Borrow a Myth – Put your own spin on an idea, creature, or item found in established mythology (if your story is about shifters, try to utilize something new and different).
Make sure to check out the other bloggers and their interpretation of this week's prompt after you read this week's installment of The Great Mage! Thanks to Elaina for the prompt this week. *Hugs*
Flash Fiction Friday Bloggers:
The Great Mage (Week 11)
Aneris sat straight up, gasping for air. His lungs full of stale oxygen, he immediately let it all out with a scream. His hands grappled at the bedding underneath him while he stared at the three-headed beast leaning over his bed. The Mage reached for the rings at his back, only to realize they weren’t there. Neither was his cape, nor his pants.
The Mage toppled over the edge of the bed to the sound of gravelly chuckles. Having no idea where he was, where Seth was, or what the hell this creature was, Aneris crawled quickly under another high set bed, and then another. Maybe he was in Goldilocks’ cottage with all these beds—it was a fairytale Realm after all. Things that were not supposed to be, existed in this place, that was to say if he was still in The Silver Realm at all.
Either he was or he was seriously tripping on heavy drugs, because the three-headed dog began to thud his way. Black furred paws the size of Bigfoot’s paralleled Aneris’s trench crawl to the last bed against the far wall. The Mage tucked his body tight against the smooth rock wall and tried to summon his magic. Like a lighter out of fluid, his fingertips sparked with gold before the magic fizzled.
“Shit,” he cursed when the bed above him creaked. Two thick hind legs attached to paws made for bone crunching waited patiently at the side of the bed.
“Give him space, Roan. He’s only a little thing.”
“No! Lift the bed, you git, before he strikes.”
“Will you two stop your fighting? He’s scared and his magic is still recovering. He only came back to life this morning.”
“Says the twit with the good arm. I done seen what a Mage can do, Kerby. Put us out of a job he did.”
“We have a fine job now. We’re our own boss.”
“Until the Priestesses come back to the water, what then, Gwenny? It’s this boy’s fault if we’re called to duty. Don’t wanna go to war again.”
“We guard. We don’t fight, Roan.”
“I remember quite a few fights. Still got the bones in my teeth to prove it, see?”
“Ah! Your breath! Stop that.”
Wide eyed, Aneris watched the two paws fight for balance. The three voices were separate beings in their heads and whatever they were squabbling over was becoming physical. Aneris knew he couldn’t make it to the door all the way across the room. Flattened to the floor now, he spied the entrance if he squinted to focus.
His body hurt everywhere and it was hard to use his muscles to keep his self still. He didn’t sense a threat from the creature, or creatures, whatever it was. And with no other escape route and no magic, he was forced to clear his throat. “Hello?”
“See? See how scared he is? Such a sweet little thing, Roan. Shut your rotten-breathed mouth.”
“Gwenny meant hello, Little Mage.” The paws backed up and the bed next to Aneris’s groaned with the creature’s weight. “No harm will come to you if you would care to make an appearance. No sense in talking to a bed.”
Aneris’s muscles screamed at him as he crawled out from under the bed. He looked up at the black-furred dog with three heads and thankfully noted the red leather skirt covering its genitals. Each head possessed the same features of a demonic dog, apart from the eyes. Their eyes were different from one another’s. One set a little feminine, turned down at the inner corners and bright blue. The middle head’s eyes were wide and warm, and a shade of gold that reminded Aneris of petals on a sunflower. But the last head had narrowed red eyes, the color of Ruby and all things fiery. Those eyes scared him.
The creature’s left arm smacked its right counterpart. “Enough out of you, Roan.” The blue-eyed head turned to Aneris. “Don’t mind him, he’s the irritating one. Can’t be changed.”
“Uh huh.” Aneris nodded dumbly before slipping onto the bed opposite the beast.
The golden-eyed head smiled with razor sharp teeth. “Yes, he’s a bit of git at times. But I’m Kerby. And this here is Gwenny.” The left arm waved for the blue-eyed head. “And you’ve met Roan.”
Aneris’s lips tightened in a thin line upon seeing the same wicked look from the red-eyed head. The Mage tightened his hands over the linen garment holding in his goodies. “Uh huh.”
Kerby continued. “I’m sure you’re still a bit tired from your… reawakening. I’m positive you have many questions and they will all be answered. But the short version: You somehow freed the Black Dragon from Sylvius’s spell and he shifted. He flew your dead body across the Black lake with your tasty mate aboard and that hissing little horse, and here you are. Doeoaks’s Crossing Inn! And we, the Cerberus, are now at your service for getting rid of those foul ghoulies always trying to climb to shore. One less thing we have to do.” Its front paws clapped together and the Cerberus’s stomach muscles tightened, reminding Aneris exactly how much physical power he’d be up against should the thing attack him.
Aneris shook his head of thoughts, all except for one. “Where’s Seth?”
“Ah. Yes. Setherum. He’s in the stables with the hissy-fit horsy.” Roan rolled his eyes. “Blasted thing almost bit my arm off for trying to pick you up. Been whining all day, to see you, I suppose.”
“And the Black Dragon?” Aneris rubbed his arms and crossed his legs. A draft from the crooked window to his right gave him the shivers, just like the mention of that possessed Dragon did.
“Nice fellow. He’s chatting with the King’s Knights. They’ve just arrived at the Crossings to issue a proclamation of war, nothing to worry your newly reclaimed head about.” Gwenny choked on what sounded like a disgusting giggle. She hiccupped and covered her mouth with the left paw. “Excuse me.”
“Wait. The Black Dragon shifted… So that means he’s good now?”
“Of course he is, thanks to you!” Kerby nodded.
Aneris got up to go to the window. “And did you say war?”
“Aye. The closest Shifter Tribe compound was set afire last night by the Black King’s men.”
Aneris gasped, but Gwenny hushed him. “Everyone’s fine, although, Sylvius took a troop of the Black King’s men to the White Kingdom on foot through the woods. The Trolls told the White Lady and she sent word to the King. I even heard the Gamemaster will make an appearance on the White King’s behalf, but you can’t really listen to the Sidhe around here. They’re a bunch of nymphos and drunkards. They’ll say anything to get their jollies,” she quipped.
Aneris stared out the window. A sea of silver armor caught light from the torches the King’s Knights carried. They were everywhere—at the darkened market stands in front of the inn, in private doorways and on horse, patrolling the area. White plumes on their pointy silver helmets rustled in the wind like birds sitting high atop their heads. Aneris caught sight of a familiar fiery mane and a more familiar outline shaded red under a caged lantern. They stood next to a bulky dark figure that looked up at Aneris’s window with burning yellow eyes.
Aneris gasped and turned to the Cerberus. “Where are my things? I need to get dressed.”
“Rude.” Roan clenched his fist. “I would think a thank you was in order. What, for putting you up for free.”
Gwenny ignored Roan. “In the cabinet behind you. We had to lock your sash away in there. The red light was driving us mad.”
“Red light?” Aneris frowned, walking to the cabinet.
“Aye. The little bottle, Setherum called it a life force.” Kerby shrugged when Aneris looked back at him. “Must be an Othersider thing.”
“Right.” Aneris opened the skinny cabinet to find his cloak hanging up on a hook and his clothing folded neatly on top of a pulsing red light. “What the hell?”
He picked up his clothes. It took him some time to focus on the sash and its dizzying red alarm of light. When Aneris could manage, he picked up the sash to see a vial of red liquid sloshing about, begging him to come closer. Words floated around the vial, faster and faster until they solidified so Aneris could read.
“Best to be careful with this life. It is your final one. Dress and prepare for war,” he read aloud. His heart thumped in his chest. A nagging sensation made him dress quickly and buckle the sash back over his banded chest. He took inventory of all his things, noting the moon in the stone on his sash was a little bigger and little brighter. He hadn’t forgotten his promise to the White Lady. If he survived this war, or whatever the Gamemaster intended, then he still was in her debt to bring the woman her true love; whoever that was.
He was about to ask the three-headed Cerberus to take him to Seth when his sash glowed gold and the runes of his magic sparkled in the air. His body was filled with power. His lungs were filled with glorious fresh air. And a fierce wind momentarily sliced around Aneris. Then all was still and the Cerberus sat staring at him; all three mouths open wide.
“I died,” Aners concluded.
“Aye,” Gwenny answered.
“But I had another life to use.”
“I suppose so,” Kerby said with surprise.
“And I’m back now.”
“Unless you’re a ghost, a very solid ghost at that.” Roan sniffed in Aneris’s direction just to make sure. “No. You’re real.”
“Good to know.” Aneris smiled and smoothed his cloak down his sides. “It just hit me. Sorry about that.”
“No apologies needed.” Gwinny wriggled her nose. “I’ve just never seen good magic like that before. It was…”
“Beautiful,” Kerby finished. The Cerberus stood, towering over Aneris as it hunched due to the unaccommodating ceiling height. “You must want to greet your mate. He’ll be thrilled to find you awake. Come along then. After a happy reunion we’ll feed that belly of yours.”
“But that’s my stew!” Roan growled.
“There’s plenty of stew, you insufferable mongrel. We run an inn. More than your mouth to feed.” Gwenny growled back.
While the Cerberus loped around the corner, through the wide entrance of the large common bedroom, Aneris watched it go. He had to laugh a bit at his situation. He was reborn, given new life by the Gamemaster no doubt. He had freed the Black Dragon from Sylvius’s spell. Seth and Fia were alive and waiting for him. War was on the horizon and his journey would continue. And a real life Cerberus, the three-headed dog that was rumored to guard the gates to the underworld was actually running an inn and serving bowls of stew to hungry travelers. Life couldn’t get crazier than this.
Aneris was nervous as he walked down the stairs behind the arguing Cerberus; all three of their heads barking at one another and snapping their teeth like siblings in a fight. He wondered how worried Seth had been and if Seth had been by his side the entire time. As he exited a service entrance door behind the Cerberus, Aneris knew his answer. Seth took one look at his mate and came running faster than Fia could ever try to. Arms wrapped around Aneris, nearly stealing the breath from his lungs.
“Aneris,” Seth whimpered. “Aneris…”
His tears wet Aneris’s neck as the Red Knight burrowed his face under the fabric of his hood. “Seth, it’s okay. I’m okay.”
“Aneris.” It was all Seth could say, over and over until a crowd gathered around them. And even still Seth clung to his mate like he was trying to bind them together. “Never again—you will never leave me again.”
To be continued…