Flash Fiction Fridays #1
Updated: Mar 28
Catchy title, huh? I love a good alliteration. I was thinking to myself how to branch out when I'm feeling like writing something not necessarily to do with the novel I am currently working on. Flash fiction is quick to write by its very nature, so I figured I could find the time to do it each week. Then I remembered Friday started with an F, as did the words "flash" and "fiction". I also thought I have so many different worlds with so many different characters that it would be a shame to let these unexplored stories go to waste, so I'll be basing each piece on one of my settings: cyberpunk, high fantasy, space sci-fi or modern day occult. I will also state that I will not be going to a specific word limit, despite flash fiction being technically 1000 words or less. It will never be long, but I don't want to be fretting over being a few words too long.
Today I will be doing two pieces, both to commemorate the start of this series, but also as something of an apology as I was meant to start this series last week, but didn't get off my butt to write!
So here it is, my new series. Why not join me in writing for Flash Fiction Fridays? I'm always intrigued to see what other people come up with.
The marketplace in Mahraz was always packed, from early morning to late evening. The activities of merchants never ceased in Ahtar's chosen lands; the patron god of merchants and commerce was the favoured deity by humans across the entire city-state. The sun was high in the sky, bathing the centre of the desert city in a dry heat, with a light breeze helping to keep the temperatures somewhat comfortable.
A beautiful woman walked through the market, a satchel full of spices, herbs and some sheets of unmarked parchment. She had the tanned complexion of a Mahraz native, with deep brown eyes and long, flowing brown hair. She wore long, black robe with golden embroidered patterns running its entire length.
She walked into a tavern, an older, stone building with a sign that read 'The Desert Oasis' on a hanging wooden sign, accompanied by a picture of an oasis. It was a lower end tavern, located in the city centre where a number of people tended to gather.
In truth, this was the fourth tavern the woman had visited that day.
She entered, ignoring the stench and the hungry eyes of patrons that landed on her as she surveyed the population. Workers, mercenaries and low level merchants all gathered here, but she was looking for one man in particular. An elven refugee from the empire of Tir-Anatheriel.
Her eyes stopped on a man in the corner. His angled ears only partially covered by longer, blonde hair. She had found him.
She made her way through the crowd, nimbly navigating the overcrowded interior with an almost unnatural grace. She weaved her way to the table and took a seat opposite the man.
“Drinking away your sorrows?” she asked, shifting her hair back over her shoulder as she looked at the elf.
“Hmph...” he responded, taking another swig, “why would a woman like you come keep me company?”
She leaned over the table, placing her fingertips on the elf's chin, lifting it up and making eye contact.
“I find those ears incredibly mesmerising.”
The elf's expression shifted from one of borderline depression to utter fear. He opened his mouth to scream, but before he could utter a single noise, or back away from the woman she made a series of gestures with her free hand. Silently, her spell engulfed his mind and he relaxed, staring into her eyes with a smile on his face.
“Now why don't we find somewhere more private. Wouldn't want the other patrons to see what we're going to get up to,” she continued, taking his hand and standing up. With a giddy, subdued giggle, the elf followed her as she led him through the tavern and upstairs, placing a gold coin on the counter as she passed the bar. The bartender looked over, before tossing the woman a key, collecting the coin and placing it inside the lock-box behind the counter, the wordless commerce not uncommon in such an establishment.
The woman led the elf upstairs and to the room that shared the same number as the one inscribed on the key. Four. Once inside, she sat the elf on the bed and turned away from him.
“So, what are we going to get up to in private, my love?” the elf asked, though he remained seated on the bed.
“Patience,” she answered as she crossed her arms, keeping her back to the elf.
Almost immediately after she had uttered the word, the door opened again and four individuals stepped into the room. Three men and one woman, all incredibly attractive like the woman.
“Took your time. Are we set?” the woman asked as they entered.
The other woman locked the door after her, before her hands weaved through the air with a faint glow of arcane energy as she weaved some sort of spell into the air. She looked over and nodded.
“To the world outside this room, we do not exist.”
“Let's just get this over with,” one of the men uttered, stepping forwards. Immediately, each of these humans started to shift, their bodies re-moulding themselves into different visages. Replacing the well dressed humans were imperial elven figures, adorned with armour as black as obsidian; the hallmark of Tir-Anatheriel's elite.
The woman who had led the man upstairs finally turned around, her own figure shifting as the others all had. She stepped forward towards the elf, clicking her fingers once and dissipating her spell that had him enthralled. As his senses returned, the fear that had once coated his face returned and he screamed out.
His eyes rested on the woman, who had now shifted into the form of an imperial elf, though she was dressed in a crimson robe, with gold embroidery woven throughout, creating a beautiful, intricate pattern. She had fair skin, long blonde hair hanging loose over her shoulders and amber eyes locking with him.
His eyes widened further.
“You're Anatheia Telastren, bride of the prophet!”
Anatheia chuckled, folding her arms.
“Aw, he recognises you, my lady,” the lead, armour-clad elf said with a chuckle, his hand resting on a long, curved blade that hung from his hip.
“Then he knows why we're here,” Anatheia replied, crouching down to be at eye level with the terrified elf. “Don't you, traitor?”
“Listen, I haven't told anyone anything. I just want a peaceful life here, please...” the terrified elf stammered, stumbling over his words as fear laced his voice.
“You wish a life away from the warmth of the Radiant God? Away from His gifts in Tir-Anatheriel? That sounds like heresy to me. Neremith, is that heresy?” she asked, looking back to the black-clad elf at the front.
“Sounds like heresy to me, my lady,” Neremith answered with a grin.
“No, please, I would never snub the one true God. His radiance is so grand it reaches the far corners of Hespira,” the terrified elf begged.
Anatheia closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. There was a brief moment of silence, other than the terrified elf's whimpering.
“Unacceptable. Your transgressions cannot be forgiven. The Prophet, Saethan Anatheriel demands your blood. The Radiant God demands your blood,” Anatheia proclaimed as she snapped out of her brief reverence. She turned on her heel to walk away, but was stopped as she felt a hand on her arm; the terrified elf had grabbed her wrist.
“You think he will spare you? He has already slaughtered many of our people for being impure. What do you think he will say to you, who have all been in human lands for years? Infected to the core, he will say. He wi-...”
“You snivelling cretin. How dare you lay a hand on me!” Anatheia snapped, interrupting him as she looked over her shoulder to see the terrified elf grabbing on for dear life. With a silent incantation and a small flick of her free hand, the terrified elf's hand started to melt, flesh sloughing off the bone like melted cheese. She pulled her wrist free from the elf, his melting flesh leaving no traces upon her as he screamed in agony. “Neremith, finish him and dispose of the body. Do not grant him the Radiant God's blessing of cremation.”
Neremith's grin widened as he drew his sword, while his free hand crackled with a blackish purple energy that writhed and twisted through his fingers. “It will be done, my lady...”
The terrified elf's screams were not silenced quickly. Neremith conjured a terrifying, shadowy maw that consumed the screaming elf alive, transporting him to the realm of shadows to slowly digest him for a hundred years.
The imperial elven encampment was not too far from the city walls of Mahraz, located near to an oasis and concealed by means of an arcane ritual. They were not welcome in these lands; the human city-states detested the elves of Tir-Anatheriel. Jealous of their prosperity and ignorant of their one true God, Anatheia mused were the reasons for the animosity. After all, the humans still lived in fear of the arcane, their human church shunning the practice of such, as well as shunning the presence of all other races as if to presume themselves the superior people of Hespira.
Anatheia chuckled as she idly weaved flames from the campfire around her hand. The Radiant God had chosen her people to inherit Hespira. The humans were but a disgusting stain upon the lands. A stain that Anatheia knew would be cleansed in the Radiant God's righteous flames when her beloved Saethan Anatheriel, the Radiant God's chosen prophet in the material realm, led their armies across Prath in a grand crusade. They had already silenced Ysmarin for their hubris in presuming to challenge imperial elven dominance of the world; Prath was a mole hill compared to the mountain that Ysmarin was to overcome.
"Amused, my lady? Your grasp on fire magic is surely a gift from the Radiant God Himself," Neremith said idly as he watched her weave the flames between her fingers.
"All in life is a gift from the Radiant God. I live to serve His will, and He rewards me with His gifts," Anatheia mused, allowing the flames to glide along the surface of her skin, burning neither the cloth of her robes nor the skin on her hand. With a flick, she dismissed the flames.
"He is generous to His devoted followers. Our survival and successes here are a testament to that." There was a pause as Neremith made eye contact with Anatheia, before smirking. "That and our superior training."
Anatheia smiled. "Superior training certainly helps. We were able to walk into a human capital city, find a traitorous cur in its midst and kill him without even raising the slightest suspicion."
"The humans are fools. Rats ready for the slaughter when your husband-to-be sweeps through these lands with the Radiant God's righteous fire."
"The day will come any day, I can feel it," Anatheia said, closing her eyes and tilting her head back as she took in a deep breath.
"Well, you should get some rest. We travel west, to the port city of Kaaraal tomorrow. My unit and I will perform paired watches through the night."
"You have my thanks, Neremith. May His light guide you."
"And you, my lady."
Anatheia awoke with dust covering her face and a hot wind engulfing her. The sky was an empty, hungering void, the blackness extending endlessly upwards, as if it had consumed the night sky. She sat up, her flowing, blonde hair chaotically whipping around her face.
"Neremith? Report!" she yelled as she took in her surroundings.
"Captain Haverian, report now! The Radiant God demands it!"
A deep, rumbling chuckle echoed all around her, nothing like she had ever heard before.
She jumped to her feet, kicking off her blanket. She traced an intricate pattern in the air, muttering the words of her spell as her hands were engulfed in flames.
The low, unnatural chuckle echoed once again around her.
"Show yourself!" Anatheia screamed into the darkness.
"You think those tiny flames can do anything to me? My kind was born in fires that make your little candles look too meagre for a romantic dinner."
Anatheia turned, hurling a ball of flame into the darkness where she thought she had pinpointed the sound, but all she was met with was laughter.
"Try again, little elf."
Again, she hurled a ball of flame into the darkness, but it met nothing.
"I will only give you one more try before it's my turn," the voice said, chuckling once again.
"Mock me at your own peril, for I am guided by His hand!" she yelled, hurling another ball of fire into the darkness. This one struck true, illuminating a hideous form as it made contact. Red skin with a protruding bone structure, blood red eyes and sinister, curved horns. The creature was huge, standing at around eleven feet tall with huge, jagged claws protruding from its fingertips. Its eyes gazed hungrily at Anatheia as her attack seemed to disperse over its skin, like blood running from the blade of a sword.
"He cannot help you here. He is ours to devour!" the creature roared as it sped in for an attack. Anatheia was fast, however the speed of this massive, hulking creature was incomprehensible. She felt its claws rake against her stomach, tearing a chunk of her robe with it before she could even start to move out of the way. Blood started to pour from the wound; it was deep, but not fatal. She knew it was toying with her, as with the speed and power of its attack she knew it could have eviscerated her in an instant.
Falling to her knees, one hand digging into the dusty floor in front of her, the other clasped around the deep laceration on her stomach, she stared at the creature with a feeling she had not felt in a long time.
She was totally outmatched and she knew it. She started to think up methods of escape.
"Thinking of fleeing already, little one? My, your hubris is astounding," the creature taunted, its voice clear now in its guttural tones. Every time it spoke, Anatheia wanted to cut her own ears off. "We've only just started!"
Anatheia gritted her teeth. "That we agree on," she replied, before closing her eyes and chanting her next spell. She called upon the Radiant God to heal her wounds as he had dozens of times before.
However, the spell never materialised. She started chanting again as the creature started laughing again. "Is that all you have? I told you, your pathetic god isn't here," the creature taunted, before charging in once again with that unnatural speed. This time it's claws raked up her face, the force of the impact flipping her from her kneeling position onto her back with a painful thud. She gasped, coughing up a sizeable globule of blood. Her body couldn't handle the trauma.
"Tell me, creature..." Anatheia muttered as she struggled to sit up, knowing full well it could hear her. "If I am to die today, at least tell me how I met my end. What are you?"
The creature regarded the broken elf with a curious amusement. "Accepted death, have you?" it asked.
"I do not fear death, for I will be granted a place at His side," she replied, unable to speak much more than a murmur.
"Well, maybe you should fear death. This is your pathetic god's side. If you die here, I will consume your soul; you will be a slave to torment for as long as I see fit and I don't get bored easily."
"What. Are. You?"
"Your people would call us demons, and we are already preparing to take your world as well. You should know, your people invited us in!" the demon answered with a maniacal laugh. "When you wanted to desperately to crush Ysmarin, you slaughtered thousands of your own to invite us into your world. You think that barrier will save you?"
Anatheia felt a rage burning up inside her. She knew of the demons that infested Ysmarin and the ritual her people had enacted to tear the rift between worlds there, but she had never seen a creature like this one.
This one was far more powerful.
"I will not suffer your heresies any longer. Radiant God, bestow upon me, your dedicated servant, the powers to smite this unholy abomination and cast out its vile heresies!" Anatheia yelled, weaving another spell around her hand and firing a bolt of fire at the demon. The demon grinned, standing perfectly still and allowing the bolt to hit it square in the chest, but its grin quickly warped and contorted into one of extreme pain as the centre of its chest burned.
"You... insignificant little whore! I'll feed your entrails to my hounds!" the demon yelled in an explosive rage. "Your soul shall never know peace! I will bestow upon you a thousand thousand lifetimes of endless suffering!"
The demon charged in again, its bloodcurdling battle cry echoing into the void. This was it. Anatheia could not dodge its attacks and she couldn't hold on much longer. The wounds inflicted by the demon were deep and she could not stop the bleeding. She closed her eyes and accepted death.
A second passed.
Two seconds passed.
Three seconds passed.
Four seconds passed.
Anatheia opened her eyes as the fifth second passed. She floated through nothingness, a white void.
"Where...?" she asked, though a warmth immediately embraced her. The pain of her wounds vanished in an instant as they sealed shut. She looked around, but met with nothing. She was alone.
"Is this your way of tormenting me, monster? Seal me in solitude for eternity? You cannot break me..."
"You are safe, child." A warm, comforting voice echoed around her, suffusing her being with warmth as it reverberated through the void.
"You cannot fool me," Anatheia murmured as she floated in the white void, unmoving.
"I do not have much time. The demon lord you fought and his peers seek to corrupt my essence. They seek to break the boundaries between worlds and subjugate all, even the gods."
"But there is only Him. He is the one true God," Anatheia answered weakly.
"No, my child. Just as you are my children, the human pantheon are my eldest. You must cast aside prejudice and stand united with the other mortals against the coming darkness. Your destiny lies with them, my Chosen champion."
"But... my beloved is your champion..."
"The demons have corrupted him; they have corrupted the part of me that gives him power. Their corruption spreads lies. He slaughters all in your lands not of pure elven blood, an act I cannot stop. He will banish those he deems corrupted by the outside world, barring re-entry to any who linger outside of your homeland. The demons want an easy, fragmented and weakened target in the mortal world."
"Why tell me this? You cannot expect me to believe-..."
"There will be a day you will have to face your love in battle," the voice said, interrupting Anatheia as she spoke. "Most will think he cannot be saved, but you will try. Will it kill you? Will you succeed? Will your actions doom the mortal world? This I do not know, but I have made my decision. Anatheia Telastren, you must be my Chosen. You must enact my will in the mortal world where I cannot directly interfere. The darkness is coming. You must stand united."
"The Radiant God would never say such heresies. You cannot fool me, demon!" Anatheia blurted out, trying to shout but lacking the power behind her voice.
"Believe what you will, but I have no more time. They will find this part of me if we linger. Wake up, Anatheia..."
"Wake up, my lady!" yelled Neremith, jostling Anatheia's shoulder. She sat up immediately, a cold sweat plastered her skin like an early morning dew.
"Neremith, you..." Anatheia mumbled, holding her hand up to her head. She had woken up with a splitting headache.
"Are you okay, my lady? You've got..." Neremith answered, gesturing at the corner of his own mouth while staring at Anatheia. Cautiously, she brought a hand to her lips, wiping the corner of her mouth before looking at her hand. It was blood. Mostly dried by this point, but blood nonetheless. She felt her face where the demon had struck her; there was no scar. She felt her stomach; no blemish. "You were thrashing in your sleep and we couldn't wake you."
"I'm fine," Anatheia retorted, glaring at Neremith before quickly looking away. With how she felt, it was clear a demon had tried to kill her last night, dragging her spirit out through her dreams. Anatheia was no stranger to such magics, having studied it briefly during her time at the academies of Tir-Anatheriel. What she couldn't explain was the apparent words of her Lord: the Radiant God.
"We received communication from the capital. You're going to want to read it yourself," Neremith said solemnly, holding a piece of parchment for Anatheia.
Slowly, Anatheia grabbed the parchment and started to read it.
"Dear servants of the Radiant God,
You will be pleased to hear that military preparations are accelerating and soon we will have our crusade against the lesser people of Prath. Your contributions to this war effort have been invaluable and without your support we would not be able to set up this glorious holy war. You will all be heroes of the Elven Empire.
Unfortunately, we cannot allow you passage back into Tir-Anatheriel. With your job comes a significant corruption and we cannot allow this to spread to the pure. I have already cleansed our great continent of all those without pure blood and know that you will sit at the side of the Radiant God in death.
Your services have been invaluable, but the fight is not over yet. I understand this may be difficult to hear, but the Radiant God still requires your services. Absolution will only be granted to the faithful.
Prophet of the Radiant God, Saethan Anatheriel."
"I can't believe it..." Anatheia muttered, cradling her head in her free hand.
"You know what this means, my lady. We must do our duties to the Radiant God, but we will not receive a hero's welcome if we return," Neremith said, his tone solemn, but accepting of his duty.
"No, this means He was right."
"What do you mean?" Neremith asked, raising an eyebrow quizzically.
"Gather your unit, Neremith. I'm going to tell you what happened last night and why I woke up bleeding from the mouth."