Slave Elf Part 2: Flash Fiction Friday Post

http://magikstock.deviantart.com/art/Camel-1-319794644

Part 2

 

As the camels followed the wagon ahead of them, I sat, half-conscious on the wagon seat. How did this happen to me? I’d asked around over the years, humans staring at the slave brand on my hand. Elves were never slaves, it seemed, but me. What was wrong with me that the elves left me with these slavers? Were elf children so plentiful that one could be snatched away and no one cared?

 

I’d seen elves in the caravan’s travels. Aloof, regal, I longed to shout out to them but Master Corpet, and his father and grandfather, made sure I was chained in my wagon when elves were about. I didn’t even really know anything about elves. Their culture, who they worshipped, favorite foods. The darkness came over me, as had for years. Snippets of memories surfaced of me as a toddler, my parents, laughing, singing, making music. I could almost hear it.

 

The snap of a quirt on my thigh brought me out of my dream. Tears flowed unbidden at the sudden pain. When I blinked, Emil was on horseback beside the wagon, laughing. An evil laugh that reminded me he didn’t care if I hurt or not.

 

“Master Corpet bids you read this and write a response.” He handed me the paper. He didn’t want to throw it in case it blew away. He’d be the one chasing it down.

 

I took it and nodded. “Right away.”

 

Emil snorted then wheeled his horse around and galloped off to the rear of the caravan where the horses were being herded.

I opened the paper and read.

 

Master Corpet,

 

Greetings and well met. Lord Verden passed away last winter. A great loss to his family, friends, and the city, Katzin, as well. As his nephew and heir, I will greet you at the palace at your earliest convenience. Send word on your arrival and an audience will be arranged.

 

As to your business, Uncle left clear direction. I will continue to support you in your endeavors. We will speak of it in person.

 

Lord Trayford

 

Nothing unusual. Much of Master Corpet’s work was done in person, so I wasn’t concerned about that part of the letter. That the old Lord was dead, again, humans have so short a life, I wasn’t surprised by that either. I’d never met the man. I puzzled a bit over …your endeavors. As the master’s book-keeper I was sure I knew all the master’s business. Some of it less than legal, but there seemed nothing Lord Trayford could help with, unless it was protecting the caravan routes from competitors.  I folded the letter and tucked it in my sleeve pocket. No response could be written until the wagons stopped and we neared Katzin.

 

After we camped and I had fetched water for my wagon, I went to see Master Corpet. I stood silently at the back of his wagon as he gave direction to the camel drover leader, the slave minder, and Emil. Emil spit in the sand at my feet as he left the master to take care of his tasks.

 

Corpet grinned at me. “And you, little Delia. What do you have?”

 

I swallowed my gall at the diminutive. I was forty years older than he was. “Other than announcement of our arrival in Katzin, do you want anything else included in the letter to Lord Trayford?”

 

He shook his head; his turban ends swinging gently. “No. That will be all. We will arrive tomorrow. Give me the letter in the morning and I’ll send it from the gate. The lord won’t be ready for me until well after we get to the caravanserai and I have a chance to bathe and refresh myself.”

 

“Yes, master.” I bowed and turned to go.

 

“Delia.”

 

I turned back to him. “Master.”

 

He studied me a long moment. I could feel myself begin to tremble. What was he thinking?

 

“When did you come to us?”

 

I bit my tongue at his choice of words. Come to us? As though it were my idea and I was an honored guest? “I was six, Master. Sixty-three years, eight months, eleven days.”

 

He nodded. “My grandfather. Papa told me. That’s a long time to be a slave.”

 

I shivered, clasping my hands so that he couldn’t see them shake. “I think so, Master. That’s three human generations. A whole human lifetime.” I lifted my chin as I spoke then fearing I’d gone too far, ducked my head and shifted my gaze to the sand.

 

He grunted. “Indeed. That’s all.” He turned and went into his wagon, calling for his personal slave, Sam, to bring him wine.

 

That’s it? I thought. That’s all he wanted? Still trembling I hurried back to my wagon. I put the kettle on for tea and sat at my table, waiting for it to boil. What was that about? What is Corpet thinking? One more day until we arrived at Katzin. We went there every year, twice a year. Out and back on the Corpet trade route. The far end being Midton, the end we just came from, Kitgate. Over a thousand miles, back and forth for the last sixty-three years. Sandstorms, raiders, famine, drought, I’d seen it all, over and over. The water boiled. Half I poured into my mug and dropped in a few tea leaves. The rest I poured into the basin and added cold water.

 

I washed away the dust of the day as best I could and tossed the dirty water out the back of the wagon. I watched it disappear into the sand. Like me, I thought. I was tossed into the mass of humanity, never to be seen again. My chest grew tight at the thought. Lost. Lost.

 

 

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 3.

961 Words

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Slave Elf Part 1: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Malaysia Mosque with Muslim pray in Malaysia – Depositphotos_108130076_original

This story was derived from a Chuck Wendig prompt. Chuck does a lot of these for his fellow authors and I enjoy the wackiness of his prompts. Here’s the prompt:

DEMURE ELF CLERIC FROM A SLAVE CARAVAN WHO LOST THEIR MARBLES A LONG TIME AGO

You’ll notice when you read the story that I didn’t stick strictly to the prompt but the idea of an elf, and a slave caravan are certainly there. Enjoy.

Also, when I started posting these parts, I hadn’t finished the story, so I have no idea right now how long this will be.

 

Part 1

I huddled in my wagon, the laughter and drumming, the shouts of the caravanner men to the dancing slaves, rolled in the small open windows of the wagon. It was too hot to shut them. I pulled the collar of my night gown closer to my neck and shuddered. I knew what was going to happen, probably already happening to those dancing girls.

 

I rolled out of bed and lit the tiny brazier, putting the teapot over the flame. If I couldn’t sleep, I might as well finish the caravan master’s letter to the next city’s Lord. I lit the lamp and sat down, the unfinished letter on the small table in front of me. The current master was the third I’d been held by. All sons of my original owner. I sharpened the quill. In elf-years I was still quite young, stolen from some elf encampment as a very young child. Even so, I could already read and write in elvish, dwarf and in multiple languages of men. That, at least came easy to me.

 

The master made sure I was left alone and I was grateful for that bit of courtesy. Caravanners are not the most genteel of men. I made my tea and opened the ink pot. In a careful hand, with graceful loops and delicate swirls, I finished the letter. As I put the materials away in my writing chest, I could tell the night was winding down. I could hear the crying from the slave wagons. It was sixty years of listening to that crying every night. I’d stopped crying after twenty. There was no point to it. I lay down in my bunk and closed my eyes. Dawn would come soon.

 

“Delia! Delia!” A pounding on my wagon door accompanied the shouting. I jumped from my bunk. “Yes! Yes! What is it?”

 

“Master Corpet wants that letter. He’s sending a rider ahead.”

 

“I’ll take it to him right away.”

 

“Hurry up.”

 

“Yes, yes.”

 

I was already stripping off my night gown. Master Corpet would be impatient to get the caravan moving. I could hear the camels squalling already and the sun was barely peeking over the horizon.

 

In moments, I had drawn on my dress, pulled my black hair back and tied it with a black ribbon and pulled on my boots. I took the finished letter from the writing chest and opened the door. Men were swarming around the wagons, dust rising from their booted feet in the sand. Bowls of food and water were being given the slaves, eight wagons full. A good trip for master Corpet if they all arrived at the next town. I did his books as well.

 

I stepped down the short ladder and hurried to the master’s wagon. He was sitting at a table, meat and mead, bread and cheese in front of him, at the back of the wagon. A human slave girl was being hustled out and back to her own place. Her face was tear stained and she sent me a glance of desperation. I looked at the sand at my feet. I was in no position to even offer sympathy.

 

“Your letter, Master Corpet.”

 

He held out his hand while drinking with the other. I passed it over and kept my eyes on my boots.

 

He read it quickly and nodded. “Good.” He handed it back. “Seal it up and give it to Emil. Tell him into the Lord’s hands only.”

 

I nodded and turned. Emil would be with the horses. “We leave in a hand, Delia.”

 

“Yes, Master.”

 

Emil was saddling his horse when I arrived. “About time,” he snarled at me. “Corpet gives you too much consideration.”

 

Emil hated me. Hated that I had my own wagon. Hated that I was forbidden to him. I handed him the letter. “Master says just into the Lord’s hand.” I kept my head down.

 

“Do I look stupid?” He jerked the saddle band tight. His face a scowl as he glared at me.

 

I didn’t answer. Anything I said would be a reason for him to hit me.

 

“Bitch,” he growled.

 

I handed him the paper. He snatched it out of my hand and stuffed it in his saddlebag. Emil leapt onto his horse and pulled the reins. The horse reared, nearly missing my head with his hooves. Emil laughed as I flinched then kicked the animal into a run, kicking my shoulder with his stirrup as he passed.

 

The men nearby laughed as I spun around. I refused to rub the spot until I got back to my wagon. It was already bruising. I made tea, ate some bread and cheese, while standing in my wagon door. Two men were already leading camels to my wagon. Time to pack everything away and get ready to leave. I sighed and finished my bread. Time to fill the water bladder for the day. It was going to be another hot one.

 

Thank You! Return next week for part 2.

834 Words

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A Little Magic: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Camp Fire by Kiaraz via DeviantArt.com

I just needed a little magic. Just a little. Enough to get the fire started, get the room warm, maybe to save my mother. I heard her moan from her pallet along the wall. I rearranged the wet wood in the fireplace. If I could just get the wood to burn. I could make a little soup, a cup of tea, anything to warm her up. Me too, to be honest.

She moaned again. I knew she had a fever. If the soldiers had just left any of my brothers or sisters behind I wouldn’t be in this fix. But they took all of the people with magic abilities off to fight the war. Father had been taken a year ago. Yesterday, they came for the rest. The wailing and screaming in the village had been horrific. My stomach roiled just thinking about it as I struggled to light the fire.

“Come on.” I willed my shaking hands to strike the flint against the steel but they were too cold. My sister Hilda would have just held her hand over the tiny pile of kindling and it would have burst into flame. A year younger than me she always gave me a hug when she made the fire. It was my job, but she knew I didn’t have any magic. A tear ran down my face. And now she was gone, along with my littlest sister, Maggie, and my big brothers, Todd and Edward. All gone. Dragged away to fight even though Maggie was only eight.

My hands shook more, with anger this time. How were we supposed to plow the fields or plant the crops with so many villagers gone? I glared at the tiny pile in the fireplace, gripping the flint until it cut my hand. The wood smoked then burst into flame. I rocked back from my squat and sat hard on the floor, staring. The flame began to die down and I scrambled to my feet to feed the tiny fire twigs, then sticks, then wood. I piled the wood on, uncaring if I set the house on fire or not. Mother would be warm, at least tonight. I set the kettle on the hob and put the pot on the hook, filled it with water and the jerky and vegetables I’d already prepared. I put two pinches of salt in the pot, unconcerned with where more salt would come from.

Another pot went next to the fire and I filled it with water to warm. Clean water to wipe mother’s face and hands. As I tended her, I finally allowed myself to think about the fire. The mage yesterday took one look at me and passed me by even as the soldiers were dragging my brothers and sisters out of the house. Mother cried out from her sick bed and it broke my heart. There was nothing she could do. She didn’t have any more magic than I did. But, I did have magic. I started a fire!

How had I done it? I just remembered feeling angry. So angry. Rage, that’s what it was. Rage against the king and his stupid war. Rage against the mage and the soldiers. Rage against my mother’s sickness. The water in the bowl I was dipping the rag into began to boil. I dropped the rag into the water and blinked. The water calmed but was hot.

I put the bowl on the table and wrapped my arms around myself. I’d never been so angry before in my life. I did have magic but just a little. I used both hands to wipe the tears from my eyes. So little magic I was of no use to the King but here, well, here I was of use. I wondered how many of the other villagers had tiny sparks of magic?

The next morning I went door to door and asked the remaining people. They shook their heads but I could see in their eyes that they were going to try. The priest, so old that the mage and the soldiers left him behind even though he did have magic, patted me on the shoulder.

“Child. Be careful. Don’t let that rage take over just for a bit of magic.”

He was a fool. All I had left was rage. Hadn’t the King’s men dragged off more than three quarters of our village? “Who will do the plowing and planting, priest? Me? I’m twelve. Mother is sick. The rest of the village is in the same shape I am. Too young, too old, too sick. We’ll starve.”

His eyes filled with tears as he nodded. “True, child. But rage will burn you up.”

“Maybe.” I turned and left.

Mother died not long after I found my rage. It was a hard year. I grew hard with it. We worked together, we survivors. We plowed and planted. We learned to hunt and forage. Winter killed many of us but at the next spring we that remained were stronger. I was leader, even though I was only just come into my womanhood. We gathered wood, nurtured our tiny magics, made plans.

The King lost his war. The new King’s soldiers came through and saw the pitiful remnant we were and went away. We grew stronger. We had children. We made contacts throughout the land with others like us. We hid our tiny magics until it was time. Then we attacked. The mages first, then the new king and his lords. It didn’t take long. They underestimated us. We had no great magic.

I was named Leader, I refused to be called Queen. Many wanted to kill everyone with magic. I said no. Would we kill ourselves? I set the cleverest of us to creating weapons that needed no magic. We would be ready when and if the time came, magic or not.

 

Thank You!

981 Words

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Brigands in the Woods: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Box by Connie Cockrell

Lord Belsing closed his book as he heard his coachmen yelling, “Whoa!” What was this? It was still half a day to Lord Releh’s castle. He heard the Captain of the Guard shouting orders. Belsing pulled the curtains and stuck his head out of the carriage window

He saw guards lined up on either side of the carriage, six more were ranked across the road in front of the carriage horses, Captain Udon in the front. Beyond him were masked men, highway men from the look of them.

“Give us your gold,” the lead highwayman said. “No one will be harmed.”

Captain Udon’s horse danced, the Captain brought the horse back into line without effort. “Be off with you, brigand. You’ll get no gold from us.” He moved his hand to his sword hilt.

The brigand eyed the Captain then the carriage. “Those are Lord Belsing’s colors, Captain. He has enough to share. We’ll spare you, your men and the lord if you accede to our demands.”

“Fancy talk for a thief,” the Captain snarled. “Ready!” he called.

The guards drew their swords. The guard beside Lord Belsing’s window said, “Better get inside, my lord.”

Belsing thought not. He was on his way to propose to Lady Nyesta Releh and wanted this business done and without bloodshed. He was about to get out of the carriage when he heard rustling. He looked into the woods. There, men came out from behind tree trunks and boulders, all ready to fire their bows. They outnumbered the guard five to one. He opened the carriage door and descended.

“Gentlemen,” he called.

Captain Udon didn’t turn around. “Please return to the carriage, My Lord. I’ll deal with this scum.

Belsing strode to the Captain and addressed the brigand. “Sir. Would three purses of gold satisfy you?”

The brigand laughed. “I can see the chests in your supply wagon. You carry more than three purses of gold.”

Belsing sighed. He didn’t want to treat with this man at all. “May I have your name, Sir, since you so clearly know mine.”

The brigand gave a jaunty salute. “Iristan, My Lord. Prince of the woodlands.”

“I’ve heard of you, Prince Iristan. You’re causing a great deal of trouble on the roads.”

Iristan bowed. “Thank you, My Lord. Now, if we could have at your supply wagon.”

Captain Udon drew his sword. “Hold, ruffian. Or you will meet my sword.”

Iristan laughed. He flicked his hand. A circle of arrows hit the ground encircling the Captain’s horse.

Belsing jumped as three of the arrows whizzed past him.

Iristan patted his horse on the neck to sooth it. “You are surrounded and outnumbered. There is no need for you or your men to die today.”

Belsing raised his hand. “Hold Captain. Let us walk back to the supply wagon with Prince Iristan.”

“My Lord!” The Captain began.

“Come, Prince.” Belsing waved to the brigand. “Let us complete this business and we’ll be on our way.”

“By your leave, My Lord.”

Belsing marched back to the wagon and stopped next to the driver. Iristan rode behind him and the Captain followed as half of Iristan’s men came out of the woods to the road. “There,” Belsing said. “The chests of gold are marked. Please leave the rest.”

Iristan made a small gesture and his men came forward. Two men jumped up into the open wagon and hauled the small chests to the back and handed them down to their fellows. “Take just four,” Iristan called to his men. “After all, Lord Belsing must pay his way on his journey.”

Belsing was relieved at that. While he was a Lord, gold didn’t grow on trees and he didn’t have much compared to the other Lords. Udon grumbled under his breath.

Iristan rode up to the wagon and looking in. He picked up a highly-polished box, hinges, clasps and corners capped with fine brass and inlayed with mother of pearl in a swirling leaf design. “This, I’ll keep for myself.”

“No!” Belsing leapt forward. “You cannot have that.”

Iristan wheeled his horse around, box still in his hand. “Why not?”

Belsing swallowed to calm himself. “That is a gift for Lady Releh. A…a proposal gift.”

Iristan laughed. “Men! Lord Belsing is going to propose!” They all laughed. He looked back to Belsing. “What’s in the box?”

Beside him, Belsing could see Captain Udon’s sword rise. “Please. It’s a very rare tea. Grown in China. I’ve had men gone for two years to bring it to me for this gift.”

“A great treasure then.” Iristan put the box in his lap. “What say you, men? Should we give the Lord his tea back?”

Some good naturedly shouted yes, some no. Belsing’s stomach clenched. The Lady was known to love tea. He wanted the box back. “Man-to-man, Prince, return the Lady’s gift.”

Iristan looked around him. Belsing could see his eyes dancing with merriment. “It would be cruel to send the Lord to his proposal with no gift.” Iristan handed the box to Belsing. “Take it and good fortune.”

Before Belsing could respond, Iristan whistled. His men scurried into the woods on all sides and disappeared as Iristan and his mounted riders galloped away, down the road Belsing had just traveled.

Captain Udon shouted, “About! Follow those men!”

“No!” Belsing called. “We proceed to Lord Releh’s castle.”

“My Lord!” Udon pleaded.

“It’s a waste of time. The men on horseback will have already melted into the forest with the rest of the men. You’ll not find them.”

“We need to clear the King’s Way of this rabble.”

“We do.” Belsing sighed and walked to his carriage door. “But not today. Let’s go.”

With poor grace the Captain called his men into marching order and the carriage moved on. Belsing stroked the smooth surface of the box, tracing the mother of pearl. Yes. We’ll catch up with the Prince of the Forest. But first, I’ll propose to Lady Nyesta.

 

Thank You!

998 Words

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Spring is Coming: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Lake Thaw, Sacandaga Lake, Fulton County, NY by Randy Cockrell

Free from my nurse and my Lord mother’s demand to learn needle work, I hurried to my room and changed into riding gear. In the stables, I saddled Dawn, my uhlans, as the stable master eyed me.

“And where are you going?”

“Hunting.”

His eyebrow rose. “Spring is coming. Who are you going with?”

“No one. I want to get out of the castle and breathe the cold air.”

He watched as I fastened my bow to the saddle and my spear. “A lot of gear for a ride.”

I wagged my eyebrows back at him. “You never know what you’ll run into.”

“Hmm,” was his response. “I’ll send Ben with you.”

Ben was his son. He was a good companion. “Sure. Where is he?”

The stable master whistled and Ben hurried through the stable door. “Papa?”

“Saddle up and go with Lady Zung.”

Ben gave me a quick wink as he hurried to saddle his mount. I noticed he packed weapons as well. The same age, fourteen, we learned to hunt together and I was glad to have him along.

We rode out. His father called out behind us. “Be careful. The ice is melting.”

I waved and kicked Dawn into a cantor as we reached the gate.

Two hours later we were at the lake. I knew that the wisent herded on the other side. I guided Dawn down the bank.

“Don’t, Yunki. We don’t know if the ice will hold.”

I sniffed. “It’s too early for the lake to melt.” I kept moving down the bank.

“Lady Zung!” His tone was sharp and he only called me Lady Zung when the adults were around or I was being particularly dense.

I sighed and turned in the saddle. “The melt has only just started, Ben. The ice is going to be four feet thick.”

“Do you know where they cut last?”

I had to stop and think. Where was the last place the men had cut ice? I shrugged. “Don’t know. It’ll be obvious.”

Ben shook his head. “Better not. I know you’re after a wisent. But let’s just hunt for a gulate instead. There are bound to be beds around here. Look,” he pointed at the lake edge. “You can see a thin line of water.”

He was right but I really wanted a wisent before their thick winter pelt started to shed. “Then you hunt for gulate. Summer will last three years. I’m going for a wisent.” I kicked Dawn in the ribs and dashed down the bank and onto the lake. I ignored the faint cracking of ice as I guided her straight across. I could hear Ben behind me and I grinned.

Dawn’s large feet were secure on the ice but I didn’t push her. No sense risking a slip and having her break a leg. I eyed the lake in front of us. It looked completely safe. As we neared the center, Ben four lengths behind me, I heard the ice crack. A loud snap that made Dawn’s head toss.

“Stop, Yunki!”

I tried to get Dawn to back up but more cracking made her dance. Then we were both in the water, the uhlans thrashing all six legs and shoving me into the sharp ice as she tried to climb out.

“Hold on!” Ben was off of his mount and pulling rope from his pack.

“Get Dawn first.”

“Don’t be stupid! She’s made for the cold.”

“So am I.” I argued with him but he was right. Even as cold-adapted as we were, the icy water was having an effect.

He tossed a loop to me and despite Dawn’s struggles, she had her two front legs up on thick ice now, I could grab the rope and pull it over my head and arms. “Ready,” I called.

Ben finished fastening the other end to his saddle and began to back up his uhlans. “Hang on.”

I kicked hard, trying to generate some lift but my fur boots and leggings were already soggy. The edge jabbed into my chest. I could feel the force break a rib and I cried out in pain.

“What?” Ben called.

“Nothing. Keep pulling.” I gasped and did my best to slide up the edge with a wave Dawn caused as she got a third leg up onto the ice.

Dripping, I slid up just as Dawn crawled out of the water. The air caused icicles to form as the water dripped from her. She shook, sending a spray of water over me and Ben as he hurried to me.

“Let’s get you back to shore.” He helped me to my feet. As I grabbed my rib cage he brought Dawn over. “I should build a fire.”

“I’m fine. Let’s just head home.”

“In wet furs?” He looked at me as though the top of my head had just fallen off.

I started to shiver. The water had gotten to my skin. Ice was forming on my coat. My boots were already solid ice. “It’s only two hours.”

“You’ll be dead and then your Lord father will kill me. Don’t be stupid.”

In the end, I gave in and probably as well. Ben left me at a huge fire, Dawn standing as close to it as she could, and rode home for dry clothes. My oldest brother came back with him. He laughed as he dismounted. “So, little sister. Spring is coming.”

I just rolled my eyes.

 

 

 

 

Thank You!

909 Words

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A Flattering Lizard: Flash Fiction Friday Post

little_lizards_by_fauxhead-d8mplla-cropped

http://www.deviantart.com/art/Little-Lizards-521875342 by Fauxhead

 

“You seem nice.”

Michella’s eyes flew open and her head whipped around to where the voice came from her right. How could she be so stupid! She was supposed to be watching the sheep but the gentle sun and warm breeze caused her head to nod.

At first, she saw nothing, then, at a slight motion, her gaze dropped to a nearby rock. There, a green and gold lizard sat, it’s tongue flicking in and out as it’s black eyes studied her.

“Oh,” she breathed a sigh of relief. “A lizard.”

The lizard hissed. “I’m a dragon.” It flared the ruff around its face and raised its tiny wings, making the lizard seem larger and fiercer.

“I beg your pardon, dragon.” She turned to face the creature. “I’m Michella.”

“Forgiven.” The dragon nodded its head, ruff and wings dropping. “I’m Jynryn, future dragon queen. You come up here every day.”

“I watch the sheep. Papa would be very cross if he knew I’d fallen asleep. Bandits could have come, or a wolf.”

The dragon’s tail whipped back and forth. “There is a band of bandits not far from here. You are wise to be cautious.”

The news made the hairs on her arms stand up. “Where are they?”

“In the hills above us. I spy on them, just for practice, you know.” The dragon bobbed her head. “They know you come up here.”

That did nothing to ease her fear. “I should leave.” She jumped up from the soft meadow grass and with her staff, began herding the sheep down the hill.

“Wait!” Jynryn flew beside her. “I can help you rid the hills of these bandits.”

Michella stopped. “How.”

Jynryn told her. Michella nodded. “I’ll tell my papa.”

Two days later, Michella led her father and a group of the lord’s soldiers to the meadow. There, she picked up Jynryn, put the dragon on her shoulder under her hood, and in a whisper Jynryn led the group to the cave where the bandits hid. There was a battle, of course, the bandits had seen the soldiers coming. Michella with Jynryn hid behind some rocks. The soldiers won and all the way back to the village, praised Michella for leading them to the cave and ridding the area of such bad men.

The next day Michella was back with the sheep. Jynryn flew to a nearby rock. “So you are a hero now?”

Michella shrugged. “I suppose, though all the credit is yours. How can I repay you?”

“Keep my secret. I won’t always be tiny. I will claim the bandit cave for my own. Visit me.”

“I can do that.” It will be fun to have a secret dragon, she thought. “Nothing else?”

Jynryn, chuckled. “Nothing for now. But someday we will do great things.”

Michella smiled. It was a good dream for a simple shepherd girl. “Of course, Jynryn. We will.”

 

Thank You!

483 Words

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Black Dog: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Black Dog

Black Dog

The pounding rain nearly drowned out the sound. Milla stopped, rain splashing up her stockinged legs, listening. A tiny sound coming from the alley. She went in and heard it again, coming from a pile of cardboard boxes. There, huddled, wet and shivering, a puppy. Milla didn’t stop to think. She scooped up the bundle of wet fur, tucked it inside her rain coat and hurried home.

Dry, warm and fed, the black puppy with white markings slept in a box in a blanket nest. A mutt, maybe some black lab, maybe some collie, Milla raised the dog, now named, Mave, and trained her well. The only thing Milla couldn’t do was break Mave of growling at people. Not everyone, it seemed, but it was a detail that Milla didn’t like. There was no way to tell why Mave growled at some people and not others.

Two years later, Milla was walking Mave in the nearby park. She was enjoying the soft spring evening when she was knocked off of the path, the leash flying from her hand. A man, full-faced knit cap over his head, was on top of her, fumbling at her clothes. She screamed and from the left, she saw all seventy-five pounds of Mave leap onto the man, teeth at his throat and growling in a way that made Milla’s blood run cold. The man rolled off her, fighting Mave and now screaming in fear himself.

Heart racing, Milla stood up and grabbed Mave’s leash, pulling the dog from the man. Two uniformed bicycle officers rode up and took the man into custody. Shaking, Milla told the officer what happened and left her contact information. Mave stared at the attacker until the police took him away, shouting, “Keep that dog away from me!”

At home, Milla gave Mave an extra treat. “Good girl.” She gave the dog a hug. “What a good girl you are.”

The next day a police officer visited Milla to ask follow-up questions. “Your attacker said your dog’s eyes were glowing red.”

Milla laughed. She looked at the dog at the officer’s feet, on her back, tail wagging, looking for a belly rub. “I’ve never seen her eyes glow red. I think the guy is just trying to get out of confessing that he attacked me.”

The officer closed his notebook and gave Mave a belly rug. “Most likely. The dog hardly seems capable of attacking anyone.”

“I found her as a very young puppy. She’s protective but I’ve never seen her attack anything.”

The officer stood up. “There are no complaints against your dog on file so I don’t think there will be any more trouble.”

Milla walked the officer to the door. “I appreciate that Officer. Have a good day.”

“You too, Ms. Parker.”

She talked to a dog expert. “She’s protective of you. Dogs can sense things we can’t. It looks like Mave thinks some people are a threat.”

Milla stroked Mave’s big lab head. “I can’t have her growling at random people. Someone is going to call the dog catcher on us.”

The expert nodded. “Keep an eye on who she growls at. You may be able to see a pattern.”

That didn’t seem helpful but on their walks, Milla took notice of who Mave growled at. There didn’t seem to be a pattern. Men, women, children, all ages, all social strata, were all growled at. Milla did teach Mave to growl softer, so only she could hear. But it made her nervous that her beloved pet might attack someone.

One Halloween, she was giving candy out at the apartment door. The usually friendly Mave snarled, her hackles up, at a parent.

“Keep that mutt under control or I’m calling the cops.”

Milla closed the door to just a small opening. “My apologies. I don’t know why she does that.” She closed the door and looked through the peephole. She saw the man cuff the boy with him so that the boy crashed into the wall. Grabbing her phone, she called the police. Throwing on her coat and putting Mave on a leash, she followed the man and boy, now crying.

“I have a man, abusing a boy,” she told the dispatcher. “I’m following them.”

Despite pleas from the dispatcher, Milla followed, Mave growling deep in her chest. Milla provided her location at every corner. She saw the man pinch the boy, slap him, and once, knock him to the sidewalk. “Clumsy brat.” He hauled the boy up by the arm and dragged him to the corner.

A few feet back, Milla could hear the man verbally abusing the boy, crying uncontrollably. Mave strained at the leash. “Hurry,” Milla whispered into the phone. “I think the man is going to really hurt that child.”

It was too late. Milla watched in horror as the man said, “I’m sick of you,” and slapped the boy on the back. Mave launched at the man as Milla grabbed for the child. She snatched the boy out of the path of a taxi as Mave latched onto the man’s arm. She saw him spin, Mave still biting his arm, flying through the air. Bystanders screamed. The man punched Mave and slammed her into the side of the nearest building. Milla screamed, “No!” Police charged up. Mave dropped her attack as soon as the police arrived.

Holding his arm, the man pointed at Mave. “That dog attacked me! I want that dog put down.”

Milla’s stomach rolled as she cradled the boy, still sobbing. “No! She was defending the boy.”

The police officers questioned each person. Child services took the boy. Milla turned over her phone. She’d taken pictures of the man hitting the child. She never mentioned Mave’s red eyes. It took some time but both Milla and Mave were released. She gave Mave a big hug and an extra treat. “I’ll have to pay more attention, girl, won’t I?”

Mave gave her a lick and wagged her tail.

 

 

Thank You!

993 Words

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Waterfall: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Waterfall

Waterfall

Cora ran from the house, her father’s drunken rage following her with the sounds of furniture and crockery smashing. As she ran through the forest, her father’s curses faded until, gasping for breath, the only sounds were the wind in the trees and the birds and insects. She dropped to the leaf-littered forest floor and rested, arms on her knees and her forehead on her arms. Why does he do it? Raging when he comes home from the village pub only to apologize the next morning and set to work repairing whatever he’d broken. It made no sense to her.

She flopped back to stare up through the leaves of the oak providing her a dappled shade. It was a beautiful day out here in the forest. Why couldn’t she stay out here? Away from her father. Away from the drudgery. That reminded her she’d left the washtub full of Anna Reed’s washing in the back yard. Cora sighed. Anna was the new priest’s wife, dainty and of ill-health. It was easy washing, the priest and his wife didn’t do hard work so their clothing was practically clean already and the coins the wash brought in helped keep Cora and her father in food and supplies for the winter. That is when papa didn’t give it to the pub-keeper.

Another sigh escaped. By the time she got back, papa would be collapsed across his pallet, sound asleep. She could finish the wash then clean up the mess in the house. But she didn’t move. Cora stared up at the clouds, drifting across the blue sky. She could feel herself relaxing, her mind drifting as her body felt as though it were becoming one with the earth.

“Miss, don’t do that.”

Cora jerked, her mind snapping back. She sat up. A small girl stood a few feet away, staring at her. But no, not a girl, a very small woman, dressed in shades of green, her staff hardly a foot high. “Why not?”

The woman shrugged. “Well, I suppose you can if you want to, but you’d get pulled into the earth spirit realm.”

“Is that bad?”

“You wouldn’t be able to come back.”

Cora nodded. “It seemed peaceful.”

The woman took a few steps toward Cora. “It is, for humans. At least at first. Then unless you really are looking for peace, it is too slow, confining. A human spirit doesn’t usually have the temperament for being an earth spirit.”

“Oh. No, I expect not. We do like to move around. I’m Cora.”

“Nice to meet you, Cora. I’m Lavendar. Fairy.”

A fairy! “I’ve heard stories about fairies.”

“Good ones I hope.”

“Yes, though mischievous, too. But mostly nice.”

“You were feeling sad. Angry, too. I could sense you from a long distance. Is that why you were moving into the earth?”

“I was angry, and sad. But I wasn’t thinking about sinking into the ground. That was just happening. I just didn’t want to go home.”

“Why not?” Lavendar sat down beside Cora.

Cora told the fairy about her father. “So you see, I don’t know what to do about it.”

“That would be a problem.” The fairy tapped her fingers on one of the fallen oak leaves, then jumped up. “Follow me. I have an idea.”

Cora nodded and followed the fairy for several miles until they entered a small glade. A pool was at the center, the water’s surface still and reflecting the woods around it. On the north edge a small waterfall, only about three feet high, poured water into the pool. A stream on the southwest side let the water out with hardly a sound. She looked into the pool. The water was so clear she could see the sandy bottom and tiny fish swimming. “It’s lovely.”

“One of my favorite spots. But it’s the waterfall that I brought you to see.” She led Cora to the falls where a flat stone stuck up out of the water at the edge of the pool. The fairy stepped onto the rock and she motioned for Cora to do the same.

“The water as it falls is magic. Once a year you may come and cup your hands and drink from the falls. As you drink, make a wish or visualize a dream, and it will come true.”

“Oh, my.” Cora stared at the water flowing from the ledge to the pool. It was mesmerizing as the water caught the sunlight and sparkled. “What should I wish for?”

“Whatever you want. But take care. Think about the consequences of your wish.”

Cora thought about her father, reeking of ale, face distorted into something horrific, smashing the bowls and chairs. Her stomach knotted with the remembered fear. “I can make a wish now?”

Lavendar nodded. “It will be this year’s wish. You’ll get no other until next year.”

“Fair enough.” Cora held out her cupped hands and in a moment, they were full of water. She drank, her eyes closed.

“What did you wish for?”

Cora stepped back onto the bank. “For my father not to be a drunkard.”

Lavendar nodded and led Cora back to her hut marking the way so Cora could return. “Farewell, Cora,” the fairy said at the hut. “Take care.”

“I will.” Cora went into the hut.

A year later, Lavendar met Cora at the pool. “How did your wish turn out.”

Cora burst into tears. “Papa died over the winter.”

“What happened?”

“Without the drink, Papa just got sadder and sadder. One night he went out and didn’t come back. The woodcutter found him in the forest, frozen to death.”

“I am so sorry, Cora.” The fairy hugged the girl.

“The priest told me papa came to him. Papa drank to forget. Without it, the guilt of losing Mama was too much. It’s all my fault Papa is dead. Now I have no parents. You were right. I didn’t know the consequences.”

“We never do.”

 

 

Thank You!

993 Words

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Ego and Punishement: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Skeleton Keys by Livefast_x via DeviantArt.com

Skeleton Keys by Livefast_x via DeviantArt.com

This is based on a Chuck Wendig prompt. FLAMBOYANT ELF DRUID FROM THE FREELANDS WHO IS QUICK TO TAKE CREDIT AND ASSIGN BLAME. Let’s see what I can do in 1000 words or less.

Picture: Skeleton Keys by Livefast_x via www.deviantart.com http://www.deviantart.com/art/Skeleton-Keys-130788426

Elanda pulled her cornflower-blue robe around her against the cold winter night. It had been too hot and smoky in the pub for her, especially filled with the stench of dwarf and man. The robe sparkled in the quarter moon’s light, enough to mark her as elf to any passer-by. Not an easy target.

She headed to her room. It was obvious no messenger would reach her this night. She’d watched the guards lock the city gates hours ago after she’d sat there all day waiting, watching the endless line of humans, dwarves and the occasional elf, pay their duty and enter. A complete waste of her time. The pub’s wine and stew sat heavy on her stomach. Not the fine food and drink of her queen’s castle, certainly. Elanda wished briefly to be back with the Queen, her twice removed aunt, but shoved the thought away.

That double damned Marowal had goaded her until she’d lost her temper and the Queen sent her on this mission. She pulled a glamor over herself to further discourage any would be thieves. The tall elf with black hair braided down his back had deliberately angered her. There was nothing she could do about it now, but wait until she returned. Thoughts of revenge filled her mind as she entered the miserable inn. The owner never woke as she passed. In her room she barred the door and the window and set a fire in the tiny stove. It was enough to take the chill out of the air, at least. Not much else could be said for the room, barely wide enough to hold the cot she’d sleep in.

An elf sat on the bed. She started, why hadn’t she seen him? It was Marowal.

“Milady Elanda.”

“Marowal.” Her tone with the young prince was cold. “I waited all day.”

He stood and stepped to the stove, holding his hands above it for the little heat it generated. “I was delayed.”

“I waited at the gate all day.” She swished the skirt of her robe in frustration. “Drinking wine near to spoiling and eating the human’s dried out fruit. Where were you?”

He smiled. A grin that made her want to slap him. “As I said, delayed.”

“Did you find the key?” Would the prince never get to the point?

“I did. And information. I’ll need your help.”

“I was sent to get the key. Nothing else.” Elanda held out her hand.

Marowal shook his head. “It won’t be that easy. The key is worthless. Unless we also get the chest it unlocks.”

“The queen sent me for the key. Just that.” She tucked her hands into the sleeves of her robe. It was obvious the prince would not give her the key.

“We’ll ride to Timate and get the chest.”

“Timate! That’s five days west.”

“We’ll leave at first light.”

#

Elanda was on horseback, gloves doing little to keep her fingers warm, an hour before the winter sun rose over the city walls. Marowal had paid the night guard who’d let them out early and they were on their way. Elven horses went fast and silent and the pair covered many miles by the end of the day. They camped in the woods. Marowal brought back a rabbit as Elanda started a fire. She grumbled as she cleaned the rabbit and set it on the spit. “I had no plan to winter camp, Marowal.”

“I beg your pardon.” He bowed from his lounge on his sleeping bag. “You wouldn’t want to go back to the queen with just half the prize, would you?”

“I don’t have the key. You do. I can’t go back at all.” She detested the smirk on his face.

“We’ll go back together, then. Victorious.”

For a cousin he was less than helpful or friendly. “Why drag me along?”

“You’ll see.”

She fumed but there was little she could do about it.

#

They arrived at Timate mid-day and entered the city. He dragged her back and forth across the town, talking to men and dwarves in whispers. At nightfall, she’d had enough. “What are we doing?”

He pointed at the clock tower in the town square. “you’ll enter the tower, climb to the top, and at the stroke of nine, create a flash in the window. That’s a signal to the owner of the chest to go to a stable at the edge of town. I’ll pay him for the chest and we’ll be away through the gate before the soldiers close it for the night.”

“You trust this owner?”

Marowal shrugged. “We’ll see.”

She was in the window right on time. Fury flowed through her at the childish cloak and dagger antics of the prince. The bell, when it struck, was painful but she made the flash, child’s play, really, then hurried back down the tower to the stable where this mysterious chest would be delivered.

Once there, Marowal was nowhere to be found. She created a finding, but the magic didn’t find him.

She spent months combing the countryside in search until giving up, she went back to the queen.

The court was in full attendance when she was presented, no chance to rest or bathe. She stopped halfway across the hall and gasped. Marowal was sitting at his mother’s feet playing with a kitten. Rage propelled her across the floor. Her bow was perfunctory.

“Majesty. I beg forgiveness for my delay. I’ve been searching for the Prince.” She glared at him, getting a grin in return.

“I do understand, Elanda. But as you can see, he’s returned.”

Elanda could hear twitters of laughter behind her. She bowed her head. “Of course, Majesty. I hope you obtained the key.”

“Oh yes,” the Queen pulled it from her dress, as a necklace. “It makes a nice ornament, doesn’t it?”

She blushed as the court laughed. A punishment, she realized, at her expense. Let them laugh. She smiled at Marowal. He’d get his in time.

 

Thank You!

1000 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Found: Key, Part X of X – Friday Flash Fiction Post

 

Skeleton Keys by Livefast_x via DeviantArt.com

Skeleton Keys by Livefast_x via DeviantArt.com

Part X of X http://www.deviantart.com/art/Skeleton-Keys-130788426 by LiveFast-x

NOTE: This final installment is a little longer than the usual flash piece. Enjoy.”

 

Ying opened the door to the antique shop. “You’ll love this place.”

“I already love it. It’s where I met you!” Jason kissed her cheek as he entered.

Inside, Eleanor was at the counter cashoug out a customer. She nodded at Ying, acknowledging her presence. In the background, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata played. It was a little heavy for Ying’s taste but played as softly as it was, it made for a relaxing stroll around the store. Ying inhaled the scent of lemon polish and bees was, detectable but not overwhelming. It provided her a feeling of quiet and comfort.

Jason stopped inside the door and looked around. Ying couldn’t help noticing, even with her annoyance at being manipulated, how nice he looked in his Dockers and polo shirt.

“I can see why you like it here. Lovely things surround you.” He turned and smiled. “Have you bought anything yet?”

“Not yet.” She threaded her arm through his, the one with the watch, and led him to the Chinese screen she’d noticed on her first visit. “What do you think?”

“It’s gorgeous! What are you waiting for?”

Ying shrugged. “It’s kind of pricey.”

“Nonsense. You should get it. It’s perfect.” He dropped her arm and stepped to the screen to examine it.”

Eleanor joined Ying. “Hello.”

“Eleanor. You’ve met Jason.”

Jason stepped away from the screen and held out his right hand, the watch clearly visible on his bare wrist. “Nice to meet you under better circumstances.”

“Yes. It is.” She glanced at his watch. “What a lovely watch.”

He pulled his hand back, left hand covering the watch. “Thank you. A family heirloom.”

Eleanor exchanged glances with Ying. “Would you mind if I looked at it? Professional interest, you know.”

Ying thought he looked uncomfortable. He spun the watch around his wrist several times. She was waiting for the rush of warmth but it never came. Jason was looking at Eleanor, who suddenly looked confused.

“Eleanor?” Ying put her hand on her friend’s arm.

Eleanor gave herself a little shake and smiled at Jason. “I won’t damage it, I promise.”

It was Jason’s turn to look confused. He glanced at the watch.

“Go ahead, Jason. She’s an expert.”

His eyes met hers, then back to Eleanor’s. “Umm, I suppose.” His reluctance to unclasp the ltach and hand the watch to Eleanor was obvious in his slow movements. Jason lay the watch in Eleanor’s outstretched palm.

Eleanor hefted the watch. “Gold, I presume?”

Jason nodded. “It was my great-great-great-grandfather’s.”

“The style is certainly old. Let me get my lupe.” Eleanor turned and strode to the counter.

Ying watched Jason dart after Eleanor as though she were stealing the watch. That was inconclusive proof that the watch was magic. He would do the same if it were simply what he claimed. She followed them to the counter.

Eleanor had laid the watch out on a square of black velvet. Jason’s hands hovered at the edge of the cloth. Ying had to admit it was a handsome watch. The face, also gold, had gold hands elaborately pointed and engraved. The face had what looked like diamons at 12, 3, 6 and 9 with the following numbers in ruby and the last four numbers in emeralds. Mystic symbols were engraved on the face. The antique dealer fixed her lupe to her eye and without touching it, examined the watch closely. She already had her book of artifacts open on the counter beside the watch.

“It’s a beautiful piece, late 1800’s? It must have cost a great deal. Watches for men were only just coming into style.”

Jason nodded. “No one ever said how much it cost.” His voice was tight – as though having the watch on the counter was painful.

Ying put her arm around his waist. “A wondful keepsake, Jason.”

“Hmm,” was his response. He watched Eleanor flip through her book.

“I don’t see anything like it.” She took the lupe from her eye. “It must have been custom made.”

Ying watched Jason stiffen as Eleanor flipped the watch face down. She studied the back. “a lovely sentiment is engraved on the back. ‘To my darling Husband, Love and Long Life, Mary’” She looked up. The elaborate script is right for the time frame. “Your three greats grand-mother? What was her maiden name?”

He sighed. “Mary Whitten. It was her wedding gift to him.”

Eleanor pulled another book from the shelf and began flipping pages. “Ah, here she is. An accomplished woman, your grand-mother.”

Jason picked up the watch and put it back on. “Yes, she was, in her day.”

Eleanor looked him in the eye. “You know she was considered a great Spiritualist?”

“All table knocking non-sense, of couse.”

Her eyebrow rose. “You think so?”

Ying noticed Jason begin to fidget.

“Nice to have met you again, Eleanor. Ying, I have a meeting back at the office.” He twisted his watch.

As the warm glow came over her, Ying clasped the key. The nausea and the glow fought for a moment, then they both disappeared. “I know the watch is magical, Jason.

He stopped and turned back to her. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that I know the watch has magic. You twist it on your arm whenever we meet or when you want me to do something. A few minutes ago you tried to use it on Eleanor.” Ying raised an eyebrow at Eleanor. “I’m not sure why it didn’t work on you.”

“We’re trained to resist magic used on us.” She shrugged at Jason. “Your watch’s magic isn’t very powerful against trained people.”

Jason stared at both Eleanor and Ying. “You’re magicians?”

Ying shook her head. “No. but I carry a powerful artifact. I could feel it every time you used the watch.” She saw his face fall. “It wasn’t necessary, you know. You’re charming, funny, smart, I’d have gone out with you without the manipulations.”

Jason closed his eyes and sighed. “I thought so but you’re so high-powered, I didn’t think you’d take the time.” His eyes focused on the key around her neck. “You have an artifact? A magical piece?”

Her hand crept up to the key. “Yes. I found it. Or it found me. It’s good with business.”

“Wow.”

The two stood staring at each other. Ying was certain he would break up with her and she realized she wanted him to stay.

Eleanor cleared her throat. “I think, if I may be so bold, that the watch is making it possible for you two to be together.”

It was Ying’s turn to be puzzled. “How so?”

“Just a guess, really.” Eleanor glanced at Jason. “No other documented owner has had a family. So something has changed.” She made a pointed look at zjason’s watch. “The watch has to be the difference.”

Ying reached out and stroked Jason’s watch. It was warm to the touch, nothing at all like touching metal. She smiled at him as the familiar warm glow washed through her. “I think this could work.”

 

Thank You!

 

End Part X of X: 1186 Words

 

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