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A Game of Chess – Endgame, Page 3 February 27, 2012

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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(the Nox and Grimm episode 100 short story continues!)

Nox nibbled on a piece of biscuit as she worked through the stack of books piled in front of her. The ghosts of the Wind Knights had been sneaking bits of food and other supplies into Galen’s lab, always careful to cover their tracks to keep her location secret. She had fresh water from a spring that welled up in one corner, and a glass beaker held over a small burner had been pressed into use for brewing coffee. There was even a water closet hidden neatly behind the wooden paneling that lined one wall.

“I’ve got everything I need, except more time,” she muttered.

Evan hovered by her elbow. “Pardon me, milady?”

Nox rubbed at her tired eyes. “It’s nothing. Just trying to figure out how I’m going to shove two centuries of Galen’s knowledge into my head in a mere two days. I mean, look at this,” she said, pointing to a list of casting marks on the latest book she had open. “I don’t even recognize half of these. I can’t tell you what element they represent, and the stuff I do recognize is being used in ways I’d never have dreamed of. I’ve got the answers to questions I haven’t even thought of yet,” she said, with a chagrined sigh.

Evan leaned over her shoulder and ran a translucent finger along the list. “I wonder, could this be part of his research? Before the war with the Shadowkin began, he had been working on a theory of universal exchange between the elements. He believed that they all came from a common source, and that with the proper symbols that primal energy could be harnessed by anyone, regardless of what element they normally used. These casting marks may be an entirely new vocabulary that he was creating to express that fundamental energy.”

“Wow. Seriously, wow,” Nox said, her mind spinning with the possibilities. “I bet you the elemental keys he created were an off-shoot of this project. He would have needed to study the raw, unaltered substance of each one to try and tap into the source behind them.”

Evan straightened back up. “He was a true genius, and we have sorely missed him. The world became a darker place when he passed on.”

“Well then, I guess it’s up to us to re-light that torch and carry on for him, right?” Nox said. She pulled out a fresh sheet of paper and dipped her quill pen into the inkwell. “We know he fused the key to Winds into Grimm. The problem is that he put so many other enchantments on him that I can’t tell what’s what to untangle them all. Add to that everything the Shadowkin did and it all becomes a huge mess. But If I can find his notes on the Wind key, I can at least take that out of the equation. Are there any other books from that time period on the shelves?”

“No, milady. Those were the last. There was little time for research once the war broke out.”

“Only ten more to go then,” she said, stifling a yawn. “It would go faster with a little help, would you mind? Normally I’d ask Grimm, but under the circumstances –“

The air grew a little colder as Evan solidified enough to pick up the next book off the stack. “I will gladly help, milady. Anything to help get our Captain back.”

———————-

Viktor was in trouble. He sat down the fire rose that Loki had entrusted to him, and tried to pull himself together. He could literally feel himself unraveling as the dragon fire inside the rose unmade the enchantments that held his spirit to this world. He knew Nox would need the power within it, however, so after a short rest he scooped it up and floated slowly onward.

As he turned down another hallway, a chorus of demonic voices hissed from somewhere behind him. “We know you are here, Lord Dragon. We can smell you…”

If Viktor had still had blood, it would have run cold. The Shadowkin were in the castle, and they thought that he was Loki because of the rose. He could not return to Lady Nox now, and risk leading them to her. He didn’t have the energy left to stand and fight, either.  “Nothing for it then,” he thought, and quit trying to hide the energy signature of the rose. “Come on, you evil bastards. Catch me if you can.”

He put all his energy into flying through the corridors, holding out the rose to leave a faint heat trail in his wake. A simple Air casting mimicked the sound of running footsteps.

An unearthly howl came from behind him. “Run, little man. Do you think those pathetic ghosts will save you?”

The increased pace was causing Viktor to unravel even faster. Soon he would not be able to hold the rose at all. “Still not far enough, I must keep going!” He turned down another hallway, only to find that the portal at its end had been collapsed. He spun around as the sound of claws clicking on stone came from behind him.

A massive, shadowy hound paced toward him. It filled the hallway, and oily black tendrils oozed from its sides, seeping down the corridor ahead of it. “Where is he? Where is the boy who would be king of the Fire kindreds?”  

Viktor stood tall, and faced his ancient foes. “Right here,” he said, and whipped the rose straight at it.

The glass shattered as it hit the ground, and an explosion of fire erupted like a volcano. The hound screamed in a hundred voices, and Viktor charged through the flames, sword first.

The last thing he saw, as his blade pierced the beast’s shoulder was a huge set of claws sweeping toward his head.

And in a crypt, deep in the heart of the castle, his bones turned to dust.

The hound limped out of the inferno, and the spirits held within it snarled in rage. “Kill them, we will kill them all! Their scent is everywhere, Galen’s precious knights.”

Another voice cut through the howling of the mob. “No, brothers. The knight carried a token from the Lord Dragon. Which means his lady must be near.”

“Yes, yes! Find her! Kill her! Let the hunt begin!”


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Comments»

1. ganymeder - February 27, 2012

Oh, I feel sorry for Vicktor! But at least he helped divert them (a little) from Nox.

techtigger - February 28, 2012

yep, Viktor did what a good bodyguard should. And he even got a shot in on the bad guys, not too shabby 🙂


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