On to the goods! This week's prompt had to do with birthstones. We bloggers were asked to use one of the twelve birthstones in our story this week as a description, a prop, or of some significance in the story. This week was a little more lenient, giving us the choice to use the prompt in whatever manner we wanted. This is the chart we used:
Of course I chose Ruby because it's my birthstone. :D As always, after you've finished The Great Mage this week hop on over to the other bloggers' pages and check out their stories. Thanks everyone!
Flash Fiction Friday Bloggers:
The Great Mage: Week 6
Seth and Aneris walked hand in hand out of the cage. Seth’s uncle, Heith, stood next to his mate, both of their mouths hung open as rolls of thick fog escaped the open door. Drawing in a deep whiff of the potent pheromones, the Dragon Tribe Leader cocked his head. “Impossible.”
Shuffling his cape to the side, Aneris kept his mouth shut for fear he’d say something and start a fight. After the night he and Seth shared together their bond was thick. The way he now felt about Seth, admittedly sharing their feelings for one another, he was on the defense for his boyfriend. He didn’t like the way the Shifters studied Seth’s every move like he was some unholy genetic experiment, and he hated the way they disapproved of Seth’s happiness because Aneris was a Mage. Why couldn’t Seth’s family be happy for him? Why couldn’t they just accept him and go about their business? It was hard enough for Seth—being different—so why did they have to make it so much harder?
Seth’s fingers squeezed Aneris’s. “Uncle, we shall take Fia and leave your people be. I thank you for the lodging. My father would be most grateful.”
Heith scoffed. He then sputtered for words, gesturing at the foggy doorway to the cage. His red eyes blinked repeatedly, a strange look for the Tribe Leader. “How, Setherum? How…”
“How what?” Seth sighed. Exhaustion and stress tainted his words.
“You… You have mated with this Mage then?” Heith blinked again, over and over until his eyes looked ready to roll out of his head. “I do not understand.”
“It’s never stopped you before, Uncle.” Seth lifted his gaze. He rolled his shoulders back, standing tall. “You have never understood me and yet, you think you know all the answers, what’s good for me and how I should be seen. And here we are. My mate and I stand before you. I told you this much last night and you derided me in front of the entire tribe. You’ve disrespected my mate. You’ve shunned us both like criminals. And now you have your proof. I am not a child anymore. And if this is how my kind will continue to treat us, then I refuse to label myself as one of you. I am myself and he is him. It will not change. I love him.”
Aneris blinked to hide his shock. He kept his clammy palm sealed against Seth’s, showing his...mate support. He cared for Seth. He’d given himself to Seth shamelessly, and he hoped for more in the future. Not just a romp in bed. More than that. He wanted the chance to fit in the crook of Seth’s neck every night and listen to his breathing even out. He wanted to see that devilish smile from over Seth’s shoulder, a smile just for him. He wanted to see the furrow of Seth’s brow when he was deep in thought and then watch his expression shift to one of glee when he’d found an answer. He wanted to see his Red Knight high atop his horse with his sword raised assertively.
And because he wanted more, Aneris could only agree with Seth. “And I love him,” he said without hesitance. Seth looked at him. Aneris kept his eyes on Heith. “If you have a problem with my mate, then, as we say on The Otherside, go fuck yourself.”
Gasps cut up the silent forest canopy. The gathered Tribe members flinched away from their leader. Apparently, they knew enough of The Otherside to know the phrase. Heith’s blinking stupidity faded. He was sullen, breathing hot air on Aneris’s face. Aneris hid his fear. He knew little about Dragons, real Dragons, but he would classify them as animals all the same. One thing you didn’t do with an animal was back away or show fear. They could smell it. They would attack. Heith’s thick, scaled nostrils flared. His fangs clicked together. “What magic have you done to my nephew, Mage?”
“The only magic in that cage last night was all your nephew. The pheromones only react to male Shifters—throwing them in thrall, am I right?” Aneris waved his hand. He didn’t care for an answer. “Furthermore, he can only be aroused by his mate, the one who attracts him. My magic had nothing to do with us.”
“He’s right, my love.” The woman from last night, Seth’s Aunt, pulled Heith back. “He speaks the truth. They are right for one another.”
“I don’t like it,” Heith protested, tending to his smaller mate. His hand went to hers like he needed her contact to calm himself.
“But why!” Seth finally broke. “You have seen the truth. Why do you deny me this? What have I ever done to deserve this from you? You accepted my mother, a Fire Elemental as my father’s mate. She is no Shifter! Yet you do not accept me and mine?”
“She is fire, the air you father breathes, Setherum. A more perfect match could not have been made.” Heith roared, smoke trailing out his nose. His thick arms sliced through the air as he got in Seth’s face.
Aneris was there in a flash. His rings in his hands, they glowed with spindles of heavy gold magic. He thrust them at Heith, making the Tribe Leader back away. “Don’t you dare lay a hand on my mate,” he growled. The symbols engraved in the metal rings swirled along the surface. Aneris heard his magic calling like a tinny song in his ears, begging to be let free.
Time stood still as the Shifters stared at the weapons in Aneris’s hands. His magical powers retained in the metal, firing up bursts of golden sparks. Heith inhaled sharply. “Where did you get those, Mage?”
“Doesn’t matter. I’ll use them. Swear to God.” To prove his point Aneris closed his eyes, churning with anger. His bodily power leaked into the rings, setting them on a fire—flames that didn’t burn him.
Heith’s words rose above the magical chorus. “Raven, send word to the other tribes immediately. Setherum and his mate will be helped on their quest at all costs. Spread it amongst the kingdoms. The Gamemaster has returned.”
A stocky Shifter nodded his head and closed his eyes. Wings spread from his back, leathery and green. His nose elongated into a large snout. His body enlarged before their eyes. The other Shifters moved back, giving Raven room for his transformation. Once his belly was full of large golden scales and claws rapped against the wooden platform, he huffed fire through his mouth and shot into the sky. A Dragon. A real Dragon. Trees rustled, leaves falling to where Raven had sat seconds ago. Aneris listened to the beat of wings far off in the distance in awe.
Aneris frowned, and with his doubt, the rings sizzled, relinquished of his angry magic. He looked down at the golden rings that flashed once before becoming neutral in his hands. His confusion made him look into Heith’s ruby red eyes. “What the hell was that?”
“Forgive me.” Heith put a hand over his chest. His sincere expression almost made Aneris feel sorry for him. “I have been a fool and treated you wrongly. You must understand, both of you, the Mages we’ve encountered in the past have sought to enslave us for violent purposes. They twist our natural magic for their own use until they control us. We are the perfect weapon in war—large, we can fly, we breathe fire like air. We can destroy kingdoms, Aneris.
“And Seth is only now coming into his own. He does not see what we do in him. Those scales on his back are not for decoration. They are part of his magic and his blood. He just has yet to tap into it. I tried to manipulate his feelings last night. It was wrong. I wanted him to think he was using you because I thought you were, but clearly…” He pointed to the rings. “You are of great magic, good magic meant to protect. I am sorry, Aneris. Setherum, I cannot ask enough of your forgiveness.”
“Why now? What is it about these rings?” Seth growled. It was a growl of pure annoyance with a hint of longing behind it. He wanted to forgive his uncle, but he was mad. Rightly so.
“Those rings were forged with Dragon Fire, the magic running through our veins. They were created for The Gamemaster on the eve of The Great War that separated the two kingdoms forever. The Gamemaster used them to kill the first Black King. Now his son has the throne and he is worse than his father. If you possess those rings, then war is coming and it is your quest to stop it before it happens. Only a strong, good man would take up such a journey, and I would be proud to call you my nephew’s mate. And as it stands, so does The Gamemaster.” Heith looked up as did the others as if The Gamemaster was listening.
“I forgive you, Uncle.” Seth put a hand to Heith’s shoulder. “I understand now. But it will take time to heal.”
Heith looked at the ground, embarrassed by his treatment of his nephew. He cleared his throat. “You are a better man than I could ever be, Setherum. Rising above your differences to be so strong… That is real magic, boy.”
Seth nodded and helped Aneris stow the rings behind his cape again. “We haven’t much time, I’m afraid. We’ll need Fia and an escort to the edge.”
“We could fly you across,” his Aunt piped up. “Please. It’s the least we can do.”
“No.” Aneris shook his head. Something about Death Valley pulled at his brain. The place was more important than just getting across. He didn’t know how he knew, but he was certain of it. “We’ll travel the valley to Doeoak Crossing. Something waits for us in the valley. I can feel it.”
“Trust the Mage,” Heith confirmed. “They are true to their gut feelings.”
Seth looked at his Uncle for a second before smiling slightly. “Then we need to get a move on. I want to make headway before nightfall.”
“Aye.” Heith nodded. “Round up the horse and move out an escort to the edge. Now!”
His men scattered to make the arrangements. Heith took his mate’s arm, and with one last look at Seth and Aneris, strode off towards the entry platform. Seth took Aneris’s hand. “Are you sure, my dearest Mage?”
As scared as everyone made Death Valley seem, Aneris nodded. They had to go that way. They must. “Yes. And I’m glad it’s you by my side.”
Seth bent his head and kissed Aneris softly in reply.
They stood at the edge of Death Valley on crumbling grey rocks singed with black. Aneris fought not to throw up his breakfast of bread and cheese. Miles and miles of fiery, rock-strewn terrain stretched to the horizon. Black mountains stabbed at the murky, black sky. Fire burst from holes in the ground every few yards.
Aneris could make out the grotesque creatures pulling themselves over the rock beds, reaching for them up above. They looked like zombies, thousands of them, ready to devour their brains. And in the center of the valley, free of the decaying creatures, was a gleaming onyx structure. Thunder rolled along billows of stormy clouds. Lightning struck the top of the structure, sparking fire. Everything but the fire was dark, so scary that Aneris shook from head to toe.
He exhaled through his nose. “What is this place?”
“Death.” Seth echoed his fear.
“Why do I know it’s here?”
Seth clutched Aneris around his waist. “I don’t know, but I will follow you wherever you must go.” He drew his sword and nodded at his uncle’s escort. “Fare the well, friends.”
To be continued…