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Nox and Grimm – Knight Wind September 6, 2013

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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The chill of the flagstones woke Morvrain, as he found himself still lying on the floor of the guard room in a pool of his own blood. The stab wound in his gut burned like acid, and if he could have caught his breath he would have howled in pain.

The Wind Knight, Grimm, had managed to get the door to the chamber shut, and was busy activating the protective casting marks on either side of the door. It shook under repeated blows from the Truthfinders outside – they were all Stone kindreds like Morvrain, and he knew it was only a matter of time until they broke in.  Them, and whatever that thing that was that controlled Malach.

Grimm turned and knelt down beside him. “The protections on this room are solid, but very old. They’ll hold for a little while, but we will need to move soon.” He placed his hands palm down on either side of Morvrain’s wound, and closed his eyes.  “Try to stay still. This won’t hurt, but it will feel odd.”

Warmth spread outwards from his hands, and Morvrain shuddered as he watched the hole from the sword wound close itself. It would have been fascinating to watch if it hadn’t been his own stomach writhing back into its original shape.

The pounding on the door stopped, but the wall behind them rattled as the other Truthfinders tried to rip open a new entrance. “Forget me,” he said, “go and get that creature out of Malach! Kill him if you must, but free him!”

Grimm let out a rude snort. “I’m sure Katya would love that. Leave you here to bleed out, only to have her jump out of Malach the second I cut him down? She’d have me framed for two murders then.”

The aching cold left Morvrain’s midriff, and strength slowly returned to his limbs. He found he could sit up, with Grimm’s help. “It’s a she?  And you know it?”

“I ought to. I nearly married her.”

Morvrain thought of the oily black substance that had run from Malach’s eyes, and he recoiled in horror.

“To be fair she was a lot prettier back then,” Grimm said, pushing himself back to his feet. “Although, I guess that was a borrowed body as well.” He shook his head. “Women. You can’t live with them, and I can’t seem to kill this one. But it’s not for lack of trying.”

The wall next to the door started to crack under the repeated assaults.  “Hmm, time to go, I think.” Grimm held out a hand to help Morvrain to his feet. “Are you afraid of heights?”

“No,” Morvrain said cautiously. “Why?”

“Good.” Grimm clapped his hands together in a quick pattern, and a gust of wind shot them straight upwards.  A panel in the ceiling slid aside just in time to let them past, and they rocketed up through a narrow tunnel, popping out into the leaden skies over the Convocation hall. The rain sheeted around them as they hovered, at least fifty feet above the ground, but they remained dry in the middle of a bubble of air.

Later, Morvrain would be pleased to remember that he had not screamed aloud. If he had had a lot to drink he might admit that it was probably only because he was shaking so hard his teeth rattled in his head. At the time, however, he was still in too much shock to say anything.

Grimm put a steadying hand on his shoulder, and another wave of warmth rushed through him. “Hang in there, friend. You only need to do one more thing before you can rest.” They floated across the rooftops, and stopped again over a broad, flat area. “The main hall is below us. I need you to break that fire charm she put on the Wardstone. I can’t hold off your colleagues, and her, and put the stone back into the correct pattern at the same time.”

Morvrain forced his sluggish thoughts back into motion. “Won’t that charm start affecting us again as soon as we go back in?”

“Probably,” Grimm said. He lowered them down onto the roof, and carefully removed a few roof tiles to reveal a maintenance hatch. “If it makes you feel the need to get fanatical about something, focus on breaking the charm.” He pulled the hatch open, and peered inside. “Are you ready?”

“Do I have a choice?”

Grimm gave him a crooked smile. “Down we go.”

They lifted up abruptly, and shot down through the opening, at a speed that Morvrain was convinced had left his stomach somewhere back on the roof. The hall spread out below them, a cavernous amphitheater with balconies lining the viewing boxes that covered the back wall. They flew over the tiers of chairs, through the open doors and landed right behind the Wardstone.

Morvrain had a single moment when they landed to draw in as much energy from the stone as he could, and then the charm hit him again. It was like a fever in the mind, burning away reason until there was nothing left but a wild, uncontrollable rage. And it needed a target.

Grimm was already locked in combat with the other Truthfinders. Something in Morvrain’s mind snapped when he saw this stranger fighting his men. His friends, his comrades. The man had dared to lie to him, a Truthfinder, if only by omission. The rage built, a searing blaze that turned his vision red.

Morvrain’s sword was in his hand, glowing like a beacon as moved to stab Grimm in the back.

As he raised the blade, a small voice to whispered to him, “How is this justice?”

His sword had only spoken to him so clearly once before, on the day it had chosen him to join the ranks of Truthfinders. He froze, arm poised, as the Knight fought desperately to keep the other Truthfinders at bay.

“Hurry up!” Grimm yelled. “I don’t want to have hurt them!”

Morvrain shook himself, as if waking from a dream. The sword hummed in approval and grew heavier, pulling his arm down to point at the base of the Wardstone.  Odd markings glowed on its surface like coals, tampering with the protections built into the ancient pillar.  His eyes narrowed and the boiling rage built up inside him again at the sight of it. The obsession with justice had a new target.

He slashed downwards with all his might, drawing in so much strength from the ancient stones that he sheared straight through the marks and buried his sword in the pillar.

The blast as the Fire charm broke picked him up like a giant hand and threw him back toward the door. He saw the door frame rushing toward him, and closed his eyes, knowing the impact would crush him…

…and then he stopped, hanging in mid-air as the Wind Knight spun around, gathering up all the energy of the blast into a vortex around him.  Morvrain saw a single sigil near the base of the pillar light up. “You’re from House Cyclonis?” he said, stunned. “But they’ve all been dead for two thousand years…”

He had almost convinced himself that the knight was some imposter, a Storm kin masquerading as a Wind Knight. Why else would the rain bend around him? And yet, he had healed Morvrain’s wound, and the markings on the Wardstone were never wrong…

The winds died down and he settled onto the floor. His colleagues lay around the Wardstone, unconscious but apparently unharmed. The knight stalked forward toward Malach, who had somehow remained standing. “Ditch the puppet, Katya, and let us finish this.”

Liquid darkness streamed from Malachs eyes and nose and mouth, and he collapsed into a heap on the floor, convulsing. The oily shadows formed into a cloud that swirled around and settled into the shape of a woman. Morvrain gasped as it solidified into a stunningly beautiful Woods kindred. A teasing smile curled her lips. “Well, beloved? Is this truly the end?”

Grimm motioned to the side with his blade. “Move away from the boy.”

“Ah yes,” she said, laughing. “Trust issues. Very well, my darling Grey. But I want a kiss before I go.”

He moved forward, the sword held out between them. “Death is the only lover you need court now.”

She looked at the blade, licked her lips nervously and backed away. “It wasn’t all an act, you know. Ask that young Fireborn, Loki.  He was a spy once, he will know – even when you infiltrate an enemy’s camp, you can’t lie with someone without feeling something.”  She looked up, her leaf-green eyes welling with tears. “I had to do what I did. You don’t walk away from the Shadowkin, beloved. Not for anyone.”

Morvrain held his breath, captivated by the drama unfolding before his eyes. Her words wrapped around him like a balm. Surely the knight would forgive her?

Then Morvrain’s sword whispered, “She’s lying.”

Grimm must have heard it as well. He exploded into motion, his broadsword scything through the air –but Katya had already darted away.  The lovely apparition collapsed into an oily black cloud that wailed as it ran before him, and disappeared out the front doors into the pouring rain.

The knight skidded to halt just inside the doors. “Oh no. I won’t go running headlong into your traps again, beloved,” he said, the last word ending in a growl. On the floor at his feet, his shadow warped and took on the snarling visage of a hound.

Morvrain looked from him, to his shadow, and back again. “What in Hel’s name are you?”

Grimm shook himself, and his shadow went back to normal. “Complicated.”

And Morvrain’s blade indicated that was the truth. It almost sounded like it was laughing as it said it…


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