jump to navigation

Flash Fiction – No Rest for the Weary January 29, 2011

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: , ,
trackback

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 would have given anything for the chance to sit down. She had channeled more energy in the past two days than she had done in her entire life, and she felt as wrung out as a dishrag.  There were still guests to be dealt with though – many of them had not planned to stay the night, and now they needed rooms to sleep in.  To make matters worse, most of the servants were recovering from the firethorn. Citrus was a rare treat this far north, and they had drunk the tainted beverage like it was small beer.  At least the guests had sipped more judiciously, but that meant they were the first on their feet and demanding attention.

She was in the midst of working out room assignments when Mikael’s grandmother tracked her down.  The matriarch of the Marsh Clan was stooped with age, and she held her shawl and cane in withered, bony hands.  Her aura was strong though, almost painfully bright.  Elementals grew more powerful with age, and she was one of the oldest Nox knew, next to Grimm.

“Might I have a word with you, young lady?”

“Of course,” Nox said. “Why don’t I show you to your room, and we can talk on the way?”

She could feel the weight of the matriarchs’ faded brown eyes on her the whole, slow way through the marble halls. The tap of her cane was a sharp counterpoint to the ever-present thrum of the river that ran below the mansion.  Nox had been trained her whole life to deal with difficult politicians, however, and waited with cool patience for her guest to speak.

The matriarch slowed her pace even further. “You know that I have opposed your father’s progressive policies. He would bring too much change, too fast. I cast my vote against his marriage to your mother. He promotes the dilution of our bloodlines.”

Nox held her tongue, more curious about the harangue than offended by it.  She had heard far worse things said about her human heritage.

“I most certainly did not approve of this match between you, and my grandson. Neutrality is the greatest strength the lowland Houses possess. Mists, Marsh, Swamp and Lakes, we do not have the military strength of our neighbors. But they respect us, and trust us to settle disputes fairly because we do not take sides.” She pursed her lips in disapproval. “My son would trade away our greatest asset.  That is why I opposed the match, but they tell me you opposed it as well. Do you still hope to be the heir of your House?”

“You know, if you had asked me that question a few months ago I would have said yes.” Nox stopped, and turned to face her guest. “If I thought it was the best thing for my people, I would still say yes.”

“And would you give up your fireborn lover, if the match caused hardship for your people?”

Nox thought hard before answering.  “If I could not, then I would step aside for someone better suited to lead.”

To her surprise, the matriarch smiled and patted her on the cheek.  “That is a rare bit of wisdom from one so young.  To lead is to make sacrifices. I still do not agree with most of what your father does, but I may have been wrong about you. I think I would have enjoyed having you in my family.”

“It would have been interesting!” Nox said, with a laugh.  She opened the door to the guest room, and pointed out the bell pull.  “Ring of you need anything.  The medics are on call if you have any difficulties because of the firethorn.”

“Oh, I did not have any juice, it disagrees with me.  But thank you for the offer.”

Nox wished her a good night, and let out a sigh of relief when the door was closed.  She had not expected to be grilled like that.  They were fair questions though, and she thought she had done a creditable job with her answers.

A few hours later, the last of the guests were shown to their rooms, and Nox was finally able to drag her tired body back to her own suite.

Loki was stretched out on her couch, hands behind his head and feet propped up on the coffee table. “Hello luv, mind if I bunk here tonight?”

She smacked her forehead.  “Oh no, I gave your suite away to one of the guests, didn’t I? I’m sorry, I’ll have a cot brought in for you.”

“Not quite what I had in mind, but I suppose it will do,” he said, with a roguish grin.

A blush turned her face turned bright red, and she blurted out the first safe topic she could think of. “I had the strangest conversation with Lady Danae tonight.”

He pulled her onto the couch next to him. “All work and no play makes Nox a dull girl. Why would I want to talk about a dried up old stick like the matriarch?” he teased.

Nox was sure that her face was glowing.  “I really think you should hear this,” she said, and repeated the conversation before she could get any more flustered.

His smile turned serious as she spoke. “That is odd,” he said, and got up off the couch. He rummaged through a pile of papers on Nox’s desk, and tensed as he pulled one out. “Was she wearing any rings? Did she scratch you, or offer you a drink?”

Nox shook her head, bewildered. “No, we just talked. What’s wrong?”

He handed her the paper, which was a cargo manifest of deliveries for the party. “The citrus drinks were her gift. I will bet money that she distributed it to the servants.” He pulled her to her feet. “Call the guards.  It looks like you are going to have another prisoner to put on trial tomorrow.”


<–Previous Back to Start Next->

Advertisements

Comments»

1. Gracie - January 29, 2011

Scheming old woman! I didn’t see that coming at all. And here I thought she was just a sweet old grandma.

Great intrigue. Everyone in this world is more than they seem. Well done!

techtigger - January 29, 2011

*grinz* the nobles in this world have had centuries to hone their skills at intrigue. Poor Nox is only twenty years old, and she still gets caught out. What was that saying, age and treachery wins out over youth and optimism? 😀

2. ganymeder - January 29, 2011

I suspected her the moment she said ‘juice disagrees with me.’ Wicked old woman!

techtigger - January 29, 2011

*hehehe* Nox is surrounded by terrible old schemers. Not everyone in this world is wicked, but their rulers are certainly a tough crowd 😉

3. Laura Eno - January 29, 2011

I, too, was caught off guard. The twists you weave are excellent, Angie!

techtigger - January 31, 2011

🙂 now you begin to see why Serenna is so adamant that her daughter stay out of politics, the convocation is a shark pit – of course, her solution isn’t any better. Nox is caught between scilla and charybdis!

4. Carson Margedant - January 31, 2011

Yea, a flash serial that’s actually episodic. Thank you, that was good.

techtigger - February 6, 2011

thank you! I do try to let the episodes stand on their own 🙂

5. Sam Adamson - February 5, 2011

Oooh, what a rotten old matriarch! Every time I think I’ve got a handle on what’s going on you throw in more twists and turns. Bravo! 😀

techtigger - February 6, 2011

*bows* thank you, thank you 😀 The road is long and winding, and you can never see what’s around the next turn…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: