Flash Fiction Friday – Renegade

Flash fiction isn’t meant to be written in more than one sitting. It totally throws your momentum off, and what you end up with is a derailed story without focus.

Case in point: the short story I tried writing as a result of this prompt

And this book (which I’m currently rereading to jog my memory before reading the final installment):

[Speaking of the final installment in the series, IT’S OUT! DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS IS OUT!!! If you haven’t read the first book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, yet, GET STARTED. Seriously. It is epic fantasy at its best. You will not regret it. Oh, Laini. Why are you so awesome.]

 

*

 

Renegade

 

She had folded up her wings for good, tucked them away into the groove of her spine. She still felt the solid, packed weight resting between her shoulder blades, a reminder of the life she had turned her back on.

For years – how many moon spans had it been? – all she had known were the close quarters of the hut she had built on her own along the sea-ravaged coast. This part of the kingdom was far flung and forsaken enough that no one would think to look for her here. And that was exactly how she preferred it.

The first sign of things starting to change was the collection of shells, teeth, bones and claws she found on the barrier island a little ways away from her hut. For some reason, on this spit of land, someone was building an altar. And that could only mean one thing: the renegades were back. It was a custom unique to her people, pooling the relics of life together before drawing on their blood magic.

It struck her as strange, how they were so close to where she hid but hadn’t yet found her. The renegade army never left any stone unturned or home intact.

Still, the sight of the collection, more familiar than she would have liked, triggered a flood of memories that she tried valiantly to outrun. She now wore her human feet with considerable ease, but running in the sand still took some getting used to, and she charged home in an awkward stagger-sprint. But it was impossible to be free of the memories, the bloodshed, her past.

It wasn’t until she had left the barrier island and was safely (although that remained to be seen) back in her home that she realised she should have destroyed the altar and its potent assortment of beast and human remains. Remote as this place might be, the possibility of the altar chanced upon by the wrong people was enough to draw her back out to the island.

But as it were, she stayed in the comforting shadows of her hut, praying to the sky goddess for protection even though it had been long since she believed in Yussa.

When night fell, she kept her eyes peeled for shadows in the sky and her ears pricked for the rustle of wings. Her own rampant heart drummed a jarring rhythm. She had been their leader once – there was no reason to fear them. But the memory of the final call she had heard from her subordinates – turncoat – hissed and scorched like an offending spark.

I was right. I was right to walk away. I have nothing to fear.

But her dread was poison in her veins.

When the visitors – or perhaps intruders might be the better term – appeared, it wasn’t in the flurry of wings or the shriek of raptors. Instead, it was the scratch of talons on wood – the equivalent of a civil knock, she thought wryly, so she had no choice but to answer it or risk having her door clawed to shreds. The frantic scrabbling died as she approached.

They stood before her, a brood of calamitous souls, ravaged and sustained by the long drawn out war. In all manner of beast and creature, furred, clawed and horned, her ex comrades appeared like a motley assortment. But their intent gazes belonged to one and the same person –

The same person who cut through the armoured throng with purposeful solemnity. His hulking figure threw a shadow over those in his immediate vicinity; it blotted out the moon entirely from her view.

Despite being – used to be, she corrected silently – second in rank to him, his presence never failed to make her shrink to a fraction of her size. She remembered the way he would snap his canine jaw too close for comfort whenever she questioned his orders.

“It’s been a while, General.” There it was – that growl, that pair of flashing crimson eyes that haunted her dreams. He scanned the scant inner of her house. “This is a pitiable refuge you’ve pieced together for yourself.”

She held her ground. “No less pitiable than the life I used to lead.”

His eyes flicked back to her. “Your services are required.”

“Whatever you need from me, the answer is no. I turned my back on that life a long time ago.”

“I think you misunderstand me.” He took a step closer, so that he filled up doorway completely. “This is not a request.”

In his eyes she saw the desolation of their city, ruined by the terrible magic of the sea children. Ruined by her desertion, her betrayal. She should never have aided the escape of the prisoners. It was by the mercy of the Hound that she hadn’t been sentenced for her crime.

Mercy of the Hound. Now that was a notion she had never thought possible, she thought wryly.

The Hound continued, his obnoxious snout bearing down on her, “The Drowned City lives, and every second I waste here is another second our enemy gains advantage over us.”

The Drowned City was a myth. Everyone knew that.

And yet … Hadn’t they believed that eighteen years ago, before the sea children’s rebellion caught them all by surprise?

He slid neatly into the sliver of space her hesitation spared. “Welcome back, General,” he said, even though she hadn’t agreed to return to them. But with his teeth bared in a savage grin, she knew she had no choice in the matter. “We have work to do.”

*

I think it’s terrible. But we can’t all have good writing days every day. At least this helps me figure out what I want to do – and can do – with my Shiny New Novel.

Yes, it’s fantasy.

Yes, it has something to do with wings.

Yes, I’m still working out the kinks.

No, I will not let it suck again.

Happy long weekend! :0)

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