|Image courtesy of OhSudzGifts|
Uh… What the hell is with the picture, Night? Just keep reading.
Hello there! It is nice to be back after a week off from Flash Fiction. I hope you all are doing well and not under the weather like me. Everything is starting to taste like cough syrup—even my coffee. For those of you who have kept up with me in the past, coffee is my life source. Nyquil flavored coffee is nasty in case you were wondering, but I’m sure you weren’t because you’ve already imagined the taste and it disturbed you also. And I would prefer not to smell like mentholated rub, but if it makes me better I guess I can live with it.
And while we’re on the subject of things that disturb us, can we talk about Christmas being shoved down our throats already? Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I’m one of those people who enjoy buying gifts for others, because giving and watching my friends and family open them thrills me to no end. I love setting up the tree—AFTER THANKSGIVING—and baking and being around family I haven’t seen all year. I love the lights and driving around the neighborhoods like a creeper to see how creative my neighbors got this year.
But can I get a little break before the hubbub begins? We have almost two months to go and I already feel like I’m neck deep in decorations at the stores and the silly holiday music has begun over the speakers. I already have four Angel Tree children tags latched onto my refrigerator because I just can’t walk by them without picking them up. I’ve already donated to the boxes going overseas for our ladies and gents in the service. And without even getting any say in the matter, my mom brought over a handmade wreath to kick off the season.
Um… What? Excuse me while I shake off the whiplash. It’s not even near the holiday, the first one, Thanksgiving, and I’m terrified by Black Friday ads, holiday candies for sale, and my family demanding breads from me. I make breads—banana, pumpkin, spice, that sort of thing. It is time consuming. You’re not getting your damn bread until after Thanksgiving, people!
I should note I get this way every year. There are so many things to do and lists just don’t seem to cut it. This is when I get a little harried. My case of the crazies and the constant WTF look on my face shall pass, but until I decide to accept the fact that the holidays have indeed arrived, I will continue to note in amazement that the grandma in line ahead of me does have a shopping cart full of tacky ornaments and tinsel. In the back of my head I will want some just like them. I will probably ask her what aisle she got them from and pretend to ignore the Michael Buble Christmas album blaring from somewhere above me—even though I know every word, and will picture him pulling a Frank Sinatra while waltzing across some glittery snow covered stage.
After buying said ornaments I pretend not notice in my cart, while grunting along to Winter Wonderland, I will go home and create a Pinterest board dedicated to Holiday things and spend hours wasting time repinning bauble nonsense and dessert recipes. When I glance up at the clock it will be well past bedtime, but I’m all the sudden feeling crafty and decide to make that paper mache reindeer for my mantle, giving up valuable beauty sleep to recreate my shitty masterpiece.
It will be around four in the morning before I realize that I’ve fallen into the holiday trap, a trap I fall into every year because it’s kitschy and beautiful and crafty and shiny and presents and sugar and cute boys in wool coats and, okay, I admit snow on Christmas is perfect, and casseroles and… Did I mention cute boys in wool coats?
What I’m trying to say is I have once again fallen into the holiday trap. I’m stuck and I can’t get out. Send me wine and glue sticks. It’s about to crazy over here and I blame the ornament grandma at the checkout for everything. But let me tell you… my tree is gonna fabulous and I found my N’SYNC Christmas album, so it’s all good. For now. In the meantime, enjoy this bit of magic--like a really bad Old Navy commercial. You're welcome.
WARNING: Please excuse my ramblings caused by legitimate flu-like symptoms.
BACK TO FFF:
This week’s prompt centers around character motivation, in particular a tertiary character’s motivation for doing something in this week’s installment. In case you are unfamiliar with what a tertiary character is, it just means the character is less significant than your secondary characters—basically a stock character added for a background joke or a means of connecting two and two together to get across the bridge. They aren’t important. By giving them a significant role, they can be promoted to a secondary character if you choose.
The prompt we were given was:
Motivation – Pick one of the five listed character motivations and create a tertiary character utilizing your choice:
· This character is motivated by self-hatred and feigned love. They are unaware of at least one of these.
· This character is motivated by boredom, curiousity, desire for knowledge and twisted stubbornness.
· This character is motivated by self-hatred, greed and loyalty.
· This character is motivated by twisted suspicion and deep-seated idealism.
· This character is motivated by overpowering desire to prove themself, duty and insanity. They are not entirely aware of all of these.
So I’m going to go against the grain here and use one of the tertiary characters I hadn’t intended to give any real spotlight to. Since he didn’t have a strong place in the story to begin with, I’ll be using the dove, along with:
This character is motivated by overpowering desire to prove themself, duty and insanity. They are not entirely aware of all of these.
As always I hope you are enjoying the story. Leave me comments below and then travel over to the other bloggers to see what they’ve cooked up. Love you all,
~Night (Queen of the Paper Mache Reindeer Clan)
The Great Mage: Week 15
Aneris awoke to the rake of talons on his shoulder and the bob of Powl’s body as he traveled through the thinning trees. Midnight cloaked the forest canopy, the dark blue twinkling with stars from the expanse of sky he was able to see. He groaned. Turning his head towards the dove seated on his bare shoulder.
“Welcome back, Mage. Don’t fear—you haven’t slept long.” The bird cocked his head. Dark eyes flashed with reflections of Fae lanterns that swirled around them. “Would be a good time to wake. I believe you’ll be needed soon.”
Groggy from his comatose sleep, Aneris rubbed his eyes. He looked up at Powl and the troll slowed his gait. “Halt,” the troll whispered and the forest grew still. The horses obeyed. The knights quieted. And Seth turned Fia around on the path to face his mate. Powl continued to cradle Aneris in his arms, the perfect nest for a restful journey. “How do you feel now, Mage?”
Aneris took the question to heart, internally checking over his body. He stretched his fingers, delighted with the shimmer of magic dusting between them. He curled his toes, pleased at the delicious tightening of his leg muscles. His core was strong, stronger than ever, as if he could simply blink and his magic would burst from his skin and crawl through the night, abolishing armies in their path.
He’d gone under fast, sleeping and then dreaming of the most wonderful place he couldn’t quite remember. All Aneris knew was he’d been recharged, had meditated as he’d been told, and he’d never felt better in his life as a result. Grogginess fled and determination unfolded in his heart. He’d been charged with a task since the beginning of his journey, many little things that had led to this night.
Through all of his uncertainty there had been advantages to his overlying strength. He’d challenged himself to the point of leadership, and now he in charge of the people and creatures he’d brought together through a series of tests. Aneris touched Powl’s arm and was carefully put on his feet. The ground was softer here, flatter and the grass squished beneath his boots. They were close now. He sensed it the more he opened his magic to the air around him.
He had no idea what they’d face when they came upon the castle, or what they’d lose trying to save their king. Aneris was no different than any of these beings. They were all scared to a certain degree, no covering that up when he looked out into the shadowy crowd of misfits and the King’s men. But they were together, united as they stood for what was right and good, and if they continued on their brave quest, surely they would be rewarded for their courage as Aneris had been with every quest he’d done so far. He trusted in the Gamemaster. He trusted in these people who had done nothing but help him, with the exception of Killian, the Dark One, and the Shifter hadn’t had a choice at the time.
Aneris nodded to Powl in thanks. He took Seth’s outstretched hand and was hoisted onto Fia’s back, courtesy of his mate’s strength. Seth was his rock during the turbulent storm. He had been there since the beginning. It only seemed natural they enter the circle of darkness descended on the castle together. Seth’s hand encouraged Aneris’s plan, squeezing the Mage’s fingers in agreement.
It was funny to Aneris, the Othersider who had once played this game for fun with the ability to go home afterwards for a night packed with videogames and caffeine. But now that the game had turned real, he had stepped into his role without much of fight, because if he was honest with himself, this was where he’d belonged all along. This was his place, beside Seth leading these beings into the greatest war of their time, not behind a screen pretending to be someone he already was. He was passion. He was courage. He was a lover and a fighter. He’d just never known it until now.
Aneris swept his cape behind him, revealing the thick banded tattoos around his chest and biceps. He put his arms around Seth’s waist and looked out over the crowd. He’d never thought he get to play the greatest game of his life. “The Black King has sent his men to us like a coward, hiding behind his throne while the dirty work is done for him. He seeks to overthrow our king and take his life, so these lands will be as black as his heart. We have never done anything to deserve this, to play victim to his twisted magic and give our kingdom up for nothing. We will not be victims this night. We will stand for our king and fight to keep our lands peaceful once more.”
The Knights began to bang against their breastplates. The Shifters who had joined the fight howled at the sky. The trolls emerged from the dark to rumble in agreement, and the Fae lanterns shimmered until they became tall, blue beings with swords made of glass. Aneris would have been shocked had it been his first surprise since entering the Silver Realm, but nothing fazed him anymore. Apparently the Sidhe had whispered more than drunken slurs into the woods, and the Fae had answered their call. With an entire army now speckled throughout the trees, Aneris’s eyes flashed with confidence.
“For our King!” He whipped his rings out from behind his back and held them up in the air. His runes peeled away from their metallic surface to dance around his hands, glowing brighter with every rotation. A rush of adrenaline flooded his body, his magic arising from his soul. “For our King,” he repeated on a scream.
His army’s reply was a deafening roar. Seth slammed his visor down, now the Red Knight he’d always been. He stirred his foot against Fia’s side and raced down the path with their army rushing out of the woods. The dove shot into the air, swooping down onto Aneris’s shoulder with a startling coo. “He is powerful! You know not what you do. You are not trained to take Sylvius on by yourself. The Gamemaster has sent you to your death!”
Aneris slanted his eyes at the bird. “It is the only way to free us from an existence of death and oppression. I will do what I have to, as I promised. Training has nothing to do with the will to live and the desire for good. You wouldn’t know that because you were on the other side. Pretty sure they don’t teach right from wrong where you come from.”
“Free you? Look at me! I’m a bird! Has this taught you nothing?”
Aneris laughed, high on magic to the point that his vision was tinged with gold. He snarled at the bird. “What did your bastard king ever do for you? Has he ever tried to win you back, to reinstate your powers, to appreciate you for your services? No! He’s done nothing but hurt you and make you believe your magic could only be used for the dark, so you did. You’re scared, bird. You’re terrified that you’ll live with these regrets for the rest of your days because at one point you wanted to be something wonderful. Now get with the program or scram. You’re of no use to me if you still believe me weak.”
“No, I’m right. Now are you going to help me or not? Which side do you choose?” Aneris’s chest tightened the closer Fia raced towards a line of trees surrounding the castle. The magnificent stone structure was encased with a security wall, complete with wooden galleries topping the front and side of the wall. Turrets jutted up at each corner, spiking the night with their silvery conical spirals. The castle’s keep sat at the back, most likely housing the King and his family because it would be the safest place to stay away from the bloodshed. A line of Archers were already casting arrows down around the base of the structure, fire tipping their wooden weapons to burn whoever lurked there that Aneris had yet to see.
He glanced at the bird, ready to send the irritating foul to his death by magic if he turned out to still hold feelings for the enemy. But the bird’s eyes glittered, seemingly upset for a bird with no way to express sadness. “He never did a thing for me. He left me to my own devices. It is why I am trapped in this body. I never had a chance, Mage.”
“Do you want one now?”
Seth shouted, steering Fia to the left to avoid the first blast of magic from the trees. Aneris held up a ring and sliced it through the air, catching the dark magic like a net and sending it back to the owner who screamed from the dark. He stared in awe at his hand, scared shitless, but a smile crossed his lips. “Damn.”
“Don’t have time for that, Aneris! Concentrate!” Seth pulled his sword from his belt and lifted it up. Flames shot from his arm up the metal until the blade swam in fire of the deepest red. Creatures were coming out of the trees, the woods of which the bird had warned, where Sylvius had set up camp to wait for the misfit army to arrive.
“Bird!” Aneris held out his arm. The dove gripped his forearm tight, biting into the skin. “What say you? I could use another wielder on my side.”
“After all I have done, you would do this for me?”
The Mage gasped as the creatures started to run fast away from the trees, galloping on all fours like demons with unnatural movements. “Yes or no.”
“Yes.” The bird closed his eyes and Aneris hissed. As if some unseen floodgate opened, his palms surged with a magic so powerful he was surprised he didn’t rip in two. His mouth moved with whispers in a language he’d never spoken, but understood completely. He saw into the bird’s core, surprised by the desire to help them succeed, and filled the bird’s empty heart with magic so white it must have derived from heaven.
The bird began to grow, a blue eyeball popping out of his beady socket and a small tuft of silver hair sprouting from his neck. Aneris screeched, flinging his arm up and down to get the abomination off of him. Nevertheless the bird continued to sprout human parts, cracking open the feathery carcass while clinging to Aneris’s arm. Fingers elongated, wrapping around Aneris, and then arms attached to shoulders with no body.
A beautiful male face screamed, eyes flashing blue and long silvery hair rushing back with Fia’s speed. When Aneris felt like his skin was boiling with the transfer of magic, the full body of a man gripped him and the magic separated, leaving a new Mage grappling for a place to hold on.
Aneris held tight until he saw the assurance in the silver mage’s eyes he needed to let go. The dove had held up his end of the bargain. He’d help because he was needed, even if he didn’t understand why he’d been given this gift or the smile that came upon his mouth, although it was very clear to Aneris; the silver mage just wanted to be wanted, to use his magic where it was appreciated. And judging by the feral look now in his eyes, to reciprocate the hate he’d known all of his life, and to dish it out to the dark side this time. The man had chosen.
The Silver Mage let go, tumbling to the grass in black leathers and matching boots. He stood against the maelstrom of creatures coming for the White King’s people and raised his hands with a cry.
To be continued…