Category Archives: Dresden

Dresden Files: Solstice Fight

After a while of focusing my energy on game planning, I’ve had a kick to get back into writing – and this was the result! An odd piece but good action practice.

I’m dressed in my leather jerkin over my shirt and jeans, pirate boots on my feet and my hair flowing around my head. I don’t look anything like a Knight from the real world, but I don’t need to. The acorn around my neck, the silver-woven bracelet on my wrist, the knife at my belt; they are all the armour I need.

The huge field around me is littered with bodies, dead and alive. There’s things from the worst realms of Fairytale here; we’re in the middle of a nightmare of blood and fighting, worse than any human battle could ever be. It’s the Solstice, and the Summer and Winter Courts are battling it out for control of the Table. Luckily, I’m not having to be a general; Nemain’s directing Summer’s forces. My job is simpler. Distract the Winter Knight.

“He comes!” The Little Folk swoop down towards me, squealing excitedly. They love battles. It’s more fun than parties because they get to use their swords.

Apparently you get in trouble if you stab pizza.

The Fae on the battlefield around me scatter, and I smile at the ice-armoured figure stalking towards me. We’re left alone for these duels, which is exactly how I want it. “Sir Knight.”

“Lady Knight.” It’s a familiar voice, laced with excitement and malice. And then without ceremony he throws out a handful of razor-sharp icicles, intended to slice my chest open, leaving me bleeding and screaming on the ground.

I’m already moving, whirling away to one side and calling my sword into existence as I move. As the flaming blade roars into life I throw out my other hand, dissolving the Knight’s next ice shower into warm droplets. “You’re looking very dashing today,” I call lightly.

He snorts and goes for his own sword. “I’d say the same about you-” A clash and fizz as our swords meet, and then I’ve ducked away. I can’t match his sheer strength, so I have to be quick. “Except I’d use the word fuckable.”

“That sounds like an invitation to get you out of that armour.” I’m dancing across the ground, the flame whirling around my head and body as I spin. The life and laughter that I bring with me is one of the best weapons against Winter’s dark and death; the Knight can’t attack this much vitality, and he’s forced to rely on his ice. That I can work with. Plus, it means we battle to lilting snatches of old folk songs and the laughter of long summer days. It really disconcerts him, and I love it.

“You could ask – instead of trying to – carve it up with a bloody piece – of fire.”

“That sounds far too easy.” I whirl the flaming blade around my back and thrust it towards him. This time it does hit in; I’ve already withdrawn and moved to avoid his return blow, but there’s a singed and melted hole in the side of his armour.

“I’ve had easier fucks,” the Winter Knight growls at me.

“It’s more fun when they fight,” I throw back, feeling the chill from his blade across my neck as it slices a chunk of my hair away, leaving white strands across the battered ground.

“You take it to extremes.” I’m forced into a roll by his next blow and I know what’s coming next; he’s so predictable sometimes…

So I’m already letting my sword fade and calling up protection when the ice blasts out, freezing the ground beneath my feet and filling the air around me with freezing fog. It takes a large chunk of energy to resist the chill and I know the Knight is already charging across the ground towards me, using the fog as cover.

But instead of rolling aside as I would usually do, I lunge forward. My arms meet something solid and then I’m out of the fog and into the clear, actually slamming the Winter Knight backwards into the frozen ground. I use my momentum to tuck and roll up over his head before he can grab me-

His hand catches my ankle and I’m jerked to an abrupt halt, my ribs thumping awkwardly onto something. Fuck, that hurt. I kick his ear and then his wrist while he twists on the ground, trying to get a purchase while also not letting me go. We devolve into street brawling too often for my liking, but you can’t have everything.

He’s materialised an ice knife in his fist and is thrusting it towards my foot. I swing my weight and clout him on the side of the head, and get my foot free as he momentarily lets go. He snarls and rolls as I come to my feet and draw my knife, and then we’re both on our feet again. I’m covered in smudges and dirt, while his ice is still pristine. But hey, I’m prettier than he is even with my face covered in mud.

I see Winter’s familiar lust filling the periwinkle-blue eyes; my shirt’s torn at the shoulder and I know he’d love to take advantage of that. I did make the lust win one Solstice, which was amusing; he had actually got as far as dissolving his armour before Mab turned up behind him.

Ok, that wasn’t as fun as I make it sound. I really did think I was going to die when he slammed me into the ground, and being pinned to a muddy battlefield and raped is only slightly preferable to actually dying. I was surprised when Mab interrupted. Figured she’d enjoy watching Summer get humiliated.

But I’ve got other games to play today.

I attack. He’s forced to block, parry, block again as I dance around him, whirling faster than he can move, leaving melted slices across his armoured body. This is the problem with my attacks; I’m simply not strong or powerful enough to get in directly. I have to wear him down and create weaknesses before I can properly do any damage. If the Winter Knight could actually pin me down, he’d overcome me easily – which is why I rely on being fast.

And it’s working. 

The Knight’s on the defensive. He’s trying to attack but he’s using too much strength healing his armour and trying to keep up with my movements to focus more than a few brief showers of icicles. And before he knows it, between one attack and the next, I’ve slammed him backwards with both feet and then I’m on his chest, knife in my fist and blade pressed into his neck.

I lean forward, and I kiss his cold lips.

The sound from his throat is somewhere between agony and ecstasy. The blade’s digging in and he can’t tell how far I’ve pushed it, but my lips are warm and the life surrounding me is intoxicating. He doesn’t dare move but he desperately wants to take me. He’s too busy fighting with himself to focus on me.

I’ve won.

Around us, the battle is ebbing; it looks like Summer has won the Table back and the world’s back on track. I leave the Winter Knight on the ground, blood blossoming slowly at his throat and his eyes despairing as the armour melts from his limbs. Mab won’t be happy with him, because I let him live.

But hey. There’s always another Solstice.

Dresden Files: Black Court

A snippet from a WIP – the same as this one, actually.

“Right,” the Knight says. “The Blacks probably know we’re here, so we’re not going to be subtle. Let’s whack them as fast as possible.”

“At the cost of the victims?” Grey objects. “We cannot get every vampire at once. They will kill their prey as soon as we approach.”

“They haven’t yet. We can’t get all-”

I put my hand on his arm. “It’s my turn.”

The Winter Knight turns on me. “You can’t-”

“You had your fun.” My eyes are bright; I’m awake, alive, with Summer flaring through me in a golden river. “Black Court respond best to fire.”

He scowls at me.

I point at Marta. “Do you trust her?”

The Winter Knight, unexpectedly, responds immediately. “Yes.”

My smile deepens. “Then put your Mantle away. It’s my playtime.” I don’t wait for his response, and turn to Marta. “Shall we?”

She gives the first proper smile I’ve seen; a wolfish, feral one.

“And me?” Grey says.

I wink at him. “You’re always welcome.” The priest next to him is already re-wrapping the cross around his fist, so he’s in.

The Winter Knight is staring at me with something wistful crossing his face despite the crinkle of irritation around his eyes. And then he lets Winter fade, and Summer blossoms. I spin out, whirling in glee with my hair and bloody clothes flying as I let Summer fill me. The fire and life is mine to command, and I’ve got a scourge to destroy.

“Let’s go!”

I am in the cornfield, my Queen’s lips on mine, her voice in my head and life surging through my veins.

I am alive.

The cavern’s large, with a slippery floor and dripping walls. The river’s close to the surface here. There are humans here; battered and dull-faced people who don’t look up at the noise. It’s also full of Black Court, and they descend on us as soon as we enter the space.

I let my colleagues deal with the nearest ones, just focusing on getting as far out into the cavern as I can. I duck under a grasping hand, slam into three more, and then I’m spinning with the memory in my head and Summer flaring through me, my hands going out, laughter and sunlight following my movements. I light up the cavern with warmth and life.

It’s the equivalent of an atom bomb. The vampires die; the sunshine turns them to dust as it passes across them, their arms reaching and faces screaming soundlessly.

I feel a brief moment of pity for them. Were they human, once? But they’ve chosen their actions and their natures. Summer isn’t always kind, and my fire is burning through me.

Summer is here.

Dresden Files: Black Sea fight

“How far?”

I shrug. “Another couple of hours. We’ll transfer in Istanbul, and then…” I frown, trying to think of my geography and overlay that into the NeverNever. “Black Sea, from the way this is pointing. North side of the Black Sea. Do you want to do that path?”

The Winter Knight’s eyes are glinting. “Oh, yes.”

The Black Sea section of the Ways, as the Knight and I have both experienced, is not what anyone else would call fun. It’s the fastest route in this area, but it’s mountainous, lawless, and populated by wyldfae who didn’t want to declare for Winter despite their obvious talents in the area. In short, it’s a barrel of laughs.

Our resident Warden looks unimpressed as we step through the rock crevice someplace in the Istanbul area. “This path is not the best, Miss Dollface…”

“But it is the fastest,” I tell him pointedly. “And I’m under instructions from the boss.”

Grey laughs for the first time. “Then we will prepare for the danger, Warden.”

I see a pack of goblins lurking as we step onto a rocky path that threatens to crumble beneath our feet, and I’m aware of shadows flickering once or twice as we walk along it. It’s a pack of wolf-beasts that decide to go for us; I suspect their hunger has driven them into terrain they wouldn’t normally consider. I sense them ahead and slow as the Knight catches up, sensing the same thing I do. I shake my hands out, wishing I had my gun, and he’s readying a snowball; we both automatically turn, backs to the other, guarding our respective sides. For all my annoyance at him, we make a good team.

The first wolf to show itself gets a snowball straight into the muzzle, knocking it backwards with a yelp. I take two out on my side with tiny, well-placed balls of heat that act like bullets, and then turn to see what everyone else is doing. The Warden is just pulling his sword from the head of a wolf that’s slumped on the ground; Grey’s still strolling along, unconcerned, but Marta’s glaring ahead of us.

“Come on, get over here,” I call to them, dancing away from the wolf circling me.

“Incoming,” the Knight snaps, busy with a wolf that’s gone for his throat and instead met the icicle-claws, and I loose off two more shots. There’s a yelp.

“Missed one,” I say irritably, watching it break into a lope towards us.

“All the more for me!” my companion says gleefully, slamming a blast of something that looks like a condensed blizzard into the leaping wolf as I roll aside. The pack’s starting to back off now, whining, uncertain if this prey is worth it.

I let the Knight finish playing while everyone else catches up, stepping a little more quickly over the rocky ground, and then we’re moving again. The Warden keeps his sword out, acting as rear-guard, and I let our Winter psychopath lead with his icicle-claws. The pack shadows us for a little while, but I think their losses – and the occasional snowball that the Knight lobs in their direction – makes them give up. They fade off into the darkness as we transition out of the mountains to a rocky plain.

“How much further to the gate?” the Warden asks.

I consider it. There’s two Ways that intersect up ahead, but I don’t know which one is going to be most useful…or if neither will help. “Winter boy!”

“What?” he yells back from his position on a rocky lump, scanning the path ahead.

“Come and make a portal for me.”

“Why?”

“I need to check where we’re going.”

“After him.”

I stomp up to the Winter Knight and glare up at him. “You know spells change in the NeverNever. Get me back to the real world in a useful place, or I’ll step through and take my chances, and then you’ll be screwed.”

“Fine!” he snarls back at me and hops off the rock. “Aparatum.”

“Thanks, darling,” I coo at him.

“You’re pushing your luck again,” he mutters sourly, but does step through after me.

It’s mid-afternoon in the real world from what I can tell. The Knight folds his arms and glowers around at the beautiful view over the Black Sea that’s spread out in front of us as I wait for the tracking pendant to catch up with where I am.

“That way,” I say eventually, pointing.

The Winter Knight flips his phone out of his pocket and finds the map. “Hmm.” And a grin starts spreading across his face. “Sevastopol.”

Snippet: Snark and Spice

An argument from the Dresden Files piece I’m currently writing. I may have been grinning slightly while writing it…

“So, how long have you been with the Winter Court?” [Warden] asks me conversationally.

“Longer than I’d like,” I respond, leaning back in the diner’s padded booth. I can smell bacon and coffee, both tempting even though I only just ate. “What’s your area?”

“I’m based in Philadelphia. I knew the Knight anyway, so the Council volunteered me when he asked for someone to help.”

I’m grinning. “Wow, you pissed someone off real good to make you help him.”

“I’d say the same for you,” [Warden] responds with a smile in return.

“So how are you tracking the wizard?” Marta asks me. Well, it’s more of a demand.

I raise an eyebrow at her. If I was following my instincts, I’d be playing nice right now. But today, I’m being Winter – and there’s also no sodding way I’m admitting I somehow got hold of the wizard’s Name. It’d be opening a can of questions I’m not going to answer. “That’s a need-to-know basis.”

“We need to know.”

“No, you don’t.” I grin at her. “You just need to know that I can track him.”

“I don’t think you’re trustworthy,” she spits.

“That’s not your call, lady. It’s the Knight’s. And I have him,” I kiss my fingers and waggle them at her, “wrapped around my little finger.”

She scowls. I wonder how long it’s been since she had to deal with anyone quite as snarky and defiant as the Winter Court tend to be.

“So what did the Knight use to bribe you here, then?” I add. “What’s your stake in this?”

“I’m a hunter,” she snaps, but it looks like I’ve hit a nerve. She’s going to tell me things because she’s determined to prove her point. “I can kill anything.”

“Oh, so you’re just ghoul fodder.” I really should be getting her on-side, but this is too much fun.

“I’ll do better than you will, bitch,” she spits at me. “I’m your protection. I’ll leave you to the monsters on the Ways if you don’t respect my skills-”

“Not unless you want to be lacking a guide.”

“You wait.” She’s glowering. “When you’re screaming because a ghoul’s got your leg-”

“You wish! Winter ain’t weak.”

“You’re a weedy, powerless airhead without any idea of what you signed up to.”

Well, that’d hurt if I was the Changeling I look like. As it is, I grin. “Well, if we’re talking looks, let’s start with yours. Thuggish, stupid and prone to smashing things?”

She proves my point by grabbing [Warden]’s coffee mug, I assume aiming to throw it at me. [Warden] puts a firm hand on her arm and extends the other hand at me. “Enough! We are a team. We have a common goal, and this is not assisted by squabbles.”

Marta’s still glowering at me, and I give her a sweet smile. She looks like she wants to spit at me, but luckily the Winter Knight saunters back in from making his phone call at that point. “We’re all set. Ready to go?”

“Where are we going?” the quiet man at the end of the table asks. He’s been silent throughout the squabbles, although I did catch an amused smile lingering on his lips for most of it.

The Winter Knight grins broadly. “Where else? New York.”

Elemental Fight

A snippet from a longer Dresden story. Summer’s being a bitch, so Winter’s offered her a fight…and got rather more than he bargained for.

She’d manifested a sword, somehow, and a blade made of fire was sweeping down towards him. Icicles sprang from his fingers and he blocked her, feeling the heat roar against his hand, and then she had spun and swung again.

The blades clanged and clashed as they stepped and parried across the arid ground. She was quick, dancing and weaving, the blade flashing around her head with a roar of heat and flame. It was taking most of his concentration to defend, parrying and blocking. He’d never seen her fight like this – and never really seen anyone fight like this. She was almost elemental.

And then she made a mistake; the blade slammed down into his icicles and he snapped his other hand into the fire, catching the flaming blade between his claws. A twist and tug left his wrist aching, but the sword flung out of her hands and vanished in a twist of smoke.

Summer stepped back, her face twisted in fury and her chest rising and falling, her hands going out, summoning something…

Fire was rolling towards him, sweeping across the scrubland; a phoenix of roaring flame, burning with a furious heat, scorching with the heart of the sun and the heat of the desert. He threw his hands forward and shielded, knowing it was the only thing he could do; he couldn’t fight a force as elemental as this. She was throwing everything at him.

The cold surrounded him. He could still feel Summer’s heat even through his shield; the sun was beating against the glaciers, life battering at the cold darkness, a roiling mix of fury and hatred and love sweeping against the lifeless indifference. But Winter was in his heart and his core, and he wrapped it around himself, invincible.

And then the flames were dying down. Summer was on her knees on the charred and blackened earth, and as he let the shield slowly dissipate, he saw tears falling as her fingers dug into the scorched soil.