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Flash Fiction – Hel’s Own Hound August 12, 2011

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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Ghosts gathered from every corner of the graveyard as Grimm padded out of his old mausoleum, though it wasn’t him they were there to see. Death walked amongst them, with Grimm as his proxy, to lead them all home.

The hound could hear Nox shouting somewhere behind him, but he couldn’t make out the words. Even the soul-bond they shared was muted by the presence within him.  He weaved through the gravestones, from one end of the cemetery to the other, with throngs of the dead following in his wake. At last he came to the gate and waited by its side, ears up and alert, while each ghost crossed through into the spirit realm. He followed last of all, and as he paced through the gate the world disappeared, and the Long Road stretched out before him.

The jagged edge of memory cut through a haze of forgetfulness, as it always did when he came back here. His whole life, the joy, pain, and sorrow settled in, but this time he remained a hound.  He guessed it was an unsubtle reminder that he had been neglecting his duties as Hel’s Hound, to spend more time with Nox.

Grimm took up his place at the Road’s beginning, nudging along any stragglers. That was his job, to send the unquiet dead to their rest when their time had come.  And when someone tried to cheat death, he took on the role of bounty hunter and sent them to their final judgment.

Case in point, the dark cloud gathering on the far side of the grey plains. The Shadowkin couldn’t resist taking a swipe at the ghosts floating down the road. If they got past Grimm, they would drain the ghosts dry of energy and become even more powerful.  They had yet to get by him, but he had always worn his old body before, and had armor and a broadsword to work with.

The Shadowkin crept closer, taking on the form of shadowy knights to mock him. Their armor dripped black ichor and their long black swords wept blood from the edges.  Grimm stood his ground, back paws tamping down as he prepared to launch himself at their throats. Armor or no armor, he would find a way to take them down.

Death drifted apart from him and stood by his side. He whispered one word: “Balance.”  Then he turned and drifted back down the Road, beyond the last gate and was gone.

Grimm had just spent time as a man in the mortal realms, so now he had to spend time here as a hound. Lucien had created an imbalance with his little experiment, and Grimm would pay the price.

Or would he?

Grimm could still feel the energy he had absorbed coursing through him like an electric pulse. It was something from the mortal realms, brought into the world of spirit through Death’s intervention. He howled in glee – his boss had just given him a weapon.

The sound ripped through his enemies like a scythe through wheat. The Shadowkin scattered, turning into gore crows, and Grimm howled up a hurricane to chase them from the skies.  They darted for the plains, and Grimm growled so low the earth opened up to swallow them. One by one he caught and broke them, and sent their souls wailing along the Road to its end.

The borrowed energy ran out before he could catch them all, but by the time he was done their numbers had been cut in half. They wouldn’t have the advantage over him anymore.  “Balance!” Grimm laughed, as he padded around the plains to make sure there weren’t any more hiding amidst the tall grasses.

He was never sure how he knew when it was time to go back to the mortal realms. He simply knew it, and followed the trail of his soul-bond back to Nox.

The sun was setting by the time he came back to the graveyard, painting the sky with crimson hues.  Nox sat on the doorstep of the mausoleum, her knees drawn up to her chest and her arms around them.  She jumped up the second his paws touched the ground, and flung her arms around his neck.

“Grimm!  Are you okay? You’re not in trouble with Death, are you?  I’m so sorry, I had no idea my father was going to do that to you. I thought we were just going to study the symbols on your crypt,” she said, in her usual breathless manner.  She let him go and her expression turned fierce. “You can just bet I had words with him about that.”

The hound’s tongue lolled out in a doggy grin. He could just imagine his tiny friend haranguing Lucien. “I’m fine little one. No harm was done. My boss had a bit of work for me to do.”

She gave him a skeptical look. “Boss?  Not Master?  Death said you were his, like he owned you.”

“Technically, he owns us all if you think about it. Don’t worry about me. It’s really more of a business arrangement.” His grin grew even broader. “322 left.”

Her eyes widened. “You wiped out half of the Shadowkin?”

“Oh yes!  And now I feel like celebrating. I think there’s a steak with my name on it, somewhere.”

Nox let out an amused snort. “Now I know you’re okay. All right, you fuzzy glutton, let’s head back into town.  I’ve got a rain-check for my date with Loki anyway; he’s late getting back from his trip down south.”

“We’ll save him a doggy bag from our victory dinner.”

She groaned and rolled her eyes. “That’s a terrible pun!”

He let out a few whurfs of canine laughter and nudged open the cemetery gate for her.  “After you, short-stuff.”

“Hmph. I’m petite, dammit. PUH-TEET!”

Grimm snickered. She glared. It lasted for about two seconds until they both started laughing.

Nox gave him another hug. “I’m glad you’re back.”

“So am I, little one.”

<–Previous   –Beginning–  Next->

Just a note on a few changes – I’ve decided to move the weekly ‘about’ message to the bottom of the story as a subscript, mostly to allow feeds & shares to read the first paragraph instead of the standard, ‘this story is part of a series’ note.  Also, I changed the ending on last week’s episode. Got some very helpful feedback that gave me ideas to give it more punch.  I always appreciate your comments, and can’t thank you all enough for them!


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.



1. ganymeder - August 13, 2011

Great work, as always. I love these characters. Be sure to let me know what you release it as an ebook! 🙂

techtigger - August 14, 2011

will do! 🙂

Grimm’s “boss” is an interesting character, wanted to play a little more with that one. I can see why so many authors come up with their own version of Death, there’s so much you can do with it!

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