Story Lab

Fyretober 2021

Welcome to day 30 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!

Ashre dodged a low flying book which continued unaware past her and into Khanan’s waiting hand. There is lay the pages fluttering open as Khanan turned his attention to the book and toward the doorway. In his other hand was a similar, if heavier, tome. “Set the tray on the desk. I’ll eat later” Ashre sniffed. He didn’t bother to look at her or what she carried.

Walking toward the desk, the only desk in the room, she plopped the package down. “I’m not carrying a tray.” She tapped the wrapped box demonstratively. “A fact you might have known you’d bother to recall that super is well past, and that morning has not yet arrived.”

“Hmm, what?” Khanan finally raised his eyes from the books looking her over. No doubt he took in night the robe tied tightly around her frame since his gaze darted to the night darkened windows and back. He opened his mouth, preparing to ask her purpose when he noticed Ashre’s finger still tapping the package’s top.

“Ohhh!” He tossed the two books into the air. They snapped closed and rushed to the shelf behind him as he darted over, extending his hands greedily.

Ashre positioned herself between him and his goal. Khanan came to a dead stop bare inches from her, his mouth compressing into a thin line. Were she anyone else, Ashre would have worried he were about to turn her into a toad or some more reasonable punishment spell, like hives. Aggravating for the recipient but not requiring bone withering exhaustion for the wizard. Instead, he merely sniffed at her and waited.

“Next time tell Hermendes not to send his packages via ghouls.” She pressed a finger firmly into his chest. “I do not appreciate being woken up by their screeching.”

Khanan blinked. “I didn’t hear…” He trailed off at Ashre’s scowl. “Right, no ghoul deliveries. Now may I see the box?”

Ashre sighed, a deep breath which filled her lungs and was expelled in a rattle. Stepping aside, she perched on the edge of the desk allowing Khanan to attack the wrapping. Paper cast side and lip cast aside, he reached into the box to withdraw his prize. Another musty tome.

Rubbing her eyes Ashre glanced around the cluttered bookshelves in Khanan’s workshop. The number of books he’d collected had tripled in the last several months and he spent all his time among them. “And what,” she asked tucking a stray lock of his disordered hair behind his ear, “is so exciting about this one?”

Khanan looked up from the pages meeting her eyes. “This holds the story of Saint Felswarth who legend says…” He stopped seeing the patient smile on her face. Snapping the book closed, he tucked it in his arm and sat beside her wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

Ashre leaned her head on his shoulder closing her eyes contentedly. “Surely not even Saint Fellsdown is worth losing another night’s sleep over.” Twisting her arm slightly, Ashre found his hand just where she knew it would be waiting.

“My heart, I assure you that Saint Felswarth–”

“Fellsdown,” Ashre interjected with a grin.

Khanan kissed the top of her head. “Fine, Saint Fellsdown as you have it. Whatever name the man goes by, he is not the center of my drive.”

“I wish I could understand why you’ve chosen this project now.” She waved her hand at the room. “Why you’ve made this your… your story lab instead of casting the magics the queen requires.” Ashre twisted in his arms, drawing another breath. This time, before she could speak the indrawn breath caused an explosion in her lungs.

The fluids she’d grown accustomed to shifted spreading out and chocking the air within her. She bent over in a coughing fit which rattled her body and mind until she could only focus on winning the victory for her lungs and control of her breathing.

When she returned to herself, she felt the hands gripping either arm firmly, the protective cradle of his arm, and saw the book laying discarded on the floor. His grip shifted to tuck her head protectively against his own as he stroked her hair while she finished banishing her enemy from the field or battle.

She her breathing returned to no more than the slightest of wheeze he spoke again. “I have created my story lab,” his voice was a low rumble in her ear, “for he who can control the tale can shape its ending.”

Ashre did not respond to his words. Instead, she sat next to him listening to the sound of his breathing matching her own rhythm, a pattern of life he could imitate if never replicate. Ashre knew well his drive, even if she could not allow herself to see it except for in the briefest of glimpses.

For all his power Khanan, bound by a wizard’s frame, would walk countless years. At least countless to the precious few Ashre was born to live as a mortal woman. Years cut shorter still when the sickness had taken hold in her. A sickness which cared not for any spell Khanan had known before and so he searched desperately chasing a way to extend their time together.

Raising her hand, she touched his arms gently. His drive was born of mortal fear which wizards should never know, but which because of his heart and her health he did. Ashre loved that heart and mourned for the pain she knew with every breath approached.

“Perhaps,” she finally ventured into the quiet. “For this night you can take a break and keep me company so my mind may calm after the disquiet of the ghouls.

His grip tightened briefly about her. “Of course, my heart.” He kissed the top of her head and helped her to stand, and in the ending she wished for that night, the two of them left his lab together.

Be sure to check out all the #fyretober creations.

#fyretober #fyretoberflashfiction #fyretoberday30

“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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