Friday, January 29, 2016

Flash Fiction #183 --Escaping Somewhere Else, Part 18: Bog Bob

The ground rippled  around us and I went to my knees.  Lord Snow growled and dropped to the ground, his ears back, his eyes staring ahead as the pupil expanded.  I inched away from him.
The ground still moved.  I wanted to think it was something simple, like an earthquake.  Or maybe a bog.  Yeah.  This was a bog and all we had to do was back away so we didn't sink in.  The others were retreating fast.  Lord Snow and I needed to do the same.
Except a bog wouldn't move upward in a mound until two huge eyes stared out from the grass and flowered covered head.
The the mouth appeared, yards across, surprisingly white teeth
It smiled.  "Hi there!  Wow!  I haven't had visitors in a long time!"
I glanced at Lord snow.  He had frozen in position, a growl coming out like a surprised cough .
"A -- hello?" I offered.  I was used to things attacking me.  This creature -- or at least the head of this creature -- hadn't yet.
"Hello!  He blinked and the smile wavered slightly.  The head tilted, a few rocks tumbling down and flowers bending to the side.  "You aren't from around here."
"No, I'm not," I agreed. I tried to wave Lord Snow to back up, but he ignored me.  The others didn't scream as loudly now.  "I came through by accident.  We're trying to reach the gate out of here."
"Yeah.  Not the most pleasant place, is it?" he said with a dramatic sigh.  "I went and had a look a few years ago, not long after the disaster.  It was bad enough before that with all those buildings and not a bit of grass or trees.  But . . . But it was worse afterwards.  Even if it all crumbles down and becomes ground again, it will still be worse.  Nothing can change the evil that happened."
"I'm Mark," I said.  He was friendly.  He hadn't tried to kill us yet.  He might have answers.  "And you are?"
"Bog," he said.  "Well, that's what people mostly yell as they flee.  Sometimes they yell 'not a bog!' but I just stick with bog."
"How about if I call you Bob instead," I offered.
"Bog Bob!  I like it!"  The creature laughed with delight and the ground trembled.  Then the creature gave a sigh again.  "I suppose you want me to let you through to the woods."
"We had hoped to get that way to find the magic door," I said.  "We need --"
People screamed.  I spun in time to see five wyverns sweeping down on the people behind.  They were trying to reach cover while Maggie, Lady and people with bows and spears fought them back.  I started to run; I could protect them, right?  They were in danger and --
And they didn't need me.
Bob Bog leapt out of the ground and flew across the sky, his huge body turning the world to shadow around us.  I had a heart-stopping moment when I was sure hew as going to belly flop and crush us all.
Instead, he swatted wyverns out of the air, sending them crashing to the ground or splattering against the side of the hill.  Then he flipped around and dove back into the ground.  A bit of shifting, a few rumbles and his head popped back up again.
"Thanks Bog Bob," I offered.  I brushed a little dirt out of my hair where it had fallen.
Lord Snow simply laid down with his head on his paws.  He looked rather unsettled.
"Nasty things, those Wyverns," Bob Bob said with a snarl of dislike.  "Pets of those up in the sky, and they're not much better even if they do look human enough.  They should know by now not to let the nasty things near me."
"You saved the others.  We are grateful," he said.  "We need to head back and go the other way --"
"No," Edmond said, coming at a trot.  "We can't go that way.  There's a troll village around the hill and worse beyond.  I take it we're not going this way?" He looked at the huge head with a shake of his head.  Lord Snow still looked stunned.
"Bog Bob is the guardian to keep us out," I began.
"Oh no, that's not it at all," Bog Bob answered with a shake of his head.  The ground trembled again and little stone fell all around them.  "I'm sorry if I gave you that impression.  I'm not here to keep you from going in: I'm here to keep the others from escaping out of the forest."
I looked at the trees in the distance.  Maybe not far enough away, in fact.  Did I see something odd moving at the edge of the light? 
"What is in there?" I asked.
"Deathstalkers," he replied.  "They were created when the magic went loose, but I've got them trapped."
"We will not be going in there," Edmond said.  He even backed up a few steps.
"Very smart cat, " Bog Bob replied with a slight nod to Edmond.  I had the feeling Edmond didn't much like having his attention either.
"So there is no way through the forest," I said.
"You might survive if you're willing to sacrifice half your people to the deathstalkers," Bog Bob suggested.
"No.  That is not an option."
"Good," Bog Bob said.  He tilted his head slightly to the side and watched him as though waiting for something more to be said.
  "If we can't go around one side or the other -- then how can we get past here?"
"Finally!  Someone smart enough to ask the right question!"  Bog Bob shouted. The world trembled and I feared he was going to jump up and down and kill us all.  "The rest took off running before I could even tell them about the Deathstalkers.  You can't fly so there's only one other way.  You go under."
He began to climb out of his hole.

To Be Continued. . . .

1000 Words

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Flash Fiction #182 --Escaping Somewhere Else, Part 17: Decisions

With the creatures overhead, we needed to find somewhere safe, and fast.  Once I had looked up, the creatures began to scream and started to sweep lower.  We didn't have much time.
"We need the best cover," I said, frantically looking around.  "Which path?"
"Retreating on the one we're on," Edmond replied.  His tail kept twitching with agitation.  "But I don't think that's a good idea.  Other things are following us, too."
"Of course they are.  Which trail, Edmond?  Lord Snow?"
"The right," Edmond said.  Lord Snow looked from one to the other and then gave a shrug as though it didn't matter.  "You need to go ahead, Mark.  Get ready."
"For what?" I said, but Edmond was already darting back among the people.  I couldn't hear what he was saying.
"Prepare for trouble would be my guess," Beth said.  She sounded like someone who was too used to trouble.
Maggie nodded agreement.  Lord Snow was already moving ahead of us, his head down and his ears back.  He expected a problem.  Should be go to the left instead?  Why right?   What weird cat-logic did Edmond use to make that decision?
I should have stopped the others, demanded answers --
I looked up.  Wyverns screamed and circled lower.
So I jogged on ahead and up to where Lord Snow walked.  I did not go past him.  I waned some protection for whatever we faced.  The last of the buildings disappeared, but the hill to the left of us still provided considerable cover.  I saw some caves, probably dug out by who knew what, but at least they might prove a place to run if the creatures in the air got any closer.
"Anything in those?" I said with a nod to the caves.
Lord Snow turned that way, sniffed twice, and gave a bit of a nod.  "Things.  Some of them dangerous, but not so bad as the things in the air.  I want to go home, Mark."
"I'll do my best to get you there, Lord Snow.  I appreciate that you helped Lord Cayman and us."
"Why don't you call him father?"
"I can't.  Not someone I barely met.  Father is more than just a blood relative."
"Humans are complex," Lord Snow said.  "Dragons are dangerous, but easier to understand."
"And cats?" I asked.
"Oh, complex, of course," he said.  "Complex, intelligent and dangerous."
I didn't ask if humans weren't the same, but from the look he gave me, I thought we had an understanding on it.  Good.   This understanding was clearly so important in the scheme of everything else.
We came around the edge of the hill and the ground dropped away dramatically.  I blinked.  Green.  An open glade filled with grass and flowers and beyond that a forest of tall trees.
"This isn't possible," I said.  "This makes no sense at all."
"We are in a reality where magic has run wild," Lord Snow replied.  He sat and stared at the land ahead, his eyes narrowed and his tail twitching.  "Magic makes many things possible, Mark.  This is something you still need to learn because you have magic and being able to believe you can shape it into something might be all that saves your followers."
"I never wanted --" I glanced over my shoulder. The others were back still, but in sight.  "But I can't change what's happened.  I need to understand now, not wish for changes in the past.  You are saying that I have magic to shape things?  To create things, not simply to stop bad things from happening to others?"
"You are a sanctioned protector," he said.  "That gives you one kind of power.  But you are Lord Cayman's son and heir.  That gives you an entirely different sort of power.  I am not the person who can teach you that magic and you shouldn't try to use it unless you have to."
"I'm in the sort of situation where that might happen," I said.  I stared out at the green grass, the pretty flowers.  "I don't trust that place out there at all."
"Wise," Lord Snow admitted.  "There is nothing safe in a world like this, where the magic spread, wild and free.  Something created that setting down below us, Mark.  Something wanted a place of beauty and peace."
"Because it makes a wonderful trap," I said.
"Or because they thought there was not enough beauty in this world."
I looked at him and laughed.   It might have sounded a little hysterical.  'Oh right.  That's going to happen with me around!"
I hadn't expected the cat to look startled.  Then he did something unexpected.  He stood and rubbed against my legs in the way Edmond does.  He even purred.  The difference between having a small black cat act that way and a huge snow leopard, though, nearly killed me.  I landed on my ass.
"Sorry, sorry," Lord Snow said though I thought the purr had changed to a rumbling chuckle.  "I only realized how well you are doing, all things considered.  You have had a hard time.  You'll get through this.  I hope your father -- I hope Lord Cayman does the same."
"What happens if he doesn't survive?" I asked.
Lord Snow looked up at me, his huge eyes narrowed.  I thought he would say something, but he stopped and shook his head.  "No.  Not now.  There are others to consider first."
I looked back. Those others were coming closer.  He was right.
The view of the valley below, with the grass and flowers, still enticed me.  "What kind of trap will it be?"
"I know of only one way to find out."
With a sigh, I started down the winding trail.  Lord Snow walked beside me, which I found more reassuring than having him behind me.  We moved cautiously forward, getting closer to the grass below.
Maybe five more steps.
And something moved.
No, actually, everything moved.

To Be Continued. . . .

989 Words