Tendrils of Time


I started writing a scene, and had a decent one done at the 500-word count, then didn’t know where to go from there. I scrapped what I wrote after reading the first six chapters and wrote these 1,025 words. I used prompts from Inspiration Monday, Word-a-Week, #3WW and SM Cadman. This is also a switch back to present tense. Do you like past tense, or present tense?

* * *

Reese’s eyes snap open at day break, and she disentangles herself from her bedfellow. She silently dresses in her cloth uniform, and her hand caresses the leather armor draped over the back of a chair.

“Sneaking off?” a voice calls from the bed.

Reese spins and takes in the view. Sky walks toward her slowly, her hands fussing with her curly blonde hair. With Reese’s help, Sky washed the blood from her hair. After their night together, Sky stood unashamed of her nakedness. A flush had risen on Reese’s cheeks, and Sky smiled at the younger woman’s embarrassment.

“As often as we bed, I would think you would be familiar with my body.” Sky winks, and retrieves her uniform from the floor.

A sharp knock on the door interrupted Reese’s response. “Enter!” Sky shouts, continuing to dress.

“Mi’Lady,” a runner speaks, his blind eyes failing to discern the potentially embarrassing scene before him. “The chamber has been located.”

Sky smiles. “Tell the elder sisters I will be there shortly.”

The runner nods, and turns to leave. Reese let out the breath she had held. “Sky…” she starts, but Sky holds up a finger to silence her.

“Speak not of it, Reese.”

“But, mother…”

“Your mother is not just your mother!” Sky shouts before regaining her composure. “The Queen has too much to worry about,” she finishes her sentence with a whisper.

Reese couldn’t meet Sky’s eyes, and they suited up in silence.

“Snow will be at the chamber,” Sky declared, grasping Reese by the shoulders. “We can talk to her then if that is what you want.”

Reese nods and follows her commander out the door, certain of the events to come.

* * *

Reese walks a respectful distance behind Sky as they enter the discovered chamber. Willow and Daisy nod to Sky as she passes, essentially ignoring Reese. It was only after Snow looked past them and saw Reese, that the women acknowledged the princess of a kingdom without a king or castle.

Snow smiles at her daughter, and returns her attention to her most-trusted sisters. She motions for them to follow her through a shattered wall, the quartet stepping over debris. When Reese steps through the breach she sees it.

Hues of red snake out as tendrils strike anything made of brass. It is difficult to focus on the center of dark magick. The colors shift as ribbons unfurl and disappear. It is the most beautiful thing Reese has ever seen, and that was saying much considering her present company.

The women study the swirling vortex of unbidden magick unbound by time. They whisper in hushed tones, gesticulating wildly. Reese couldn’t hear the conversation, but she knows each of these women, and it is likely that Sky, Willow, and Daisy want to use the portal to attack Cerdiwen through time. The only surviving member of the Council of Nine would be the dissenting opinion. The imbalance of ideas is unimportant, as Snow is still their Queen.

Daisy and Willow throw up their hands and walk away as Snow nods to Sky. Sky produces a brass sphere, red tendrils from the portal licking it’s polished surface. Sky throws the sphere into the vortex, and as it pierces the event horizon, it floats, its machinations transforming the sphere. Steam hisses as the construct grows larger. All eyes are on the portal, so none feel the shudder or the small shower of dust that rains down from the ceiling on all in attendance.

When the ceiling collapses, only Reese had the presence of mind to draw her weapon. A brass hand reaches out from the cloud of debris and dust and seizes Reese’s brass sword. The strength of the hand not only wretches the sword from her hand, but malformes the metal. A second arm appears and shoves Reese back toward the swirling vortex and the construct that appears to grow as it drinks the dark magick.

“Reese!” Sky and Snow scream at the same time. The brass man strides confidently toward the vortices and Reese.

Resse picks up a chunk of earthen wall and hurls it at the ambling behemoth. It bats away the chunk, and continues its advance on the time portal. Reese finds herself trapped between The machine and feels the touch of magick fingers on her back. She can hear her mother and sisters shouting over the din of the brass automaton and the noise from the collapsing portal.

The monstrosity reaches with its brass fingers and seizes the expanding brass construct. Reese, worried that the automaton would somehow use the construct to absorb more magick, or prevent the destruction of the portal, and without forethought, grasps the brass arm with all her might.

She instantly feels the magick through out her being. She sees the chamber from an unnatural view. Sky is screaming, and her brass blade is lodged in the back of the metal man. A red glow surrounds her body, the automaton, and Sky. Reese hears and feels a timeless scream, not from herself, or Sky, but from the automaton.

* * *

Daisy lurches for Sky’s scimitar, but Snow pushes her back, pointing to Daisy’s brass gauntlets. Snow retrieves a sizable rock, and brings it down on the glowing scimitar. The rock glances off it, failing to free Sky from magick’s embrace.

Snow feels rubble strike her back and she scrambles out of the way as Daisy’s brass gauntlets tear out a section of stone wall, and brings it down like a stone scythe, separating Sky from her scimitar at the wrist.

Freed from the magick, Sky collapses to the floor, blood ebbing from her crushed wrist. Daisy looks to her sister, and after a pecuniary nod from Sky, she closes her gauntleted fingers on Sky’s wrist, twisting a collar on the gauntlet, causing It to glow with heat, searing Sky’s injury to staunch the blood. The purchase of Sky’s freedom complete. As Sky’s vision fades, she sees tendrils of time tear apart her bedfellow … and in a poof she was gone. They then started on the brass automaton. As she loses consciousness, she knows Reese and the monstrosity are lost to the emptiness of time.

Next: Dark New World

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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