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Author Name: FreeJam 1 Comments
Date Added: April 27, 2004 18:04:41 Average Score: (Needs 2)
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Category: Short Stories Add To Favorites | Text Only
Winterís Heart
We crawl along the spine of the mountain like ticks on the back of the Great White Wolf. The snow whirls around us, stinging, blinding, and our spirits long for our home far away but we cannot turn back now. We can see the cave ahead, so close, just one more mile, one more mile to test our conviction. But we cannot slow and we cannot avoid the fate that awaits us here, in so far away and lonely a place. It is nearly two months since the Angry Father stormed down and stole his daughter the Sun.

This was in the days when the world was still young, the earth was rich, there was no sickness, and the gods walked among us and we rejoiced in life. The days were warm and unchanging and they started when Della, the Sun, awoke and ended when she slept and the night had yet few stars for hardly any indeed had died and left this world to be set in the heavens. And being young and innocent we wasted our days away in the joys that the world had to give us, not knowing cruelty and spite. For though the gods had given us arms and trained us to fight we were not a warlike people and violence was all but unknown.

So we were caught unawares and defenseless when Greuk, the Angry Father of the gods, bore down upon us as we danced in the evening with his most beautiful daughter, the Sun, as we often did to wish her a pleasant sleep. Like a raging maelstrom he tore down from the north, scattering earth, trees, and rock without thought. When he reached our glade it was bedlam. The very air shook with his fury and many ran filled with terror and madness and cast themselves into gorge or river without thought. Of those who could stand their ground some stood, paralyzed with shock, amazement or even reverence, while but a few had the thought and strength to take up arms. We fought, and died, not out of bravery or of honour but out of desperation and for survival. When the dust settled us few that remained standing after the Angry Father had bore up his daughter and fled in a hailstorm of fury stood and looked around, and surveyed what was left of our once proud home. House and tree were crushed with equal prejudice, signs of the dead were everywhere and the air had a bitter chill, a chill not felt before. After finding as many survivors as we could we sat down and decided how to find and kill the Angry Father and reclaim our goddess. As I said before we were not warlike, neither were we motivated by vengeance or bloodlust but justice and to avoid our inevitable end. You see it had been foretold that the fate of our people was tied to the fate of our blessed goddess, she was the mother that we could not be parted from.

So we gathered up what weapons and armour we could find and what food we could scavenge and set conviction in our hearts for what lay ahead of us. Almost all of us left on this noble, desperate and doomed quest, only a handful remained behind to take care of what few children we had. The journey was long, hard and bitter indeed, violence, disaster, and fear took their harsh toll upon us. Of the fifty that departed only four of us remained to bear down on the cave of the Angry Father. It was myself together with Ashnar The Giant, who was stronger than the other three of us put together, Terinda The Icemaiden, whose hair was as white and soft as snow and whose eyes were as hard as ice, it was she whose mate Notara lead us until that fateful day when a chasm opened up in the snow and swallowed the rest of the survivors, leaving only us four. Finally, through what luck or fate, there was my own mate Keiya, who alone kept me going, kept my belief in our quest.

The mouth of the cave opens up in front of us like the maw of a terrible beast, waiting to swallow our souls. Into that inky blackness we step with desperate purpose in our hearts and a desire for this to come to an end, one way or another. As we stalk silently through the large cavern, light suddenly flares up and he is waiting for us. Greuk brings his hands together in a monstrous clap and issues a poweful blast of air that knocks all of us over, almost all of us. Ashnar still stands, and before the surprised god can react he leaps forward and strikes with a blow that would have crushed a mountain. Frightful sparks issue from the contact of his massive hammer with the armour of Greuk and the god is forced down to one knee. But he is up in a second and with a cruel blow from his gauntleted fist knocks Ashnar weapon from his hand, but the giant grabs the god by the shoulders, he knows what he has to do and there is no escaping death. With a roar of anger, desperation and fate he uses all of his might to tear the crack that his hammer caused into a gaping hole in the godís defense. The god picks him up as if he were a child, in one hand and crushes the mightiest of our people as if he were mere kindling.

But we have hope, the rest of us are up by now, I with sword in hand, Terinda with her bow and Keiya with spear. Greuk advances straight towards me, Terindaís arrows puncturing his chest like mere insect bites, and I have to fight like I have never fought before. He is quick, quicker than any other I have ever fought, but I am quicker, whirling my blade so quick that it wails like a banshee. Deflecting blow after blow from his fists and dancing around I wait for an opening. Fully intent on killing me Greuk does not see Keiya on his flank. She drives her spear right into the joint of his knee. Bellowing with rage and not a little pain he rips the spear out and before even I can react he spears her in the side. I donít have enough time to think of Keiya as he has now opened himself up. I step back to drive in the killing blow and in that instant we are undone.

I slip on the blood of Ashnar on the ground and fall on my back. Greuk spins around and in one blow of his fist shatters my sword, sending the shards flying. He then crushes my chest with a single blow and kicks me aside. I can hardly move the pain is so great, but I turn and see that Keiya is lying next to me and see death coming in her eyes as she does in mine. I somehow manage to crawl to her, or she to me and envelop her in one final embrace, a mingling of lovers blood, one final kiss. If it had not been fated, or if I was carrying any other sword then this story would end here, with us dying arm in arm, but it was to be. Suddenly I was gripped by clarity, being so close to death and remembered a part of the prophecy of our doom:

At the heart of winter: a dying sun,
And when heroes become undone
The blood of lovers will be shed for all,
And the evil god suffer to downfall

I looked across the cave and for the first time saw that Della was standing just beyond the Angry Father, and on her cheek was a scratch, a single line of blood, caused by one of the shards of my sword when Gruek shattered it. You see it was no ordinary sword, gods may be wounded by ordinary weapons but it takes a special weapon to deliver the killing blow, and the sword I bore was one such weapon. It was named The Godslayer, its metal was poison to the gods, and there was no cure. Della took a few halting steps and collapsed to the floor. Greuk uttered a strained cry and ran over to his doomed daughter. He cradled her in his arms, as if he could save her with soft words.

He then uttered a cry, the most terrible sound the world had ever heard, a wretched shout, filled with anger, hate, but also futility and love, a cry so terrible that it tore the sky in half and it was night and day at the same time. He then drew out the flaming spirit of his daughter and cast it into the sky of the day, and he took her beautiful but dead body and set it in the night sky. And that is how it came about that there is a sun and a moon. And what become of us? Oh yes we died there on the floor of that cave, arm in arm, and were set in the heavens, where we are now, as the brightest of the stars. And what become of our people? Terinda alone of our party returned to what few remained where our home once was, and our people scattered like whispers in the wind. Perhaps you see them sometimes, a mystical whisper in the forest or the half-imagined glimpse of a fey face.
Author's Notes:
I wrote this for a friend of mine, Della is almost an anagram of her name, and I wanted it to have an almost oriental style.
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Comment By: Freejoia on April 28, 2004 12:12:46 AM Report
Very imaginative, a wondorous story. The whispers I hear in a cool glen must be Terinda and her brood, gathering strengh. Entertaining read. joia


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