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Tales from the House of Winds – Darendale, Fire’s Queen May 6, 2011

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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This one is set a few weeks before the events in “Aradann, Evergreen“.  I’ll be continuing with stories from the poem at the beginning of A Story for Japan while I work on the e-book. I hope you enjoy these looks into Grimm’s history:)

—-

Darendale elbowed the door to Asphodel’s workshop open and dropped an armload of broken metal onto the counter.  The old mountain kindred glanced up from his work at the loud clatter, and sighed.

“I should have known it was you, Dale. Aren’t Ladies supposed to be quiet and demure?”

She laughed and reached over the pile of metal to tweak his nose. “I have missed seeing you too, you old goat.”

He brushed her hand away, but his scowl turned into an amused smile. “I won’t ask what you’ve been up to, my poor heart couldn’t take the shock,” he said, and the wicked smile she gave him made him doubly glad he didn’t know.  Fire kindreds. They were so terribly…impetuous. That was a safe word.  “So, what was this heap of junk?” he asked, poking through the sharp pieces.  There was not a single one larger than his palm.

“A Wind Knight’s shield.  One of your make, actually, but the enchantment was shattered along with the rest of it.”

“Do you know who broke it?”

“Elphias,” she said, her mouth setting in a hard line.

He winced at the name of his first protégé. “If I had known what use he would make of my teachings, I would have sealed his power and tossed him out on the street,” he said vehemently.

“Even I can’t tell what sort of man a boy will turn out to be, just by looking at him. And I know more of men’s hearts than most.”  She leaned across the counter and her reddish-gold hair tumbled down across her shoulders, just covering the low-cut opening of her jacket.  Her fingers traced mark on a chunk of metal and it shattered into even smaller pieces.  “That’s the warcasting he used.  The Captain wants to know if you can counter it.”

Asphodel was careful to keep his eyes on his work. He may have been old, but he wasn’t dead yet.  Then again, he wasn’t sure the dead would be safe from her charms either. “Did I detect a harsh note when you said Captain?  Don’t tell me you’re jealous,” he said, teasing her to deflect her attention away from him.

“It’s not jealousy, ‘Del, it’s a woman’s intuition. I don’t like his girlfriend.  Not one bit.”  She clasped her hands together and batted her eyelashes.  “Oh, save me, you big hunky knight!  Oh woe is helpless little me!”  She let out a delicate snort.  “No one is that useless.  There’s something off about Katya, mark my words.”

“Not everyone is as ferocious as you,” Asphodel said, with a chuckle.  “And what would your people say, what with him being so far below your rank?”

“They are Fire, what do you think they’d say?” she said, with a grin and a shrug.  “Besides, Galen would give him any title he wanted.  He’s just too modest to ask. Ah well,” she said, and reached out to run a finger along one of his bushy sideburns. “It’s a shame you aren’t younger, ‘Del.  I might have given you a go.”

He raised an eyebrow.  “It’s a shame you aren’t a bit older.  I might have let you.”

She gave a delighted laugh.  “I really do love you, you old goat. But sadly I have to go, I drew guard duty on the walls tonight. Send word when you’ve figured out how to fix that,” she said.

“Shoo,” he said “go tease the boys closer to your own age.”

She winked and headed out, her silvery laughter following her.  Asphodel got up from his workbench and poured himself an ice cold glass of water, though he wasn’t sure whether to drink it, or pour it over his head.  Fire-kin.  Impetous.  He laughed at himself and settled down to work.

Later, Darendale rested her arms on the parapet of the city walls and looked out over the grassy plateau.  A couple walked together toward the trees at the far edge, one of them with the Captain’s distinctive, broad-shouldered silhouette.  He was going to propose to Katya tonight, out under the forest eaves where she would feel most at home. Dale couldn’t decide if she was jealous or not.  She had flirted with him on occasion, but it would never have worked out and they both knew it.  He wanted to settle down and raise a family. Dale was the chief of the Fire nomads, and the mere thought of staying in one place for too long made her skin crawl.  The only reason she was still here was that the Shadowkin had cut off every one of the mountain passes. Still, it would have been fun while it lasted.

She looked out toward the mountains, where the setting sun had already left long shadows creeping out through the valleys.  Night fell swiftly this time of year, but even so the darkness had settled in fast.  Too fast. She gauged the position of the sun behind the tallest peak, and realized that the dark was spreading in the wrong direction.  A chill ran down her spine – it would take hundreds of Shadowkin to make an aura veil that size. This was a full scale attack, and he was out there with nothing more than a belt knife and that useless chit to watch his back!

Dale flung up a hand and sent out a burst of flames that lit the plateau like a mid-day sun.  A roar of wind answered from far below.   “C’mon, big guy, run, fly her out of there,” she said, running herself.  She vaulted down the stairs to the gatehouse and sprinted out onto the plain, the warning bells ringing all along the walls behind her.  She could just make out his heat signature, a single bright silhouette in the gloom. Katya didn’t radiate any heat at all. What the Hel?…

He stood with his head cocked, listening. Katya clung to his side, leaving him only one arm to work with. Stupid chit. He pushed her down and spun around, moving faster than someone his size had any right to. Flat line winds ripped outwards, crumpling his foes and shearing through the trees beyond.  He couldn’t see them, and he had no weapon but the wind, but in the hands of a warcaster like him that should have been enough.  Dale saw him stop to listen again, motioning Katya to be quiet. Didn’t she know he needed to hear his foes to target them? The idiot forest-kin was probably whining about the broken trees.

He was moving again in a familiar pattern for whipping up a cyclone shield. Katya must have convinced him to go on the defensive, but it was the wrong call. They needed to fight their way out of there before the rest of the Shadowkin arrived.

Dale all but flew across the plains, swift as a wildfire and twice as deadly. The night lit up again and filled with screams as the wall of flames she summoned swept outwards through the high grass.  Sparks exploded around her as the fire cut through the Shadowkin’s aura veils, leaving charred corpses in its wake.

The Captain pulled Katya to her feet, the wind and fire swirling around them in a roaring holocaust.  Dale yelled over the din.  “Don’t waste time on a shield, get the Hel out of there!”  She was close enough now to see Katya reach up, and he jerked his head back.  He put a hand to his cheek, and Dale could see a hot line of blood well up.

Everything seemed to slow down.  He mouthed the word, ‘Why’, and his knees buckled. The bitch didn’t even try to catch him. She just let him pitch to the ground, and the wind dropped into an eerie silence. Dale had never heard of a poison that worked that fast, but then, a forest-kin like Katya probably knew dozens of rare plant toxins.

Hordes of dark shapes surrounded the bitch, too many for Dale to fight alone.  She ran on anyway, determined not to let them have him.  She could hear the wind howling in the distance. She didn’t have to win, she just had to delay them until the Wind Knights arrived…

———————–

Next week – Azmodeus, Warrior King

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Comments»

1. Sam Adamson - May 7, 2011

Spot on Dale, that Katya’s a nasty piece of work and no mistake. Let’s just hope the Wind Knights get there in time…they will, right? *gnaws his knuckles*

techtigger - May 28, 2011

heheheh, read the latest – it’s not over yet… 😉

2. Mari Juniper - May 17, 2011

Angie, if you let this one loose like this, I’m afraid your life will be in greater danger than Dale’s… *cue song*

All right, all right. I have no right to complain, since I’m terribly late. But I loved so much the teasing between Dale and Asphodel… and who is Elphias? (I need more than just “my first apprentice”). C’mon! ;P

Btw, Dale’s personality reminds me of Nox. Maybe it’s because we have too little of her to know the differences.

techtigger - May 28, 2011

thanks for the input on Dale, I’ll work on that 🙂 Not sure how much detail i’ll put into these, could write a whole other book, but i already have too many WIP’s 😉

Sorry about the long delays, i’ve been mostly unplugged, lot going on lately. But I have most of next one written, so it’ll be on time, i promise!


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