Friday, June 24, 2016

Flash Fiction #204 -- Escaping Somewhere Else, Part 39: Potilia

                                                                                                                                                                                                               







I was damned tired of falling and all the things that shoved or pushed me.
I yelled and saw Ellin sailing down -- at first, I thought he'd fallen as well.  Then he moved slightly to the right and caught hold of a flying horse that had suddenly appeared. In a couple heartbeats, the horse swept in under us.  Ellin had his arm out, and I saw the glitter of magic in his hand as he grabbed hold of me.  I simply held as tight to Edmond as I could.
Ellin and the horse swept past, missed, turned again in and grabbed hold of my arm, swinging me around behind him.  The horse made a sound of protest when I landed hard on his back.
"Sorry," I said.
The horse neighed in answer, and we ducked under the bridge and hovered there like an over-sized hummingbird.  I caught my breath.  Edmond appeared to be hyperventilating. 
"You okay, Edmond?" I asked.
"I am going to bite off the ear of the next person -- or thing -- that tries to push us off of something.  I do not fly."
"Yeah, I'd be happy to stay on the ground, too," I said.
Above us, the battle still raged.  I couldn't see anything, but I could feel the magic -- and see the pieces of the bridge being torn apart.  Potilia yelled something, and it seemed the entire world shook with her anger.  I feared the fae were being killed, and from the look on Ellin's face, he thought the same.
"What do we do to help them?" I asked.
"He said to save you.  I cannot --"
"What do we do?" I repeated.  "Because if they fall, I'm not safe anyway."
Ellin accepted that logic.  I hope it didn't put him into danger with Lord Cayman later, but right now I only worried that we might not be able to do anything at all.
"We need a distraction," I said.  "And I think I'm the best one.  If you can get me behind her --"
"That is not safe," he said.  "That's not even remotely safe.  I can't --"
"All we need is a moment to draw her attention."
"She already has power in her hands.  She can --"
"She has to turn first, right?" I said.  "I suppose she could blindly toss magic off in my direction, but I don't think that's what she'll do.  And the others are going to act quickly the first chance they get."
"Yes," he agreed.  It was a reluctant agreement, but we didn't have time for more discussion. 
The horse must have understood as well.  He moved under the bridge. I could feel when we passed beneath Potilia.  Even here, with the bridge between us, the wind was strong, and the magic was nearly overpowering.  Ellin gave a slight gasp, but we sailed through and out the other side.
"Up here," I said.  "Edmond, I would rather --"  He bit my hand.  "Ack.  Never mind."
"A bit more help for Edmond," Ellin said.  I wasn't certain what he did when he brushed his hand over the cat, but I nodded my thanks.
Then the horse flapped up to the side of the bridge.  I reached up to pull myself up, and Edmond used me as a ladder and climbed up first.  I scrambled up to join the little fool.  Of course, we were both fools for being here so I simply pulled myself up and laid flat taking in the sight of Potilia.
She had grown taller, glowing with lightning everywhere.  I couldn't see the others beyond her, but I had the feel of their magic, and could even sense the frantic worry as they tried to shield now rather than attack.  I also realized that Lord Cayman was not going to hide behind the shield.  I had to act quickly.
I had a little magic of my own, but I could feel one power growing as I saw the others in danger.
I didn't even stand -- which probably saved me.
"Stop!"
And they did.  All of them.
Only Potilia recovered first.  She spun and didn't see me right away.  However, as she turned, so did her storm, so that winds and lightning flashed out across me.  I frantically turned to get hold of Emond -- but the wind caught him, and he sailed off into the sky, howling in protest. 
I couldn't reach him.  And by the time I turned back, Potilia had found me.  Her lightning moved with a flick of her fingers, but not to kill.  Ropes of power tied me to the bridge as she stepped forward but I could lift my head enough to see her face.  The magic the others had been using had all died when I stopped them.  I didn't think they were going to recover fast enough, which meant I had done something truly stupid all the way around.  We were all going to die.  We were --
Other magic?
I felt a surge of power coming from the area where Lord Cayman and the others stood, but I didn't think it came from them.  I didn't know what was going on this time.
"Get away from him!" Maggie shouted.
Something hit Potilia hard in the back of the head.  It did not put her down, but she howled in anger, and that meant nothing good for my cousin.  I shouted and tried to pull free, but the power burned at me.  The wind had grown worse, too many things caught up in the debris.  She had lost control, and that wouldn't help the rest of us.  We had to do something fast --
And that something turned out to be Edmond.
Edmond with wings.
He sailed right in on Potilia's winds, circled with a flap of his long, bat-like wings -- and then landed on her shoulder and bit her ear.
The magic went wild.  I thought we were all going to die.

To Be Continued. . . .
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Friday, June 17, 2016

Flash Fiction #203 -- Escaping Somewhere Else, Part 38: Bridge Redux 2





We didn't rush across the bridge as fast as we had down into this tunnel.  I was glad because I didn't think the bridge would hold up to that kind of treatment.  I walked in the lead.  They apparently thought I knew something.  Well, I guess I did.  I knew that this was a dangerous place.
The little creatures that had set me up for the sacrifice were stunned to silence when I came back through.  One started to stand up to speak, but I looked at him. 
"I don't want to hear it this time," I said.  "We are going through, and we are not sacrificing anything or anyone to get to the other side."
"You survived," the creature said.  Awed.  "Go in peace."
I didn't trust the cooperation which was just as well.  We were about to reach the mist creatures, and I didn't see any way we could reason with them.
"Claws," Edmond said.  "And teeth if you don't have anything better.  Just let Lord Snow and I at them first."
"I did manage to take down a few when we came through here," Lord Snow said with a bit of a smirk.  "They are only constructs, you know.  A bit of mist with a purpose, which appears to be nothing more than throwing visitors off the bridge."
The bridge trembled again, this time, a bit more viciously.  The little guys gave startled cries.  I hoped they stayed safe.  They were one of the few friendly creatures I had seen.
The mist things moved onto the path as we neared.  Edmond leapt out into the attack first, but Lord Snow came right behind him and kept the little cat safe.  The mist creatures wouldn't have any trouble lifting Edmond and tossing him off the bridge, but they'd have a bit more trouble lifting a 120-pound snow leopard.  Granted, they hadn't had much trouble lifting me, but I didn't have four sets of claws at work, either.
And those claws were at work.  The fae guards with us moved forward with daggers in hand, but Edmond and Lord Snow cleared the way.
"I suspect they will reform," Lord Cayman said as we passed over the spot. I had not been beyond this little area, but at least Lord Snow would warn us of any other trouble.
I did take a moment to look over the side and down into the jungle, though, moving along until I found an opening.  A dinosaur grazed there, looking enormous and placid.
"Hey, Job!"
The long-necked head came up and twisted.
"Hey Mark!  Edmond!" he yelled.  You haven't lived until you've seen a dinosaur jump for joy.  "Take care!  Watch out for the pterodactyls.  They're in a bad mood!"
"Thanks," I shouted back.
"Seems you made some friends along the way," Lord Cayman said.  He looked down at the dinosaur as we walked past.  I thought he looked impressed.
"A few," I admitted.  "I think that's because I just didn't know what I was doing."
"Or that you knew what you wanted -- friends, and not enemies.  That can help in some cases, you know.  Fae protect far too much of what they feel sometimes, and this can create problems we expect, but might have avoided."
That was something interesting to consider.  Did it work with me, too?  I needed to figure these things out and fast because nothing was getting safer.  I gave a last wave back to Job and headed on into unknown territory, though it looked no different than the area we had been walking.  I still felt an urge to panic, though.  At least I trusted Lord Snow, who had come this way and I tried very hard not to think he was starting to look nervous, too.  Maybe I should have asked what sort of problems the others had run into after we parted company?
Why ruin the surprise?
We passed through more mist, but this seemed more fog than alive.  Below us, the land changed from jungle to forest, and I heard wolves howl.  Edmond decided he wanted to be carried again.  I thought longingly about big, heavy Job.  Or Bog Bob.  But the wolves stayed below us and after a while, we were out over grasslands.
Here we rested.  This was another new experience for me.  I got to sit down, eat, and go to sleep while others kept watch, and people who I was sure could take care of problems.  Edmond curled up with me.  We slept for at least four hours without any worries at all.
But I awoke to the bridge viciously shaking, and yells of worry coming from my companions and from the land below us.  Edmond grabbed hold of my arm, claws and all.  I didn't blame him.  I grabbed hold of Lord Cayman.
"Run!" Lord Cayman shouted.
I glanced back to see a whirlwind forming on the bridge, and in the middle of it, I could clearly see Potilia.  Lightning played at her fingertips.
Yeah.  Run.
For a moment I thought we had been fools to rest, but now I realised we had regained strength -- and she was wasting hers.
We ran.  We ran fast.  I heard a sound of thunder behind us and felt her rage, but it was too far away now to do us any harm.  Moving this fast, I dared not look back, but looking ahead was not much better.  I could see cracks in the bridge, and a turn that seemed to be falling apart.  Mist and dust rose up in the area, and I couldn't see what might be waiting on the other side, but since the rest of my companions kept running, so did I.  Lord Snow leapt a wide opening and scrambled over the other side.  I leapt as well and started to fall backwards when I missed my footing.  Edmond cried out but didn't let go as we fell.
To Be Continued. . . .
1000 Words
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Friday, June 10, 2016

Flash Fiction #202 -- Escaping Somewhere Else, Part 37: Bridge Redux




I had taken hold of Edmond and held him tight as we headed down to the path.  That was a good thing because once we were on the trail, the others began to run and and I kept up with them.  We took the curving road down to the bridge at a speed that was not natural.  I had never moved this quickly before, where the wind blew in my face and the world seemed to melt featureless, as we passed.  I suspected Edmond didn't like this any better than he liked flying.  I thought I could hear him muttering things, but the rush of air past us carried the words away before I understood them.
The sense that we were running out of time came stronger as we moved.  Bog Bob had wedged himself into the opening above us, blocking out the light -- but the walls glowed, leaving odd streaks of light in my sight the farther down we went.  This did not even feel like the same place until we began to slow and I could see the familiar path -- and the bridge.
"That was not fun," Edmond complained when we'd finally reached a sedate pace.  He looked around and then gave a sigh.  "But at least it wasn't long."
"And you didn't have to run," I added.  Now that we were stopped, I felt winded and lightheaded.  The others started moving on ahead of us and I was glad enough not to be in the lead.
Right until I heard some words.
"What are you going to pay me to cross?"
With a snarl, I grabbed Edmond up and held him close, making certain he didn't lose the ability to speak, didn't go flying off the bridge, and did not become a snack for the fluffy white thing that sat in our way.
Lord Cayman looked shocked when I pushed my way forward and faced the creature once more.
"You again!" it shouted and took a nervous step backwards.
"Yes, me.  And Edmond.  Are we really going to have this conversation again?"
"No."
The thing backed up several more steps and then scrambled to the edge of the bridge where it apparently had some sort of bridge.  In a moment it disappeared over the edge.
Lord Cayman turned to stare at me, one eyebrow raised.  The others certainly seemed to take me more seriously. 
"He didn't want to let us across before," I said with a shrug.  "I disagreed. There are other problems up ahead.  A group of cute little things, but they led to the mist creatures that threw me off the bridge and we had to deal with the dinosaurs.  After that it was circle back to the glass city.  I kind of hope we can avoid the jungle romp this time."
Lord Cayman gave a quick smile.  How odd, but I felt as though we were connecting on some level, maybe even as family.  Well, if you had a really strange family.  Which, yeah, I did.
So we headed out over the bridge, Lord Cayman and I in the lead, until I put Edmond down and he headed out ahead of us, though not far.  He knew how dangerous this place could be.  And it wasn't long before I heard something thumping along the path ahead of us.
"Edmond --"
But he, unexpectedly, charged ahead into the shadows and mist.  I rushed after him and saw something huge and white --
"Lord Snow!"
Edmond caught up with the huge cat and twined around his legs, purring loudly.  I would have done the same.  Lord Snow looked just as happy to see Edmond and the rest of us, too.
"Mark!  Oh, and Lord Cayman -- praise the Gods.  I assume you realize we need you to open a door?"
"Yes, Lord Snow.  I'm glad to see you looking so well."
"And I feel the same," he said with a proper bow of his cat head.  "The others are waiting at the end of the bridge where it meets a solid wall and nowhere else to go.  I told them I would come back and try to find Mark, making them think this would be a way to get out.  I had only hoped to find Mark so that we could then find you, Lord Cayman.  Apparently, I wasn't needed."
"I would have liked your help," I said and put a hand on his head.  I even won a slight purr.  "I am happy to have Lord Cayman with us already, though.  I would really like to get out of this place."
"And soon," Lord Cayman agreed.  "Once Potilia has the Glass City down, I doubt she's going to pause to come after us.  In fact, that might be our bst chance -- that she is so angry, she doesn't consider her own weakness."
"Why is she so strong that can take all of you on?" I asked.  I realized there was a lot here that I didn't understand.
"She was probably the first fae to find this realm," Lord Cayman explained as we walked along the bridge again.  Edmond and Lord Snow led the way.  I knew they would be careful since they had both gone this way before and knew the dangers.  "Being the first fae would have given her access to powers none the rest of us can gain.  I also suspect she didn't like being the only fae here and has set out nets to gather others who happen to pass close by.  We had to leave Elsewhere in a hurry or else I would have chosen a better path."
"But she can't stop you from leaving?" I asked.
"I have specific powers she cannot stop, as long as I get a chance to use them," he said.  He stared ahead.  "She is still going to try to stop us."
The bridge trembled.  We didn't have much time.

To Be Continued. . . .
1000 Words
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Friday, June 03, 2016

Flash Fiction #201 -- Escaping Somewhere Else, Part 36: Decisions




The clicking of teeth and the buzz of the wings filled the air as the black creatures filled the air.  Somewhere that other huge thing howled, and it didn't sound any happier than we were.
And I wondered, suddenly, where Sheriff Creston -- Uncle Darman -- had gone.  I had not seen him since we arrived in this wonderland of disasters, but I had the feeling he might be close.
The Bitters were on us.
Fae, it turned out, have a much better chance of dealing with these kinds of things.  I watched them pointing fingers and downing a hundred at a time in a flash of light.  They had spread out around Lord Cayman and me, and I found myself protected along with my father.  Edmond even pulled his head out of my jacket and looked around.
"Hey, they have their use after all," he said.
Lord Cayman looked his way -- eyes narrowed for a moment -- and then he suddenly laughed.  The sound was like . . . Like magic in the air.  The area around us brightened.  Other fae smiled, and as they continued to attack the lessening number of biters, I had the impression of teens with video games.
In a few more moments, the last of the biters disappeared, either dead or in retreat.  We started out of the area in haste, their black bodies crunching under our feet.  One leapt up and caught me on the hand, but Edmond bit the thing in half, spitting it out.
"Nasty," he said and licked his fur several times, apparently to get rid of the taste.
"Lord Cayman," I said, walking beside him.  He glanced my way with a little frown, and I knew why -- but I simply could not call him 'father' at this point.  We needed a little more together-not-in-the-middle-of-a-battle time before I'd feel that comfortable.  "Do you think Darman has followed us here?  I haven't seen any direct sign of him, but I have the feeling he isn't far away."
"True," Lord Cayman said.  "He was wise to stay clear of the City of Glass, but now that it is coming down, I suspect he will try to make common cause with Potilia."
I glanced back.  The glowing city had come at least halfway down the sky.  Darman and Potilia teaming up did not sound pleasant.  "The sooner we can get out of here the better," I said.
"Then we have to get to your companions," Lord Cayman said.  He didn't sound upset, either.  I wondered if I heard maybe a hint of pleasure in his voice.  I had done the right thing in not abandoning them.
"We need to get beyond that hill," I said.  "Then down to the bridge -- and not let anything throw us off it this time."
"No more flying," Edmond agreed.
"I would say the two of you have had an adventure," Lord Cayman said.  "Which, like most adventures, are better in retrospect than at the time.  And you need to worry so much about the cat.  I will not take away what I gave him, and neither can anyone else.  The two of you have done exceptionally well, considering how little time you've had even to realize your fae background."
"Yes, an adventure," I agreed and tried not to snarl.  "And thank you about Edmond.  And for Edmond, since he won't say it, being a cat."
Lord Cayman laughed again.  From the way the others glanced at him, I had the feeling that maybe Lordly Fae were not known for their good humor.  I was going to have to learn more about them and magic and about everything else.  My world, their world, other worlds, this world -- and where were we going to go next?
I didn't really want to think about that part.
We reached the hill and worked our way around the side.  I glanced back at the last moment and realized that the City of Glass had very little more to go before it landed.  As I looked, though, I saw buildings crumbling into dust below it -- she did not want to destroy the beauty of the place as it came to land.  Good.  That gave us a little more time.
The bog sat before us.  I stepped to the front, Lord Cayman at my back and Edmond in my arms.
"Hey, Bob -- you around?"
The ground moved, and the giant head appeared so suddenly that rock, dirt and mud pelted us.
"Oh hey, sorry!" Bog Bob said with a bright smile.  "Didn't expect to see you again!  Got thrown off the bridge, did you?"
"Yeah.  You might have warned me, you know."
"Nah.  No use in it.  Just makes you more paranoid.  But you've come back with powerful friends," he said, his dark eyes looking the group over.  He stopped as he stared at me  -- no, at the man who stood behind me.  "Ah. Lord Cayman. An honor."
"We need down to the bridge, Bob," I said.  "And fast.  Portilia isn't happy with us."
"Portilia is never happy," he said and looked upward.  He blinked.  "Ah.  You bright down the city, did you?"
"Let's just say we made it wise for her to take it down herself."
"Oh, she'll not be happy," he agreed and climbed out of the hole.  "You know the way.  Quick now, so I can get back in place."
"She'll know we went this way," one of the other fae said.  "Some of us should try to lead her another way --"
"No," Lord Cayman said.  I was glad to hear that answer.  "We stay together.  She'll track us all eventually anyway, and our only hope is to move quickly and to stay strong."
The others agreed and even looked relieved.  They would have sacrificed themselves for him, I realized.
Instead, they followed me down into the ground as we worked to save the others.

To Be Continued. . . .
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