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Flash Fiction – Glass Menagerie April 30, 2011

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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As promised, here’s a quick update on the e-book for A Story for Japan.  I’m currently over 12,000 words.  I could have wrapped it up more quickly, but it felt like I would be short-changing the readers.  So, I’m writing the story out the way it ought to be done, rather than hurrying to get it published.  It’s probably going to end up a 20k novella when it’s finished.  While I’m working on it though, I thought I’d share a scene from the story with one of the villains. Enjoy!

-Angie

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The Morning Lord had only visited the House of Ice once, and found the harsh austerity of the mansion not at all to his liking. The only features he admired were the black marble floors, polished to such a high degree that the reflections of those walking over them looked like figures trapped inside. That had inspired him, and he charged his best glassworkers to find a way to match that effect.  In the end, they found that live models worked best and he took great pleasure at walking over the results.  Each of his defeated foes had their bodies enveloped in glass and burned away, leaving their cowering, terrified effigies immortalized for all time in the floor of his throne room. Only the Storm Queen, Rhianna, had remained defiant to the end, and he had her placed face-down in front of his dais so that he could step on her neck each time he ascended his throne.

His advisors shuffled in, taking their places to either side of the hall.  He scowled at them, causing a few to send nervous glances at the figures in the floor.  Several had defected to his nephew’s camp in recent months, and he had made it clear that any others who tried to leave would be added to the decor.

A herald was the last to enter the hall.  “My Lord, a messenger from the expeditionary force has returned.”

“Send him in,” he said, with an irritable wave.  They should not have contacted him for at least three weeks. If this was another failure, he would have to find himself another technomancer.

A battered member of his New Dawn movement limped in, wrapped in tattered scarlet robes, and the side of his face was mangled and bloody. The fact that he could walk at all was a testament of his devotion to his Lord.  Balor stood up from his throne as the grotesque figure moved to the front of the hall.

“Great Lord of the Morning Sun,” he rasped from between cracked lips, “I bring news of a tragedy, and a great triumph. Your faithful technomancer, Dieter, is gone. He perished in a blaze of light in the wilderness while attempting to tame the gate between dimensions. But his death was not in vain.” As he spoke, a fanatical gleam lit his one remaining eye.  “The abomination that was the Ice Lord’s daughter is dead, and her demonic servant turned to dust. They were destroyed by Dieter even as they celebrated their triumph over him.  Her death drove your nephew mad, and he roams the countryside in a dragon’s form,” he said, and gestured at his ruined face. “I am the only survivor of our expedition. We tried to stand against the Dragon, my dear Lord, but we were weak.”  He made a painful attempt to abase himself, but only managed to collapse in a heap at Balor’s feet.  “Forgive us, Lord!”

“Bring a stretcher. Make sure you give this man the finest care.”  Balor put a hand lightly on his servant’s shoulder.  “You will be rewarded, my child.  Know that I am well pleased, and that the sacrifices of your fellow men will not be forgotten.”

Brennan, the representative from House Ember, took a step forward. “Can we trust his report, my Lord?  I find it hard to believe that the hound is gone.  How does one kill a spirit?”

Balor gave his youngest advisor a disapproving look.  “I trust his word more than your own. Dieter had been tasked with finding a way to dispatch the beast, and he has accomplished it. It is regretful that he perished in the attempt, but he was only a human.  I have no more need of him.”

“But what of the Ice Lord’s wife, Serenna?  You have no human sorcerers now to counter her.”

The frown deepened.  “I sometimes wonder why I bother with advisors, when all you do is ask questions.”  He returned to his throne, and let his gaze wander across the nervous crowd.  “Well? Do you none of you have anything to offer?”

Vonn, a defector from the renegade House Vulcan, stepped forward and bowed low.  “With your permission, my Lord?”  He glanced up from beneath a mane of dark red hair, and waited for Balor’s signal to stand up. “The sorceress is a healer, not a fighter.  Once word gets out that the Dragon has lost his senses, the Convocation will throw out his claim to your throne.  Declare open war, and drown Serenna in a sea of blood.  The Ice Lord’s allies will demand his aid, and she will have no time for other pursuits.”

“And what of the Dragon?” Brennan demanded.  “You would let him murder our own people?”

“More questions, Brennan?” Vonn said, his voice dripping with scorn. “If you have no ideas of your own, do not waste our Lord’s time.”

Balor lifted a hand, and both fell silent.  “The northern Houses have all chosen to support my nephew.  They will now learn the folly of their decision.  Let them see the boy for what he is – a dangerous, weak-minded fool who cannot control his own powers.  Soon enough they will beg for my aid.  Then, and only then, will I bring the Dragon to heel.”

“As for your other plan, Vonn, I find some merit in it. Take the New Dawn garrisons in the Storm territories and stage raids across the border into the lands of Hail and Sleet.  Burn their homes and fields, drive them before you like cattle. Let us find out if a mere human sorceress can measure up to the healers of old.”  He sat back down on his throne, treading on the Storm Queen’s effigy once more.   “I believe those territories were once ruled by Storms. Since Rhianna’s unfortunate demise, we must look after the interests of our watery cousins, and return their ancestral lands to them. We will, of course, deal harshly with any outlaws that oppose us.” A cruel smile crossed his face. “Oh, and Vonn?  Bring me their rulers, alive. My glass menagerie is far from complete.”

The young volcano kindred bowed low again.  “As you command, my Lord.”

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Comments»

1. Aidan Fritz - May 1, 2011

Great images in the opening that pulled me into the character and this bit of story.

techtigger - May 3, 2011

thank you! i had this image of a glass version of the figures of pompeii in my head, thought it would make a fitting setting for my villain 🙂

2. Mari Juniper - May 3, 2011

I want to step in his lordship’s neck myself! That’s all I have to say.

techtigger - May 3, 2011

heheheh! no sympathy for the devil eh? there he is, surrounded by bickering advisors and a dragon that his servants can’t do a thing about. Evil despots have such a hard time finding good help… ;D

Mari Juniper - May 4, 2011

No sympathy. I love when Nox and Loky kick his ass. ;P

3. Icy Sedgwick - May 28, 2011

I’m new to this but I still enjoyed it. Looks like you’ve got a very strong mythology built up here – and I love the idea of the figures in the floor.


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