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Flash Fiction – One Step Forward… June 22, 2012

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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Grimm loped through the wasteland of ash and rock that covered the mountain, his fur blending into the scenery. There was no point in him using scent to track his quarry; all he would get for his trouble was a nose full of soot. To make things even more difficult, the Earth kin would sense his footsteps from the vibrations in the ground long before he caught up to them. No, the only way to track them down was to get airborne.

He looked up at the sky and smiled a huge doggy grin. There should have been no reason for his good mood – Nox was still blind and powerless, her mother in a spell-induced coma, and Loki was slowly being turned to stone by the rogue Earth kin. Even Grimm himself was a mess, having been forced to turn back into a hound, and yet his spirits were soaring. Things were about to change, for both of them.

Grimm sat down with his tail curled around his front paws and waited for Lucien to arrive. The Ice Lord did not keep him waiting long. He rode up on one of his big black warhorses, plumes of ash kicking up around the stallion’s hooves.  “Is she safe?” he asked.

“Let me check,” Grimm said, and cocked his ears forward in a listening pose. Their soul-bond was so strong now he hardly had to work to pick up on what she was thinking. “Nox has woken up Loki enough to get him moving. They’re fine.” Actually, the two were already lip-locked but he was not about to tell her father that.

Lucien swung down off the horse and ground tethered the reins. “Very well then. Are you ready to try this?”

Grimm’s tail gave an involuntary thump of excitement. “I’ve been ready all week. Are you sure you can generate enough energy to power the casting? Nox had to use sorcery to multiply the effect.”

“This may not be as elegant as one of my daughter’s solutions, but I believe it will serve.” Lucien paced around Grimm, hanging casting marks made of ice in the air. They were similar to the ones that used to adorn Grimm’s mausoleum.  “I have added some safeguards – if you get within fifty feet of her you will feel a warning. If you get within thirty feet, it will force you to change back.  I will not allow her anywhere near that sword of yours.”

Grimm craned his neck around to look at the casting. “Fair enough. Let’s do this before your casting marks melt.”

Lucien took up his place at the ‘door’ to the casting. He touched the first mark, and chill energy rushed through the construct.

Grimm’s fur stood on end. He dug in his claws as the winds buffeted him and he leaned forward into the arctic blast of energy. The casting marks glittered in the sunlight, bright enough to blind him and he closed his eyes just before the full force of the enchantment hit.

It stung. Then it hurt. It felt like he was being turned inside-out and he threw his head back and howled.

The casting stuttered to a halt, and Grimm found himself sitting on the ground. He looked at his hands and a triumphant smile split his craggy face. “It worked! Lucien, I take back everything I’ve ever said about you!”

Lucien sank down slowly onto the ground next to him, his face even more lined than before and his cheeks were sunken in. “Good. That is good,” he said, swaying.

Grimm put a hand on Lucien’s shoulder to steady him. “Damn it, I thought you said you could handle the energy!”  He closed his eyes again and focused on sending healing energy through the stricken Ice kin. Lucien’s heart lurched a few times before it steadied.  “You stubborn, stiff-necked, close-mouthed dolt!  What good will you do Nox if you’re dead?”

Lucien gave him a piercing look. “What good will you do her as a hound? You cannot heal in that form and you can only do the most rudimentary Air castings. She needs the Wind knight that swore fealty to her, not a pet.”

Grimm tried to flatten his ears at him, forgetting that he was a man at the moment. “I will still be a hound when I get within thirty feet of her.”

“This is only the first step, and a temporary one. But we have proven it can be done,” Lucien said.

Grimm clanked to his feet and rolled his shoulders to settle his armor. “This is the last step, if you don’t find a better way to channel enough energy.”

Lucien shrugged. “I said it was not as elegant as her solution. I will work on that.” He got up and staggered over to his horse, leaning against it for a moment before pulling himself into the saddle.

“Where are you going?” Grimm asked.

“There have been too many uninvited guests in my back yard. It is long since time I sealed my borders to the south.” He turned the stallion toward the pass between the mountain peaks . “Tell Nox she is to rule the House of Ice while I am gone.”

Grimm reached out to snag the horse’s bridle. “Do you have a death-wish Lucien? You need to rest!”

The look Lucien gave him was cold and forbidding. “Duty before self, Grimmalkyn. I may be tired but I am not so beaten that I cannot do my duty. Make sure you do the same.”

“Damn it man, you can’t keep beating yourself up like this. If anyone is to blame for what happened to Nox and Serenna, it is the Shadowkin.”

“And who let the Shadowkin in, if not me?” Lucien pulled the horse’s head free and cantered off.

Grimm sighed and shook his head. “Stubborn fool. You never did listen to me.”

The enchantment was already starting to fray around the edges. Grimm gathered up the winds and rocketed skyward, not wanting to waste what little time he had before changing back. He still had a few Earth kin to round up.


<–Previous   –Beginning–   Next->

This flashfic is part of an ongoing web serial, updated regularly 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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