The Flight

Louisa leaned over the edge of the railing and looked down. Ever since she was little she’d been told not to look down. They warned her about being afraid. They said fear was more contagious than the flu.

She never listened though.

Louisa loved to look down; she loved the mind-bendingly dizzy feeling that filled her. She imagined it was what you felt just before you were born- all tingly and new.

“Louisa, you’ll fall,” her mother chided.

Louisa shook her head and stepped down to the assumed safety of the floor of the observation deck. Everyone was always focused on the negative. It was always “Careful, my dear, what if you fall?”

Louisa longed to shout back, “Yes, my dear, but what if I fly?”

Some weeks ago, under the cover of darkness, she’d begun to practice. She started slowly, with a chair, and built her way up to the roof. She loved the sensation; she loved to soar through the air, and she was getting really good at it.

On a good night, she could stay aloft for hours. At first, the birds were afraid of the strange creature in their domain, but it wasn’t long before they accepted her as one of their own.

Louisa wanted to show the world what she could do. She longed to revel in the admiration.

However, today didn’t appear to be the day to show off. She followed her mother toward the exit when a scream ripped through the air. Before her mother could stop her, Louisa was across the deck and over the railing, soaring after the squirming pink bundle.

This was far higher than she’d ever jumped before, and the logical part of her brain warned her to be afraid. She didn’t listen; there wasn’t time for fear.

Louisa focused and slowed the baby’s descent along with her own as she reached out to grab her. The little one writhed and screamed as Louisa concentrated on taking them back to the safety of the deck.

Up and up they flew.

Minutes passed before Louisa returned. She landed gently and handed the baby off to her horrified mother. The woman went pale before she turned and ran away.

The others took several steps away from her, seemingly afraid of some latent radioactivity she might spread to them. Louisa’s shoulders dropped as her mother stomped up to her.

“How many times do I have to tell you?”

“But, mama, I flew! I saved the day.”

“Yes, and now everyone knows what you are,” she hissed. She grabbed her daughter’s hand and dragged her toward the stairs. “We’ll have to leave town before they run us out. Again! What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I flew.” Louisa’s voice was small and far away. This wasn’t how she imagined it would be.

Dark Ages

Happy #FlashFictionFriday, everyone! Here is a piece I wrote as soon as I finished formatting my manuscript for my new novel. Stay tuned for updates, but, for now, enjoy!

The lights blinked off and the front door’s lock clicked. Rothe Pontius looked around slowly. He didn’t want to be here. He didn’t want to be doing this.

This was 2048; magic should have long been mainstream by now. Witch hunters weren’t so worried about killing anymore; there was no profit in it. These days they were into blackmail.

It was all a big mistake. He wasn’t even a wizard, he was a high elf. He didn’t use magic, he was magic. But, the bastards at Hunter Acquisitions weren’t into splitting hairs. They made their millions with the extorted help of the magic community.

If you were found out, you not only faced being ostracized from your clan, but you also had to do something for Hunter or they would send you to the state run asylum. Rothe’s father was sent there a few years back, and he hadn’t seen him since. No one ever came back.

Rothe was lucky. His mother was dead and he was an only child. This extortion would end with him. All he had to do was every little thing that popped into the heads of the uppity-ups at Hunter; there was no one else they could hurt to make him cooperate.

The coast was clear now and Rothe let himself shift toward visibility. It gave him a headache to stay camouflaged for very long. If he was going to break the law, he wanted to make damn sure that he was at least comfortable doing it.

This little hovel of a shop seemed such an unlikely place for the next generation of nanotech to be invented, but even the mighty computer was made up in someone’s garage. Rothe shook his head.

This place advertised that they could fix anything. Their track record was 100%; great, but more than a little suspicious.

“Thanks, Pop,” he muttered as the Hunter implant gave him a gentle shock to get him moving already. It wasn’t really his dad’s fault, but it wasn’t really his either. It just felt good to have someone to blame.

Rothe’s footfalls made no sound as he walked the length of the little repair shop. When he got to the back, he found the door labeled private locked. It had a retina scanner and a card reader. He chuckled. Nothing was ever truly locked to a high elf.

He began to sing to the lock, coaxing it, seducing it, into opening. Singing magic was the most powerful and no one could sing like an elf. His voice rose higher and higher until only dogs could hear his beautiful melody.

The door unlocked and swung open before he even finished his song. Mundane locks were really no challenge, but with Hunter breathing down everyone’s neck, magic locks were just too dangerous to parade about in the open.

Rothe slipped inside and shut the door behind him. The overhead lights came on when he got about five steps in. There was a worktable, but on it were no tools. Pieces of broken handheld devices and damp computers were strewn around.

Rothe saw movement out of the corner of his eye, and spun himself around in time to have a net thrown over him. Then someone started singing.

“Shit!” Rothe cursed as the net shrank around him, binding him and tearing at his tanned flesh.

The song stopped when he could no longer move. Then, a lone figure strode silently out from the corner of the room. It was another high elf.

“Shit is right,” the high elf tittered. She was taller than Rothe and her hair was pale lavender, a shade many mortals paid handsomely to try and copy without much success. “Why are you here in my shop?” Her voice was high and sharp.

“I’m looking for something.”

“Oh? What might you be looking for?” There was venom in her words and the magic coming off them stung Rothe’s face.

“I can’t tell you.”

“You will.” She began to sing again and the rope in the net twisted and transformed itself into iron. Iron was the only thing that could leach the magic out of your bones. It burned as it worked it’s evil.

“I’m looking for the nanotech,” Rothe admitted. “I was sent by Hunter Acquisitions to find the nanotech you are using for your repair business.”

The high elf flicked her hand and the net was gone. She stepped carefully toward him, her feet silent. “Is that really what they told you?”

Rothe nodded.

“I don’t like liars.” She sang soft and low. “But, I can see you aren’t lying. Get up. We need to talk.”

“My name is Hetta Locke. I was given up for adoption just after birth because Hunter Acquisitions was coming after my family.” she said. The way she looked at Rothe told him that he could show pity at his own peril. “I have no clan. I had to learn to use magic on my own.”

“It’s lucky high elves are so good at singing,” Rothe said, steering the subject toward something safer. “My mother sang to me every night.”

“I got hit for singing at my first foster house.” Hetta said. She stood and stretched her legs, rolled her neck. “I think it may be time for us to go public.”

“Pardon?”

“With our magic. I’m sick of being hunted. I’m sick of living in fear.”

“We’d still be hunted and we’d still be living in fear. Everyone would be hunting us. Everyone would have a new reason to be afraid.” Rothe shook his head. “Hunter already has me.”

“I know, but instead of going back to them, let’s call the local news. They are always hungry for a story.”

“I can’t,” he said and tapped the scar above his implant. “How would that even be better? How would bringing us to the forefront of every mortal’s mind make us safer?”

“Because there are a lot more of us than you or Hunter think there are. All of us are living in fear, and I guarantee that all of us are sick of it.” Hetta grabbed Rothe’s hands. “Trust me.”

Rothe ripped his hands out of hers and turned to leave. “I don’t even know you.”

He didn’t sleep well. Every couple of hours, his implant would go off and wake him up. It was miserable, but he didn’t want to think about how much more miserable it would be when they found out he didn’t have what he was sent to get.

Hunter Acquisitions picked him up the next morning in a black van. Rothe thought it was a little cliché, but that seemed to be the aesthetic Hunter was selling these days. He wasn’t blindfolded or restrained in any way, and the driver even offered him a something to drink.

Rothe declined. Rumor had it that Hunter was not above slipping extras into the drinks they offered. Between that and the implant, they could make him do or say anything. He didn’t want to betray Hetta, but he worried about his own skin. He had no new nanotech to show for last night’s endeavor.

Instead of letting him off at the front entrance, they pulled into the garage and went through the service door. The elevator ride to the top floor was short. He was ushered down the hall to an ornate wood paneled office by a rather intimidating security guard. Jonah Hunter was standing at the door waiting for him. His expression was grim.

“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” he barked.

“I’m sorry, but there was no tech to steal-“

“I’m not talking about that, we already knew that! Do you really think that I didn’t know that?” He clicked a remote and the large painting in the office switched to a television screen. The 24 hour news channel showed Hetta’s face with a crawl beneath it saying magic was real. “What do you have to say about this?”

Rothe was speechless. He hadn’t really thought that Hetta would have gone ahead with it. He glanced at the screen again and this time saw security footage of himself slowly becoming visible, then him caught in the net.

“Shit.”

“Yeah, shit!” Jonah Hunter paced the room. “You are completely useless to us now!”

“Does that mean I’m free to go?” Rothe asked hopefully.

Jonah clicked another button on the remote and sent waves of pain through Rothe’s body. Jonah clicked it again and it all stopped. He came at him with a letter opener and dug out the implant, tossing it to the floor.

“Free to go? Free to go! I can’t fucking hold you here! I can’t have you seen around my business. We are ruined!”

Rothe looked at him incredulously. His blue blood was already clotting and the wound healing, but it still hurt like hell.

“Did you even hear me, you freak? Get out!” Jonah came at him again with the letter opener. This time Rothe scrambled to his feet and ran from the room. He heard Jonah Hunter begin to sob just before the doors closed.

As he was shown to the service elevator, he saw a group of dour looking men and women in smart suits marching their way to Jonah’s office. It didn’t take Rothe’s elfin powers of perception to know that the brass was about to come down hard on him.

Rothe tried to feel some compassion for the poor, little ruined man, but all he could feel was contempt. This was what the mortals liked to call kharma.

It didn’t matter. It was a miracle. He was free to live his life. If other high elves came forward, maybe he could join a clan and have a normal life.

But, for now, there was only one place to go.

He didn’t know where Hetta lived, but judging by the amount of news vans parked outside her shop, she was there. It took some pushing, but he made it to the front door. It was locked.

Rothe banged on the glass door. The shade was pulled all the way down, so he hollered too. He was about to give up when the door opened a smidge and he was yanked inside.

A thousand flashes went off in his face and a cacophony of voices shouted questions. When he was inside, he could hear none of it. Hetta must have done some new magic to protect her sanity.

“I told them I’d come out again in an hour. What are you doing here? I thought you didn’t want to go public.”

“You put my picture on the news; whether or not I wanted it has nothing to do with it.”

“Sorry. They said they needed proof of someone other than me to run the story.”

“Don’t apologize. You freed me from having to work for Hunter Acquisitions. I don’t have to spy for them anymore.” He turned and showed her the new pink scar from where the implant had been ripped out.

“Looks painful. I still can’t believe they made you do that. Spying on me for witch hunters?” Spots of color appeared on Hetta’s cheeks.

“I wasn’t spying. I was there to steal whatever nanotech you were using to fix old electronics.”

“I think we both know that I don’t use any tech.”

“Yeah, but this morning they said that they knew there was no tech. I think they were going to harm you.”

“You think?” Hetta asked sarcastically. “A firm comprised of known witch hunters asks you to steal from someone and it just so happens that they are magic? You must have really believed in coincidence to not be able to wrap your little head around that one.”

Rothe didn’t say anything. She was right. He asked her about other magical beings coming forward.

“Yeah, I’ve had a few calls. Funny how no one wants to closet themselves and pretend that they are something they’re not.”

There was a light tapping at the fire door on the side of the shop. When she opened it there were about half a dozen other magical beings there. She was right. It was time to go public.

When Hetta opened the door, the scintillating light of a thousand flash bulbs hammered Rothe’s retinas. As he went to raise his hand, Hetta stopped him.

“No, let them see your face,” she hissed. “In fact, let them see the scar. Tell them what those witch hunters did to you.”

Rothe shook his head but Hetta didn’t take any heed. She approached an improvised podium where there were dozens of microphones and recorders mounted. She drew a breath and smiled.

“Good human men and women! We mean you no harm!” She turned her head, making eye contact with as many of the cameras as possible. “We have been living among you in fear, in secret, for all of time.”

“Why in secret? What were you hiding?” Shouted a reporter from somewhere in the middle of the crowd.

“We didn’t always live in the shadows and on the fringes. There was a time, before your great Renaissance when we walked freely among you. You called it the Dark Ages, we called it our Golden Era.”

“Why did you hide?” shouted a woman toward the front.

“Religious zealots believed that we were of your devil. They hunted us, persecuted us, and forced us into hiding. But no more!”

“Are you still being hunted?”

“Yes, there are those among your people who still wish to do us harm,” Hetta took a practised steadying breath. “They have been called many things- Inquisitioners, witch hunters, even Hunter Acquisitions.”

A gasp wracked the crowd and Hetta furrowed her brows.

“Does it surprise you? To know that there are those in power who wish to harm and exploit us?” She grabbed Rothe’s arm and pushed him toward the podium. “This high elf was one of their slaves, forced to hunt his own people.”

Angry and confused murmuring erupted from the crowd. Hetta silenced them with a pale hand.

“They implanted a control chip in him,” she said as she turned him so that the pink scar would be more visible. “They imbedded their own sadistic version of a shock collar on him.”

“Are you seeking retribution? Vengeance?” Asked a reporter near the back of the crowd.

A shadow passed over Hetta’s face as she considered her next words very carefully. After a moment, she spoke, “Nothing further.” She led Rothe and the others back inside to the safety of the shop.

When the door was shut, Rothe looked at her. Her eyes were dark with murderous thoughts and her skin bloomed with angry color.

“Why didn’t you answer their question?” he asked. “What are you planning?”

A sickeningly sweet smile crossed her face. “The last time we were out, they called it a Dark Age.” Hetta licked her lips and smiled. “I’d like to show them what a Dark Age really is.”

Valley of the Faun

The following is a short story I wrote as part of a larger fiction piece. I hope you enjoy. -GM Potter

Karla stared at the dark faun in front of her.

It wasn’t possible.

He couldn’t be here.

He wasn’t real, he didn’t exist.

“So, do you want to come with me?” he asked, offering her his hand.

Karla looked around her squalid apartment. Only five minutes ago, she had been curled up by the small window of her fourth-floor walk-up when she wished for something magical to happen. She had wished on the first star she saw for someone to come and whisk her away.

There had been a blinding light and her mirror showed a sunny, grassy meadow instead of reflecting her room back at her. As she was looking through the window to another world, a beautiful creature scampered up and stepped through.

He was tall, and lean on the upper half of his body. He had silky black hair that curled at the tips and the slightest little nubs of brownish-black horns. His lower half was covered in silky black fur with twisted legs. They were the legs of a goat.

“We’ve been waiting for you,” the faun said, snapping her back to reality. “You are the one who was foretold to bring peace to our realm.”

“I’m not foretold to do anything, I’m a stocker at a grocery store.”

The faun looked impatient. “If you will not come with me, I will be forced to leave without you, closing the portal forever,” he turned to go. “You will never know happiness if you don’t come with me.”

The faun paused at the threshold of the mirror, waiting for her to change her mind. Karla bit her lip and took another look around her tiny home.

“I’ll come with you,” she blurted. “Just give me another minute to pack up some things.”

The faun smiled and nodded.

Karla hurried into her bedroom. She grabbed a duffle bag and stuffed it with clothes before an idea occurred to her. She could wash clothes, but did they even have tampons where ever she was going?

The creature she’d been talking to wasn’t even human, he might not even know what a period was, much less what to do about it.

Karla ran to her bathroom and dumped the entire contents of her stash into her bag. She was due in another week and she doubted very much that being in a magical realm would keep Aunt Flo at bay.

Her task finished, Karla returned to the faun. She hoisted her bag over her shoulder and followed him through the mirror.

A bright light split the room and then shrunk down to a single point in the center of the mirror.

It was midday in the other realm. At first, she thought there was a kaleidoscope of butterflies in the clearing, but, as she got closer, she realized that they were fairies.

Karla laughed and clapped her hands like a little child.

The fairies swirled and danced around her, weaving in and out of her hair and fingertips.

She was here, and this was real. She had read fairy tales like some people read the Bible. It was gospel, sacred. She had spent her whole life dreaming of coming to a place like this, but she never thought, even as a little girl, that it would happen.

The faun followed her, a few paces behind, watching.

He was a little worried when she didn’t drop everything and run through the portal like the others had, but he got her here just the same.

Breagadoir would be pleased.

The faun clapped his hand on Karla’s shoulder. She turned around, smiling.

“We really must get to the castle.”

“There’s a castle?” Karla asked, barely able to contain her glee.

“Of course, do you think we just live in the wild woods like savages?”

Karla blushed and apologized for insulting him.

He led her down a path, deep into the valley. Nestled in the center was the largest, grandest castle Karla had ever seen.

The faun smiled at her cry of awe and led her to the front gates.

There was another faun, this one russet colored, waiting at the gates. He was holding a long pike, but he lowered it as he saw them approach.

“At it again, Amadain?” asked the other faun.

The first faun, who Karla now took to be named Amadain, hissed at the pike wielding one and hurried her through the gate.

There were dozens of fauns milling about the courtyard, but they all stopped dead when they saw Karla.

The fauns closest to her dropped to their knees and covered their eyes. Karla looked to Amadain in question, but he just laughed.

“They show their reverence to you, as you were foretold as our savior.”

Karla blushed and lowered her eyes, it was flattering, but it seemed unnecessary. She wasn’t anyone special.

“You have been long awaited,” Amadain said as if he heard her thoughts.

Karla was led to a great bed chamber, the sort fantasy illustrators reserved only for the fairest princesses. The room was dominated by a four post bed that seemed to be carved from still living trees which dropped delicate petals on the off white velvet bedspread. There were ropes of braided fresh flowers swagged across the ceiling.

“Do you like it?” Amadain asked.

Speechless, Karla nodded and dropped her duffle bag on the plush carpet of moss and flowers.

Amadain smiled and left her alone in the room. Karla thought she heard the click of a deadbolt, but at that moment, she was hit with how tired she was.

She crossed the room to the bed and climbed beneath the covers. Within seconds, she was sound asleep.

She woke several hours later to Amadain gently shaking her shoulder. His large, brown eyes were inscrutable as the peered at her from under long lashes.

“Lady, it is time for the Great Feast,” he said.

Karla looked down at her tshirt and sweat pants. “I’m not dressed for a feast.”
“There are some dresses in the wardrobe that should fit. You have-”
“Been foretold,” Karla finished getting up. She had padded over to the wardrobe before she wondered where her shoes were. She turned and looked at the faun.

“I took the liberty of removing your shoes,” he began. “You will not need them here.” He turned on his heel and left the room.

She didn’t notice, but her bag was gone, too.

Kat was puzzled by the comment, but all thought left her mind when she opened the wardrobe. There, front and center, was an silky, ivory, Grecian gown with what appeared to be living roses along the neck.

She pulled the gown from the rack and held it to her chest. She quickly stripped out of her clothes and pulled it on over her head.

It fit like a glove. Karla looked around for a mirror, but found none. It seemed odd that in this opulent room, there would be no mirror, but she dismissed it as her own vanity and left the room.

Amadain was waiting for her just outside the door. He looked at her and his eyes widened with pleasure. “I was hoping you would pick that one.”

He held out his arm and Karla took it, letting him escort her to the Great Feast. He led her to a large central terrace, surrounded on all sides by the walls of the castle. Flowering vines climbed up the walls and perfumed the air.

In the center of the terrace, with chairs and tables arranged all around in concentric circles was what looked like a well. It was a large, low, circular stone wall that surrounded a pit. Karla couldn’t see what was inside, but she couldn’t imagine it was anything other than a well.

Amadain grabbed her hand suddenly and spun her around as the music of a hundred lyres and panpipes filled the air. They danced for what felt like hours or seconds at the same time.

The music stopped abruptly and Amadain let go of Karla. He, and all the other fauns dropped to their knees as someone new entered. He was a head and shoulders taller than Karla and his lower half was covered in graying fur. Across his torso, a crimson sash was slung.

“Greetings, Lady. I am Breagadoir, King of the Valley of the Faun.” His voice was loud and deep. His eyes were intense and he seemed to look right through her.

Karla dropped into a curtsey and averted her eyes.

“Stand, dear Lady,” he said. “Tonight, you shall bow to no one.”

That seemed to be the cue that the other faun needed to get up. In perfect unison, they all scrambled to their feet. Those who were playing resumed, and several fauns lined up to take a turn to dance with Karla.

The dancing was wild and free, and, as she danced, each new partner brought her a golden goblet of sweet red wine.

No matter how much she drank, she couldn’t seem to get enough. Each new dance partner introduced himself with a goblet, and she drank thirstily of each one.

The last faun to dance with her was Breagadoir. He presented her with a flagon of wine, which she took and drank in three swallows. The other fauns cheered at this, but Breagadoir raised his hand to silence them.

“It has been foretold, Lady, that you would come and save us.”
“And so I have!” Karla slurred cheerily. “You are welcome!”

The fauns cheered.

“Are you willing to do what it takes to save our people, Lady,” Breagadoir asked.

“It’s Karla, and yes!”

The fauns cheered again.

“Then it is time,” the king said extending his hand. “Come with me.”

Karla took his hand and walked crookedly beside him. He led her to the well at the center of the terrace.

A pair of fauns carried a large, lit fire pit to the edge of the well. At Breagadoir’s command, they tossed it in. There was a second of pause before the whole thing went up with a slight explosion.

Karla cooed. The well produced a bright green fire that licked its way up into the night’s sky. She took a step closer.

It was uncomfortably hot this close to the fire, but she took another step.

Breagadoir looked at Amadain and smiled.

Karla climbed up the side of the low stone wall and stood at the edge of the green fire.

She took a deep breath and swan dived into the flames.

The fauns cheered, louder than before.

Little balls of green light erupted from the well and floated the the fauns. Breagadoir was the first to catch his. He popped it into his mouth and swallowed.

Green light radiated from his body until it was almost blinding. As it dulled, there stood a much younger and viril Breagadoir.

“Well done, Amadain. She was even better than the last.”

Amadain smiled and bowed as he ate his own ball of green light.