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Flash Fiction – Only Human December 9, 2011

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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Nox hated having dinner with her mother. Neither of them particularly enjoyed the others’ company, but Serenna always insisted on at least a half hour of “civilized conversation” before she would get to the point. So Nox pushed her food around her plate and made a pretense of eating, while listening to her mother’s inane small talk. At least she had convinced her to have dinner in the solarium, which was less stuffy than the other, more formal dining rooms.

The only thing that made the dinner bearable was Grimm. The hound was sprawled on the floor next to Nox, using Air castings to waft bits of meat up to his mouth. He made each piece do a loop-de-loop before gleefully snapping it up.

Serenna cast a baleful glare his way. “Is that necessary?”

Grimm tilted his head to the side. “You told Nox that you did not want me slobbering on your fine china. So I am not.”  He sent the t-bone from his steak spiraling upwards, and bit into it with a loud crunch.

Nox took a sip of wine to hide her smile behind the goblet. She cleared her throat to get her mother’s attention. “Ahem, so, Father said you wanted to talk to me about something?”

“In private,” Serenna said, still glaring at the hound.

“Grimm will hear what you have to tell me, whether he’s in the room or not. Might as well get it over with.”

That soured her mother’s expression even further.  “I intend for you to resume your studies of sorcery.”

Nox quit toying with her wine glass and put it on the table. “I thought you said I had reached my limits, and that further study was pointless.”

“You have grown since then. Your cure for the firethorn proved that you can reach beyond your current skill level, even if the methods you used were, unconventional,” Serenna said, her lips curling in distaste around that last word.

Grimm sent Nox a private thought. “She is still angry about you bastardizing her ‘pure’ sorcery with technomancy. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to see her so annoyed.”

Nox worked hard to keep the smile from her face. “I’m guessing you’ve already picked out the subjects to be covered?”

Serenna inclined her head. “Of course, daughter. Who would know better than I what path your training should take?”  She pulled several small, leather bound books from the sewing basket by her chair. “You will concentrate on healing spells. You seem to have an affinity for them.”

“She is Air.  All of the Wind kindreds had the healing gift, so it is only natural,” Grimm rumbled.

Serenna gave him a scathing look. “Her healing gifts come solely from our human ancestry.”

Grimm let out a rumbling growl.  “Only because you have all but cut off her ability to channel Air. What progress have you made at removing your spell, as Lucien asked?”

“Yes, what have you been doing about that, Mother?” Nox said. Her voice was calm, but the temperature in the room dropped to match the icy chill of her gaze.

Serenna’s eyes narrowed. “When everything is prepared, you will be the first to know.”  She gathered up her sewing basket and stood up. “Your father will want to see you before you leave. I suspect he will join you here momentarily.”

They watched her go, and Grimm flattened his ears. “Why do I get the feeling she hasn’t lifted a finger to free you from that spell?”

Nox propped her elbows on the table, and rested her chin in her hands. “She was afraid of something. I could see it in her aura.”

“You don’t think we scared her off?”

“No, she was nervous before you started growling at her.” Nox thumbed through the pile of books. “Well, at least we got something useful out of this visit. I’ve seen most of these before, they shouldn’t be too hard to use. This one’s new though.” The book looked fragile, its binding cracked and the pages brittle. She ran a finger along a page, then jerked her hand back. “Ow!” she yelped, and let out a few choice words.

Grimm sat bolt upright. “Are you okay? What happened!”

“I’m fine, dangit.  I forgot she puts locking spells on the more advanced books,” Nox said, with a grimace. “Figuring out the lock gives you the key to understanding the spells inside. The fun part is, the ruddy thing is going to keep zapping me, and it’ll only get worse until I unlock it.”

Grimm let out a low, angry growl. “That woman is a menace. What if you are working on a project when you get zapped?  Technomancy is dangerous enough without a distraction like that!”

Nox looked bleak. “I guess I’ll just have to hurry up and figure it out. Damn her…”

Serenna hurried through the mansion to her workroom. She slammed the door shut behind her, and faced off across from the entity standing in her summoning circle. “What do you think you’re doing, Katya?  My husband is home, and Grimmalkyn sat right across from me.  They will notice the enchantment you placed on that book!”

Katya raised a delicate eyebrow. “You did not notice it until you touched the book. And even if they do sense it, they will not know the difference between that, and every other spell you place on your grimoires.”

“I use HUMAN spells!  The energies are not the same!”

“Be calm, poppet. I have not survived for millennia by being careless,” Katya said. She held out a hand and studied her nails. “It is all going as planned.”

“Not by my plans. You will end this now!” Serenna snarled and began a banishing spell.

A slow, poisonous smile crossed Katya’s face. “It is too late to stop now. The hook is set, and your daughter will have no choice but to read the book. End it now, and the backlash from the broken enchantment would be most unfortunate for her.”

Serenna stared at her in horror. “Grimmalkyn will absorb the blow.”

“Ah, yes. He would, if he felt it coming in time. But the mark I placed on him dulls the senses, remember?” Katya said. “Come now, we need not be enemies. You want to make your daughter fully human, and I want to remove the last traces of Galen’s bloodline. There is no reason we cannot both have what we want.”

Serenna’s mouth had turned dry, and her dinner sat like lead in her stomach. Somehow she must have made a mistake that allowed Katya to cast enchantments without seeking her permission. She was going to have to work with the creature, until she found a way to get it fully under her control again. She ran her tongue nervously over her lips. “All right. We will work together, but you must let me know everything you plan.”

Katya gave her a patronizing smile. “Of course, poppet.”

<–Previous   –BeginningNext->

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. Julie (O-kami) - December 9, 2011

oooo – I really DO NOT like Nox’s mom. The plot keeps thickening.

techtigger - December 9, 2011

yes, she is well on her way to being Worst Mom of 2011 😀

2. Sonia Lal - December 10, 2011

oh wow so interesting. The mom is a bad mother, but so exciting.

techtigger - December 11, 2011

thank you! Always glad to hear when someone loves/hates my villains – it means i’m doing my job right *lol*

3. Chuck Allen - December 11, 2011

Ooooh. She’s a devious one, for sure! I hope the daughter is going to be ok.

techtigger - December 11, 2011

Nox is certainly in for a rough time – getting double-teamed by two antagonists is no picnic!

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