A Sliver of Time

Author Jenna Eatough 's Flash Fiction Blog 9th Anniversary Story 6-4-2023

Nine years to the day have passed since I began posting new flash fiction stories weekly! Not to the hour though. I didn’t want to make you all wait until minutes before midnight.

I’m honored to have had the chance to explore new universes, different voices, and concepts in larger worlds I am working on and glimpses into others. Thank you everyone who has been a part of this journey with me.

to celebrate I am back with a special, longer anniversary flash fiction story. A tradition which started on the 5th anniversary of my blog and has continued since. Erieri tales of time is back again this year with a new installment.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these years of flash fiction (or for those just discovering my blog) and will enjoy them as much as I have. On to a new year of stories!

Erieri stood and watched the old man flattening the grass of the Plains of Time as his robe and cloak billowed behind him. “Excuse me. What are you doing?” Erieri bypassed asking how he’d gotten there or even who he was… they’d get around to that as time circled to it.

Solitude here was far less peaceful than she had been led to believe. First, there’d been the allurer, a known presence. Then Hendat returned. Then his mentor, Cormac, had also found his way back. Time itself had collided introducing Erieri to her counterpart from another time. If those souls’ intrusion weren’t enough, Erieri didn’t know when she’d have to deal with herself again. Past and future selves.

No, another stranger appearing in the Plains of Time did not faze Erieri in the least. But did he have to litter them. She scowled at the stone sitting beside him. She couldn’t figure out why he’d dropped a stone in the Plains of Time with a sword embedded in it.

“Who? Who am I?” The man’s voice sounded incredulous. She glanced back to him to see him blinking at her as if she proven herself quite mad. As if not knowing him were the greatest of sins.

“No, I didn’t ask who. I asked what are you doing in my plains?” Crossing her arms, she tapped her foot at the man.

He stepped back from her, and placed spread fingertips across his chest as if she’d struck him. “How can you not know who I am?”

“I didn’t–” Erieri huffed. “Fine, who are you?”

The man puffed up and a sudden breeze rippling his cloak behind him. “I am the greatest wizard who ever–”

Erieri snorted. “Well, that explains that.” She pointed to the stone. “Be a great wizard and make that disappear. Don’t you know that littering time is dangerous?” She skipped over having caused a bigger rock to appear over somewhere herself.

The wizard stopped, smacked his lips together, and scrunched his nose. “And who are you to tell me what to do, child?”

Erieri shook her head. “Shouldn’t the greatest wizard of all time know the guardian of time when she’s standing in front of him? Especially when he’s trying to claim an audacious title only time can bestow?”

“But I could have sworn the guardian was a man.” His voice sounded incredulous, and he looked about as if expecting to see somebody else materialize. Siena hoped Cormac and Hendat kept their noses out of this and remained off bickering wherever they’d gotten themselves too.

“You’re probably thinking of Hendat. He was my predecessor.” The wizard kept muttering beneath his breath about just yesterday having met him. “Time doesn’t work here how any think it will. Perhaps you’d be more comfortable back in your own reality.”

The wizard shook his head furiously. “I cannot return until my task is done. To do so would be to threaten my entire reality.”

Erieri scowled at the wizard. “And to remain here is to threaten all realities.”

“I quite agree.” A new voice interposed itself into their conversation. “Give me the sword and we can be down with here.” Erieri didn’t recognize the voice, too high and light. Not another mortal here. Sighing, she turned toward the speaker.

Behind her, a woman floated in the air wearing a gown seemingly made of mist so fine were the threads. It flowed about her a dark cloud caught in a breeze. A pretty, wispy girl.

She belonged here even less.

Erieri felt the malice and power flowing from her. Power that would definitely disturb time. Striding forward, Erieri reached out and retrieved her staff from the pocket she’d hidden it in. “And you are?”

“I am the rightful inheritor of my brother’s sword.” She jabbed a finger toward the sword sticking out of the stone. “I have come to reclaim my inheritance.”

Erieri groaned, allowing the movement to flow through her body as she slumped slightly. “This is a family dispute? Did have to play this out through time?”

“He is no kin of mine.” The woman’s voice sounded harsh. “He stole the sword from my fallen brother before any could naysaying it.”

“I did no such thing,” the wizard sputtered.

“Definitely a family squabble,” Erieri muttered.

“I am protecting the greatest of all treasures.” He raised his hands and clapped. Lightning flashed outward, disturbing the night shredding what little peace Erieri retained. The spell drew a portion of the moon, pulling the light to him to swirl about him and the stone in a shell. “And I shall not surrender it.”

Erieri sighed and started walking to the left side stepping as the woman threw a returning spell at the wizard. They’d had to drag her into their squabble. Clear of the tossed about spells she turned around. Erieri folded her arms again and shook her head. “Wizards. They always think everything is the end of time.”

Taking her attention from the battling wizard, she turned toward the sword. Then again it might be the end of time depending on what happened to that thing.

Power rippled through Erieri as she looked at the blade. She’d only noticed the hilt before gilded in silver and gold with a brilliant gem set in the pommel. All that had been a show for mortals. The blade was something else.

She cursed the wizard for trying to seal it away. She would have known it sooner if he hadn’t encased it in rock. A sliver of time honed sharp. Who had forged that thing and allowed it to pass to the mortal lands? It could sever time itself.

She appraised the two battling Wizards. The woman was obviously consumed with rage. Perhaps rage tinged with grief. Erieri knew that might heal with time, but the rage would not. That emotion burned too strongly in her leaving nothing else.

The elder wizard, the man he was no better. Certain he was always right, and while Erieri thought he’d done the best he could by the sword his perspective was still limited. He’d born dreams into it. Impossible dreams and forced them into reality, only to see them crumble as all must.

No. Neither of them were worthy holders of this sword. As guardian she would not allow this into anyone’s hands.

Erieri called the blade to her. It sprung from the stone, leaving a crumbled mess behind as landed in her hand.

Both wizards stared at the fractured stone in utter shock before turning toward her. She held the sword before her, bracing herself. “If either of you would like to try taking the sword from me, be my guest.”

If she’d thought the light flared before, it was nothing compared to now. The moon descended itself and encased itself around Erieri in brilliant light.

The other woman screamed, fleeing from Erieri’s light. “This is not over.” Her shrill voice carried across the plains, and Erieri wondered how far through time that would echo.

The wizard knelt dropping to one knee, resting a folded arm on it, and bowing his head to her. “Guardian, I apologize. I did not recognize you before.”

“Yeah,” Erieri snorted. “Well, I did try to tell you.”

The men nodded and rose to his feet. “I am glad to entrust the sword to you. May you keep it safe until its time returns again.”

Erieri nodded, biting her tongue against telling him its time would never come again. Not in the mortal world. No point antagonizing him.

He turned away as if to exit the Plains of Time. While Erieri was grateful to see him go, she couldn’t ignore a niggling concern. “If she wanted this blade so badly, and you were so desperate to seal it, what will prevent others from seeking it here? I can’t have everyone just tromping through time searching for it.”

The wizard turned back and smirked. “I’ll tell them I gave it to a lady living in a lake.” He waved gesturing to the plains. “For time is a river and here time gathers. What else is this place but a lake of time? Let them get wet searching actual lakes.”

Erieri thought he’d opened a gateway and be spectacular in his departure. Instead, he vanished as if a morning mist lost beneath the sun leaving her alone with the sword. Lowering it, she released the power she’d held and stared at the thing. What was she supposed to do with this?

“Who dares defile the Plains of Time!” a voice boomed. Looking up, Erieri saw Hendat rushing across the field followed by his mentor. Each held staffs before them.

“You’re a bit late. I already sent the wizards home,” she called to them.

Hendat stopped blinking at her. He jerked slightly when he noticed the sword in her hand. Cormac, however, rushed forward to examine it more closely. “You found it? Where was it? I spent centuries wondering where I put that thing.”

Erieri’s mouth opened as she looked at Cormac in shock. He’d forged a sliver of time into a weapon, and he’d lost it? Releasing one hand from the sword, Erieri smacked her forehead. Time grant her patience.

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