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Flash Fiction – River Run August 19, 2011

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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If all had gone well, Loki would have been home, and on a date with Nox.

Instead, he lay shivering in the cold embrace of a mountain stream. His shoulders were wedged between the roots of an overhanging tree, and he craned his neck to get a glimpse over the edge of the muddy bank. He could not see his pursuers, but the heat from their bodies shone clearly around the trees. New Dawn cultists were arrogant, never bothering to hide the energy they radiated. They were not quiet either, too used to their quarry being afraid of them. They wanted him to know they were coming for him. Stupid gits. He hunkered down and focused his will on the tiny casting marks scorched into the boles of the trees he had run past not ten minutes before.

Funny thing about pine trees, they don’t just burn – they explode.

A dozen trees went up in a hail of woody shrapnel, making the perfect cover for him.  Loki turned to the unconscious Storm kindred lying in the water next to him, and slung him over his shoulders with a grunt of effort.  Anders was no lightweight, and Loki had to draw on his secondary element, Earth, to put enough energy into his tired legs to run with the extra burden.  He splashed diagonally across the stream toward a low sand bar, staggered out and jogged into the forest beyond.

He and Anders had spent the last week quietly moving through the northernmost of his uncle’s territories, getting a feel for which of the nobles might jump ship and support Loki when he made his bid for the throne of Fire. Anders’ people were tired of martial law, and of having their loved ones dragged off by New Dawn agents at the slightest infraction. The Storm kin wanted their freedom back from the tyrant that had annexed their country.

Unfortunately, there was no way to know for certain who could be trusted. Loki doubted he would ever find out who had tipped off the local garrison to their presence.  They spent the next three days dodging patrols, but their luck ran out when a rock slipped out from under Ander’s feet and pitched the Storm kin head first into a gully. Loki spent the rest of the day carrying his friend and using every dirty trick he knew to try and throw off the pursuit.

The only good news was that the enemy thought they were hunting a pair of local dissidents. If the Morning Lord ever found out his nephew was in the area, he would wipe out every town they passed through just to make sure no-one would ever aid Loki again.

A pained groan came from the limp form he carried.  “Put me down, Red,” Anders wheezed. “Your shoulder is digging a hole in my stomach.”

“If you’d drink less, you wouldn’t have a gut to put holes in,” Loki said. He slid Anders off his shoulders, and sagged against a tree to catch his breath.

“It’s not a gut, you bastard, it’s left over insulation from all the time we spent freezing our asses off working for Lord Ice.” Anders swayed a little, but stayed upright. “Where are we?”

“Don’t know exactly. Just crossed a mid-sized stream, heading roughly north and west. Got a glimpse of mountains to the northeast a little while before that.”

“We’re in Duke Reed’s territory then. He’s friendly, if not quite willing to stand up to your uncle.”  He pointed to their left. “This way. Should be a river ahead. If we follow that a bit farther west, we can cut north again through Hail and Sleet’s territories to get back to Ice.”  He looked up sharply at a noise in the distance. “Are those hounds?”

Loki pushed off from the tree and stretched. “Damn. We’ve had no luck at all.”

“Sure we have. It’s just all been the bad kind.”

Another labored dash brought them to the edge of a river in full spate. Anders pointed to a tangle of downed timber. “We can lash a few of those together with our belts and float down river to lose the hounds.”

“This keeps getting better and better,” Loki said, giving the turbulent river a sour look.

“Nobody likes a whiner,” Anders quipped, though his voice was weak and his face drawn and pale.

Things went downhill from there. Loki couldn’t call on Earth while surrounded by water, and Fire would give their position away. Anders didn’t have enough strength to keep his head above water without Loki’s help. They shot downriver in a blur of fast moving water and aching cold. The last thing Loki remembered was a sharp impact as their raft hit a rock, and a last, desperate effort to hang on to Anders before the water claimed them.

Loki awoke to strong hands pulling him out of the water, and he coughed half the river out of his lungs. He found himself on a barge with one of the stolid, brown-haired River kin watching over him. Anders was sprawled out next to him.

The River kin gave him an appraising look. “You tha biggest feesh I evah caught, yah? Heh.”

It took Loki a minute to work through the man’s accent, which was as broad and rolling as the water he called home.  He chuckled and rubbed his aching neck. “No gills yet, though it’s not for lack of trying,”

“Hah! You big ‘uns, all right. Lotsa fussin’ bout you, Laird Dragon.”  He smiled at the wary look on Loki’s face. “River folk hear lots. Like mebbe young Fire Laird goan put things right down south. Bout time, I says.” He picked up a long pole and pushed the barge off from the river bank. “You trust ol’ Rill, he owes the Ice Lord plenty. Mebbe dis make it up.”

Loki shook his head. “Damn, does everyone owe Lucien a favor?”

Rill grinned. “Doan worry. I git you home.”


<–Previous   –Beginning–  Next->

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.

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Comments»

1. ganymeder - August 19, 2011

I liked seeing Loki in a tough spot again. I like him, but I like watching him in action even more. 🙂

Quick question: Where’d they get the raft? Also, why does the river guy sound like Jar Jar Binks? 😀

techtigger - August 19, 2011

Loki is action-adventure guy, isn’t he? 😀

To answer your questions – Anders suggested lashing some downed branches together for a makeshift raft.

Oh, and I was going for a thick drawl like the shark hunter in Jaws, not jar jar! doh! Oh well, this is why i don’t usually write accents 😉 Was something new to try, guess i still need to work on it *lol*

2. Sonia Lal - August 19, 2011

I really enjoyed reading this! Loki, Ice Lord and all. Very fun!

techtigger - August 19, 2011

Thank you very much! I’m glad you liked it 🙂

3. antisocialbutterflie - August 20, 2011

I really got caught up in this. I think I am going to have to backtrack through your other Loki stories.

techtigger - August 20, 2011

I’m glad you enjoyed it! Loki is a lot of fun to write 🙂 He shows up in about 2/3 of the Nox and Grimm episodes (look under the flash fiction tab)

4. Stephen - August 21, 2011

A nice feel to this story. I especially liked how you used dialect in Rill’s dialogue. It helps to identify his character. And it sounds like Loki’s luck is more of the same, and you expertly left the ending with a nice cliffhanger to keep the reader tuned in. Well done.

techtigger - August 21, 2011

Thank you very much! I always try to write these with enough info to keep new readers from feeling lost, but with enough of a teaser to keep the stories hooked together. Always good to hear that I’ve managed it though, the feedback is much appreciated! 🙂

5. Chuck Allen - August 22, 2011

I really liked the pace of the action. It’s a lot of fun to read and still provided clues about their powers and the world around them. I’ll have to read up on some of the past episodes to catch up on this. Great job!

techtigger - August 22, 2011

Thank you! Always glad to hear that the world building is paying off! *grinz*


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