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Flash Fiction – Retribution July 22, 2012

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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The only way to sneak up on an Earth kindred is to never touch the ground.  Grimm flew in low over the mountain, taking advantage of every scrap of cover the broken terrain provided. An elemental casting shimmered around him, bending the air to refract the light and make him invisible.  Even with all these precautions though, there was still a chance they’d spot him. He had no doubt that his ex, Katya, was behind their attacks and she would surely have schooled them in fighting Air kin.

Grimm scowled in annoyance. It still rankled to think how easily he had been controlled by her. Never mind that her skin exuded an addictive toxin. He was a healer as wells as a Wind Knight – he should have known something was wrong.

The sound of voices nearby broke off his self-recriminations. He slowed down and floated silently from boulder to boulder, taking care to keep them between him and his quarry. He could smell a hint of smoke from the campfire he had spotted from overhead during his initial search. The Earth kin must have been feeling confident if they were willing to risk a fire out here in the open.

He risked a quick glance around the side of a boulder, and was rewarded with the sight of three stocky, brown-haired men in heavy chainmail gathered around the crackling flames. A few small animals had been skinned and spitted on a stick to roast. They dripped juices onto the coals, making a loud sizzle with each drop.

One of them poked at a rabbit with his knife, testing to see if it was cooked. “Dammit, what’s keeping Roland?  I told him not to go in there, but no, he just has to gloat.”

The second man was standing, leaning back against a tall finger of rock with his arms crossed over his broad chest. “Roald was his brother. Even if he and Roland didn’t always get along, that bastard Loki killed him. Can’t blame a man for wanting a little revenge.”

“His little bit of revenge has cost us a month of time, and for what? Roald was an idiot. He botched a job and died for it.”

The third man was hunkered down by the fire, turning the spit. “Richard’s got a point. Here we are doing all this work for no pay, just to cover a dead man’s debt to the Morning Lord. I don’t care if he was our cousin. We shouldn’t have to waste our time here.”

Richard jabbed his knife in the air to accentuate his words. “Damn right, Ryan. We should cut our losses and forget taking jobs from that fanatic. Him and his creepy woods-witch.”

From his hiding spot, Grimm’s hand slid to the hilt of his sword. They were working for Katya, all right, with the Morning Lord as her latest puppet. He held himself ready, waiting for the fourth and final member of their party to arrive.

He didn’t have to wait long. Roland stormed into the clearing and kicked dirt over the firepit. “Have you all gone mad?” he hissed.

Richard got up and shoved him. “Our first hot meal in a month and you wreck it? What is with you!”

Roland backhanded him hard enough to send him sprawling. “The House of Ice has an Air kin working for them, you idiot! Why don’t you just scream here we are and get it over with!”

Richard wiped the blood from his split lip and glared up at him. “We’d have been gone by now if you hadn’t insisted on toying with your kill. You had better have done the job.”

Roland smirked. “By the time my Earth casting wears off, Loki will wake up to find a lovely corpse beneath him.”

“You were supposed to kill him!”

“I want him to suffer!” Roland roared.

Grimm had heard enough. A quick check through the soul-bond with Nox told him that she was still alive. The best way to help her was to cut off their enchantments at the source. He drew his sword and his deep, rumbling voice echoed around the mountainside. “Harm the heirs to Ice and you seal your fate.”

He moved amongst them like a gale, swift, silent, invisible. Air castings picked them up and slammed them into the rocks, and then whirled them up twenty feet into the air before dropping them again.

Only Roland kept his head about him. As soon as he hit the ground he tossed up a ton of gritty soil into the air. It got caught in Grimm’s casting and filled the area. The only clear spot was where the knight hovered. “Get him!” Roland yelled.

Grimm changed his casting to a miniature tornado, just in time to catch all rocks the Earth kin flung at him. The rocks whirled around and got hurled back at a tremendous speed, flattening three of them.

Roland managed to shatter his with a jab from his fist. “Damn you! You’ll pay for this!”  He turned and ran back down the mountain, toward the cave where Nox and Loki were trapped.

Grimm rocketed after him, the wind howling in his wake.  Spires of rock thrust up out of the ground behind Roland, but the knight simply smashed them and kept going. He started to chant out an Air casting when a sharp pang in his chest brought him up short. He shook his head, and tried again, but this time it grew sharper.

Then he remembered the terms of Lucien’s enchantment – “if you get within 50 yards of my daughter, you will get a warning. Within thirty, you will change back into a hound. I will not let that sword you carry anywhere near her.”

Grimm growled. “No, not now!”  He put on a last burst of speed, reaching out to try and grab Roland…

…Then the change hit, and his angry, frustrated yell turned into a mournful howl as he hit the ground.

(to be continued!)

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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.

Flash Fiction – Sons of Earth July 6, 2012

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: , ,

(We pick up the adventure with Nox, still in the underground cavern where Loki is buried up to his chest in cooled magma…)

Nox sniffled from the damp, faintly sulfuric smell that permeated the chamber. She had no idea how Loki survived it for a month, but then, he had almost fully merged with the volcano to control it. He probably hadn’t noticed. She was getting a headache though, and hurried to find a way to get him out.

“All right, let’s see if we can’t break you loose,” she said, shifting to get her legs under her.

Loki let out a resigned sigh. “This is embarrassing. How am I supposed to impress a girl who insists on saving me?”

Nox kissed his forehead. “You kept my people from being wiped out by a volcano. Consider me impressed.”

“Oh, well, there is that.”

Nox grinned as she scooped some loose gravel from under her knees. “You do realize you’re a hero, right? Five territories were in the fallout zone, and more downriver would have been affected by floods and mudslides. They’re all talking about what you did. I’m afraid you’ll have to give up on the spy thing, you’re too well known now.”

“Yes, I suppose so,” Loki said, with a rueful note in his voice. “I had rather gotten used to anonymity though.”

“Better get used to being in the public’s eye, Lord Dragon. I can give you pointers if you like; I’ve been there my whole life.”  Nox groped blindly along Loki’s arms until she found enough space to get her hands underneath them. She slid her arms through and locked her fingers together behind his back. “Okay, when I say go you push up and I’ll try and help pull you out. Are you ready?”

“As I’ll ever be,” Loki said. “Mind the roof when you pull, luv. I don’t want you to bash your head. There is only about four feet of space.”

“I’m just going to roll backwards,” she said. “On the count of three. One, Two, Three!”

She could feel his shoulder muscles flex as he braced his hands and pushed upwards. She tensed her own legs and pushed up and back, but stopped when Loki let out a yelp.

“Wait!” he said, his voice going up a little. “Ah, ungh, let me down.”

“What happened?” Nox asked, slipping her arms free.

“The family jewels are getting a bit roughed up. I need to heat up the magma to soften it. Bloody Hel,” he cursed, shifting gingerly.  “Hey, don’t laugh. You may want to have a few little Lord Dragons with me some day.”

Nox giggled, blushing furiously. “I’m sorry, of course that’s…heehee…not funny at all. Ahem…”   The ground warmed as he shifted some more, and Nox bit her lip to keep from laughing at the colorful string of obscenities he let out.

“All right, I think I’ve got things adjusted,” Loki said. “Let’s try that again. Gently, this time.”

“Of course, dear,” Nox said, as she got her arms around him again. “Ready, set, heave!”

It went more smoothly that time, so much so that Loki popped out of the hole and landed flat out on top of her.  “Oof!” Nox said, as all the air in her lungs rushed out.

Loki cursed again, having banged his own head on the way out.  “If I ever get my hands on the Earth kin that did this, they are dead men,” he growled.

Nox sucked in a few deep breaths before saying anything. “What is it with you and the House of Earth? First Roald, now this?”

Loki moved to take some of his weight off her. “Randolph, the Earth Lord has five full blood sons, possibly a dozen bastards and a horde of fosterlings. Roald and a bunch of the other young siblings had few prospects, outside of serving as minor functionaries under their older brothers. So they banded together and started their own mercenary group, called the Sons of Earth.  Clever title, eh?” he said, his voice dripping with scorn. “Their methods are as dirty as the mud they adore.  I’ve crossed swords with them more than a few times while working for your father.”

“Wow, you really don’t like them at all,” Nox said. “Um, no offense sweetheart, but are you ever going to get off me?”

Loki let out a warm laugh. “Don’t worry luv, after the beating I just took your virtue is safe. For the moment.”

She didn’t need to see him to know he had a roguish grin on his face.  Her own turned bright red. “Loki, c’mon –“

“-you know, you’re very comfy – ” he said, yawning. Then he laid his head on her shoulder, and started to snore.

“That is not funny,” Nox said, giving him a shake. His skin felt hard, like it was turning to stone again. “Oh crud, he really is asleep. Loki, wake up!”

As Nox struggled to get out from under him, the cavern shook and filled with the sound of earth and stone grinding together. A breath of fresher air blew across her, followed by an amused male voice. “Well, what do we have here?”

“Who’s there,” Nox demanded. The voice sounded vaguely familiar, but not enough to let her put a name to it.

“My, what a sordid tale this will make,” the man continued, “Lady Ice buried alive, beneath the statue of a naked man. How much would your wealthy father pay me to let you out, I wonder? And how much more not to spread the tale?”

Nox shot a frosty glare in the direction of his voice. “If you know my father at all you will let us go and run while you still can.”

The voice laughed. “Big talk for such a little lady. I’d save your breath though. Your lover is going to get a lot heavier. I’ll come back in a few minutes. Maybe you’ll be ready to make a deal by then.”

There was a strong smell of earth as the man’s casting hit, and Nox gasped when Loki’s weight doubled. He started to merge with the mountain again, crushing her beneath him….

<–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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