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Flash Fiction – Combat Couture February 26, 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.

Sorry about the two week hiatus!  Hopefully this one will make up for it  –  I know I had fun writing it 🙂  Without further ado, lets move on to the story…

Nox was alone in her dressing room, making slow progress at getting ready for the trial.  The maids were all busy with the guests, and she had decided that Loki’s dubious offer to help would not get her dressed any faster.

Grimm was out in the parlour of her suite, sprawled on a couch with a book between his paws. By now the hound was a veteran of the chaos that surrounded her while she prepared for an official appearance, and he weathered the flurry of activity with his usual stoicism.

Eventually she came out in a gown that glittered with frost, and twirled around with her arms out. “So, what do you think?”

He rolled his eyes.  “I think you should have learned by now not to ask me about fashion.  My knowledge only covers ‘are you dressed,’ and ‘does it smell clean?’ This one gets a yes on both counts.”

Nox walked over and put a sleeve under his nose.  “Take a closer look. I’ve been wanting to field test this dress for a while.”

He gave her an odd look, but humored her by inspecting it. The frost lay over a pale blue fabric that was woven with matching patterns.  That was when it hit him – every inch of it was woven with the intricate lines of an elemental casting.  He recoiled, his ears flat.  “Are you insane!  No, don’t answer that, I know you are.  What happens if it gets torn? Or if the weaver missed a thread? You have enough linked castings on that thing to blow this whole room to dust!”

“Relax, furball,” she said, holding up her hands to fend off the torrent of questions. “It wasn’t woven, it was grown.  This is one of my side-projects with House Flora.  They have been safely growing trees with castings in them for centuries. Remember the ones that formed the palisade around waypost? All I did was challenge them to come up with a different shape. It’s just like tree bark. There are no seams or hems, and the fibers are all grown in overlapping patterns. If it gets torn, the energy flows around the break and I can simply mend it with a cantrip.”

“All right,” he said, only slightly mollified, “but do you have to be the one field test it? You are turning my fur grey.”

She put her hands on her hips. “Didn’t you just tell my parents not to molly coddle me?”

He started to reply, then grumbled “Damn you and your  logic.” He shook his head and gave an amused a snort. “I can’t wait to see what happens if you sell the patent for this.  The guards will have to strip-search every politician before they enter the Convocation Hall to make sure they don’t have a war casting sewn into their underpants.”

Nox giggled.  “I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll be the first dress shop owner to be accused of war profiteering.   I can sell lacy underthings of DOOM!”

Grimm groaned. “Now there is an image I didn’t need stuck in my head.”

“What are friends for?” she quipped. “Seriously though, selling my inventions isn’t a bad idea. I already pay for my experiments that way, and we are going to need a fortune to rebuild the House of Winds.  Trust me, I’ve seen the budget to keep up this mansion. It’s obscene.”

“And we have an entire city to rebuild,” he sighed.  “If we fund it with ballistic bustiers though, I may die of shame before we get too far.”

She patted the hound’s paw.”I’m sure I can come up with something more dignified.”

“Please do.” He eyed up the dress again. “I suppose we had better test it now, while I am right here and ready to shield you.  For what that’s worth, considering you are wearing it.”

They both paused as a knock came at the door, and Loki let himself in.  “What are we testing?”

“Projectile panties,” Nox said, and burst into gales of laughter at the look on Grimm’s muzzle.

“Count me in!” Loki said, and spun a chair around to sit with his arms on the back.  “Fire away!”

Grimm buried his head in his paws. “More mental images I didn’t need. Owww.”

Nox needed both hands to lift up one of his paws, so that she could peer under it.  “I’m sorry Grimm, I’ll behave now,” she said, but she was still grinning.  “We’ll start with a basic ice shield, and work from there, okay?”

“I need some mental floss first. Oww…”

“I think I broke him,” she said to Loki.

“He’ll get over it. Now I, on the other hand, am always ready to discuss flinging panties.”

Grimm made a strangling sound. “Can we please get this field test over with?”

“Okay, okay,” Nox said.  “One ice shield, coming up…”

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Flash Fiction – Winds of Change February 5, 2011

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: , ,

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.

The House of Ice was a hotbed of activity for most of the night. Five Mist and Marsh kin were found dead in their rooms before they caught up to Lady Danae. The matriarch had waited patiently by her grandson’s prison cell, and surrendered to the guards without a word.  No one was sure if she had merely executed those behind the firethorn attack, or taken out accomplices before they could talk. The last thing Nox remembered, before exhaustion claimed her, was that a truthfinder had been sent for to moderate the trial.

Nox woke at mid-morning to the sounds of a heated debate outside her bedroom door. It was going to be another fun day, she thought sourly, as she heard her mother’s voice raised. Was it any wonder that she preferred to sleep at her workshop?  She got a warning thought from Grimm – the decision to make her the heir, or not, was in full swing out in her parlour. Her father wanted to announce it at the trial, while they had a room full of grateful nobles to back her claim.

The hound’s rumbling telepathic voice came through with some asperity. “Would you quit molly-coddling her?  She will not thank you for it, and she certainly does not need it.”

“You will excuse me if I do not entirely trust your judgment,” Serena said, her voice dripping disdain.

Lucien’s quiet baritone came next. “We are her parents; we want what is best for her.”

Grimm growled. “Too bad neither of you can agree on what that is.  Why don’t you try asking her, she is awake.”

Nox wrapped herself in a silk dressing gown, and swept out into the parlour, making the sort of entrance usually reserved for a monarch entering their throne room.  Serenna opened her mouth to speak, but Nox held up an imperious hand, and gave a regal nod to Loki as he held out a chair for her.  Leave it to a fire elemental to sense mischief in the air. He smirked and played along with wicked good cheer.

“Coffee, Lady Ice? And might I tempt you with some breakfast?” He settled a white napkin on her lap, and whisked a laden tray to her side.

She sipped at her coffee and slathered toast with honey and clotted cream, pointedly ignoring the outraged looks her parents gave her.  They had played political games with her future for quite long enough. She and Grimm had made plans of their own.

“Now then, I assume you have not yet officially taken back control of the House of Ice from my care.”  Scrape, scrape, went the knife over the bread, and the sound fell into the deafening silence that had settled on the room. “Which, I believe, makes this argument completely pointless. The question is not whether I am fit to be heir. It is whether I will give the House back to you.”

Loki made mock obeisance to her. “If I might beg the Lady’s indulgence, my own future was being decided as well.  I have enjoyed the support of your House under the previous reign. Will it continue, under your august leadership?”

Serenna cut in acidly. “Enough of this charade. Time is wasting,” she said, but stopped as Lucien placed a quelling hand on her arm.

“This is no charade. She is right – legally, she became the ruler the minute I abdicated my responsibilities to stay by your sickbed.”  He gave his daughter a faintly amused smile.  “You have made your point. When you reinstate us, will you take up your inheritance?”

“Yes, and no.”

Grimm moved to her side, and she placed a hand on the hound’s furry shoulder.  “We are Air, father. The throne of the House of Ice is no place for two Wind Knights.” She ignored his sharp disappointment, and forged on. “You and I are Lord Galen’s heirs, and Grimm his loyal vassal.  Don’t you think it is time we quit hiding who we are, and raise the banner of the House of Winds?”

Serenna snapped at her. “Who will follow you, foolish child? There are no other Air elementals.”

“Wrong again, mother. The refugees of the House of Winds went south, to their cousins in the House of Storms.  Why else would we maintain such close ties with them?”  Nox sat forward, warming to her argument. “With the Chimaera gone, there is a whole territory empty and waiting to be reclaimed.  The storm kin are leaderless, and kept in chaos by the Morning Lords’ meddling.  They are already leaving in droves, why not give them a place to go?  You will have a buffer between yourself and his territories, and a dagger at his throat all at once.”

Loki smoothly joined in. “If you agree to my plan as well, we can deliver my uncle a sharp, double blow. Let me testify at the trial, Lucien.”

“You would plunge our whole world into war!” Serenna cried.  “Luc, this is madness.  We can still delay the trial, and find evidence to link the Morning Lord to the crime.”

Grimm snorted.  “War is already here. What did you think that horde of Chimaera was, a peace offering? Balor wants to soften you up before moving in for the kill.”

Lucien ran a hand over his wife’s cheek. A glamour hid the damage done by the firethorn, but he knew the scars were there. “Some things cannot borne without a fight. The time for diplomacy is over.  If Balor wants a war, we will give it to him.” He gave Loki a sober look. “Prepare yourself for the trial.  And you, daughter, need to hand me back my kingdom.”

Nox grinned. “The House of Ice is all yours.  Grimm and I will have quite enough on our plate.” She threw an arm around the hound’s neck and gave him a hug.

A look of fierce joy filled the hound’s eyes. “Long live the House of Winds!”

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