This week’s Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge was to pick five words out of ten. I picked Dolphin, Storm, Cube, Ethereal, Library. They had to be not just words used but components of the story. I don’t quite know if I succeeded with that. That’s for you to decide. My word count clocked in at 995.
The Poetry of War
by Trine Toft Schmidt
Davion sighed and looked up from the book. It was not every day the book-searchers managed to dig up a book by Servante.
“Yes Carny, what is it? I do believe my half bell is not yet over.” He let his irritation shine through, which almost always swayed Carny to retreat. Today was one of those times when it did not.
“Commander Alax, sire, he requires your presence urgently on the battlements.” Carny bowed deeply, his back stiff as a board.
Commander Alax of the Dragon Squadron could honestly go bite his tail, but that was not a sentiment to relay to the servants.
Davion carefully closed the fragile book, The Poetry of War, dug up in the ruins of Castle Dunroch. With another sigh he heaved himself up from the deep chair and made his way out of the library.
“Commander Alax.” He made sure his voice carried his displeasure. But Commander Alax was not one to be cowed by his liege’s annoyance.
“Sire. There is troubling news from the western rim.” He paused and Davion only just managed not to put his hands around his neck.
“There is always troubling news from the western rim.”
“True sire, but I fear this may be news more troublesome than usual. It is said a cube has been found. By the Westerlings.”
Everything inside Davion softened, from his knees that buckled to his bowels that… well made their presence be known. He grabbed the weathered dark gray rock of the battlement and made sure his knees wouldn’t topple him.
“A cube? But that is impossible.” Rumors of cubes were always swirling about in the main populace, but it was the first time since he was a lad, he had heard it said with any credibility.
“We all thought it was impossible sire, but my spies assure me that it is true. Catiana now has a cube in her possession. And…” he paused. A bead of sweat was making its way through the creases that folded the skin of his face. That alone told Davion that this was no unfounded rumor, this was real. If the Westerlings had a cube, then the Rims would soon be ringing with the trumpets of war.
“By the dragons. War, Commander Alax, it will mean war.” But Commander Alax waved a hand rather forcefully.
“.. And my spies also tell me that Catiana has already begun the march for Lancashire Pass.”
Davion’s knees buckled and he slid down the wall, did not even feel the roughness of the stone tear his shirt nor did he feel it carve a rather deep gash along his spine. War was going to be on them. The first war in five hundred passes and he would be the King to loose the Rims.
Carny led him to the northern wall, through the Sea Gate and onto Widows Island, an inlet that ran as a tongue out into the Mild Sea. Here the Sea Widows hung hollow bones in every tree and it was said that you could hear the souls of the dead when the wind howled in them. They hung still and lifeless as the two men passed them.
When they neared the sea Carny pulled in his reins and stopped.
“On the beach sire. She said you should come alone.”
“Who did?” But Carny shook his head and only looked worried.
“You will see sire, but you have to hurry, she is not a patient one.”
The gray waves were peaked in white and they were crashing angrily onto the beach, but no wind buffeted Davion as he made his way over the last dune. A woman dressed in emerald green stood on the sand before him. She was ethereal, pale and beautiful, her features elongated and serpentine, her dress hung as a living organism on her flesh. Her was dark hair was auburn and gold. Davion’s mouth dried up and his heart swelled.
“My lady.” His voice rattled in his throat and she smiled and bowed her head ever so slightly.
“You are a Sealing.” Again she bowed, acknowledged the fact. For the second time in a week he felt his knees buckle under him. It seemed now was the time of myths. First a cube, then a Sealing. If the dragons woke now he would not be surprised.
“A storm is coming.” Her voice was liquid, it flowed and swelled like waves around him. Legend told that Sealings had but to sing to win a heart. And that the Sea Widows hung the hollow bones in the wind to mimic the sound of singing Sealings, to lead the souls of dead sailors home.
“We offer our alliance.” Her eyes were emerald like her dress and she held his stare.
Davion closed his eyes. Her eyes alone could sway him to do what she pleased, but as King he had to remain more than a man. Her laughter rushed like water on sand.
“I will not demand your soul, King. But we do demand the cube. Give us that and we will fight with you.”
“We have no cube.” He kept his eyes closed and his fists clenched.
“Not yet. But you will. Catiana will loose it and you will happen upon it.”
“Do you tell the future as well as take the souls of our sailors?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes.” The sand under his feet shifted and then she was standing up against him, her dress wet and cold against his chest. His heart stopped. Her salt and seaweed breath tickled his beard and she ran a finger down his cheek, laughed and then the sand shifted underneath him again. He opened his eyes. How could he not?
The Sealing was straddling a huge dolphin at the waters edge. She turned toward him.
“Don’t wait for the dragons to wake, this is not their time. It is ours.”
“You have one moon.” Then she was gone.