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Flash Fiction – A Game of Chess, Part 1 – Two Knights Defense January 13, 2012

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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Helloooo Nox and Grimm readers!  🙂  Today we pick up the story where we left off in episode 94: Only Human

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The setting sun stretched long shadows across the floor of the solarium, and painted the walls with splashes of red and gold. The servants had long since cleared away the remains of dinner and left Nox to wait for her father, with only Grimm for company.

The hound sniffed at the small, leather bound tome lying on the table in front of Nox. The enchantments laid on it were so thick it made him sneeze.  He backed away and shook himself hard enough to send bits of his shaggy fur flying.  “Your mother is a sadist. No woman should put their child through something like this.”

A half-smile twisted the corner of Nox’s mouth. “Look on the bright side, I’ve already found a way to circumvent her ugly little lesson. That should piss her off to no end.” She carefully sat down a small glass bottle next to the book, just as a jolt of energy sizzled between the book and her hand, standing her hair on end. “Ow-Ow-OW-Dangit!” she said, shaking her stinging fingers.  “Well, at least it zaps me at regular intervals. I can work in between them.”  She took the stopper from the bottle, and drew a tiny amount of liquid into the attached eyedropper.

An acrid smell drifted up from the bottle, and Grimm backed away another step.  “What is that?”

“Acid. One drop of this should force the spells that preserve the paper from damage to kick in, and return the book to its original state.”  She looked up at the water clock on the wall, and checked how many seconds she had until the next jolt. “All right, you nasty old hag, it’s time for your little game to end.”

Nox squeezed the stopper. A single of drop of acid hit the book, and lay there shimmering in the sunlight. A wisp of smoke curled up as it started to eat into the binding. Then it exploded in a blast of green light, throwing her across the room.

Grimm just barely got behind her in time, and grunted as she thumped into his side. Nox wheezed as the air got knocked out of her.

“Are you all right?” Grimm rumbled.

She reached up to give the hound a pat on his shoulder. “Fine. Nice catch, furball.”

He let out an amused snort. “I was expecting it. You blow things up with alarming regularity.”

“I know. Just think of how dull your life would be without me around!” she said, with an impish grin. “C’mon, let’s see what’s left of the book.”

“It would be a shame if it were ruined. It looked very old.”

“Better it than me,” Nox said.  She whistled a small Air casting to clear away the cloud of fumes around it. To her surprise, the book looked entirely unharmed.  She glanced up at the clock, but the time for another jolt had already passed. “Well, what do you know, it actually worked!”

Grimm sniffed at it, and sneezed again. “Do not celebrate yet, short-stuff. It still does not smell right.”

“Layered spells? That’s new for her.”

“It is not a human spell. Look for casting marks on the book before you open it.”

Nox raised an eyebrow. “Since when do the elements make you sneeze?”

“Your mother had something to do with it,” Grimm said, still eyeing the book warily. “Anything she works on gives me fits.”

“Hold on, I think I have a set of magnifying glasses with me.” Nox rummaged through her pockets and pulled out a small pair of round, wire-rimmed glasses.  She breathed on the lenses, cleaned them with a corner of her shirt and perched them on the end of her nose.  “You’re right, these are marks for controlling plants. I don’t recognize the maker; it’s not someone from House Flora. Their style is more ornate, lots of curvy lines and curlicues.”

“Let me see,” Grimm said, and Nox held the glasses up to his eye. “The style is very old. Either your mother dug up a scholar, or she’s been rummaging around in your father’s library.”

“She can’t create elemental castings. No full human can, or so she claims.”

“She can hire someone,” Grimm said, and sneezed again.

“Ooh, careful!” Nox said, as the glasses went flying.

The instant the glasses touched the book, the casting marks on the cover flared into life. Writhing tendrils of energy burst outwards toward them, and Grimm howled, surrounding Nox in a sonic shield.  A flash of electric blue light filled the room as she added her own aura shield to bolster it. The vines slashed at their defenses with a mindless ferocity, and a sticky, corrosive sap started to ooze over their combined shield, burning holes in it.

Grimm grabbed Nox by the back of her shirt and shoved her underneath him.  “Don’t let them touch you!” he cried, grunting as one of the vines cut through the shield and burned a strip of fur off his back.  The two of them slowly edged away from the book, but the vines kept growing.  “Ice, use ice on them!”

Nox reached out in desperation for the one source that could generate enough pure elemental Ice to freeze the vines.  Down in the main hall, she could sense the brass hoops of the great Weather scope start to move, sluggish and heavy. “Please, let it work this time!” She threw her will against it, trying to find the strength to move the ancient artifact and summon the winter winds.

The weather scope turned once, twice… and stopped.

The hound shoved her into a corner, and covered her with his own body. “Try again! Drop your shield, it is draining too much energy from you.”

“Those vines will tear you to pieces!”

“I cannot die, dammit! Do it!”

Nox threw her will into it again. The weather scope shifted, stopped, started again, and lurched for a few turns. She hurled every scrap of energy she had left at it in a defiant scream…

And the winds came. The doors to the room blew off their hinges from the force of the gale that hit them. It howled into the room, and buried everything in a thick layer of ice, stopping the vines in their tracks.

Nox huddled beneath Grimm, and she could feel him shuddering from the cold and his wounds. For a brief moment, Nox thought she had actually managed to use the artifact. Then her father broke through the ice that encased them. “I knew it was too good to be true,” she sighed.

Lucien knelt beside them, worry etching deep lines in his face. “Are you all right?”

Nox nodded slowly, weary to the bones. “I’m fine. Grimm got the worst of it. Please make sure he’s okay.”

The hound faded out, but his rumbling voice still lingered in their minds. “If there is one thing you can be sure of, it is that I will endure. I just won’t be able to materialize for a while.”

Lucien helped Nox to her feet. “Who cast that spell?”

Nox looked around in wide-eyed dismay at the shattered remains of the room. “Mother. I think she just tried to kill me…”

(to be continued!)


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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. Larry "FARfetched" Kollar - January 13, 2012

That was some magic battle! Nicely done.

techtigger - January 15, 2012

thanks! If you think that was fun, just wait for the next few episodes 😀

2. Sharon - January 15, 2012

Wow! That was an excellent chapter–poor Grimm! Nox rules. 🙂 Thank you so much!

techtigger - January 17, 2012

You’re welcome, and thank you for reading! 🙂

3. brainhaze - January 16, 2012

I love these two – another great episode : )

techtigger - January 17, 2012

yay! I love to hear that folks are enjoying my characters 🙂


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