Friday Flash Fiction 015 – Judged

I knelt in the open plains, my head bowed against the sun despite the large shadow cast by my umbrella. My trinkets glimmered and jingled in the breeze. I did not feel the wind, though, as my mask covered my face and beak.

West winds bring plagues they said. My feathers were already beginning to molt from the sun’s kiss. I could not afford a plague on top of it.

How will you get the plague in that mask?

My fingers curled around the amulet that hung from my neck. “It’s the very best. Kings wish for masks like this.” I coughed, despite my words, and retreated further into the shade of my umbrella.

Fatigue, weakness, headache, light headedness. I listed the symptoms of heat exhaustion first, mentally checking off how many I had. Nausea, fever, tender skin, boils. Next was the plague. No boils…yet.

You do not have plague. I have already told you I would never allow it.

Ignoring the voice, I distracted myself from my ailments by looking at the trinkets that hung from my umbrella. I counted and sorted each one of the eleven trinkets. “Gotta collect all twelve.”

I felt my the back of my neck tighten uncomfortably at the thought of the set being incomplete. My fingers twitched towards my belt where my purse hung. Almost enough for the last piece.

The feathers on the back of my neck rose, and I cocked my head to the side. Something was coming. The stench of wrong doing.

I rose and gathered my belongings. It was easy to pack, and I was quickly on my way. I followed the stench easily enough. There was little out here to block my senses.

As I drew closer, my amulet pulsed. I felt every pump in my soul as I felt the pump of my heart. Sure. Confident. True. Trust your heart, and you will be okay is what they say. It led me straight to the man dragging a chest towards small out cropping of trees.

“Halt!” I cried out as I approached.

“What the?!” The man spun about, hand going towards his waist until he saw me. “Get out of here kenku. This doesn’t concern you.”

My head cocked to the side as I looked at the man. “That’s not yours.”

“I told you to git.” The man waved his hand at me and turned.

My fingers curled around my amulet as I looked at the man. “By the gods of Astor, I beseech thee, bind this man so that he may be judged.”

As I finished the prayer, fiery tendrils emanated from the amulet and towards the man. He screamed, trying to run, but my heavenly restraints were faster. Soon, he was bound by wrist and ankle, kneeling before me on the plains.

“You are charged with violating the laws of this land. How do you plead?”

“N..not guilty.” His eyes were slightly wide as he looked up at me.

I leaned forward ever so slightly. “I knew you’d say that.” Leaning back, I began to pray again. “Lords of Astor, reveal his crimes.”

Above my head, a blazing eye appeared and turned down onto the man. I saw how he had snuck up on the carriage in the early morning and taken the chest while everyone still slept. When the vision diminished, he was weeping silently from the effects of my patron’ s ways.

“You have committed theft and have been shown to be…”

“Wait! Please!” The man was crying openly now. “My village is starving. This would keep us fed til winter. I didn’t hurt no body. This was for the greater good.”

I could feel the flaming eye descend over my face as red-orange wings erupted behind me. “The law is greater than good.” My voice echoed the booming mental command of my patron.

“You have been accused and judged before the gods. In their names, I declare you guilty.” My feathery arms rose towards the heavens. “Great lords of Astor, carry out the sentence.”

The man cried out as one of the fiery tendrils about his wrist heated and tightened. In a blink, his hand was severed from his arm; the wound was sealed shut by the gods’ fire and power. The remaining tendrils disappeared, as did the images of flaming eyes and wings surrounding me.

With the sentence carried out, I turned to leave. The man still held his wrist and wept behind me. I stepped off to the north. There was a village near by with a good collection of items I wanted to buy.

What about the chest?

“The law does not care about property after trial.” I shrugged at the thought and scratched my arm. “My skin itches. Did they look rashy? I feel a rash.”

Today’s image is from wanderinginpixels on deviantart. Go check them out. Also, don’t forget to check out D. L. Spartan and her post from the same challenge. Tell her #teamstash sent you.

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. If you want, make sure you sign up for our newsletter and as a special thanks, you’ll receive a short story for free. And as always, I mustache y’all to stay fantastical.

Flash Fiction Friday 014 – Retribution

The sun set slowly over the city, staining the western sky with reds and oranges. L.A. sprawled out in a haze under the failing light. The harsh yellow of street lamps replaced the softer hues of the sun. Despite the transition between natural and artificial, traffic continued to buzz.

If there was one constant about life in a big city, it was that traffic did not care about sunsets or storms or natural disasters. People had places to be in L.A. and they would be damned if anything was going to stop them. It always made Azazial laugh.

Life in L.A. was like watching an ant hill. Everything crawled. Everything moved. Millions of tiny creatures hustled and bustled on pre-constructed routes.

But nothing fascinated Azazial more than watching them at sunset. Watching as they raged against the coming night. It was beautiful. Even Lucifer did not challenge God’s order the way that these people did every day.

He floated down from his heavenly hover, landing lightly on the streets below. The leather soles of his shoes whisked gently on the concrete as he moved. His deep, brown eyes scanned the shadows, searching.

After several moments, he found what he was looking for. Some tatted up man in a shirt two sizes too large was prowling the edges of the yellow light. These so called predators were always the most fun. They always had such a strong sense of entitlement.

Azazial moved to cross paths with the thug, barely giving him a glance as he moved towards the mouth of an alley. Like he expected, the thug couldn’t pass up the chance of attacking one dressed as finely as Azazial. Azazial didn’t even struggle as the thug grabbed him by the shoulder and forced him into the alley.

With his back pushed against the alley wall, Azazial watched calmly as a gun was leveled at his face. “Your money or your life!” The thug’s voice echoed off the nearby buildings.

Azazial laughed softly at the threat. “And just how are you going to kill me? With that Hi-Point? You’d be better off with a hammer.”

“Shut up and give me your wallet.” The thug placed his thumb on the gun’s hammer, cocking it back, but it started to shake lightly at the confrontation.

“Very well.” Azazial shrugged. He pulled his wallet from his pocket and held it out in front of him. The mugger grabbed it and ran off towards the far end of the alley, leaving Azazial standing in the shadows.

* * *

Mad Max ran for several streets before he finally slowed to a walk. Lighting a joint, he inhaled deeply before making his way back towards his crappy little apartment.

He kept an eye out for any cop cars as he moved. Sure he had quickly moved a few blocks away, but pigs always liked to try and mess with him. Self righteous bastards always thought they were better than the people down here.

Mad Max was pulled from his thoughts by the sounds of footsteps behind him. He ignored them at first. After all, it was a light sound, not the heavy thud of boots or Doc Martins. Two turns into his trip home, however, and the sound was still behind him.
He spun around quickly, hand going to his waist. “What do you want f..” Mad Max’s words trailed off when he saw no one behind him. “Cheap ass weed for me hearing things.”

He came to the run down building his apartment was in a few minutes later. As he was about to put his keys in the door, he saw something rushing towards him from the corner of his eye. Mad Max speed his keys and he turned, but there was nothing but shadows lining the walls of the building.

With shaky hands, he picked up his keys and stepped inside the bare apartment. He needed a drink to calm himself. Opening the fridge, Mad Max screamed as a thousand black bugs exploded from the inside the appliance.

He scrambled back away from the encroaching horde, hitting his head on the coffee table. The insects crawled up his legs and over his chest. They reached his neck… and disappeared.

“Christ!” Max was panting on the floor. “I’m never buying weed from Crazy Lou again.”

“It’s not the weed you need to worry about,” a voice laughed softly from the corner of the apartment.

Max jumped up and pulled out his gun. “Yo, you’re that joker I robbed earlier. How did you get in here?”

The man stood in the shadows of the room refusing to move or speak. Max nodded to himself as he tried to keep his hams from shaking. “Fine. I got something for you anyway.” He pulled the trigger several times but heard nothing but the click of a misfire.

The man laughed again as he glided towards Max. “I told you that you skills be better off with a hammer.” The ham paused a moment as he pulled something from his coat and raised it above his head. Max blinked as he saw the hammer hover above the horns on the man’s head. “Here. Let me show you.”

Thwack! Thwack! Thwamph!

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Friday Flash Fiction 013 – Raise the Black Flag

The trail of greenish light cut through the night sky. It was always the same when they came. The light was the messenger of their arrival. Before long, their ships would land, their troops would depart, and Miriam’s people would be forced to empty the warehouses that they had so diligently stocked up.

Miriam swung down from the treetop perch and landed on the forest floor. Leaves crunched under bare feet as she ran towards her village. She paused at the tree line just before the clearing. Beyond stood her village, a small collection of huts clustered around a bend in the river. The dock was nestled in the bend, though it was only used for the Romanus.

The other villagers had seen the green lights in the sky and had gathered outside, staring up towards the heavens. Miriam followed their gaze and watched as the wooden Romanus ship descended from the stars. It landed gently in the waters of the river as several men from the village ran to extend the walkway from the dock to the deck.

Once the ship was tied off, a Romanus official stepped forth, flanked on either side by a Praetor Guard. Their bronze breastplates shone in the moonlight while their capes fluttered in the gentle summer breeze, the red of the official contrasting with the purple of his guard. Miriam was too far away to hear the proclamation that the official was making, but she assumed that it was the standard address.

Every month since anyone could remember, the Romanus descended among them demanding tribute in the form of ore and precious gems. Something was off about this month’s visit, however. The villagers seemed tense as they listened to the official. Miriam also realized that the Romanus only brought one ship as opposed to the several they normally used to carry off her people’s hard earned goods.

The official had finished speaking and stared down the walkway at the surrounding villagers. There were shouts of confusion and anger from the small crowd. He listened with a look of mild disinterest before turning and stepping back onto his ship. As soon as he cleared the walkway, soldiers moved down the wooden path from the ship to the village. Cries of panic erupted as the soldiers began entering houses and villagers ran off in any direction they could.

Miriam watched in silent horror as fires lit the summer night. Screams of pain filled the air only to be cut off suddenly. Forcing herself to back away further into the tree line, she turned and ran. She did not stop running for seemed an eternity. The screams had faded away, but the glow of her village burning still glowed in the night.

* * *

Dawn was less than an hour away. Miriam had finally forced herself to calm down and turned back towards what was left of her village. Smoke still drifted lazily from the charred remains of huts. In the center of the village, several tents had been erected. The soldiers seemed to have made camp in the middle of their carnage.

Miriam felt her blood boil at the sight. How could they be so callous?

She was pulled from her thoughts by the sounds of people nearby. Silently, she crept towards the sound and discovered a few survivors from the village.

“Liam? What happened? Is there anyone else?”

A tall lad, barely younger than Miriam but still not old enough to hunt alone, sighed heavily. “They said that the empire no longer needed us. Our land is to be given to a new Proconsul who would settle it with citizens. We were the only ones who made it out.”

Miriam was shocked at the news. With a simple declaration, her people were killed in order to make way for a new settlement. All that was left of her village was a small group of barely more than children.

“Very well. If they think that we can be gotten rid of so easily, I guess that we will have to show them their mistake.” She nodded to herself as much as the band of survivors. “Listen up. You all can stay here and try to hide from the Romanus or you can come with me and fight back.”

“But how?” The question came from a smaller lad in the back. “There are thirty soldiers out there and only eight of us.”

“It’ll be ok, Sean.” Miriam smiled at the boy. “We only need to get to their ship. With that, we can get others, like us, and strike back at them at our own choosing and when they are weak. The soldiers are all asleep, so we can easily board the ship and take care of whoever is left on board.”

There was a murmur of agreement from the group before Miriam turned and led them back to the village.

She was surprised how easy it was to move past the sleeping soldiers. By the looks of the empty wineskins lying about, they had celebrated their “victory” over her people. Miriam silently pointed at Liam and then at the weapons left near the tent’s entrance. Nodding, Liam took Sean to gather the gladii and spears before joining the others on the dock.

Boarding the ship, they found only a handful of sailors. They were all asleep on the deck and were easily taken care of by the newly armed group. There was a little fumbling as Miriam’s new crew tried to make ready to sail. Their boats only traveled the waters, not the stars. Fortunately, the process of raising the ship into the air was intuitive enough and done without raising an alarm from the soldiers on land.

As they sailed into the morning sun, Miriam turned towards the cabin. Surely the official who brought the news was in there. She approached the door, gladius in hand. Little did the Romanus official know that he was not to survive the maiden voyage of The Galiani Revenge.

Miriam opened the door to the cabin and found the official still asleep in her new bed. She walked slowly towards him, a moment of doubt crossing her mind. Looking over her shoulder at the shrinking image of her village, Miriam tightened her resolve. Sometimes, one just needs to raise the black flag.

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. If you want, make sure you sign up for our newsletter and as a special thanks, you’ll receive a short story for free. And as always, I mustache y’all to stay fantastical.

Flash Fiction Friday 012 – The Persian Sand Wyrm

The Persian Sand Wyrm lifted it’s mighty head and spit forth it’s venom as the crimson clad combatants. Heinrich ducked, Rich dodged, and Tim dove, but Ulrich did not move fast enough. He screamed as the venom struck his left arm.

It quickly ate through his armor, burning into his flesh. The pain was intense, almost unbearable. Tim rolled to a crouch a few feet from Ulrich and dove back towards his injured battle buddy. He scooped Ulrich up in his arms and tackled the fellow Crusader to the ground as another burst of venom shot overhead.

“Crusader Main, Crusader Main. This is Crusader Bravo. Request immediate medevac at LZ Hawk. Elaine. I say again Elaine.”

Ulrich was family aware of the report Tim was sending up. Through the haze of pain, he recognized the code word for confirmation of the sand wyrm. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Heinrich and Rich engaging the creature, saw it slither and writhe under the hail of gunfire from the other two Crusaders.

Ulrich was pulled back to the reality of his situation as he felt something tightening on his arm near the shoulder. Tim was applying a turniquet to his injured arm. Reaching into his aid pack, Ulrich popped one of the pain potions that had been issued him and waved Tim away. “I’m good. Help them.”

Tim nodded and took off towards the wyrm while Ulrich finished applying the turniquet. A wave of euphoria washed over him as the potion took effect. After several moments, Ulrich was done treating himself. He couldn’t move his arm, but he was ok for now.

Ulrich reached for his weapon, the crossbow just a few feet from him. The bolts were specially designed and enchanted for desert dragons. Luckily, it was undamaged from the wyrm’s venom, but he only had one shot.

The other three had the wyrm’s attention. It was now or never. He lifted the crossbow, aimed, and loosed the bolt. It struck the wyrm in its venom sack, sinking deep into its neck. With a terrible cry, the creature reared its head before collapsing to the ground.

The medevac arrived a few minutes later and the team loaded up on the helicopters. Ulrich didn’t remember much after that. The medics had given him some of the good stuff, and he faded into a drug induced sleep.

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. If you want, make sure you sign up for our newsletter and as a special thanks, you’ll receive a short story for free. And as always, I mustache y’all to stay fantastical.

Flash Fiction Friday 011 – The Red Crusader

Ulrich flexed his left hand as he walked down the city street. It didn’t hurt; it was incapable of hurting, but old habits and all. The sound of traffic and the hum if humanity blared all around him; however, the commotion was muted in Ulrich’s ears. His mind was somewhere far away.

“Hey, Ulrich! Man, you want a taco or what?” Jack had stopped next to a good truck and was trekking at Ulrich.

Blinking, Ulrich moved by his friend in line. “Quite a wait for a mobile meal isn’t it?”

Jack laughed and have a shrug. “Master Monty has the best prices on tacos in the city.”

Ulrich craned his neck to see the menu. “Can’t be that good for those prices. How are drinks the most expensive item on the menu? Rat meat, that’s how.”

“A. Probably better than that shit you were eating down range. B. The food is legit. Monty has a taco storm in a jar. Fresh as magic can make it. Don’t get a drink here though.” Jack added. “Potions. Don’t want you popping hot when you get back to your unit.”

While Jack spoke, movement caught Ulrich’s eye. His head jerked around to see a woman walking her pet dragon down the sidewalk. No taller than the woman’s knee, it had it’s muzzle on to prevent accidental fires.

Ulrich tensed at the sight of the thing, his fists clenching. The edges of his vision began to black out before being filled with fire. His left hand began to tap his leg repeatedly while he stood frozen.

“Yo. You’re on leave. You’re on leave. Chill bro.” Ulrich faintly heard Jack’s words at first, but each sentence became clearer and clearer. After another moment or two, his mind cleared and he was at the front of the line for tacos.

Ulrich barely registered anything during the transaction. He knew dragons were pets. They were vey popular pets. Breeding the big ones was also a violation of several international treaties. That didn’t stop some people, though.

Some dictators just got it in their head that dragons were better when big and angry. That’s when units like Ulrich’s were called. USAMA claimed they were the Black Knights, and they could pretend. Ulrich was a Red Crusader, one of four knight forces in the US Army, trained and proficient in handling mythical and magical problems.

Jack guided him to a seat as he continued to flex his left hand. The sound of cogs and actuators was barely audible being magically powered and muted. Despite having no actual sense of anything in that hand, Ulrich could tell the moves of the metal didn’t feel right. Maybe it was just the way the shoulder joint still rubbed burnt skin. He still had a few weeks to get used to it while he finished up hid convalescent leav… man. That was a good taco.

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. If you want, make sure you sign up for our newsletter and as a special thanks, you’ll receive a short story for free.

Prince Phillip – Chap. 1

I feel bad about missing last week’s #flashfictionfriday. To make up for it, enjoy chapter one of my #wip Prince Phillip.

Hey all. Life got in the way last week and I feel bad about not getting the Friday Flash Fiction up. To make up for it, I’ve decided to give you all a little extra treat this week. Here is the current draft of the first chapter of Prince Phillip. Enjoy.

The hall was colorfully decorated for the party. Golden banners intertwined with red were strung across the walls. A merry din echoed off the stone surroundings, a mix of happy voices and the plucking of a psaltery filled the air. Everyone was in a joyous mood. After all, the infant princess had just been officially presented to the lords and ladies of the court.

There was one present, however, who was only mildly interested in the baby being celebrated. Prince Phillip had little concern for the child. After all, what use did a baby have to a five-year-old prince? He was far more engrossed by the various foods and punches that were available. The thought of the return trip home was also weighing on his young mind. It took ages to get to East Thuringia and it would take ages to return home. Frowning at the thought, he attempted to wash it away with another drink of punch.

“Phillip, my boy. Come here.” The sound of his father’s voice cutting over the noise of celebration pulled Phillip from his thoughts and the lad moved towards where his father was standing with Stephen, the king of East Thuringia.

“What do you think of Rose my lad?” Hubert looked down at his son with an expectant eye. Phillip knew the look. It meant his father was waiting for a certain answer, though the boy often did not know which answer his father wanted.

“I don’t know father. She doesn’t cry much.”

Hubert slapped his large belly with a hearty laugh, his face turning a slightly deeper shade of red than his tunic. Phillip smiled, thinking he answered the question well enough. After all, he didn’t have much experience with babies outside of those the castle wet nurse helped care for.

“What do you make of that Stephen? A high compliment from a young lad I think.”

Stephen stroked a jet-black beard in quiet thought for a moment. “I am not sure what I expected, but there is plenty of time for them to get to know each other.” The East Thuringian king was soft-spoken, a stark contrast to his father’s boisterous demeanor.

“Then it is settled?” Hubert raised a golden brow at the taller king.

“Yes. It is settled.” Stephen turned from Hubert to address the hall. “My lords! If you will please settle yourselves.”

The hall quieted down and Hubert pulled his son to the side, holding the lad in front of him.

“My lords,” Stephen continued. “Tonight is a great night. We have many things to celebrate. Not only do we have the chance to officially present my daughter Rose on her first birthday, but we also have a very special announcement. We announce the betrothal of Princess Rose to Prince Phillip of Thuringia.” The hall broke out into a loud cry of approval at the news. Stephen smiled for a moment before lifting his hands for silence.

“With this pending marriage, the kingdoms of Thuringia and East Thuringia will be forever joined in bonds of brotherhood, and we shall grow together to soar like the Thuringian eagle with the strength of the East Thuringian boar. May God look with favor on this union. Minstrel! Music!”

The sounds of the psaltery once again filled the hall as Hubert pulled Phillip towards his mother. Many lords and ladies began to make their way towards him to congratulate him on the announcement. After what seemed ages of uncomfortable conversations with adults he did not know, Phillip was finally given a reprieve when attention shifted backed towards Stephen.

A funny looking man came striding forward clothed in the yellow of East Thuringia. With a high pitched but firm voice, the steward called out the name of one of the lords. At the sound of his name, the lord came forward and pledged some portion of his harvest to the king. When that was over, the steward called another lord who did similar. This continued for some time with each lord pledging some service or commitment of resources.

This display meant nothing to Phillip and he found his mind wandering. He needed to remember to ask his mother what a “betrothal” was. It seemed important. Maybe it had to do with his father’s and Stephen’s friendship. The two had been close for years. Phillip had to stifle a chuckle when remembering one of Hubert’s stories of a childhood adventure. Maybe that was what a betrothal was, a chance to grow up and have adventures with Rose.

The young prince was pulled from his thoughts by the announcement of the Thuringian fairies. Twelve women came floating past the doors of the hall and towards Stephen. Phillip’s eyes lit up at the sight of them. His nurse had told him stories of the fairies who lived deep in the Thuringian forest. Those stories had fueled his young imagination, but it was completely different to see them in person. Each fairy glowed with a soft light and bright colors. It was like watching a rainbow move across the hall.

The entire hall drew to a respectful silence at their approach. Even though the Christian God held dominance over religion, the old ways were still strong. As young as he was, even Phillip knew better than to make a lot of noise or squirm too much Not that he could if he wanted to. He was enthralled by the appearance of the fairies, so much so that he was not paying attention to the gifts that they were offering the baby princess. All he was aware of was each fairy gliding up to the princess and a gentle glow surrounding the baby before being replaced by the next in line.

The blue glow of the final fairy began to fade as she stepped back. Just then, a sudden wind burst through the doors of the hall. As it swirled around the walls, the fires in the hall flickered and roared angrily. A clap of thunder caused Phillip’s hands to shoot to his ears and his eyes to squeeze shut. When he opened them again, the hall was dark save for a faint green glow in the center of the hall. The light grew in intensity to reveal a tall, pale woman standing in its aura. She was clad in a dress as black as midnight and seemed to tower over everyone else in the hall. On her shoulder rested a raven, its head cocked to the side as it observed the lords and ladies.

“My my. What a fine gathering you have here tonight Stephen.”

“T..Tebofe.” Stephen stood rigid on the dais as he stared at the newcomer. “No! Stop!”

Two guards came running from the back of the hall with their spears leveled at the woman in black. She smoothly lifted her arm and flicked her wrist towards the charging men, causing them to fly back through the air and crash into the far wall with a sickening thud. The woman, meanwhile, let a pout appear on her red lips. “Stephen. I am disappointed at my welcome. First, I do not receive an invitation to such an important night. Then you have your guards attack me?”

“It is not like that Tebofe.” There was a slight tremor in Stephen’s voice. He took a step back and lifted his arm as if to protect himself, his hand trembling in the air in front of him. “We would never disrespect you in such a way.”

“I see.” Her pout turned to a smirk as she watched the king. While she had never moved from the center of the room, her presence seemed to close on the dais. “My invitation must simply have been lost then.” At last, she moved forward, swaying with all the grace of a serpent as she approached the cradle. “What a beautiful child. I think I know the gift I shall offer her.”

“Please Tebofe, you do not need to do that.” The color was gradually draining from Stephen’s face.

“Nonsense. I must.” Tebofe straightened and turned her head towards Stephen. “You deliberately ignore me and attempt to keep me from your celebration while allowing my sisters to attend. Your guards charge at me like I am a common thief. I must repay your actions in kind.” As she spoke, each word became colder and more clipped. Stretching a skeletal hand over the crib, Tebofe and Rose were surrounded by a black aura.

“Your daughter will grow to be a fine woman with all the grace and beauty promised by my sisters. When her beauty has ripened and she has reached the age of eighteen, on that night she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die.” Tebofe let out a laugh at the look on the king’s face. “Do not worry my dear Stephen. I am not without my mercy. She will be untouched by the ravages of time. Her beauty will be preserved forever.”

The dark fairy laughed again as the black aura grew. The laugh filled the hall, mingling with the caw of her raven. The shadows grew to surround her before disappearing suddenly. The fires and torches sprang back to life, but Tebofe was no longer in the hall.

Silence lasted for several seconds before erupting into a loud commotion. Stephen began shouting orders to his guard while the attending lords began to call for their personal troops. Phillip was startled by his mother shaking him by the shoulders. He had not moved the entire time, but he was covered in sweat. His breath was short and ragged. His mother grabbed him by the arm and dragged him from the hall and back towards their rooms.

The remaining two days were a blur. Phillip was rarely allowed to leave his room and never without a guard when he did. Several times, he went into his parents’ room only for them to suddenly stop their conversation. He did not understand all of what he heard, but the young prince did hear that the Princess Rose had disappeared following Tebofe’s curse. The following night, Phillip saw a great fire started in the courtyard from his window. No one would explain what the fire was for, but soldiers continually arrived at the castle with wagons to toss more things on it.

The fire was still raging on their final morning in the castle. As Phillip sat in the back of the carriage, he watched the thick, black cloud of smoke drift high up towards the heavens. Long after the castle was out of sight, Phillip could still see the smoke slithering up like a snake in the morning light.

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. We also have our first newsletter coming out at the end of this month with an exclusive short story. Make sure you sign up and as a special thanks, you’ll receive another short story for free. And as always, I mustache y’all to stay fantastical.

Flash Fiction Friday 010 – Dabaumon

The forest was dark despite the the clear, mid-afternoon mid-skies. Torvin pulled his cloak tighter against himself to ward off a sudden chill. The old ones spoke of the Black Forest but only in hushed tones. It was an ancient place. A place still held under the sway of the old laws.

He did not like the mission that sent him deep beyond the borders of the forest. A young knight had escorted a woman into its depths several months ago and never returned. The villagers all assumed her and her escort dead. Unfortunately, the knight was from a prominent order who wanted proof of the death.

“Bloody knights and their bloody codes.” Torvin spat at the thought of Knights Protector. Easy enough for them to sit in their high towers and make demands. Poor fools like Torvin were the ones who had to carry them out.

The tracker let his mind continue to wander down it’s angry path as his feet followed the game trail. This was the most likely road they would have taken. In the distance, he heard a strange rustle. The forest had been acting stranger since the knight’s disappearance.

“Ta hell with this.” Torch spun around and turned back towards the edge of the forest. It would be dark soon and he wasn’t going to spend the night out here alone. As he turned, his eyes landed on a strange looking tree in his path. He blinked, sure that the tree hadn’t been there before. Tentatively, he stepped forward towards it.

The tree was gnarled and twisted by the wind. Jagged branches grew all over, clawing the sky in dark malice. It shifted and shuddered suddenly, uncoiling in a grotesquely humanoid shape. It’s trunk split open with a sickening creak, revealing rows of mishappen teeth and unending darkness. The eldrich horror lurched forward, the movements like that of a sickly predator. The stench of rot and decay wafted on the breeze, carrying the promise of death should one fall in it’s grasp.

With a terrified scream, Torvin clawed at his eyes, desperate to rid himself of the image lumbering towards him. His screams were cut short by the rising wind and darkness overtook him.

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