Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Zarya - Nightgale Blog Challenge #1

Here is my first flash-fiction for the Nightgale Blog Challenge.  The prompt for the day was "Through Hemlock."  It referenced the Keats poem Ode to a Nightingale, "That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim."


Zarya took a deep breath, steadying herself for the conversation she was about to have with Paulo’s son.  Deep down, in places she didn’t want to acknowledge, she questioned the War.  Its consequences always weighed heavy on her, but even more so when she dealt with the children of fallen and wounded comrades.

Taking the last few steps to enter into the Battlement of the Stars, Zarya said, “I thought I’d find you here.”

Jordan watched the night sky from the Battlement of the Stars, his face pulled tight with worry. The cool breeze blowing across the plain ruffled the feathers of his wings.

He turned to face her.  He had to tilt his head to look her in the face.  She was tall, even for an angel.

 “Is he…?”

Zarya shook her head. “There wasn’t enough hemlock to wipe out his entire physical system, but they are still evaluating his condition.”

Jordan hunched further into his jacket.  “How come he got hurt?  He said he would be safe.”

“Have you heard the saying ‘Where angels fear to tread’?  There’s a reason for angels to be cautious when they are on Earth.  When your father took on a body, he became vulnerable to death.”

Zarya’s wings twitched. “We aren’t immortal when we’re in bodies.” 

Recognizing his silence for worry, she said, “Hey, he’ll be okay, I promise.” She put an arm around his shoulders, and squeezed lightly. “It’ll all be okay.”

She spoke with conviction she didn’t feel. Somehow Ahriman, or his followers, identified Paulo as an angel, and poisoned him.  They had brought the War to Earth, where angels could die.

Jordan looked out across the plain, his face twisted in a scowl. “So why would anyone volunteer to go down to Earth?”

“Because your father believed it a worthy risk,” Zarya said, wincing at how sharp she sounded. She leaned against a rampart, and crossed her arms.

“Your father has seen, on Earth, places every bit as beautiful as the garden of I AM.  Trees and plants grow large and green, water flows, and the air is sweet to breathe.” 

She followed the boys gaze, taking in the open expanse.  Trees no longer grew in the barren ground.  Scrub grass poked through the sandy, red soil.  The Citadel of the Stars was the last stronghold in this principality against Ahriman’s army.

“If we don’t stop him, Ahriman will turn the humans against us, and then the Battle will be lost forever.  Earth will be destroyed, the Angels will all be imprisoned, or murdered, and I AM will be alone.” She looked at Jordan.  “Our fate is tied to Earth’s… to the humans. We have to help them.

 “Jordan?” An angel from the infirmary called from the head of the stairs.  “Your father is asking for you.”

The boy’s face lit up.  He took several steps toward the stairs, and then turned back.  “Thanks, for staying with me.”

“Sure.” She watched until he disappeared down the stairs. Straightening up from the rampart, she smiled to herself, and said, “Thanks for making me remember why the risk is worthy.”


  1. Nice! I like your writing style and way with words.

  2. Oh, thank you, Eva! I get so nervous to post work on the blog. When I submit stories, it is just one person making the determination of the story's quality, but on the blog, it's open to anyone, and that's scary! Plus, this was a really hard challenge to write for. The second seems a little easier.

  3. Fret not Lara, this was a beautiful piece.

  4. Nice story! I too like to incorporate angels into my works. In a short amount of words you built a world of risks and rewards. I definately hope there is more to the story perhaps a continuation in the next few challenges :-)
    Until next time!

  5. Thanks for the kind comments! I'm off to read everyone elses stories now!

  6. I love it when stories grab me and pull me in. Very nicely written.

  7. Aloha Lara,

    Hey, why'd you stop... I was enjoying that story a lot... but great entry for a flash fiction comp.

    I hope you do well and I want to, one day, find out what Paulo was going to say to Jordan :)

  8. Hey! I left you an award on my blog :)

  9. Mark: I actually wonder alot about my flash-fiction actually being flash-scenes instead. I try to make a beginning and end, but it's tough for me to get a grasp on.

    Cassie: Thanks - I'll come check it out!

  10. Phew, I got attached to to the characters and began to fret that Paolo had died.

    I also want this continued sooner or later.

  11. Yay, Emilia! I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I am actually contemplating a novel idea using these characters, so it's possible that it may be continued some day. Thank you so much for following, too. Welcome to MfC!

  12. This flowed very well. An excellent piece of flash fiction, this is. :)

  13. Thanks, David! I appreciate the compliment :)

  14. I have a lot of trouble writing scenes from larger stories instead of actual short fiction myself. Anything under 80 pages is just part of the story, and even at 80 pages or more there are sequels waiting in the wings.

    I'd be very interested in your novel here, though because I felt an immediate connection to the characters. It's interesting, my first impression is that this was science-fiction, and even with the angels and war of good/evil I never totally shook the sci-fi feel.

    Loved your use of "Where angels fear to tread." since I think that's an amazing concept anyway, and then for it to be talking about Earth? Very nice.

    Such a richness of characters and setting. I was totally captivated.

  15. I like this indeed. It's a different take to have someone immortal be at risk for death.


  16. Wow, David, thank you so much! You picked up on some of my favorite parts about the story, too! I hope you come back and like the next story (Samael) as much!

    Thanks, Nellie. It makes me happy that you found the story enjoyable!


I'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave your comments below.


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