Hey everyone! First, let me say thank you to all the words of support last week. My dad had a heart attack the Sunday before last and it was pretty terrifying. But he's recovering now, and he's getting the help he needs. Still, we're all on edge because my dad is the kind of guy who's going to do what he wants whether the doctor tells him to chill out or not. So, basically, we (us kids) are all taking shifts babysitting with my mom. LOL. At least the Tiger/Sox games are keeping him busy, because the man refuses to miss his baseball. *shaking my head* So, again, thank you so much for the kinds words. I appreciated them all.
And... On with the flash fiction! We're back this week with a new prompt, courtesy of the fabulous Elaina M. Roberts. Just a head's up before we begin: Winter will be posting her installment on Sunday. Check back with her blog then. Okay, the new prompt, as I was saying, deals with the great Edgar Allen Poe and his piece The Raven.
Edgar Allen Poe – Read the poem The Raven. Use at least one line from the poem in your chapter/story. Dialogue is okay, but narrative is even better. You can read the poem online here -http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-raven-14/ <<< For those of you who have never read it, go ahead and take a peek.
I chose to spin the lines:
"And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the
The usual rules apply: stick within a 2K word count every week, use the prompt given and bend it into submission. I hope you all like this week’s installment of The Great Mage. Visit the other bloggers and see what they’re up to this week. Love you guys so much and GO TIGERS!!! LOL I had to sneak that in there somewhere. *Hugs*
The Great Mage: Week 13
Upon further inspection of the small dove, Aneris’s initial impression of its innocence melted away. There was something frightening about the way the creature cocked its head, gazing up at him as if trying to see inside his mind. And his eyes had all the seeming of a demon's that was dreaming. And the lamplight streaming over him threw his shadow on the floor. It was wrong, the way his shadow wasn’t crisp against the straw covered floor, instead cloudy around the edges, dancing with tendrils of magic like his form could barely be contained. His beady black eyes never left Aneris’s as he said, “Ah, I see you understand now.”
“Not really.” Aneris shifted towards Seth. They watched the dove settle on a mound of straw and shift his gaze to Fia. The horse plastered itself into the stable wall, untrusting of the pintsized fowl. “What the hell are you?”
“He’s one of the Gamemaster’s villainous prisoners.” Seth bopped the bird on the head with a finger. He smiled. “He’s forced to live out his days in two forms. One shall be something of significance to a person he or she wronged, and the other shall represent white magic to mock him for eternity. Clever on the Gamemaster’s part, although, he is a rather clever man.”
Aneris sneered. “And what the hell is he doing here?”
“I’m paying my penance so that I may shift back into my natural form once I’ve done what I’ve been called to do.” The dove’s wings ruffled. He dipped his head with a small huff.
“Let me get this straight, you’re a bad guy who is imprisoned inside of a bird—”
“I’m a dove, thank you very much, and sometimes… a handkerchief. Damn nobles and their love of fabric.” The dove turned around, giving the men his tail. He plopped back into the straw as if done with the conversation.
“Who cares what you are now. Why are you here at all? There’s a war going on and the last thing we need is to deal with another one of the Gamemaster’s mindfucks.” Aneris put his stew on an overturned bucket and leaned against Seth, hoping he would wake up from this ridiculous dream.
“Don’t act as though I want to be here, child.” The dove waddled around his makeshift nest until he faced the men. “You are my key to freedom, what little I shall have in my human body. And I have been promised just that. In return for my knowledge that will help you on your journey into the Black Kingdom. What better tracker than a bird?” Cocking its head once more, the dove waited for an answer, frozen in a mocking pose.
“You’re the tracker the men are waiting on? Have you news of the enemy?” Seth straightened, pushing up to his knees.
“Aye. Unfortunately, I am but a wee little bird. Of no use to you,” he spat in a tiny voice at Aneris. “What could I tell you that you would hear?”
“Because you want your freedom and if I’m correct with the stories I’ve been told, you’re forbidden to tell anyone but your master and who he deems necessary of your identity. And if you betray your master in any way your life is null and void. Am I correct?” Seth grinned at the bird. He chanced a look at his mate. “Heard about a black magic cook once. Stories say she was turned into the cup she used to poison her ladyship and her other form was a cricket. She tried again to defy the Gamemaster by hitching a ride to the Black King to tell him of her woes. The next day she was trampled to death by a horse. Sad really—she could have done great things for our side.”
“A cricket?” Aneris hid his smile. “Things could have been worse for you, I suppose,” he taunted the bird. Puffing out his chest, the dove snapped his beak in warning. “Fine, all right, what news do you have of the enemy?”
“The Shifter Tribe has left for the White King’s castle, should arrive before morning. But I have seen with my own eyes Sylvius means to storm the castle before they come to protect their king. Sylvius’s men are in place in the bordering woods, and his magic grows with every hour he meditates. Come morning, he will have the White King’s head if his Mage is not there to save him. Without the White King’s life breathing into his kingdom these lands will die and all of his people will be subjects of the Black King. Move now and I will guide you there. You have my freedom in your hands. Therefore I will not betray you.”
Aneris squinted at the bird, his mind running a mile a minute. Everything up until this point had been a test. Trusting Seth gave him the gift of love. Seth’s courage against his uncle had gained him faith in the unknown and confidence. Aneris’s sacrifice in the valley earned him a fresh start, another chance at life with a better understanding of what he wanted, and an innocent life had been saved from the fire. Every time he began to doubt their direction on this journey, he was tested.
This time it was backwards; they had been given a gift first and now the test was how to use it. Turn down the bird because of his past, whoever he had wronged, and they would have to lead on their own, running blind into a war. But, if they trusted the bird and what he said was true, he would lead them right to Sylvius and give them a chance to stop the White King’s death. Either way, Aneris still had a long journey ahead of him. The war, his life at stake with the White Lady, getting her love home to her, Seth and what happened after the quests ended, and what to do with these powers if he ever returned home.
There was no harm in taking help for a leg of the journey. If the mysterious Gamemaster entrusted such valuable information with this tiny creature then Aneris would have to trust him too. So far the Gamemaster had never steered him wrong. Following his instincts was the name of the game. And if he did, another life could be saved—many lives could be saved. Who was he to be selfish and say no?
“Seth, tell the Cerebus to make sure the men have everything they need. We leave within the hour and will travel hidden by the night. The bird will guide us where we need to be. Cross me, dove, and I’ll make a cricket look like heaven compared to what I’ll do to you.”
The dove bowed his head. “Spoken like a true Mage.”
All of the knights’ torches had been snuffed out in favor of Fae lanterns that burned softer against the pitch of night. It had been a struggle to get the drunken Sidhe to get off their asses long enough to procure the glowing blue lights, but whatever they’d said to the woods, even drunk as they were, worked like a charm. The blue orbs descended from the trees one by one until hundreds of them bobbed above the army of royal warriors and misfits who had joined the fight.
The untraveled path the dove led them along was tangled with branches and thrown into shadows that were only visible by razor sharp shards of moonlight cast from the treetops. Aneris was thankful whenever a Fae lantern whisked in front of him to show him the way. Otherwise he would have had to use his precious magic and deplete his energy before the fight began. And he would alert the army that waited miles away. He felt the thrum of Sylviu’s magic now. It tingled along his skin, powerful and dark, and Aneris worried his own skills wouldn’t be enough to save them.
He worried for Seth who rode Fia at his side, the Red Knight who had only just begun to believe in himself. He worried for the knights who had come to fetch their new leader, Aneris, and whether they trusted him to make commands or not. He worried for the silent shifter on his right, the black dragon who had a grudge against Sylvius befitting of a demon. The new shifter was a wild card. He didn’t speak much. He didn’t ask questions. But every once in a while he would sniff the air, sensing the dark magic on the horizon, and his eyes would flash red.
Aneris was tired, physically and emotionally so. Only days ago he’d fallen into this mess and learned so much about his self in that short time. But was it really enough to fight Sylvius? Maybe, or maybe he would fail and the magic inside of him, the power that was supposedly as great as the Gamemaster’s, would go to waste before he ever had a chance to know it intimately.
The runes that made up his magic danced inside of him, eager to escape and show the world what he was made of. The rings at his back were warm, like the palms of his hands—the two craved to be reunited for a battle of epic proportions. The only problem remaining was how to make his head and his heart catch up with the infinite magic inside of him he knew to exist.
“You should rest,” the Shifter spoke. His words so faint Aneris thought he’d imagined them until he peered up at the hulking male.
“No rest for the wicked.” Aneris shuffled along, certain he did need to sleep, even after his dead man’s nap. Rest meant recharging his magic and his body. Unfortunately there was nowhere to do so, and he didn’t want to worry Seth by closing his eyes at such a time. Seth would only want to break and care for his mate, as was programmed into his shifter blood.
“One must only ask for help and help they shall receive. You are not alone in this, Great One.” Aneris thought he saw a smile touch the dragon’s lips before the shifter reached out to caress a Fae lantern. The blue orb slid down his fingers, danced around his muscled arm, and then sat on his shoulder, close to his ear. A whispery exchange was made and the orb shot off into the dark.
“What did you just do?” Aneris stopped, halting their traveling party.
Seth brought Fia to a stop and was ready to dismount when the dragon of old raised his palm. “Do you have any water, Red Knight?” Seth nodded. His contemplation moved between Aneris and the mysterious shifter until he felt confident enough to hand the shifter a leather-wrapped pouch from around his neck. “Thank you.”
Aneris sighed. “Seriously, what are you doing?”
“Our journey remains, Dark One,” the dove provided with a hint of shared irritation. He peeked out from between Fia’s perked ears.
“One man’s sacrifice is nature’s treasure. Water is life to all things. A gift.” The dark shifter poured the water from the pouch, dumping it onto the ground to be sucked up by the earth. He held the empty pouch in hand, waiting and watching the woods.
The army shied away from the direction the shifter looked when the first thuds vibrated the forest floor. And when more movement rocked the earth from the other direction, they began to draw their weapons. “No!” The dragon commanded. “Do not attack.”
Seth yanked on Aneris’s arm, forcing him to board Fia in case they needed to run. But the bodies tall as trees that emerged from the forest surrounded them. Skin made of leaves and vines curling about their limbs, the trolls peered down at them all with clear blue eyes.
The dragon bowed, this time he was smiling. “We ask for your help.”
To be continued…