The below story is one I wrote quite a few years ago, and then tidied up a bit last month. It’s a lot lighter and fluffier than most of my more current work. I hope you enjoy it.
As always, I love hearing your thoughts in the comments box below.
Smoke and Mirrors
“So it was all a lie?”
I looked into her eyes for a long moment, and then sighed and lowered my head. “Yes,” I said.
I could hear the frown in her voice. “I don’t understand it, Christopher. Why? Why make up all that nonsense?” There was a moment of silence, and then she said,. “I’m not even going to talk to you about this anymore. I’m sick of you lying to me. You can stay in your room until your father gets home.”
I didn’t answer. A moment later she left, closing the door as loudly as possible without actually slamming it. I waited a couple of minutes to make sure she wasn’t coming back, and then whirled into action.
I flung open the closet door, and rummaged through the piles of clothes and books scattered on the floor. After a few seconds, my hand closed on the pack stashed beneath them. I grabbed it and opened it, stripped off my jeans and t-shirt and abandoned them in a heap on the floor. Then I dressed in the pants and tunic I pulled out of the pack. I checked to make sure I had everything I’d need, including a selection of coins marked with the Swallow insignia of Greyholme, and slung the pack over my shoulder.
Then I moved to the bed and reached underneath it for my sword. It was a beautiful weapon, and very well used. I ran a hand over the topaz set into its hilt and smiled. I loved that sword like my friends loved their playstations. I buckled the belt around my hips with practiced ease and turned towards the mirror.
“And the Great Kristof returns to battle,” I said aloud, thrusting out my chest and striking a heroic pose. Then I gestured and muttered the esoteric words I’d been taught by Paavo, the great Greyholme mage. The image in the mirror shimmered and disappeared and the mirror took on the familiar green glow of an open portal. I took a deep breath and stepped through.
I was in an alley. Alone, thankfully. I didn’t have time to explain my sudden appearance to bystanders. Sasha was in trouble, and it was up to me to save her.
Sasha was my companion, colleague and, I liked to think, something of a soul mate. She had fiery red hair with a temper to match, and she was at least as good at flinging spells as I was with my sword. We’d met the first time I came to Greyholme, and had worked together ever since.
We’d been on our way to see the King when my wards were tripped and I was summoned home a few hours earlier. Just as the transition spell took hold, bandits attacked. Together, we could have taken them without breaking a sweat. But we weren’t together. I couldn’t stop the transition spell, and Sasha was left to face them on her own.
Now that I was back in Greyholme, Sasha was my priority. My plan was simple. First, find the bandits. Second, kill them. Third, rescue Sasha.
Surprisingly, the plan worked. That doesn’t often happen. But three hours later, I pulled my sword from the chest of the last bandit and wiped my blade clean. Then I made my way to the hut where Sasha was being held prisoner and unlocked the door.
“Never fear!” I announced grandly as I made my way inside. “I’m here to rescue— Oh.”
Sasha was halfway out the window, having somehow pried the bars and shutters loose. She rolled her eyes and slid back into the room. “Let’s go,” she said, stepping towards the door.
“No kiss, then?” I asked, attempting to keep up my heroic pose.
Sasha just looked at me. Silently. I guessed that was a no.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that she doesn’t like me. She just hasn’t fallen for the mighty Kristof charm yet. I would have said something to have her swooning into my arms, but I was interrupted by the familiar, irritating sense that my wards had been compromised.
“I have to go,” I said.
Sasha nodded. “Very well.” She paused, and then said grudgingly, “Thank you for coming to rescue me.” Then she shot me a wicked smile. “Hurry back or I’ll defeat all the bad guys before you get here.”
With a promise to return the following day, I murmured the transition spell and stepped through the portal and back to my bedroom.
The battle had left me tired and sore, but not wounded. I would probably have a few cuts and bruises to show for it, but I didn’t have time to check. My wards had been crossed – someone was approaching my bedroom. I pulled off my Greyholme clothes, bundled them into my pack, and pulled on my jeans and t-shirt. I slid my pack and sword back under my bed – I could clean and oil it later. Then I collapsed onto the bed just as there was a knock on the door.
It had to be Dad. Mom never knocked.
“Come in,” I called.
My father opened the door slowly and peered around the room. He paused in the doorway a moment, and then came in and sat on the end of the bed. “Your mother says you’ve been telling her stories again.”
I nodded, not making eye contact.
He rubbed a hand across his beard, and shook his head. “She says you told her you couldn’t clean your room because you needed to rescue Sasha.”
I nodded again.
He sighed. “We’ve talked about this, Christopher. When I taught you the transition spell, I thought I made it clear. If you can’t keep this secret, I won’t permit you to return to Greyholme.” He paused and leaned forward, looking at me seriously. “Now, is Sasha alright?”