Nox time to find a legitimate reason to be elsewhere.

“The lady of the House of Mists is being threatened, along with her children,” he said. “The Marche Warden only agreed to this alliance in hopes that you could provide protection to his family.  We have agents in place, but they need time to neutralize the threat. If you can delay the trial, even for a day it may make all the difference. He will take help from anyone at this point. Better that it be you, than the Morning Lord.”

She studied him curiously. “Why are you helping your rival?”

He raised an eyebrow, “What rival, Lady?”

“I see. You have already struck a bargain with the Marche Warden. Clever.  But you have not made any such deal with me.”

“Your husband favors the match.”

“He left the disposition of our daughter’s hand to me.  I will see her safely out of the succession for any House. I want her to live a long and peaceful life.”

Loki kept his face politely bland, but he put some force into his words. “She would be dead within a week if you married her to Mikael. The House of Mists cannot even protect their own.”

They paused for a moment, as a group of guests came up to pay their respects.  Loki waited until they were well out of earshot before he continued.  “You need to understand how my uncle works. He knows that the quickest way to break a man is to shoot for the heart. He wanted the dragon mark, and he made my father watch as he tortured my mother with firethorn. If the mark had not been hidden away with me, my uncle would have gotten it that day. ”

He placed a hand on Serenna’s arm. She looked at him in surprise, which was good. It meant she was listening.  “Lucien loves you both, intensely.  Nox will be a target as long as he lives, and opposes my uncle. That is the simple truth.”

Serenna gave him a long, measuring look.  “If she is with you, she will be doubly a target. Do you honestly think you can protect her?”

“I have already stopped no less than thirty attempts on her life,” he said, with a rakish grin. “Most of which she doesn’t even know about.”

She gave him a slight smile. “There are times when you remind me very much of your father.”

He laughed. “My father would have chucked you under the chin and said, ‘Buck up, little lady. I’ve got it all under control.’ I somehow did not think you would take that from me.”

“In that, you were right,” Serenna said.  She looked around the room, but Nox was nowhere in sight. “Shouldn’t you be protecting her right now?”

“How do you know I am not?”

Her eyes bored into him again, and his smile broadened. The air around them grew warmer, and Serenna’s spell fizzled.

“What do you know, dragon fire really can burn through anything,” he said. “I can keep her safe, Serenna, but I need you to quit working against me.  Trust in me, as you once did my father.”

The look she gave him was hard to read, but he thought he saw a bit of respect in it. “Perhaps I should.”

He bowed, and moved back into the crowd. Sometimes, he thought, the best defense was not to fight with someone at all.


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Comments»

1. Gracie - January 21, 2011

Canny Loki! Good boy. I have a feeling Serenna won’t cave that easily, though, curse her eyes.

Loki’s just adorable. I wish I had one just like him. 😀

Another great episode. One of my favorite stops every Friday.

techtigger - January 21, 2011

heh, he’s won over lucien, and now he’s working on mom. he’s a smoothie! 😉

2. ganymeder - January 22, 2011

Loki can be really cool, for someone from the house of ice. Smooth, Loki. Smooooooth…. 🙂

techtigger - January 23, 2011

(i think you meant fire *grinz*) but yeah, mr. spy man is one cool customer 😉

3. Maria Kelly - January 24, 2011

Love how this suspense is building, but I still don’t trust Serenna much.

techtigger - January 25, 2011

yeah, Serenna is not going to roll over and behave so easily. But she’ll think twice before casting any more spells with him around 😀

4. Laura Eno - January 27, 2011

I’m so glad Loki gave Serenna a taste of what he’s worth! She won’t meekly give up though…not with Angie writing the scene. 😉

techtigger - January 29, 2011

yep, he’s a keeper *grins*

And why wouldn’t serenna behave herself? *whistles-innocently* 😀

5. keikomushi - January 28, 2011

From what I’ve read, this story may prove to be a worthy follow from now on. Great vibe. Great dialog. Great descriptive and narrative. This piece is right on the money! All in all, a great submission for Flash Friday.

techtigger - January 29, 2011

thank you very much! I’m working on getting the back episodes into an e-book, but in the mean time you can hit the flash fiction tab if you want to read through from the start.

Welcome aboard, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do writing them 🙂


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