Fyretober 2021

Welcome to day 15 of Fyretober! I hope you’re all enjoying a month of flash fiction as much as I am. Enjoy today’s writing challenge from Fyrecon’s Fyretober!

Not since the great hero epidemic of the previous age had Insey been considered the jewel of the continent. Well worth beholding and marveling at its resplendence. Now, however, the city crept through the current age mostly as a bygone word, a place to be avoided, or if absolutely all else proved impossible, one spent the absolute minimum of time there. All else had failed for Khestri.

Crouching beneath the crumbling overhang, he only consolation lay in the fact that she was not the only one forced into the city. The Siurin had spread across the land chasing hapless souls from their villages and even a couple of the more reputable cities, in a flight that had herded them to Insey’s gates.

And within.

Throwing her arms over her head, Khestri prayed to the Divine that the overhang would survive the current magical onslaught. Chance could take it either way. On the one hand it had survived the current age to now. On the other, time weathered everything and with her luck this could be the fated minute of collapse.

The light from the attach blazed in the sky for a moment more, silent and deadly if struck by it, and they faded away. Returning those cowering beneath the cover in twilight gloom. Khestri slumped beneath the weight of relief. If it had ceased either they were done until morning (Siurin had to see to aim) or they’d moved their assault elsewhere. Either way, they could breathe.

She glanced over at the others: a couple, a mother and young children, and entire clan. All of them had someone else, unlike herself. She hugged her pack a little tighter as the mother began rummaging through bags.

The quiet broke with a sudden rumble.

Khestri glanced up, blinking against the sudden shower of stone dust. Devine, she should have known better than to have tempted fate with the thought that now might be when the ledge gave. A sudden scramble precluded plans at evening meals. The others grabbed each other hauling the slower ones out of the way.

But Khestri had no one to aid her. In fact, when a foot tripped her, she wasn’t certain if that had been deliberate or accidental. Either way didn’t alter the fact that she wouldn’t have time to make it clear. Instead, she pressed backward into a shadowed crevice in the buildings wall. The floor collapsed beneath her feet at the same moment.

Rocks of varying sizes pelted her in a repeated bombardment as she and they tumbled into the darkness. Khestri didn’t scream though, choosing to cling to her pack with a berserk determination as she fell. A determination which proved fruitful as she hit the ground, landing on the slightly squishy substance instead of her arm which likely would have broken with the force.

She lay panting in the darkness colored by stars dancing before her eyes, still curled into a ball as she waited for the patter of rocks to subside about her. Fortunately, no large rocks followed her path down. At least none that landed near Khestri. Finally, they stilled though leaving her in silence.

No voices called after her, inquiring if she was safe. Not that there would have been a reason for them to check on her. With the Siurin bombarding, she couldn’t blame them. Sitting, she could see light leaking stagnantly from above. Too far away for her to reach on her own. Fine then. She looked away from the light, letting her eyes adjust to the darkness. Once she thought she could make out darker shapes within the black she stood and worked her way deeper into the darkness.

Glancing over her shoulder, occasionally she watched the little bit of light fade away until there was nothing to measure her progress against. Still, her hand on the passage wall told her the stone had been smoothed and shaped by hands once. The pathway had to lead somewhere. Khestri kept plunging forward.

Her fingers trailed over what her mind would have called a door seal and then the wall fell away from her hand. Her final step forward echoed loudly in a vast chamber. “Heh,” she said her voice echoing. “Well, now what?”

“Now what indeed,” a voice responded. The resonant baritone was followed by light blazing into existence.

Khestri raised her arm to cover her eyes taking a step back and smack against a closed doorway. Fuzz. When had they snuck behind her? “Look, I haven’t got nothing worth stealing and I’d really appreciate if you left me with my food.” She squinted trying to see in the light.

A series of forms moved before her, turning toward each other, or at least a man in the lead. Her eyes still hurt too much to make out their expressions. “Steal from you? Why we’d never! Such an accusation is beneath our station!”

Her eyes finally adjusting Khestri lowered her arms and saw several people frowning. Or what would have once been people. They weren’t exactly solid, and she supposed their appearance was near enough to ghosts that they must be that. “So…” she said relieved they weren’t spirits bent on ripping her soul out, “what fits your station?”

The man brew himself up, chest lifting and puffing out as if expanding with a great breath. Ghost didn’t breathe right? “We are the Heroes Council. Set here to greet all would be heroes and test their strength.”

“Heroes?” Khestri couldn’t help the slump in her shoulders at those words. No one set out to be heroes if they could help it. Obviously she’d stumbled into the wrong portion of Insey. “Look no offense, but I didn’t set out to be some Devine cursed hero.”

“Devine cursed!” another ghost protested, voice squeaking.

“Is she mad?”

“Becoming a hero is a blessing of the Devine! Not a curse.”

Khestri didn’t bother keeping track of who spoke until the lead man waved his arms for silence. “You didn’t come to become a hero? Truly?”

She shook her head.

She would have said he paled a bit from existence as his shoulders slumped. “None have come in so long.”

“I doubt any in this age have.” Khestri shrugged. “No one came to the city until the Siurin herded us here.”

“Siurin?” That set off another string of objections until the leader silenced them again.

“If the Siurin are rampaging, we have truly failed. For our sworn duty above all others is to prevent them from sewing havoc.”

“Yep,” Khestri, “Failed. You should do something about it.”

“My dear, we have!” another nameless ghost objected. “We all gave our lives in service to the cause and now our afterlives so that we can train others.”

“You train people to fight Siurin?” Khestri asked.

“Of course! That is our one purpose in being! To begin all one has to be is virtuous enough to enter our arena.” He stopped eying her and didn’t say anything. Which was as well where Khestri had drawn into her mind.

No one fought the Siurin. Not in any myth she’d heard. But the myths she’s known didn’t cover ghosts inhabiting Insey just waiting around to train people to fight back. And she wished that someone would. How many times had she heard the whispered as they’d run… as she’d lost everything? If only someone had the courage.

Did she have the courage?

Khestri didn’t know if she could call it courage, but she needed something. Wandering aimlessly was no life, and she wanted to live. She pressed her hand over her chest as her heart thumped and burned. She looked back to the ghosts. “So… I guess I want to be a hero.”

He clapped his hands together. “Excellent. Let us begin the rebirth of heroes!”

Be sure to check out all the #fyretober creations.

#fyretober #fyretoberflashfiction #fyretoberday15

“Fyretober isn’t for just writers or just artists. It’s for everyone who loves to create, and this month we’re looking to see your flash fiction, poetry, and illustrations every day. We’ll be providing daily prompts for the month and want to see what new concepts and wonders you can make with them.

Join the creation fun and share your work with us.

This isn’t a contest. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be giving out random prizes for amazing work.”

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