Friday, April 29, 2016

Flash Fiction #196 --Escaping Somewhere Else, Part 31: Cloud City

A handsome steed of silver with golden wings came to me and knelt so I could climb up. There was a small saddle, my legs bent backwards over the wings and a pommel to hold on to.  I grabbed it tight with one hand and held to Edmond with the other.
"I hate flying," the cat mumbled into my jacket.
"It's starting to lose a lot of it's luster for me, too," I admitted.  I looked to Ellin.  "I have no idea what I'm doing.  I think you better do the directions for now."
"Yes," Ellin agreed.  "You're help will best be used when we get there.  We are few.  The faster we can get to Lord Cayman, the better."
I nodded, feeling chilled with the idea of something this important was in my hands.  I don't like being in charge .  I especially didn't like being in charge of something that could get others killed.
One of the fae leaned closer to me from another horse.  I could not see his face, but I had an odd sense of calm from him.
"We have been here a long time, with little hope of ever getting home," the voice said.  A woman's voice, which took me by surprise.  "You give us a chance, Protector.  I do not want to live here without hope.  Not any longer."
"Take care," I wished her.  Edmond had even pulled his head out and looked at her.  "Please take care, all of you."
"We will. But we will not hold back if the chance comes.  We will all do what we can as I expect you will as well.  Let us go, Ellin.  We're ready."
So Ellin's horse leapt out into the sky.  Edmond buried himself in my jacket again, and we took to the air with the others.
There was one huge problem, of course.  There was no way the people of the city couldn't see us coming, all those lovely flying horses in the air.  I could see a dozen or more griffins taking to the air now, coming at us in a swarm, screaming in the wind.   The fae brought up their swords and they glinted with power.  I just bowed low over my horses neck and hoped he knew enough to keep out of danger. 
Things fell past me.  One was a fae, clearly dead.  I knew it even as I started to reach.  My heart pounded.  The griffins soared and screamed, but several of them fell, too.
I kept my eyes on the city, which grew closer.  Beautiful, really -- glass and gold, glittering in the sunlight.  Ellin -- I thought it was still him -- was leading the way now and others were fighting off the griffins behind us.   I glanced back and felt a surge of hope. There were far fewer of the creatures in the air now and the fae were holding the line.
We swept down over the square, circling once, but there was no sign of anyone trying to oppose us.  That worried me.  I started watching the buildings, having had trouble with intelligent, moving buildings before.  They seemed solid and still, even when we landed and I slid off the winged horse.
I held Edmond tight, all too aware that we were still in the air on something floating.  I don't know what I would do if we started to fall, but I'd hold on to the cat.  Ellin was down and dropped his armor.  The others were doing the same, all of them looking around with worry.
I could see shadows moving at the edges of the buildings, but nothing more.
"That building," I said with a nod towards a squat blue building that looked like a sapphire in the sunlight.  "I can't say where exactly inside, but that's the location.  How do we get in?"
There didn't appear to be any door and I could sense a strong shield of magic around it, too.  In fact, there was magic around everything, as though whatever lived here did not want anything from the outside getting in; look, but don't touch.
I'd hated that when I was a child.  It annoyed me more now. I walked over to the building and the fae followed me as though they thought I had a clue about what to do.  I looked at Ellin and was pleased to see that he was studying the building and not waiting for some miracle from me.
"Where are the people who live here?" I finally asked.
"Watching us," Ellin said.  "Waiting to see what powers we can bring to bear on this problem.  If we get inside, there will be trouble enough."
I didn't like the 'if' part.  "How have you gotten in before?" I asked.
"A little magic," he said and lifted his hand.  "But we were not in the right places before.  I suspect they simply wanted us in where we were easier to kill."
"And they don't want us in here."
"Apparently not," Ellin said. His hand lifted and magic played along the surface of the building.  "I can sense no weakness --"
"What about the door?" Edmond asked.  I looked down at him.  Ellin frowned.  Edmond looked from me to Ellin and back.  "You two don't see the door, do you?"
"No.  Why can you?"
"Cats don't see the same things humans do," he said.  "Why do you think we're chasing things in the middle of the night when you can't even see them?"
"Honestly?  I thought cats did it just to drive humans crazy."
"You don't believe we're keeping you safe?" he asked.  If he'd had an eyebrow, it would have been raised.
"A discussion for another time, Edmond.  Show me the door."
"Huh," he smirked.  Yeah, he'd won that round.
But the griffins were starting to circle above us.  We needed inside so the real battle could begin.
To Be Continued. . . .
990 Words

Friday, April 22, 2016

Flash Fiction #195 --Escaping Somewhere Else, Part 30: Circles

We went up a few more steps, the incline steeper here at the end of the tunnel.  The light was too bright, too.  I squinted and followed Ellin, wondering what he was leading me to -- but you know, I kind of knew it before we even stepped out into the light.
There, across the sky, stood the city in the clouds that I had first seen when we stepped through the portal into this place.
I had gone in a full circle and was back where we started.
"Well, hell."  Edmond sighed and didn't sound at all surprised either.  "Now what do we do?"
I looked at Ellin.  He stared at the distant city with some worry nd then turned back to me.  "We have to get him free."
"My father."
He nodded and looked me over again.  "You are a Sanctioned Protector.  You are the first person we've had through here who might have a chance of taking on the Sky people."
"I am a protector, not a warrior," I pointed out.  "I don't even know what to do to get there."
"We can get you there," Ellin said with a nod to the right.
I turned and found that we were not alone.  Elves were here -- a hundred or more -- lined up along the edge of the floating rock.  They all stood in armor and they all had swords in hands.  I shivered at the sight of them.
"What do they expect me to do?"
"The one thing we can't do," Ellin said.  He gave a wave of his hand and he stood in armor with a sword as well.  "You can find your father.  All we could do is search for him and that's a fast way to get killed.  We know.  We've tried it."
I looked at Ellin with a frown.  "I don't know how to find him."
"That's because you have never tried."
That was the type of answer I was starting to expect from fae.  I would have to figure this out on my own and I thought about finding my father --
And I knew where he was, over there in the cloud city.  I turned that way, startled.  "He's in a building, about the middle of the city.  Not the tower where they usually keep prisoners, though."
"You just told us more than we have ever known before," Ellin said.  He sounded reassured, but I wasn't so certain.
"That might just have been my imagination --"
"No," Edmond said.  "I could tell.  You caught a link to him.  I have a link to him too, you know.  He made me what I am."
I had forgotten that, even though my father and I had a rather quick disagreement about it when he thought to make Edmond back into a regular cat.  It was more than my position as a Protector that made me step in, too.  Edmond was a friend.  He'd stuck with me and helped me from the moment I stepped through the gate into Elsewhere.
"Edmond, what do you think I should do?"
He was still in my arms.  Heavy cat, but I didn't want to put him down here at the edge of the rock island and the sky.  He twisted his head a little and looked up at me, blinking.
"If it was me, I'd walk away from this.  One hundred elves against a sky city full of people?  And they clearly have magic of their own."  I nodded, frowning.  "But here's the thing, Mark.  You are not me.  You are not a cat.  And you know that if you walk away now, you'll just make another circle and end up here again.  We need to get your father free of whatever is holding him there.  I wish we had some of our friends with us, but maybe . . . Maybe it's safer that they're not here."
"I'd feel better if I knew where they were and that they're safe."
"They're still on the bridge.  They'll be there until a door opens to somewhere else, which may or may not be safer," Ellin said.  "And a door will not open until Lord Cayman is rescued because he is the key to such places."
I stared at him trying to parse all that.  "My father opened the door to here.  He is the one that has to open the door back out."
"How did the rest of you get here?"
"Fell through, shoved through, sought it out," Ellin said with a shrug.  "Mischief and mistakes, all of it.  "There were other doors in, but never any out.  Now that we have a Fae Lord here, we hope he will grant us leave from this place."
"That's why the city people took him, isn't it?" Edmond suddenly said.  "They don't want him opening doors for people to leave."
Ellin nodded agreement.
Now I was annoyed.  "Why didn't anyone tell me this to begin with?"
"We hadn't realized who you were," Ellin admitted.  "You are, after all, half human.  That blinded us to the obvious link between you and your father.  We could tell such a thing had entered the land, but we couldn't find it.  Only when it became obvious you had powers that had to come from a High Lord did we start tracking you down.  You -- moved around a lot."
He was right there.  I hadn't sat still for more than a few hours since I came to this place.  And except when I was ill after being shot, I hadn't really rested since I left home. 
Home and bed sounded very nice right now.
Instead, I looked across at the city.  "How do we get there?" I asked, even though I dreaded learning the answer. 
Ellin clapped his hands three times.
A line of winged horses appeared before us.  They were already standing on air, their wings flapping slightly.  Magic.  Right.  But I didn't have to like it.
Edmond just buried his head in jacket.  Yeah, time to go.
To Be Continued. . . .
999 words