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Nox and Grimm – Episode 100 Event! February 24, 2012

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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It’s here!  After 2 wonderful years with Nox and Grimm , I’ve arrived at episode 100, can you believe it? I’ve been thinking hard on ways to make this a special event, to thank everyone that’s read along and been so encouraging as I learned the craft of writing. So I figured, what better way to celebrate than with a week long event!  Yes, that’s right, I have written an entire short story to wrap up the Game of Chess story line, and I’ll be posting installments throughout the next week! And more – watch this space for Bonus Content and some big announcements at the end!  *squeee!* I’m so excited!  I hope you are too!

And now, here is the first installment of Nox and Grimm, A Game of Chess – Endgame.

——————————–

Nox’s heart lay in her chest like a lead weight as she watched her father leave. She heard him give a few terse orders to the guards, and then his footsteps faded as he left the mausoleum. Some part of her wanted to cling to the sounds, knowing they might be the last she ever heard from him. She tried to imagine life without her father, and could not do it. He had always been there, as certain as the change of seasons and strong as a winter storm. To hear him calmly making plans for her future in the advent of his death had shaken Nox to her core. She took a deep breath and summoned Ice to steady herself, and turned to one of the spirits waiting by the portal. “What do you think his chances are, Viktor?”

The ghost knight shook his head. “I can only see the truth of what is, and what was, milady. I cannot see the future.”

“I know that, I wanted your assessment as a soldier,” Nox said. “You fought the Shadowkin, you know what they’re capable of. Can he beat them?”

Viktor let out a whispering sigh. “Perhaps if we knew which of them had gotten free, I could make a better guess, milady. But it would still be a guess. There are too many variables, not the least of which is our missing Captain.”

“I will free Grimm from them,” Nox said, wrapping her arms around herself. “Somehow.”  She glanced over her shoulder one last time, reluctant to leave, but there was nothing more she could do here. She crossed through the portal back to the long, empty corridors that riddled the outer defensive walls of the city Zephyra. “I have a few ideas I want to try, but I’ll need to gather some materials. Damn, I wish I had time to visit my workshop. Everything I need is there.”

Viktor and another ghost, Evan, floated to either side of her. They exchanged looks over her head. “Can we show her, brother?” Viktor asked.

Evan inclined his head. “I think we must.”

Nox put her hands on her hips and scowled up at them. “Hello, standing right here.”

Viktor gave her a little half-bow at the waist. “My apologies, Lady Zephyr. We are bound by certain rules, and must obey them before we can act.”

“Lady Zephyr –” she said, confused.

“It is your title, now that your father has formally named you his heir. Your ancestor, Lord Galen named his city Zephyra after his own House, and all of this,” he said, waving a translucent hand, “is yours now. “

Nox looked around the dusty stone hallways, and her father’s words mocked her. Nothing but ghosts in the ruins. What good would any of this do her, or Grimm? She would have to rule Ice, and all their dreams of bringing back the House of Winds had fallen to ashes.  She shoved down the welter of emotions that threatened to drown her again, drawing even more heavily on Ice to keep them in check. She gave Viktor brittle smile. “Thanks…that’s good to know. We have more pressing concerns than titles, however. I only have three days, and much to get done.”

She started back down the hall that would take her to back to her rooms at the outpost on the edge of the Wind territories, but Evan put out a hand to stop her.  “No, my Lady, you do not understand. Everything that belonged to Lord Galen is yours now,” he said, pointing down a smaller, debris filled hallway, “including his laboratory.”

A tiny flicker of hope flared to life in her chest. “It’s still here? It’s intact?”

Viktor was already floating down the corridor. “This way, my Lady. Watch your step, the floor is not entirely sound.”

Nox had spent every spare moment for the past month exploring the ruins of the ancient city, but somehow managed to miss the corridors they led her down. She had to clamber over piles of fallen masonry and skirt gaping holes in the floor, but she was small and light enough not to cause any loose stones to shift. They passed through several portals, each one taking them further in towards the castle at the center of the city.  The last portal was built into a small wooden door that had managed to avoid the decay of centuries. Elemental casting marks were carved into every inch of its surface, and to Nox’s aura sight it glowed with a silvery sheen.

“Galen certainly built his enchantments to last,” she said, running a hand almost reverently over the wood. How often had she dreamed of finding the place where so many of his greatest works were created? She looked up at Evan.  “How do I open it?”

“State your name and title, and place your hand over the metal lock plate.” The ghost pointed to a flat bronze panel set next to the door handle.

Nox stepped up to the door, excitement putting a flush to her pale cheeks. Finally, she would find the answers she needed to free Grimm from the Shadowkin forever! She placed her palm against the metal, and summoned Air to augment her voice. “My name is Nox, the Lady Zephyr, heir to Wind and Ice.”

The soft, silver light that radiated from the door intensified, and the carvings lit up so bright that Nox had to squint against the glare. The energy ran down through the symbols carved in the door, flowing at an alarming rate to where her hand rested. She had just enough time to brace herself before it slammed into her hand, running along her veins and spreading out through her whole body. The jolt made her bite her tongue, and she could taste the sharp tang of blood in her mouth.

Nox spit it out, and put a sleeve to her lips. The energy hurt, but her mother had done worse to her. She held firm while it moved through her, stubbornly refusing to show any sign of weakness. Eventually it faded, and a tingling sensation she had always equated with her mother’s healing spells prickled on her tongue. The pain disappeared, along with the taste of blood.

“You have the taint of the Shadowkin on you.”

Nox quickly studied the door, trying to find where the voice had come from. “I am soul-bound to Grimmalkyn, and we have both suffered at their hands.”

“None who are controlled by the Shadowkin may enter.” The energy began to build again, pushing against her hand

“I never said I gave in to them!” Nox snapped, and pitted her will against the energy, pushing it back. “Grimm is in trouble, and I am not going to let some stupid talking door keep me from helping him. Either you open, or I’ll start ripping these enchantments apart!”

The energy halted, buzzing around the edges of the metal plate. “You care so much for him?”

Nox thought of Grimm; the goofy, tongue-lolling grin the hound gave her whenever he teased her, all the nights as a child when she had snuck out to his mausoleum to hear him tell stories of the House of Winds, of every time he had rushed to save her life.  “Yes. I would do anything to save him.”

“Such devotion, in one so young. You are very much like him.”

The door swung open slowly, its hinges grinding after millennia of disuse. The last whisper of power drained from the casting marks and flowed through the room, lighting a series of small glass lamps that lined the walls.

Nox expected to see everything covered in layers of dust and cobwebs, but the lab was pristine, as if its owner had only just stepped out. Several long tables ran parallel to each other down the center of the room, covered in books and scientific apparatus. The walls were lined with shelves, each filled with jars and boxes of all shapes and sizes. Every item was meticulously labeled, with a sheaf of notes tacked to the shelf next to where it sat. Nox pulled one set out, and saw it was a list of what properties the item had, every known use for it, lists of experiments Galen had used it in, the reasons it was used and the results.  She put the papers back and smiled – she had shelves of notes just like it in her workshop. “Well, I guess a penchant for mischief isn’t the only thing I come by honestly.”

Nox ignored the contents of the tables in favor of a large writing desk. “Anyone this compulsive will have a catalogue of all experiments, with cross referencing to mark related lines of study.”  She picked up a heavy tome and carefully opened it, afraid it might fall apart. The paper was as perfectly preserved as the rest of the lab, however, so she quickly skimmed through it. “Not in this one. Viktor, what was the year that Grimm was taken by the Shadowkin?”

The ghost moved from his post by the door.  “The year of Falling Stars, in the third cycle of the transiting moon. It was on this very day, two thousand, one hundred and fifty three years ago that our Lord Galen made his last effort to free our Captain from the Shadowkin curse. It is fitting that on this day, his descendant has come to finish his work.”

Nox blew out her cheeks, and muttered, “Sure. No pressure.”  She raked her hair back out of her eyes and picked up another book.  “Would one of you please go and tell Loki, privately mind you, of everything that’s occurred today?  I’ll need some provisions as well. This may take a while.”

“Of course, Lady Zephyr,” Viktor said, and bowed before walking out through the wall.

Nox barely heard him, already engrossed in her ancestor’s writings. Three days, she thought. Three days to do what Galen could not with all the resources and power in the world to back him up.  She let go of the Ice she had summoned, and drew on the Winds instead. Air was intellect, and she was going to need every scrap of brain power she had to figure this problem out. She pulled some blank sheets of paper from a cubby hole in the desk, along with a fountain pen and inkwell, and settled down to work..


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Comments»

1. Sharon - February 24, 2012

You GO Nox!! Not a bad thing to have ghosts and a title…. The tension is building beautifully! What a great chapter, and congrats on 100!! 🙂

techtigger - February 25, 2012

thanks! I’m so excited, been planning this story for months 🙂 Next installment tomorrow morning! Time to see what Loki’s been up to

2. Julie (O-kami) - February 26, 2012

100 episodes!! Congrats – just want you to know that I have immensely enjoyed all 100 and look forward to the next 100!

techtigger - February 27, 2012

thank you! I’ve loved every minute of it, and I’m looking forward to writing more. Thanks so much for all your support!


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