Hello all! How are we doing this Friday evening? We’re back again with another Flash Fiction Friday and I hope you’re ready. This week’s prompt was:
Elements – Pick one of the following (adjusted) elements and utilize it in your chapter/story:
As always make sure to visit the other bloggers after reading this week’s The Great Mage, and leave them some love. Please note that next week there will be no FFF due to Thanksgiving. Thanks! *hugs*
Archers aided them over the ledge and onto the gallery high atop the castle wall. The smell of their sweat and the warmth of the fire burning from their torches added to the feel of battle in the air. Aneris found himself too hot to continue on with his cape, stuffing it into his pack so the night air could cool his bare skin. He wondered how Seth managed under his armor with the heat. But Seth seemed unconcerned by the temperature.
Seth pointed to the sky above the treetops where the moon burned white. Silhouetted against the night were black shadows, wings flapping in the distance. “The Tribes are coming.”
“I thought they wouldn’t reach us until morning.” Aneris shouted over the ruckus below.
“That is nowhere near the entirety of the Tribes.” Seth tugged Aneris along, weaving them in and out of the crowd of Archers. “They must have heard his call and sent what they could ahead of the others.” Seth looked up at Killian’s massive form still guarding the sky above the castle. “He would be pretty hard to ignore.”
“Do you think it’s safe to leave him up there? Should he shift before they arrive? They don’t know him!” Aneris had to skip a few steps to keep up with Seth’s pace. They ran toward a turret that contained a set of stairs leading down. It was dark and cold, musty and old, and both of them slowed down in case they were attacked from below. Seth held his sword high, allowing the fire along the metal to light their way.
“Shifters will recognize their own. I believe he is who he says he is, Aneris—one of the oldest of our kind. And what happened was not his fault. He will be revered for his sacrifice to protect the temple in the valley. They will not harm him, especially when the others out there tell of his help to gain the Trolls as our allies. Not an easy achievement.” Seth stopped cold. Aneris melted to his back, shivering as the cool metal pressed into his bare chest.
Aneris felt the reason for the pause then. Magic, strong white magic pricked his skin, warning them both of what was near. “Seth?”
“We’re close to the Keep. It still holds… for now.” Seth turned them both into a darkened alcove with a window looking out over the war zone. “I need a second.”
“Are you scared?” Aneris reached up and lifted Seth’s visor. He stared into Seth’s blazing yellow eyes. There was no fear there, which confused him.
“Not for me. If I die to protect you and my kingdom, it has been an honor of the highest kind, Aneris. You are everything the Gamemaster said and more. You are strong and brave. You are handsome yet humble. You would do anything to save the ones you care about, and even the ones you don’t know you care about yet.” Seth used his free hand to touch Aneris’s cheek. “I know you don’t buy into love at first sight. I would think it ridiculous myself if I hadn’t fallen victim. But you are my mate, Mage. You are my world that I have yet to live in. And if there is a single chance in all of this that we survive this night, I shall spend the rest of my days loving you.”
Before his days in the Silver Realm, the most Aneris had hoped for was a guy to like him at the very least. Take him for coffee, play a video game with him, possibly share a kiss because he knew no one ever thought of him as someone to take any further. All of that changed after spending his adventure with Seth, Setherum the Red Knight of the Silver Realm. His own personal knight in shining armor had done more than just kiss him. Seth had made Aneris feel special, made him feel respected. He made him confident and strong, gave him something to look forward to. Seth just looked at him and Aneris got shivers.
There was a connection between them, one that existed because of more than sexual attraction. And they’d been going so fast and hard on their journey that they hadn’t really had time to explore what exactly that connection was. But he’d be damned if he let Seth go down there into the thick of battle, thinking Aneris had only stayed with him out of necessity. Life without Seth would be truly painful.
Aneris grabbed Seth’s hand on his cheek and tugged him close. His heart pounded away to the sound of screams and metal clashing. He pushed up on his toes a bit and pulled at the bottom of Seth’s helmet until his lips were revealed. And he kissed his knight in reply.
Seth’s armor didn’t seem cold any longer, heated by his body underneath and the sword crushed against the wall behind Aneris’s head. They clung to each other, a last moment before the unknown swallowed them and forced them to grow up just a little bit more. If they survived Sylvius, his reputation far from worthy, Aneris promised he would bask in these kisses every moment he could.
They were both aware of the ancient magic calling to them, warning them to get there in time to protect the king. But for just a few seconds longer they needed each other more. Aneris whimpered as Seth’s tongue departed, leaving him empty and cold again. He shuddered as Seth stepped away. He never wanted to feel that distance again, the distance that spoke of possible goodbyes and a not-so-happily ever after.
“We’ll do whatever we can,” Seth husked. “I’ll do anything.” His fingers were the last thing to slip away.
“We. We will do anything. Maybe I do believe in romance after all.” Aneris turned toward the slice of alcove window. He looked down upon the swelling war, noting how many of each side had fallen. It made his stomach turn and his anger rise. “I believe we should fight for things we love. Our hearts, our land, our people, and our future—those are things that would kill us if they didn’t exist. It’s not just a game anymore to me. This is my life, Seth. You are a part of that life.”
The bands on Aneris’s chest and arms flashed gold. His body was prepared for what was to come, had in fact been waiting all this time to deliver justice so powerful it would not be forgotten. His magic unsheathed to Seth’s eyes at such a time as this was what the Red Knight needed to go on. He had his answer. He had his mate in the flesh, no longer a one-sided relationship or a just physical presence to release his carnal desires. Aneris claimed him too.
Seth lifted his gloved hand to his mate. Aneris took it. “Into hell I will walk with you. And out of hell I will take you.” He kissed Aneri’s hand, and then slammed his visor down. “As you would say, let’s go kick some ass.”
Aneris smiled and let himself be lead into the stone courtyard with a midnight sky ceiling.
The Keep was barely standing. Hardly a structure deemed worthy of safekeeping the King and his family. But between the ruins of stone and wood were flickers of gold and green, and red and blue that acted as walls to keep out the enemy. Fire blazed down in short spurts from Killian, directed at the black knights fighting with the King’s most trusted warriors. A few bodies with gleaming silver shields had already fallen. Blood had been spilled. Fire licked at the scarlet liquid splashed across the stone courtyard.
Seth quietly led Aneris through the shadows under the pillared awning leading to the Keep. Figures stirred inside the magical holding. A male face appeared the closer they came. Between the keep and the pillars, Seth went to one knee and bowed his head. “My King.”
The man on the other side of the magical barrier was dirty and bloodied. His hair was disheveled and his beard full, but his eyes were alert and bright with relief. “I knew he would not fail us. I had begun to think the Gamemaster relieved himself of his duties and his loyalty. But I think not any longer. Come closer, boy. Let me see the face of the Mage who would die to protect his kingdom.” The King beckoned Aneris closer with his fingers, careful not to touch the precious magic protecting his family.
Aneris searched the small room beyond the King. Huddled in the corner farthest away from the bloodshed were a woman and two young boys. They cried softly into her neck while she looked at her husband for answers. This was a family. They had futures too. Aneris knew right then and there he couldn’t allow them to die. Loyalty had nothing to do with it. Humanity did.
“My King, I am Aneris. And I have come to help.” Aneris walked up to the wall of magic. He instinctively put his hands up to greet the dancing slivers of light. They raced towards his palms and he shied away. His eyes met the King’s. The King nodded.
“Aneris, my loyal Mage, I see you understand now the predicament we find ourselves in.” He smiled sadly. “Once you breach these walls, a powerful wielder of magic, we are no longer protected by this Keep. We will be solely protected by you. It is what won the last war, the Gamemaster wielding these ancient ties to all four elements as well as his own. What is leftover will be become a part of you the moment you touch it.”
It was like being asked to touch a bomb seconds from it detonating. Not knowing what kind of repercussions there would be or what to do with such power, scared Aneris. But now wasn’t the time to be scared. It was either fight or die. Or fight and then die. Either way he had to think above his own needs. He had to think of this family and the people out there dying to protect everything they loved.
Aneris looked down at Seth. “When I touch the barrier, you guard them with everything you have.”
“Aneris, I’m supposed to—”
“No. Don’t you see? Our knights are going to be outnumbered soon.” Aneris pointed to the corner of the courtyard where a black portal widened and popped out another black knight. “Sylvius is doing this. If I go after Sylvius, there will be no one else that can reach the family in time to save them. You are the best knight here, Seth. I’ve seen you fight, more than once. And I know the power you hold back.” Aneris kept his voice even. Inside he was breaking. “You have to let me do this. You can’t always protect me.”
“I love you, Setherum.” Because he knew Seth wouldn’t agree to this plan, Aneris quickly touched the barrier and choked on his own breath. All four elements invaded his body, filling him to the brim with ancient magic long forgotten. He was numb for what felt like an eternity, hands reaching out for something he couldn’t touch. His toes curled in his boots. Runes whispered from his mouth, from his palms. Light welled in his eyes. And when the magic became too much to keep inside, he threw his head back and screamed, “Sylvius!”
To be continued…