Hello there! I hope you’re all happy the weekend is here. And for those of you like myself where a weekend means more work, then I hope this little piece of FFF gets you by. :)
This week’s prompt was:
1. Ancient Ruins – Use a set of ruins (fictional or a real location) as a key location in your chapter/story.
I twisted this up a bit for the sake of the storyline and used the Keep as my ruins. I hope you enjoy this week’s The Great Mage. Be sure to visit our other wonderful bloggers to see what they’ve cooked up this week. Stay warm. Keep safe. Love you all.
Flash Fiction Friday Bloggers:
The Great Mage: Week 16
The White Mage, formerly trapped in the body of a dove, was now a force to be reckoned with. With his palms raised toward the outpour of Ghouls rushing from the trees, white light surged from his hands like fire. Inside the swirling flames were dancing black ruins, dark magic protected by Aneris’s gift of white blaze. And because the man hadn’t used his gifts in so long they rushed out of his body with such speed and anger that the Ghouls didn’t stand a chance. The trees were engulfed in white. Screams lit up the night. But above all other voices, Aneris heard the White Mage’s bellow of fury, heard his pain and suffering and need to rise above it.
Aneris growled, understanding that kind of ire, capable of it himself. He forced himself to turn away from the battle that had begun and held onto Seth tightly as they rode towards the wall. Flames sizzled in long streaks against the night, aimed down into the muddy mote bordering the castle. Unease tickled Aneris’s memory, tugging forth something he remembered said not too long ago. Swamp maids lived in mud. Their song beckoned forth the strongest soldiers to lure them to their death.
He knew for a fact this mote hadn’t been filled with mud before this night. Mud was dark and dirty, nothing representative of white magic or a white kingdom. The once sparkling waters were black and bubbling, smoking with a stench Aneris wriggled his nose at. He had no way to warn the others of this recent development. At least that was what he thought until he spied the blue orbs shooting past him.
“Fae! Seth, stop!” Aneris slapped Seth’s chest. “It’s a trap. We have to warn them.”
“What are you talking about?” Seth glanced over his shoulder, but rode up the hill, commanding Fia faster.
“Fae, stop and listen to me!” Aneris lifted his hand and a Fae lantern grazed across his fingers. It swirled in his palm, the essence of a warrior ready for battle. Once he was sure he had its attention, he brought his hand close to his eyes. “The moat is filled with mud. It’s a trap for us all. Swamp—“
All at once an ethereal chant pierced the air. A haunting melody that made Aneris’s heart constrict in his chest. He tried to cover his ears but his hands were too heavy and his brain seemed slow. The Fae lantern in his hand bobbed urgently in an attempt to regain his attention. Nevertheless Aneris was enchanted with the song that filled his ears, as was Seth who tried to dismount Fia’s back. The horse wasn’t having any of it. She wasn’t a male warrior. She could hear the song for what it really was. She swerved to the left, keeping her masters aboard her back for as long as she could against the Swamp Maids’ spell.
The Fae lantern sliced through the air, coming at them full speed until it smacked into Aneris’s face, covering he and Seth in brilliant blue light. Aneris gasped, his chest filling with air as if lungs had been prisoner to something he couldn’t overcome. He patted the wall of blue light that caged them on Fia’s back. And it dawned on him then what they had to do.
The Fae were warriors, yes, but they were creatures made of magic, not just men who could be easily enticed. They were immune to the Swamp Maid’s song. And it was apparent that Sylvius had not intended Aneris to gain their help in this battle. Or the Trolls, who also were immune to such enchantments—seeing as how the ground vibrated with their feet, and their movements were still their own, and the Ghouls still screamed for mercy. Trolls and Fae were the eldest of the creatures in Aneris’s army. They were created by nature, made to withstand the test of time, and the Guardians of these lands. Sylvius had judged them wrongly. Aneris had never looked at them any different for what they were. He’d eyed them with respect, thankful for their help and acknowledged them with murmured praises. He’d given both races a chance to be a part of something big, to unite instead of break down what these lands were made of. He’d made the right choice once again and his reward was protection within the arms of these two powerful races.
And so it was with great pleasure that Aneris watched the two races converge with a plan. The Fae lanterns, untouchable male warriors who lit the way with the core of their souls, blanketed the moat and spread their light until the muddy waters were sealed. And the sickly green faces of the Swamp Maids melted into the earth under the pressure of such old magic. The Trolls did their part, asking the trees and the earth for help. Roots separated from their richly soiled homes and crawled like tendrils across the grassy slope, dragging their heavy trunked and branched counterparts with them.
It took some time for the trees to bend and twist to their destination. The wooded shelter for Sylvius’s minions’ attack relocating until one giant spider web of bark and foliage tangled against the walls of the castle on all sides. Imprisoned beneath the moat, held captive in ancient roots that dove back beneath the soil were the Swamp Maids Sylvius had brought to this war.
The Fae lanterns flitted out from between the dark crevices of the newly made walls, bursting into the night like lightning bugs but much brighter. Now the Archers atop the galleys could focus their efforts on the Black King’s knights who had been exposed without a shelter to hide them. Their fire tipped arrows pierced jet black armor, scoring points with each shriek from their enemy’s lips; bodies doubly scorched when the White Mage blasted them for good measure.
And Aneris was sure this was meant to be. Everyone had a part to play. The Trolls had guarded their lands by relying on their Mother. The Fae had taken out an unnatural race of swamp dwelling demons who had desecrated their lands for centuries. The White Mage earned Aneris’s respect by never turning away from the fire, keeping his magic burning bright hit after hit as if to take years of abuse out on the King who had never appreciated him.
The White King’s knights flooded the grassy hill to take up arms in their king’s name. Swords clinked. Men cried out for mercy. Fires blazed. Blood was shed. And Aneris refused to sit their protected when he and Seth had the hardest job to do of all. He stared up at the steep lattice like wall of trees so old he couldn’t fathom how long they’d been there. And he knew where he was needed.
“They guard the Keep strongly. If it takes one more blow it will fall and our king will be no more.” Seth stared over his shoulder. “It is the oldest structure in our world, ruins to most, and once a temple for all four elementals until they parted ways.”
“I thought you said it was strong!” Aneris climbed off of Fia, noticing how the Trolls surrounded them at once, backs facing he and Seth to shelter them for the next leg of their journey.
“It is…for now. The magic there hasn’t been used in centuries. It is precious because of how little remains of the four elementals’ combined force. It is what is holding up what’s left of the walls, only activated when the king is in dire need. They sought to give him protection in the Great War and he and his family were sheltered there for so long it is rumored that if another war were to start, they would not survive. I have no idea how long it will hold this time, Aneris.” Seth’s concern was clear by the hitch in his voice. His eyes lit up gold behind his helmet. And suddenly his feet were planted on the ground, his hands clutching Fia’s reins as if it were his lifeline.
“We have to save them, Seth. If Sylvius is trying to keep us out and it’s rumored the walls of the Keep won’t hold for long…” Aneris choked on his words and his gaze shot up to the top of the wall.
“Sylvius is going in there,” Seth supplied in horror. He turned to his horse, his beloved friend until the end. Fia couldn’t go with them for this part of the battle. And neither of them knew when they’d see each other again. Seth ran his hand over her fiery mane with a loving caress. “It has been good, old friend. Shall I not see you again…know I hold your spirit in my heart.” He nuzzled his helmet along her muzzle, and hugged her neck with a warm embrace. The fire along her tail and mane brightened. She was sad and angry. Aneris felt it in the depths of his soul as Seth took a step back.
Aneris walked up to Fia. He put his bare hand between her ears, tickled by the fire that would never burn him. He kissed her muzzle, his hand lingering along her fire as he closed his eyes. “Thank you, Fia. Thank you for keeping him safe for me all these years. I promise I’ll bring him back to you. I promise you that,” Aneris murmured. Before he cried his anguish at his mate’s loss, at his, Aneris turned away from Fia. His cape billowed around him in the wind. The bands along his arms and chest glowed strong with his magic, as did his eyes and the light in his palms.
He turned to his mate, taking a deep breath. “We go where he goes. This ends tonight.” Aneris put a foot into the gnarled loop of tree near the base of the wall and lifted himself up.
Seth shuddered with one last look at his loyal friend, his treasured Fia, before he swatted her side. “Go!”
Fia burst into flames, her entire body covered in angry fire she chose to share with the world. She raced through the wall of Trolls and into the thick of battle where her flames could be seen from afar. Fia would be just fine. She would keep distracted by the rage and violence she’d inflict while her masters were away. But Seth wondered as he joined his mate at the wall to hoist himself up, whether he and Aneris would be.
A roar ripped through the sky. A leathery mass of black swooped over the castle, wings flapping with a deafening clap. Fire shot from Killian’s nostrils as he swirled overhead, granting them safe passage for the time being. Seth narrowed his eyes at his mate and sheathed his sword at his back. “Let’s do this.”
Aneris smiled, nodded, and began the long climb to the top of the wall.
To be continued…