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Nox and Grimm – Trading Spaces July 13, 2013

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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For Grimm, a day spent in Nox’s little workshop in town was like coming home. The hound padded up the stairs to the loft and sprawled out on the old, squashy couch with a happy woof of contentment. “We should have started holding meetings here ages ago. With the mansion’s security so badly compromised, this is probably the safest place in all the northern territories.”

Nox flopped down on the couch next to him, using his side as a backrest. She shoved a few papers off the coffee table with her feet and propped them up on top of it. “I know, this is so much more comfy!” She leaned her head back on his furry shoulder and grinned up at him. “Goodness knows we can’t sit like this at the mansion. Proprieties, milady!” she said, mimicking her chief steward’s stuffy, officious tones. “What would people think, you draped across a Wind knight like that?”

“Scandalous, for certain,” Grimm said, with a rumbling laugh. “Never mind that when I wear this shape, my thoughts are decidedly more doggie. The only thing I want from you, missy, is lunch! ”

Her grin turned to mock horror. “Goodness, you would trust me with cooking for you? My, how things have changed!”

“Loki has been giving you cooking lessons. Or at least, that’s what you claimed you were doing…”

A slight bit of color brightened her cheeks. “Well, yes, we do cook…err..well, heat things.. ahem.  So, what did you want to talk about today?”

The hound let out a few whurfs of laughter. “All right, let us get the business over with early. Then we can go out to eat.”

“Done!” Nox said, looking relieved.

“We need to discuss security at the Convocation,” Grimm said, resting his head on his front paws, and tilting it slightly to look at her. “Loki has Anders to watch his back, but we have not picked anyone to stand guard over you. Brand must stay back and watch over the mansion. Do you have any other candidates in mind? As your chief of security, I will need to brief them in detail.”

Nox tweaked his tail. “Very funny, fuzzball. As if I’d trust anyone but you.”

Grimm flicked his tail out of reach. “I cannot go. Lucien used me too often as a weapon, and I was banned from attending the Convocation a few centuries back.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Nox said. “You’re a person, even if you are fuzzy at the moment. You can change back into a knight long enough to prove that.”

All it will prove is that I am still enchanted, little one. And what good would I do you, if I cannot come within thirty feet without changing back to this?”  He thwapped her playfully with his tail, making her sputter.

“Pfaugh! Dog fur, blech!”  She reached for a book and placed it on the offending tail, knowing he’d never twitch a muscle for fear of bending a page. “All right, you big fuzzy dust mop. You have a point there. But,” she said, leaning forward to snag her satchel off a nearby chair, “I have been thinking about that. Father left me his notes on the casting he used on you.”

Grimm watched in amusement as she rummaged through the satchel, abusing all sorts of official documents by tossing them on the floor.

“Correspondence, reminders, invitations, blah blah blah. Ah, here we are.”  She flattened a small sheaf of paper out on the table. “Unusually sloppy work for him, but I guess he was in a hurry.” She smoothed out the papers, a frown putting a slight line between her eyebrows.

“Lucien has not been the same since we got your mother back from the Shadowkin.”

“No,” Nox said quietly.  “I guess not.”

Serenna still lay as they had found her, in a coma. She was not much more than an empty shell, now that the Shadowkin tossed aside her ‘puppet’.  No one had yet found a way to safely revive Serenna, though Grimm knew Nox and Lucien had both scoured every journal and grimoire of healing in the mansion.

Nox let out a sigh. “That’s a problem for another day, I guess. Let’s deal with this one. I’ve made a number of modifications to the casting marks. Take a look and see what you think.”

Grimm scanned the papers, studying every mark carefully. “That is a lot of Air to move, little one. I agree with your removing the Ice from Lucien’s equations, it slowed things down and nearly drained him. But this is still a large casting to move energy through. Are you sure you can generate enough of the elements to even start this?”

“Who said I was going to do it?” she said, regaining her good humor.  “You’re the one with the key to Winds. I’m just here to facilitate.”  She got up and went to the railing at the edge of the loft, pointing down into the workshop. “My old containment circle is still here and functional. All I need to do is turn it on after you get inside. My only job is to make sure you stay on track while you’re in the middle of the casting.”

“That is remarkably sensible for you,” Grimm said, his ears perking up. “Things really have changed.”

Nox grimaced. “Yes, well, I had a rather abject lesson in what my limits are. I was lucky to only lose my sight for a while.”

And nearly her life, Grimm thought, but there was no need to say it aloud. The important part was that she had stopped trying to do everything herself.  “Well then, we should try this right now before you lose your senses and try something typically madcap again.”

“Hah hah,” she said, and blew a raspberry at him. “After you, big guy.”

“Age before snarky, as is proper,” he said, and scooted downstairs before she could toss a pillow at him.

A quick little Air casting cleared the circle of any dust or other obstructions, and while he did that Nox checked all of the circuits and wiring connected to it. Like everything done with Technomancy, it was a hodge-podge of science, sorcery, and the elements.  It didn’t look like it should work, but Grimm had seen it contain explosions that would have leveled the building.

Nox spread the notes out across a lectern situated just outside the ring. He looked them over one last time and sat in the middle of the circle with his tail wrapped around his paws, to keep it from straying over the line. “I am ready,” he said.

Nox threw a switch and an electric crackle filled the air, along with the sharp metallic smell of ozone.  A wall of glowing energy formed around him, and Grimm checked the barrier one last time before starting the casting.

A low howl set the marks dancing around him, formed of pure air and sound waves. Energy cascaded through them, setting his fur on end. There was no pain like there had been with Lucien’s version of the spell, and he sent a quick thought to Nox. “I think it’s working!”

“It is,” she yelled over the noise, “But watch that last casting mark! You need a sharper bend in the line, like this!”

Their minds merged through their soul-bond and he caught the image of the mark, and corrected it.  BANG!  The casting ended.  Grimm stood in the softly glowing circle, looking down at his hands. Not paws, hands.  “It worked! I honestly didn’t expect it to go through on the first try!”

Nox didn’t reply, but a minute later the barrier shut down.  Grimm looked around the room in confusion. “Nox?  NOX!  Where are you!”

A little yip came from the workbench. A white winter fox, with black fur on the tips of its ears and tail sat with a paw on the switch that controlled the barrier.  Grimm groaned as he realized it had Nox’s dark blue eyes.

The fox lifted one paw and looked at it curiously. Nox’s voice echoed softly in Grimm’s mind. “Huh. I did not expect that…”

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1. Li @ FlashFiction - July 14, 2013

This was a delightful read – now I have to go back and read some other Nox and Grimm. I love the last line – very dry. 🙂

techtigger - July 14, 2013

thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂 And welcome aboard, I always love to hear from new readers!

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