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Nox and Grimm: A Convocation of Elements – Pt. 1 November 9, 2013

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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The morning of the Summer Convocation dawned in a hot, sultry haze. It pressed down on the column of riders, sticking clothes to backs and pushing tempers to their breaking point. Nox looked over her shoulder, trying to gauge how everyone was holding up. The representatives from Ice and Hail were coping well enough; their elements could sweat a bit and still hold together.  Snow and Sleet, however, were miserable and the Frost kindreds looked positively wilted.

Loki rode beside Nox, his brow furrowed as he looked up into the leaden sky. The heat did not bother him, but Fire kindreds did not enjoy humidity.  “This has to be my uncle’s doing, since he still holds the key to Storms. Combine that with the summer sun and he could easily blanket the whole region in this soup.”

“I’d summon up a wind, but there’s only more hot, damp Air to blow at you.”  Grimm’s voice was a faint, rumbling echo in their minds. The Wind knight flew far overhead, scouting the road.  “I still don’t like that you are all riding together. You make a tempting target.”

“Father is convinced there will be more safety in numbers,” Nox said. “And we’ll all be bunched up in one spot anyway once we get to the Convocation Hall.”

“Don’t remind me,” he grumbled.

As if to mock Grimm’s warning Lords Snow and Sleet rode up to meet Nox, with the gaunt Lord Hail trailing behind, a look of disapproval on his face. Snows’ long, thick white hair was plastered to his forehead, and dark sweat stains marked his tunic. “Well, Ice, you’re supposed to own the North wind.  What are you going to do about this heat?”

Hail spurred his horse to catch up. “Cool yourself off, you lazy old goat.”

Snow’s bushy eyebrows knit together. “Ice is supposed to be our leader. Why should I do her job?”

Sleet gave a quick, jerky nod of agreement. “Lucien would do it if he were here.”

“Lucien is over 400 years old,” Hail said, poking a bony finger at Sleet. “You can’t expect a 20 year old girl to match him for power.”

Snow looked as if he’d just been given a present. “If she isn’t fit to rule, then why’d he send her here?”

Loki gave Snow a menacing look, flames dancing along the length of his arm where the dragon tattoo coiled restlessly. “Be careful what you say about my betrothed. If your son had not run off, it would be him patrolling the borders and Lucien would be here. Do not lay his cowardice at Nox’s feet.”

“Cowardice, or common sense?  I’ve always said there’s something odd about Ice, and if my son left he had good reason!“

The dragon mark shot out from Loki’s hand and solidified into an obsidian saber. He spurred his horse in front of Snow, forcing the older man to stop. “Draw. Your. Sword.”

“Lords do not duel, boy,” Snow said, with a sneer.

A predatory smile crossed Loki’s face. “I have not been confirmed yet, have I?”

“I’ll stand for you, Snow!”  Sleet drew his sword, a thin, sharp rapier with a lattice bell guard.

Hail shook his head. “Don’t be a fool. He’ll cut you to mincemeat. Not to mention you owe him a debt. Neither of you would have a territory left to rule if he hadn’t stopped the Morning Lord’s attack.”

Snow turned his sneer on Hail. “Should I thank him from dragging us all into his family squabble? Balor would never have come north if he hadn’t been here!”

Hail’s face darkened. “That’s a lie, and you know it!”

“So,” Nox said, her calm, measured voice cutting through the shouting. “How much did Balor pay you to betray us?”

“What?” Snow sputtered, his eyes bulging.

“How much did he pay you to break our alliance?” Her expression was  cold and implacable.  “All we have to do is arrive at the Convocation together, vote together, and his plans crumble. Yet here you are, picking a fight when we can least afford it. Did he offer you my father’s place as the chief of the Winter Kings?”

Every eye was on Lord Snow. His eyes darted around looking for support, but even Sleet was eyeing him suspiciously. “This is preposterous! You’re just trying to change the subject – we were discussing why you haven’t done anything about the heat!”

She gave him a mocking smile. “Very well then. Loki, be a dear and draw the heat out of the air around us. Channel it out to the Fire nomads in your retinue. That will give them the energy they need to burn off the humidity.  The condensation from the cooler air should be enough to make the rest of us comfortable, and if you kick off a little rain storm, Grimm can blow it past us.”

Loki bowed from the waist with a hand over his heart. “As you wish, luv.”

Snow looked away and muttered, “That isn’t what I asked for.”

Hail let out an amused snort. “No, you asked her to freeze her fiancés giblets. Never thought how the Fire kin would feel about an artic breeze, did you?”  He raised a hand and gave Nox a respectful salute. “Nicely done, young Lady.”

He turned his horse and trotted back to meet up with his retinue, and the other Lords followed in sullen silence.

Loki continued to keep an eye on Snow. “Do you really think he sold out to my uncle?”

Nox thought about it a minute, then shook her head. “No, he’s just a greedy old fool. He thought he could grab a little power while my father was away. I have a feeling he won’t be the last one to challenge my right to be here.”

Loki flexed his arm, dismissing the saber and settling the dragon tattoo back into place. “I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.  But if Snow tries that again, I will kick his ass.”

Nox leaned over and kissed his cheek. “Aww, you always say the sweetest things!”

From overhead, Grimm’s called down to them. “Two more miles to go. I can see the city walls…”

(to be continued…)

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