jump to navigation

Flash Fiction – A Chip Off the Old Block July 29, 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.

Nox found her father in his study, surrounded by ledgers and stacks of paper.  Despite all that had happened over the past month, the mundane tasks of running one of the Great Houses still needed to be done, and Lucien was scrupulous about fulfilling his duties.  He was so intent on his work that he did not even notice she was there.  It seemed careless, in light of the recent attacks, but Nox knew just how many wards were built into the room.  Anyone stupid enough to assault him was in for a world of hurt.

She tapped on the door frame to get his attention. “Father, do you have a few minutes?”

Lucien glanced up, and waved her in. “Of course. Shut the door behind you.” He finished signing a few documents, and set them aside. “How goes your study of Air?”

Nox made a face. “Mixed results. I can now blow dust bunnies from the corners of my workshop with pin-point accuracy.  Beyond that, don’t expect too much.”

“Give it time,” he said. “You know well that fine control can be more effective than larger workings.”

She sighed. “I know, but we have so little time until I stand before the Convocation.  If I’m going to get the House of Winds reinstated, I need to do more than ruffle their hair with a breeze.”  She pulled up a chair and set a paper covered with symbols on the desk.  “I’ve been studying Galen’s work to find something that will get their attention, but I can’t find much of anything about these markings. I was hoping you might be able to help.”

“Where did you find these?” Lucien asked.  He leaned forward, curiosity giving more life to his expression than Nox had seen in years. But then, he was a scholar as well as the Lord of Ice.  The Ice part simply came first most of the time.

“They were around the door to Grimm’s old mausoleum.  Galen put them there, although, I wouldn’t recommend activating them. Ever. Trust me on that one.”

He looked up at her, his eyes the same eerie blue found in the depths of glaciers. “Do I want to know how you figured that out?”

“Well…Grimm said if I ever tried anything that stupid again he’d kill me. Then he threatened to pick me up by the scruff of the neck like a puppy and make me come talk to you before I even thought about using those symbols for anything,” she said, and waved vaguely in the direction of her notes. “I decided to walk myself up here and avoid the embarrassment.”

Lucien laughed.  Out loud.  Nox had never seen that happen.

“I seem to remember him saying that to me once,” he said. “Frog-marched me into the study, dropped me in that very same chair and made me explain to my father why there was a gaping hole in the east wing of the mansion.” He shook his head, still chuckling. “Of course, I was young enough to get turned over my father’s knee.  We will have to decide what to do with you.”

Nox gave him a sheepish grin. “Do you think maybe we could just work out what the markings do, and consider me properly chastised?”

“That depends on how much damage you did to the mausoleum,” he said.

“None at all, actually. The casting…umm, I think it brought Grimm back, for a minute anyway.”

He carefully set down the notes. “Back? How far back?”

Nox shrugged.  “As real as you or me. I even reached out and touched him, just to be sure.  Damn, but that man was huge.  I’ve seen smaller Mountain kindred.”

Lucien pushed his chair back and looked out the window. The graveyard could just be seen beyond the outer walls, the grassy hillside dotted with gravestones and the mausoleum sitting at its crest. “Are these all of the symbols?”

“Oh, no, this was only the start,” she said, and pointed to one at the top.  “You summon Air through this one, and it flows down into the ones below. The really cool part is that the energy also goes side to side across the entry – it flows out of one symbol, crosses the gap, and is caught by one on the other side.  Then, as you walk inside the oculus in the roof acts like a natural chimney and pulls the Air up through the inner markings.  The whole place is a resonating chamber, you should have seen it!  Every inch was covered in casting marks, all hung on the air itself.” She shook her head in disbelief. “2000 years, and not a single marking out of line, and it generated so much energy it was like standing in front of an avalanche.”

“Is that what upset Grimmalkyn enough to send you here?”

“No,” Nox said, and tapped her finger on one symbol in the middle.  “This was on the far wall.  It was the mid-point of the casting.”  She gave her father a troubled look.  “Grimm said Galen knew this one would kill him. I never pegged him for a suicide though, the old fellow was so careful.  And to leave something like this where one of his descendants could get wiped out by it? It just doesn’t track with everything I’ve read about him.”

Lucien rested his chin in his hand, his brow furrowed in thought. “I somehow doubt Grimmalkyn looked past the danger to you to see the casting’s true purpose.”  He pushed his chair away from the desk and stood up. “We will not find your answers here.  I think this casting deserves a second look, by a more experienced eye. Don’t you?”

Nox’s jaw dropped. “Who are you, and what have you done with my dad?”

A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. “Let us just say that you come by your penchant for finding trouble honestly.”  He held the door to the study open. “Shall we?”

<–Previous   –Beginning–  Next->


Flash Fiction – Memento Mori July 22, 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 graveyard was always so still, Grimm thought.  The hound hesitated by the gate, listening to the gentle creak of its hinges as Nox walked through.  The more time he spent teaching her to summon Air, the more of his memories came back. None of the ones from this place were good.

Nox gave him a sympathetic look.  “You don’t have to come inside. The ghosts know better than to bother me.”

“Yes, because they know I will beat them silly if they try anything,” Grimm rumbled. He pushed past the gate and loomed over her, throwing glares around at the restive spirits. They had been getting uppity ever since they were released for the day during the firethorn attack.  He followed a step behind Nox as she wound her way up the path to his old mausoleum, a low, almost subsonic growl keeping them at bay.

She stopped in front of the door and squinted up at the lintel. “Do you recognize those symbols, furball?”

“No, but I mostly used warcastings.”

“Oh well, had to ask.  Can you give me a boost up?”

The hound crouched down and let her climb up onto his back.  He stood up slowly, giving Nox time to balance.  She stayed up there for a long time, saying a lot of “hmm’s” and “interesting’s.”  Which was incredibly annoying, but he held his peace until she motioned for him to let her down.

She gave him a satisfied nod. “I know why you couldn’t get back inside.  The enchantments on this tomb are not convinced that the spirits of the Shadowkin are being contained within you.”

“Well, you did release me from the old binding spell, and the soul-bond is not perfect.”

“No, it isn’t.  I’m thinking the soul-bond was a safety mechanism.  Something to keep you bound to the nearest member of Galen’s bloodline if you ever got loose before the Shadowkin had been dealt with.”

“A temporary solution, until the spell could be reset?”

“Probably.” She gave him a measuring look. “So, what was so important that Galen would not allow you back inside unless they were being controlled?”

Memories washed over Grimm, and the sky went dark. A storm gathered on the horizon, thunder rolling so loud he could feel the ground shake through the soles of his feet. Lightning illuminated the man walking in front of him – he was tall and thin, his dark hair peppered with grey and he had a long face that was lined with weariness and strain.

The vision swam before his eyes like a heat mirage, and was gone.  Nox was shaking her head, and he realized what had happened. “You saw that too.”

“That was him, wasn’t it? Galen? That was the night he bound you to serve our family.”

“That was the night he died,” Grimm said, his ears and tail drooping.

“Can you remember anything else?” she asked.

The uneasy feeling came back with a vengeance, and he dug in his claws to keep from backing away. He was not leaving her in here alone. He looked up at the lintel…

The storm was getting closer. A damp, chill wind whipped through the graveyard, moaning around the stones. Galen touched the lintel, and the marks of elemental castings lit up all around the doorway.  “This will be my last great work,” he said, with a sad smile.  His hand dropped to his side…

…and Grimm was back on the sunlit hillside, with Nox sitting dazed on the grass outside the mausoleum.

“Are you alright, short-stuff?”

She winced and rubbed her backside.  “I found the one pointy stone in the lawn.”

Grimm let out an amused snort. “Maybe we should stop for today.”

“If we’re ever going to break your curse, I need to study this.” She got up and stood in front of the door, exactly where Galen had been.  She lifted her hand and summoned a tiny breath of pure Air. The markings around the door lit up one by one as the element flowed through them.

Grimm could feel his fur start to stand on end, and bits of light, like motes of dust swirled around Nox. She stepped through the door and more of the symbols lit up, crawling up the walls. The energy moved faster and faster, cascading through them.  She turned around, her eyes shining in wonder. “I’ve never seen a casting this complex before! Galen was a genius!”

Grimm was too busy trying to shake off a rising sense of panic to reply. He could not remember what had gone wrong, but he knew Galen had died attempting this casting.  His eyes darted around the room, and his heart leapt into his throat as he saw the fatal buildup of energy around one of the markings. “Nox, look out!”

She must have sensed it too. Her hand slashed downward, trying to cut off the flow of energy but it had gained too much momentum.  Grimm strained against the wards that kept him outside, felt them give, and he surged into the room.

It was like running through a river of electricity. The energy lashed out from the far wall and shot straight through him.  There was an audible SNAP, and a wrenching feeling in his chest.

For a solid minute he knelt next to her, too stunned to move. His arms were wrapped protectively around her and his face barely an inch from her own.

Nox reached up to touch his cheek, her eyes wide as saucers. “Grimm?”

The last of the energy from the symbols faded, and Grimm felt another wrench in his chest as he turned back into hound. He paced around the crypt, so angry that he was shaking.  “That was no accident. Galen knew this casting would kill him. All this time, I thought I had done it.”

“That was only the halfway point of the spell. What was he doing?”

“I don’t know.  But we are not trying it again.”


<–Previous   –Beginning–  Next->

Flash Fiction – Sisterhood July 15, 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.

Arella thanked the coachman as he helped her down from the carriage.  It was getting more difficult to get around as her pregnancy progressed, and she was always grateful for a helping hand.  She paused to study the exterior of her soon-to-be-sister-in-law’s workshop. It was an unassuming two story building made of heavy brownstone, with another, similar building to the right and an alleyway on the left.  There was nothing to tell anyone that the daughter of oldest and most powerful of the Winter Kings lived there.  Which, she supposed, was the way Nox liked it.

She stepped up to the plain metal door and rung the bell. She knew so little about Nox.  Arella’s fiancée, Kel, had described her as iron encased in ice, but on the two brief occasions they met, Nox had seemed nice enough. Eccentric, but nice.

The door opened, and Arella was surprised again at how small Nox was.  She was dressed in scorched overalls and a loose shirt that made her look even smaller.  A smell of ozone wafted out past her, and she had smudges of soot on her face.

“Oh…hello!  I thought you were one of the neighbors. Um, come in.” Nox said, and stepped aside.  “Sorry about the mess, I wasn’t expecting company.  Here, let me do something about the smell.”  She shut the door, pushed aside a smoking wooden stand and dove under a workbench.  She came up with a small chunk of charcoal which she crushed between her fingers. She blew it across the pedestal and the air cleared immediately.  “There, much better.  Ooh, where are my manners, let me get you something to sit on.  Do you drink coffee or tea?”

Arella found herself briskly, but carefully seated on the only chair that did not show signs of damage.  She had to think before replying, somewhat overwhelmed by the torrent of activity from her host.  This wasn’t going at all as she had imagined.  “No caffeine for me, please.  It makes the baby do jumping jacks.”

Nox laughed and brushed her hair out of her face.  “I hadn’t thought of that.” She looked at the soot and charcoal on her hands.  “Crud. Do I still have eyebrows?”

Arella nodded, not sure if she was ever going to get to the reason for her visit. “Yes, though you have a few smudges on your face.”   Understatement of the year, Nox had just blackened half of her face with charcoal.  “Here, have a handkerchief.”

Nox waved her off. “No, I’ll only ruin it. Serves me right for using a flammable pedestal to hold my prototype. But then, I hadn’t planned on spontaneous combustion.”  She gave Arella a sheepish grin.  “I’m sure you didn’t come here to listen to me babble about my hobbies though. What can I do for you?”  She perched herself on a wobbly stool, and reached back to fish out a clean towel from a cabinet to wipe her face.

Arella clasped her hands together in her lap. “I know we don’t know each other very well, but we’ll be sisters soon. Kel and I owe you so much, and I wanted you know that if you ever need anything, anything at all, you only have to ask.”

Nox stopped in mid-swipe and raised an eyebrow. “Well, thank you? I think?”

“We’re worried about you.  Kel thinks you’re in trouble because you stepped aside to allow us to be wed.  Your father, well, he’s always an intense sort of person, but he’s been even more so lately.  And I know you’ve been at odds with your parents since you arranged for them to adopt Kel.  I don’t want to be the cause of bad blood between you and your family.  I honestly meant it when I said I wanted to help. I feel terrible about how all of this turned out.”

There was an amused twinkle in Nox’s dark blue eyes.  “If I’m in any trouble, it’s of my own doing and I walked into it with eyes wide open.  Don’t worry, it has nothing to do with you two.”

“But you are in trouble?”

“Always!” Nox said, obviously still amused. “Just ask Grimm.”  The stool creaked as she leaned back on it. She looked at her charcoal covered fingers and started wiping them. “I do appreciate the offer, but it’s probably best if you keep your distance from me.”

“Oh,” Arella said, somewhat crestfallen.  “I had hoped we might be friends.”

Nox’s smile turned a bit wistful.  “I’d like that, but this is for your own safety. The House of Ice can’t let the recent attacks go unanswered. We’re about to go on the offensive, and I’ll be in the middle of everything.  Anyone close to me is going to be a target. Right now, no one is paying any attention to you and the baby. I’d prefer to keep it that way.”

Arella put a protective hand on her belly. “They would stoop so low?”

“Welcome to inter-House politics. It only comes in two flavors, ugly and brutal. If you want my advice, stay out of it as long as you can.”

Arella thought about that for a long minute.  She was due any time now. Still, it did not feel right to turn away.  “I know I can’t do much, but family should stick together.  Especially when things get tough.”

An odd look crossed Nox’s face. “Yeah, I guess they should.”

Maybe it was a mother’s instinct kicking in early, but Arella suddenly understood her sister-in-law.  She could just imagine how hard it must have been growing up with Lucien and Serenna for parents. She decided right then and there that she was going to make sure that Nox had at least one family member she could count on.  “It’s settled then,” she said, and reached out to squeeze Nox’s hand. “I’ve been looking forward to having a sister.”

Nox gave her a wry smile. “I’ll try not to make you regret it.”


<–Previous   –Beginning–  Next–>

Flash Fiction – High Note July 10, 2011

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

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.

Grimm padded upstairs to the loft of Nox’s workshop, with the handle of a small wooden box in his teeth. He let out a whurf of canine laughter as he saw her – she was sitting on the edge of their squashy sofa, almost bouncing with excitement.

“I’m ready for my first formal lesson. Let’s start summoning Air, furball!”

The hound dropped the box on the coffee table.  “Here you go.”

She picked it up and turned it back and forth.  “Tabletop skittles. Okay,” she said, dragging out the two syllables. “You lost me already.”

“Set up the game,” he said, but let out a little warning bark when she went to flip the latch.  “Without your hands.”

Nox gave him an amused look.  “Testing my fine control, eh?  You got it.” She puffed out her cheeks and whistled up a bitterly cold wind.

Grimm barked again, breaking her casting. “No Ice, either. You need to learn to summon Air without it.”

“Damn. I was afraid you were going to say that.”  She scrunched up her face in concentration and tried again, but only managed a weak breath of Air.  “I’m not sure this is going to work. Mother’s spell doesn’t leave me much room to play with.”

“This is a tiny elemental casting.  You have managed larger ones.”

“Yeah, by throwing myself off of a perfectly good building to trip the safety she built in.”

The hound shook his head, his deep, rumbling mental voice filled with disapproval. “Outside of the obvious reasons not to do that, you won’t always have a high place to work from. Not to mention it is sloppy energy work, and no student of mine will get away with that,” he said, looking down his muzzle at her. “Watch and learn, little one.”  He let out a quiet whuff, and a soundwave blew across the table, flicking the latch open.

“I’m not going to start barking at things,” she said, with a teasing grin. “Will any sound do?”

“Yes. The sound initiates the casting and gives it a direction, but remember it is your will and skill in channeling the energy that gives the casting shape and purpose.”  He let out another bark as she reached to close the latch. “Sit on those hands, young lady.  If I can learn to cast without them, so can you. Close the latch, and then open it again.”

Nox made a frustrated noise, but complied. She whistled, popped her lips, and even tried blowing a raspberry, but nothing worked.  “Arrgh! This is so annoying!”

Grimm did not look at all perturbed.  “Patience, short-stuff.  We simply have not found your trigger yet.  Everyone has a different one.  You will learn to use others, but for now, keep trying.  Maybe hum a few notes? I have never heard you sing, but if you can stay on pitch it might work.”

“I haven’t sung a note since I was little. Mother didn’t approve,” she said, and then her expression turned stormy.  “Son of a bitch. She didn’t want me to use Air inadvertently.”  Nox took a deep breath, and let out a pure, ringing note.  The game box blew off the table and smacked into the wall, scattering the little wooden pins all over the room.  “Hah! Take that, you evil old hag!”

Grimm snorted. “Sloppy.  You wasted all sorts of energy.  Pick up the game,” he said, and put a huge paw on her lap when she started to get up. “No hands, no feet. Start with the board.”

“Fine,” Nox grumbled.

“Then the pins, one at a time, without knocking any over.”

“Aww, c’mon!”

Grimm’s tongue lolled out in a big, doggie grin.  “Keep that up, and I’ll make you put them all back in the box, latch it, and start over.”  He nudged her shoulder with his nose. “Try a middle C.”


<–Previous   —BeginningNext–>

Nox and Grimm are back! July 1, 2011

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: , ,
1 comment so far

Yes, the weekly webserial is starting back up, with a bit of romantic comedy posted on the #amwriting blog.  Many thanks to the wonderful Johanna Harness for inviting me to post on her site. 🙂

Click Here to read “Spring Faire.”

The action will return here next week, picking up 2 months after the trial of the Mist and Marsh kindreds. (episode 74, Inner Demons)

To clear up any confusion:

Tales from the House of Winds is the backstory for Grimm, and I’ll be adding bits to it over the summer. It’s set approximately 2000 years before the current story arc.

A Story for Japan is part of a novella, set about a year after the current story. (yes, it’s still going on – i wrote myself into a corner, and am working on writing my way out. doh!)

Thanks everyone for being patient while the series was on hiatus. After more than a year and a half of constant writing, I think I just need a break for a while.  But Nox and Grimm are back, and I have all sorts of fun stories planned.  I’m looking forward to sharing them with you!




%d bloggers like this: