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.

A Dresden Files wanderlust

A snippet from a longer Dresden Files story that I’m writing; this comes towards the end, after the adventure’s over and Dini’s come home.

I leave my office and head to see my brother. As I sit in his comfortable visitor’s chair and recount my previous few days, the adventure seems so far away, a fairytale and a story that happened to someone else, a long time ago, in a place far away. I’m not sure I’m back from it yet, but I’m not sure I’m still there.

And when I leave, the feeling of unreality is still with me. This town feels small, and too busy; I’m aching for the bright lights of Vegas, the hot desert beneath my feet, the grasslands and rustling leaves of the Summer Court. I’m outgrowing my world, much as the thought stings. I used to like my contacts and my friends –

And then I stop.

No, I didn’t.

I was a woman on her knees, trapped, unable to fight her corner. I was stuck in a maze of concrete and tarmac, running endlessly away from my shadows, unable to stomach my brother’s lack of morals but unable to do much more than futilely hammer against the relentless tide. My contacts in the police – both mortal and supernatural – helped, along with my new friendships, my expanding network. But they didn’t solve any of the problems.

It’s the Summer grasslands that have won my heart, and the pull of the world that is drawing me away from the city I grew up in. I know the rest of the world is out there, now. There’s other cities to see, other foods to taste, other hills to climb. There’s people to meet, for all that they could be my enemies. There’s loves to be found, losses to bear, scars to create, changes to make.

There’s a world out there.

And I don’t know how long I can fight that pull.

Dresden: fighting the Malks

From a Dresden piece that I wrote recently. I’m not entirely happy with this section; it’s been re-written three times, and I’m still not sure I’ve caught the emotions that I want to…but I have to admit defeat at some point!

One of the Malks* makes the mistake of getting too close to me, and gets a foot in the ribs and then a gun-butt in the side of the head. A high-pitched yowl comes back to me as it retreats hastily, a livid wound marking the side of its face where the steel has burnt the fur away. I’m just turning to see where the other one is when my body meets the ground; something heavy lands on my back and claws dig into my shoulder and arm, pinning me down. I can’t help a sob at the pain, and the Malk’s breath is warm in my ear with something that’s almost a purr. “You struggle so delightfully, little Summer child…”

My gun’s flown out of reach; the claws dig in further and then I feel sharp teeth tighten slowly into the back of my neck…I’m sobbing into the snow, struggling helplessly against the weight pinning me into the cold ground. I’m going to die. I’m going to die here in the frozen wastelands and there’s nothing I can do-

-and then the weight’s gone. I gasp in pain as I roll, hearing a hiss and snarl as the second circling Malk lands where I just was, and a claw swipes at my head; it whistles through my hair as I roll again and then I’m up and running towards my guide – I can’t do much to help him and I can’t really defend myself, but he’s the one thing I’m sure of in this alien land, and he’s the only thing that can get me out.

“A chase, little human?” the Malk’s weird voice hisses from behind me. “What fun…”

The guide’s got two of the huge cats leaping for him, but he ducks one and stabs a hand upwards at the other, slicing along its side with a cut that makes the beast wail. A spray of blood marks the snow as it lands; the ground around him is a patchwork of red and white. A limp body is sprawled on the ground from the guide’s first attack on the beasts, and there’s a second cat limping a little way from the fight. The Malk that was on me is half-buried in a pile of snow, slammed off my back by what looks like a huge snowball. My guide looks like he’s winning.

I’ve almost reached him when something spins me and I tumble into the snow. The scarred cat pounces for me and receives a kick to the stomach that would make my teacher proud, but it twists in mid-air and lands easily. I slide on the ice as I try to come to my feet, and then the Malk’s full weight has landed on my chest; my body slams into the snow again and the world darkens for an instant as my head hits the ground.

Slices of pain bring me back; the Malk has sunk its claws into my shoulder and the renewed agony makes me choke back a scream. The burn from my gun is livid on its head, seeping ichor into the fur. I lash out but it seems to make almost no impression as my fist meets muscle; the huge animal delicately shifts a paw to trap my hand, and shining teeth bare as it lowers its face towards mine. I can smell the rankness of its breath, a stench of blood and rotting meat overlaid by the musk from its fur…I can’t move, and I freeze in panic as I hear the crunch of more footsteps in the snow-

“Silence,” a voice says quietly.


*As a friend of mine put it, “a furry killing machine with the staying power of a Terminator from Krypton.” Go for a very large bobcat with an additional dose of malice, intelligence and sheer bloodthirsty joy in killing things, and you’re pretty much there…they’re colloquially known as “furry bastards” to the RPG group, which gives you some idea of what we think of them.

Dresden: Knights

Part of a longer piece that I wrote for a Dresden Files RPG, which may or may not fit into one of my plots for the next campaign (so it’s definitely non-canon right now). I have put it here as an example of the writing I’m doing – hopefully it makes enough sense as a stand-alone!


She was still bleeding. Requests for more bandages had been ignored; the Winter Knight’s reasonable attitude had devolved into logic, cold sarcasm and then furious desperation, but the wizard flatly refused to lower the Circle that was their prison, and now hadn’t been into the room for a while. The man had watched his fellow-Knight grow paler and paler as the time ticked by, aware of the spreading pool of blood that had soaked through the pad pressed futilely against the wound in her leg. She was curled up against him, her breathing shallow, and he found himself hoping that she was still conscious.

“Come on, you can’t sleep.” he said for the fourth time. “Tell me another story.”

“What about?” the tired voice said from his shoulder. The sun was sneaking across the floor towards them, but he hadn’t seen any more flickers on the curtain that suggested someone was outside. Their hopes of rescue were fading…he couldn’t hear any noise from the rest of the house, though, so maybe the wizard was gone. There had been a lot of opening and closing of the front door…but the Circle that trapped them was still holding, worst luck.

“Tell me about Warren.”

That got a breathy laugh. “I was…negotiating. He met me…and then walked down to the lake. Asked how I got my nickname.” There was a pause. “Petrichor. That’s the word for the smell of rain. I wish…I’d had more time with him. But someone like that…isn’t really there. There’s never enough time. And then he was dead, and I’d…taken his place.” She paused again, and he felt her shiver. “I’m cold. I haven’t been cold since I joined the Court.”

“You live in Summer now.” the Winter Knight said, trying to work out what he could do. His t-shirt was sodden with blood, and he had nothing else to give her. He tightened his arms, trying to give her as much of his body heat as he could. “Heat, and light, and warmth.”

“I’m dying, aren’t I?” Her voice was quiet and tired.

“I don’t know.”

“At least the Court…will know…”

“Come on, wake up.” the man said bluntly. “No sleepytime. Who’s your favourite Faerie?”

There was a long pause that made his heart catch in his throat, and then, “The Little Folk,” the thin voice whispered.

“Least favourite.”

“You.” He felt her cheek move in what he hoped was a smile.

“Someone you wouldn’t want to meet on a dark night.”

There was a pause, and then, “The Malks.”

“Damn furry bastards. Best moment at Court?”

“Summer dances.” She gave a breathy laugh. “Although I’m not…very good…”

Her voice was fading again, and the Winter Knight gave the enemy in his arms a worried shake. “Don’t sleep. Wake up. Talk to me-”

And the room filled with sunlight.

Dresden: Protection duty

The landscape changes as we walk through the Ways; it goes from green fields to a darker, hilly landscape – and then back to fields again. The path branches twice, but the Emissary who’s guiding me always takes one fork with no hesitation, and I have to trust that he does know where he’s going. Ten minutes later it’s rock walls, overhanging us. I stay close behind my guide; we’re not talking, and we keep moving with quick steps. The Ways do not inspire complacency; they’ve got an air of danger and uncertainty that puts me on edge, and even the half-Fae Emissary obviously isn’t comfortable here.

We’ve just come out of the rock maze into a barren desert that stretches out into the distance when my guide stops, looking ahead of us. I stop behind him, and peer around his back. There’s mist up ahead, half-obscuring the path, drifting out across the desert in a vague cloud that doesn’t seem to have an end. The tall man half-turns and holds out a hand to me. “Take my hand, and don’t let go until I tell you that you can.”

I take his hand, feeling like a child, and he pads off. I follow, feeling my boots sink slightly into the sand beneath my feet. I don’t want to ask what he’s worried about…

The mist closes in around us; it’s cool, clinging to my skin. All I can see is the dark shape of the Emissary’s back in front of me –

– it’s gone. I’m alone in the mist –

His hand tightens on mine, and we keep walking.

– he’s not there. He’s gone –

– I’m lost, I can’t see where I am, I’m never going to get out –

His hand is gripping mine.

– he doesn’t care. He’s left you. All along in the mists –

– nothing out there for you –

– let go of his hand –

I can’t tell if they’re voices, or my own thoughts.

– you’re all alone, little mortal –

– you can let go of his hand now –

I can barely see; I’m not sure if it’s the mist or tears that are blinding me. I stumble onwards, feeling the tug of his hand.

– you’re not going to find your way out –

– always alone, little mortal. They all leave you –

– just let go! –

And then my head meets something, and the Emissary’s voice says, “It’s all right. We’re out. That’s it.”

I’ve run into his chest. The mists are behind us; we’re back on the sandy footpath between a barren desert that stretches on ahead of us. I look down, and find my hand still tightly clasped in his. He bends a little to look at me, and in a strangely tender gesture, runs his thumb across my cheek to wipe off the tears. “What were they saying to you?”

“I was alone.” My voice is thick. “I’d never get out.”

“Yeah, they do that.”

There’s a moment of silence. And then he lets my hand go, and turns. “Let’s carry on, dollface.”