The Final Push – Flash Fiction Piece
Another Friday, another Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge! This week, Smashing Sub-Genres. My RNU gave me 5 and 9, corresponding to “Space Opera” and “Sword & Sorcery.” I love these genres, and I’m pleased with my story. 994 words. Hope you enjoy.
The Final Push
Rodan Zal was a dead man.
He’d known it from the moment Kiyani Mirazola Tunnanathia, Empress of the Three Suns, Heir to the Krezara Throne, High Sorceress of the Miradon Mage Circle, had glanced at him across the marble-floored grand hall, conveying a heated ‘come-hither’ stare with her violet-hued eyes.
Within a week he’d been made her Chief Protector—a glorified title for a personal bodyguard. He was expected to die for her. And the instant he’d made his vow, swearing upon the blood of the sons of the Empire that he would lay down his life to keep his empress safe, he’d known that not only would he die for her, but because of her.
“The moment you begin to bore me, I will have you executed,” she’d told him, in the sumptuous confines of her personal chambers. “I suggest you make your best efforts to entertain and please me.” She had allowed him no objections as she’d made the meaning of her words clear. The silk dress had simply slipped from her body as she stepped towards him, flowing across the extravagant rancar-skin rug which decorated the cold marble floor with all the grace of a hunting cat; and one pleased with its catch.
He’d backed away, hypnotised by the flames dancing in the depths of her eyes, until he could back up no further. Then she had pounced, pushing him over to be caught in the embrace of the silk-covered bed. Silk was the only material she would allow to touch her skin, so she’d used her magic, the deep purple glow of the energy enveloping her naked body, wreathing her in an amaranthine nimbus, to pull the clothes from his body and hold him in place. There she had used him again and again until he was completely spent, leaving him to wonder if this was how her last Chief Protector had died.
Now, as he was flung back against the wall, disturbing the tapestries which hung there, he knew the time of his death was upon him. His eyes flickered to the rancar-skin rug, where lay the lifeless body of the unfortunate messenger, his neck twisted at an impossible angle.
His empress stalked back and forth, ignoring the body. She hadn’t liked the news he’d brought, and once somebody had displeased her, she never let them live to make the same mistake twice. No longer was she a cat pleased with its catch; had she a tail, it would have been lashing in irritation to match the flickering flames of anger which were growing in her eyes. The halo of magic energy coalesced around her body; he knew she used it as a blanket, from which she drew comfort.
“I should have been there!” she growled more to herself than to Rodan.
He repeated the words that had gotten him flung against the wall in the first place. “You could not have changed anything, Empress. You would have died, too.”
“I am the High Sorceress of Miradon Mages!” she hissed angrily.
“You’re also the last Heir to the Krezara throne,” he pointed out calmly. He’d learnt, over the past year, that the only way to survive her anger was to not show fear, to appear unflappable. “You must survive.”
“Over ninety percent of our fleet destroyed. The entire Circle wiped out. My father’s flagship captured.” The nimbus around her body intensified as she fed her own anger, working herself up.
“Empress, the Lorgun fleet will be here soon. We should regroup at a safer location.”
“I will not flee!” She lashed out with magic, and he felt an intangible force constrict around his chest, making it difficult to breathe. “I am not a coward! Let them come! I will tear them apart!”
Rodan didn’t want to die. Over the course of the year he’d survived the Empress and managed to keep their indiscretion from becoming public knowledge, saving himself a painful execution—it was the punishment inflicted upon a common-man who touched a member of the royal family, except to save their life. He’d be damned if he was going to be killed now by some filthy Lorgun invader.
“Kiyani,” he gasped. “The Empire has fallen. If we are to resist, and make our enemies suffer, we need you to lead us. To throw your life away now would be to hand complete victory to the Lorgun barbarians.”
There was a cessation of pressure on his chest. A thoughtful look replaced the flames in her eyes. “Perhaps you’re right. I could lead a rebellion. What’s left of our people will follow me.”
“They will flock to you, moths to your candle,” he told her, because despite all of her titles she was still only nineteen years old, and a naïve romantic beneath her volatile nymphomaniac façade. “Your presence will buoy their broken spirits, and they will bask in your radiance.”
She smiled, cold, calculating, and approached him, running her fingers along his clean-shaven cheek. “And you will be there, by my side, to advise me? To keep me warm during the cold nights filled with fear and despair?”
“Yes, of course.” Right then, he would have agreed to anything.
“We’ll have to be married immediately. Now that I lead our people, I must lead by example. I cannot live in sin. Besides, our children must have a legitimate father.”
Images whirled around his head, visions of daughters who ordered him around, and beleaguered sons hard put-upon, each of them with the royal, violet eyes of their mother. There would be no escaping such a fate, but at least he would live for another day.
“As it should be,” he said calmly.
“Good!” She grabbed a silk blanket from the bed, wrapped it around herself. “Summon the servants. Have them bring my rancar-skin and meet us at the ship. It will have to suffice as our bed for now. And be quick about it; I’m starting to get bored.”