This week our task was to choose one of the following to add into our story:
1. Holiday - Crollifus is a cultural holiday celebrated on the summer solstice. It is associated with wildness, a reunion and peace. Traditions include private games of chance, exchanges of gifts and atonement.
2. Flag - an oriflamme with two stripes of olive and pale yellow, and a cross of dark green. The emblem is an oak tree. (oriflamme - any triangular banner with pointed ends, not to be confused with a pennant which is simply a triangle)
3. Superstition - Finding a poppy in a grove of ironwood trees is a sign that soon you will encounter a duel.
4. Tarot Card - The Lauded Arcanist - The card depicts a proud youth involved in a search near a lake. It is bordered by mountains. The back is bronze with an ear of corn involving repeating design. It is bordered by glyphs.
5. Ritual - Fighters trying to be protected from spirits can sacrifice a raven in a temple under a quarter moon
After you finish reading this week's installment of The Great Mage head on over to the other Flash Fictioners for their twist on the prompt. Thanks guys! Talk to you soon.
Winter (m/m) < Winter will be back at the end of the week. Check her site for updates. :)
The Great Mage (Week 3)
Aneris attempted to reply. Seth? Only Seth would know of their last conversation. “This isn’t real.”
“You’ve already said that.” The Red Knight patted Aneris’s head. “No time to let our situation cloud your mind. Though, if I had a choice in the matter I’d definitely take advantage of your adorable innocence right now. You’re very cute.” His gloved fingertip brushed over Aneris’s lip.
Aneris slapped the hand away. “Seth? Is this a fucking joke?”
The knight’s armor grated. His shoulders hunched. “I thought we already covered this, Aneris.”
“No! You asked if I liked bad boys. You left me on Skype. Then you never talked to me. This is stupid. I’m not a child. I can just leave you here.” Aneris whirled around. His cloak snagged on a low hanging branch. He pulled and set it free, but he’d already made a fool of himself.
“Leave me here?” The Red Knight barked. “And where will you go once you enter The Silver Realm? You have no idea where the barrier will send you. Quite possibly you’ll end up in the Wailing Forest to be eaten by Swamp Maids. Maybe you’ll end up in the Black Court and lose your head on the Black King’s supper table. Better yet, whatever will you do if you find yourself in a Troll den? How will you escape such large hands and teeth? Even Mages aren’t fool enough to mess with Trolls. They’re magical protectors of The Silver Realm with no ties to either kingdom. They serve nature and would swallow you whole if they thought you a threat. Your power means nothing to them.”
Aneris was so mad he could spit. “Swamp Maids? You made that shit up, Seth. And Trolls? Come the fuck on!”
Seth pulled the dragon-faced visor of his helmet back. He rubbed the sweat from his neck above his steel-collared gorget. Aneris could’ve died over how beautiful the knight was. Like a fairytale come to life, Seth’s lips were rosy red and full. His hair was as black as a raven’s wing. His eyes were the color of sunshine, yellow and gold, and full of light, surrounded by thick, dark lashes. “Swamp Maids,” Seth began, swarming Aneris with his large size, “are beings with beautiful faces and lovely bodies. Their voices are tempting and many a male has been lured into their forest by the innocent sound of a crying child. Swamp maids rise from the muddy waters they call home, to beckon men to their side. Those brave men cannot resist. They’re spelled.”
“They don’t sound too bad,” Aneris whispered. He leaned back.
Seth leaned in until their faces were inches apart. “The Swamp Maids with their fishy tails take on the lower half of a human female to bed men for the purpose of reproduction. Once the deed is done…” Seth grinned. His yellow eyes lit up from within. “They feast on the poor man’s body, crunch his bones with their sharp fangs, then drag his rotting carcass under the water to their nest. Not so bad, you say?”
“Carcass?” Aneris blanched. A twig snapped somewhere nearby. He jumped into Seth’s arms. Looking up at Seth, Aneris wanted to scream in frustration.
The knight held him close to his chest, watching the woods. “We can’t stay here. We have to get to the other side before the barrier closes.”
“I don’t want to be trapped in there. The Swamp Maids!” Aneris tangled himself in his cloak, whacking at the fabric to release him from his cocoon.
“Relax.” Seth gripped Aneris’s shoulders. “If there are maids, I will kill them. I will protect you, Aneris.”
“It’s Harvey.” His lip trembled. “And I don’t think I can do this.”
Seth hushed him, soothing down the cloak tangled in his armor. “No, my little mage, you are Aneris. You declared yourself so, and therefore opened the barrier to my realm. It recognized your call.”
“Your realm?” Aneris inhaled deeply.
“Yes, my realm. I am Setherum, The Red Knight of The Silver Realm, and I was chosen by the Gamemaster to seek a worthy soul for a dangerous quest. I have been in your realm for four seasons, watching the others, and no one compares to you. Not one player in your mortal game shines as bright as you, Aneris. This cloak isn’t merely a costume. It is part of who you are and who you were destined to be.”
Aneris shook his head. He’d lost his mind. He’d hit his head. He was dreaming.
“Aneris, listen to me. Sylvius must be stopped. He slipped into your realm when I traveled here. He shadows me for the Black King. Sylvus is the most powerful Mage in The Silver Realm and he doesn’t take well to competitors. Once he knew I set my sights on you to fulfill the Gamemaster’s wishes, he planned to kill you. It’s why he brought you this far into the forest. He wishes to kill you before you step foot on the other side and attain your real powers.”
“Hold up. Hold up. Hold up.” Aneris put his hands to Seth’s chest, pushing him away. “You’re telling me you’ve been getting cozy with me, not because you liked me or wanted to be my friend, but because you needed someone to throw down with Sylvius, a real Mage from a magical kingdom? And you want me to go on some quest because a Gamemaster told you to? You want me to walk through a wall to another world, where I might die for real, because you tricked me?” He scoffed. “No fucking way, you jerk. To think I actually liked you. You’re nothing but a player.”
Seth’s face drained of color. “It’s not like that. At first it was.”
“And now you’re in love with me,” Aneris mocked. “Bullshit. God, you’re so full of it. No, I won’t go on some crazy quest with you. I hate you! You made me…you made me like you.”
“Come now. Don’t fall apart. I swear on my honor I had every intention of confessing my feelings for you. You aren’t some quest to me, Aneris. You are my friend. I wish…I wish to make you more.” Seth reached for Aneris, but the Mage stomped away.
“Lover’s quarrel, I see,” a voice rang out.
Seth slammed his visor in place and ripped the sword from his belt. He whipped it in front of him, slicing through air to face Sylvius. “Black Mage,” he hissed. “Run, Aneris.”
Aneris looked from the sexy Black Mage to his even sexier knight. “Run where?”
A staff appeared in Sylvius’s right hand. The tattoos covering his body began to swim over his skin. “Yes, Red Knight, run where?”
Yellow eyes cut to Aneris. They were sure and calculating. They held a plan. “Run away with me, my little Mage.”
Aneris’s heart drummed in his chest. Did he trust Seth and go with him? Or did he battle it out and die from his lack of inexperience? He went with his gut, no matter how crazy it seemed. He nodded to Seth.
Seth whistled between his teeth. His horse—a beast Aneris had almost forgotten about—came charging out of the trees to its owner. Seth grabbed the reins as it raced past and swung onto its back. Sylvius screamed, raising his staff. A hand stretched to Aneris. He took it. His cloak billowed behind him. His legs slipped to either side of the horse. Adrenaline rushed through him.
He smiled, looking behind him. “This is so cool! Fuck you, Sylvius.” Aneris stuck out his tongue.
Sylvius narrowed his eyes as the barrier to the other side shimmered with a blurry image of The Silver Realm. He pointed his staff at Aneris’s head. Aneris screamed and ducked. Black flames nearly burned his ear off. Sylvius’s magic splattered against the barrier, sizzling away. “Go, Seth. He’s got a flamethrower!”
Seth laughed, holding Aneris’s hand to his chest. “Hold on, my little mage.”
The horse jumped through the shimmering barrier. Aneris felt every atom in his body shake and pop. The horse’s front legs landed on solid ground, and kept running. Aneris couldn’t breathe. He was too busy gaping at the scenery. Trees taller than any skyscraper he’d ever seen towered over them. Flowers bloomed in front of his eyes, flashing into existence across tree trunks and the ground.
The horse raced through the forest. Aneris held tight to Seth’s waist, hugging his back for dear life. Cool metal bumped against his cheek. He was both excited and terrified. The air changed around them. The warmth of the forest disappeared and a vast field opened up before them.
“Fia, halt!” Seth pulled on the reins. The horse whinnied, throwing up its front legs. Aneris screamed, holding onto Seth. “Fia!”
When the horse landed on its front legs again, Aneris dragged in oxygen and slumped against Seth. “Oh my god.”
“Aneris?” Seth turned shifted so he could see him. “Are you well?”
“Am I well? No. I don’t think I am. How do I get off this ride before I puke?”
“Don’t be mad at Fia. She was scared because she smelled trolls.” Seth sniffed. “I do too.”
Aneris sat straight up. “Trolls?”
“We came through the barrier in a heavily guarded area, Affarion to be exact; it stretches through these woods, the lake, and butts up to the base of the mountains to the south. This lake is home to the White Lady. The trolls believe she is Mother Earth and don’t allow others near her, unless invited which we have not been.” Seth took off his helmet. “We should head for the mountains before dark. There’s a village there that sides with the White King. They’ll board you for the night and give you something to eat.”
“Lake?” Aneris peeked out from behind Seth. The forest tree line made a semicircle around a perfectly circular lake. Smoky mountains set a backdrop behind the water, rising into the sky until the highest point was lost in the clouds. The water sparkled a blue so deep no ocean could compare. Not one drop moved on the surface. The lake was completely still.
“Don’t even think about it. Go near that water, and we’ll have trolls crawling out of the woodworks to kill us.” Seth sighed. “Hold onto me. The trail is rocky up to the village. You can sleep if you can manage. Fia will get us there safely.”
“If the trolls don’t want us here, why haven’t they come for us yet? Shouldn’t they have grabbed us when we first entered the barrier?” Aneris glanced around, still holding onto Seth. “Seth? It’s really quiet, too quiet to be at the edge of a forest.”
Seth ushered Fia in a circle so he could see the tree line in full. “Unfortunately, I have to agree with you. Not a single chirp. Strange.”
“That’s strange? Some knight you are.” Aneris rolled his eyes. He shivered from the cold wind blowing over the lake and brought his hands up to rub them together. “It’s fucking cold—” Aneris stopped his hands and looked down. A card appeared in his palm. “What the ever-loving hell?”
“Ahh…” Seth chuckled. “Our Troll situation has been explained.”
“Care to share?” Aneris fingered the bronze card in his hand. Ears of corn were stamped in a circle, bordered by angry black glyphs. The card flashed, making Aneris turn it over. A young man smiled as if victorious. He bent over the edge of a lake, looking for something. In the background, mountains rose high into the sky. Aneris looked back at the lake and then at the mountains. He gasped as the card was taken from him by Seth.
“The Gamemaster favors my choice, I see. This is the Lauded Arcanist card, a praised magician just like the Gamemaster.”
“The Gamemaster has graced us with the White Lady. Praise be. No Trolls today, little mage.”
To be continued…