I haven’t done any flash fiction in a while, so here we go. This is from Chuck Wendig’s A Game of Aspects flash fiction challenge. In it, you choose three things, a subgenre, an element to include, and a theme/motif/conflict. Mine are Sword and Sorcery, Hotel Bar, and Love Square (because love triangle isn’t enough). One of these aspects that make up this flash fiction is based on a true story. It happened to me! I am not saying which one.
Timothy dove away from the table just as the azure bolt of arcane power shattered it into a thousand flying splinters. He hit the ground and rolled forward, then came up running. Alana would need a minute to begin another spell and the smoke and haze would make it difficult for her to see him. He made it behind a stack of boxes without being hit.
It had begun so innocently, with just a bit of kissing. Now the tavern was on fire. Most of the patrons had fled and no doubt someone had called the watch. Timothy thought he could hear a few people across the room, trying to fight the fire. It wasn’t a big blaze yet, they might still succeed and save the building from burning down. He hoped they would. This was one of his favourite taverns.
There was the sound of feet pounding the floor and Timothy poked his head up over his hiding place, just in time for someone to come diving over the boxes and crash into him. The impact blasted the air from Timothy’s lungs. At least the fleeing patrons had flung open the doors and windows in their efforts to escape; it meant he wasn’t going to die of smoke inhalation while struggling to catch his breath. He managed to focus on who had struck him. Was it…
No, it was Jayden, the one person he didn’t have to worry about. “This is all your fault,” the tall, skinny bladesman told him. His goatee was singed and his wavy hair was had ash in it. There was also a sizeable hole in his green cloak.
“My fault?” Just then, there was another crackle of arcane energies. It didn’t kill him, so Timothy ignored it. “You’re the one who got Alana so drunk.”
“And if you’d properly resolved your relationship with her, she wouldn’t be tossing magic around while sobbing. How was I to know she can’t handle her liquor?”
They glared at each other for a moment before Timothy shrugged. “Maybe we both have points. Have you seen Luke?”
Jayden shook his head. “He’s either hiding from you, or hunting for me.”
“He kissed back. How was I supposed to know he’s interested in you instead?” Timothy muttered, more to himself than to Jayden. Luke was the one who’d actually stared the fire in the first place, with one of his damned smoke bombs. Apparently this one had had not enough smoke and a little too much bomb.
A sound made them both look up. A first, Timothy couldn’t place the noise. Then it devolved into a high pitch whine. He had half a second to glance at Jayden; his friend’s panicked expression must have compared to his own. They took off running in opposite directions.
It was just fast enough to avoid the beam of solid, blinding light that eradicated the boxes, searing everything down into a cloud of dust. Timothy took cover behind the bar. Many bottles lay shattered and the harsh smell of strong alcohols filled his nostrils.
“Alana!” He called, regretting opening his mouth the second he did so. “Don’t you think you’re going a bit far? That one would have killed us both!” He blood was pounding in his ears. Perhaps it was from all the running, but his last drink was really hitting him hard, and there had been too many.
“You pulled your sword on me!” Her voice wavered as she spoke.
“I’m sorry! It was a mistake.” It had seemed like a good idea at the time. She had raised her slender hands towards him first. He’d seen lightning and fire burst from those hands, to the detrimental effect of both beasts and men. His sword wouldn’t have done him much good against such magic, but a lot of things had seemed like a good idea tonight. “I’m going to come out. Please don’t kill me.”
He slowly raised his head above the bar. If he stayed down there any more, the fumes were going to get him before the magic did. Alana was standing there, her arms partially raised. A spilled drink had stained the front of her tunic and her coppery hair was ragged around her shoulders. She seemed to sway as she stood. Damn Jayden, how much had he given her? He knew from the look on her face that the tears were coming.
“Why don’t you want me anymore?” She sank down to her knees and buried her face in her hands.
“I’m sorry, but things weren’t working out.” Timothy protested as he glanced over. Her last spell had put a large hole in the wall, and cool air was streaming in from the night outside. “Why don’t you come outside and have some water? We can talk about it?” He had no intention of talking about it. He could have made a run for it, but even after everything else, it didn’t seem fair to leave her in the burning building. Plus, there was nothing left to hide behind between him and the exit. She might still fry him.
She looked up and for a moment he thought she was going to argue. Then she just nodded. Timothy left the bar and came over to her. It looked like they had the fire under control, so he offered her his hand and she took it and stood up.
Jayden and Luke were waiting when he got Alana outside. Luke was sporting a growing bruise on one cheek, and Jayden was standing well away from him. Beside him, Alana’s eyes were drooping.
“Well. I guess we’d better find another tavern. Let’s all get separate rooms tonight, shall we?” he said. Everyone nodded. All in all, it wasn’t the worst night of drinking with his adventuring mates he’d ever had.