I wanted to try my hand at one of August’s tales, but since Winter so cleverly started us off and probably has plans for that particular adventure, I decided to start with a tale from her past.
Five years earlier…
I pushed through the giant wall of icy winds and cursed the Guild in every language I’d picked up in the arena. The cold fingers of the icy bitch scratched at my cheeks and made my eyes water.
I was on this godforsaken planet, a small insignificant blip in the galaxy, because I’d lost a bet. I’d bartered with my soul and been dumped in icy hell with a Gourat of all things.
I turned to scowl at him, wishing I could still feel my hands so I could slap the smug look from his face.
It wasn’t his fault really. He always looked that way. He considered himself a superior being and I was his entertainment. His amber eyes flashed to mine and I read triumph in them. As far as he was concerned, this was a walk in the park and I was his prize.
I didn’t tell him to bite me. For one it was too much effort and another, he’d see it as a challenge. Oh, his features looked human enough, until he unhinged his jaw and showed off his extra row of pearly whites. Each fang like tooth was as long as a finger and razor sharp. I had the scars to prove it. I’d been up against him twice in the arena. So far we were even.
A high, piercing scream split through the blizzard. Something akin to a dopplegranger. If my blood wasn’t already at sub-zero temperature it would have chilled in my veins. We had nil visibility, no sign of shelter and a monster wanting to play with our bones, probably after it had peeled the flesh from them. Things really couldn’t get any worse.
I turned back to shark-boy, my pet name for the homicidal maniac at my side, or SB for short, and tried to judge his mood. “Do you want to take this one?” I asked, each word pushing against the wind and stealing my thunder.
A deep rumble tore from his throat when a second cry rang out, closely followed by a third, then forth. Apparently this was my day to die.
“I’ll take the first one. How about that?” SB said, detaching his jaw and extending his claws. Did I mention those? Right now they looked like our best chance at survival. Well, apart from Hatchet, my trusty axe and weapon of choice.
I grabbed the handle poking out of the holster on my hip, just as the first monster burst through the wall of ice.
Like a dopplegranger the thing looked female, but I’d been wrong before so I didn’t make any assumptions. Its body was as white as the snow, so it rippled like an illusion and played havoc with the mind.
It was easier to concentrate on the hair. It blew wild, whipping in the wind like a dark curtain. There were no eyes on the thing, just black, empty sockets in its face. Its mouth, a thin, wide slash, opened suddenly omitting that terrible scream. Only this time the sound came with a bite. Hundreds of insects shot from the opening. They were a deep red colour, like the thing had vomited blood, but I knew they were the real weapon.
My legs moved with alarming speed, considering the cold. I ignored the swarm surrounding me, biting into flesh, and swung my axe in a wide arc. The thing went down a little too easily, but I didn’t have time to worry because its friends had arrived.
SB was ripping through flesh on my right, completely oblivious to the insects which covered ninety-percent of his body. The guttural noises he made were disgusting. They made me want to gag. If I managed to make it through this alive. All I had to look forward to was more cold and the displeasure of his company.
A group of the things launched themselves at me, until we were a tangle of limbs. I tried to hack my way out of the impromptu group hug, but they were like limpets and they didn’t want to let go.
I was a little surprised when SB came to my aid. He had two clung to his back. His face was a mass of red from the bug vomit, but he tore them off me and I could breathe again.
When he had detached himself he grabbed my arm and pulled me towards him as though he was jealous I’d been in another’s arms.
It was only then that I realised the ground was shaking. The giant fissure in the ground kind of gave it away too.
“What now?” I muttered, a curse already forming on my lips.
When the ground disappeared beneath my feet the obscenity was wrenched free and I was falling into darkness. I wrapped my arms tighter around SB, using him as an anchor. I might not like him, but at least I wasn’t going to down the rabbit hole alone.
Thanks for reading.