Friday, August 17, 2007
Okay, just a quick note before I have to run!
I didn't think I'd have a chance to do this one this week because I've been so busy, but I've rushed it in between dinner and more work. This is more from Paid in Gold and Blood. Katashan has taken the body to the closest city, and there at the military keep he learned that this woman was the daughter of the local lord, and missing for some time. Katashan is the guest of the local commander until things are straightened out.
This, of course, means things are going to get much worse.
Katashan dreamt about his wife.
Maybe it was the bed. He had not slept in a real bed in years -- in fact, not since that last night with her.
He hadn't thought of her so clearly since the day he came back to find their home destroyed, and she and the girls dead. He had stopped dreaming about a lot of things that day.
He had spent a little time with his parents, but they'd already had a strained relationship, and his father's suggestion that he remarry -- almost an order -- had led to words that probably should never have been said.
He'd left ten days later. He would not go back. . .
But it wasn't his father's coldness that he dreamt about this time. Tonight, he saw Ava before him, laughing and bright. She had fastened her dark hair up with golden rods and lined her eyes in dark, royal blue. She laughed when he reached for her hand, and pulled away with a playful smile. She paused again, and lifted her hand out to him....
But he knew, even in the dream, that he would never touch her again. And yet he still reached, as though he might find a way past the barrier of death. He wanted to have her back again, with an ache that made his heart pound. Wanted --
She took his hand.
Cold. Ice cold.
Katashan awoke with a cry of surprise and found a woman holding his hand. He recognized her: Sherina, who was long since dead at that high pass. She floated on a soft breeze from the open window, her body and arms unnaturally long. Her golden hair, still glittered with ice, looked hardly brighter than the pale, snow-white skin. Clouds of mist hung around her, but she wore no other covering.
He tried to yank his hand back, but her fingers, though they looked no more substantial than clouds, gripped tighter. Her touch felt like the grasp of winter around his wrist.
"Be gone!" he shouted, his voice harsh and too loud. She reached for his other wrist, but he moved faster, grabbing at the blade still hanging by the chain around his neck. Thank the Gods he had the sense enough not to remove it when he went to bed.
She snarled, her thin blue lips pulling back to show pearl white teeth and a frozen black tongue. When he started to pull free again, she slapped at him with her free hand and the icy touch nearly numbed his arm. Only the ritual blade in his hand saved him. He clenched his fingers around it and drew blood -- and that alone sent her scuttling back, keening loudly.
He started to stand, shaking his hand to try and clear the ache of cold from the skin and bones. Seeing him show a sign of weakness, she swept forward again, but he lifted his bleeding hand, almost spattering her this time. She drew back in haste with a yowl of anger.
The door opened, spilling torchlight from the hall into the room. The guard stepped in and stopped, his breath catching as he choked on whatever words he had meant to say.
"Get back!" Katashan warned.
"Gods -- Gods!" he finally cried out.
"Close the door!" Katashan leapt from the bed, drawing Sherina's brief attention from the guard. He looked petrified, poor boy. Not the one who had brought him here, so it was past midnight. "Get out and close the door, now!"
He was a good soldier, at least -- he stepped back to obey the order, though never taking his eyes from the enemy. Sherina spun in the air, gauze of light and almost substance, and then swept down on the boy, settling around him like a fine mist.
The guard slumped back against the door and slid down, a glaze of white over his form, a film through which he gasped, his eyes rolling up as she drew power from him.
As she drew the life from him.
Katashan threw himself at the two, his bloody hand held up while he chanted and focused the magic into his fingers. Until he felt the warmth growing in his hand he hadn't realized what he'd instinctively called: fire. She had become a being of ice, a demon of the cold and she drew away from the flame he held out toward her as a lady shied away from a mud puddle.
The guard had turned pale white, his lips blue -- but his chest moved, though erratically. Katashan had paused only long enough to be certain he still lived and then spun back to the malevolent spirit drifting in the center of the room, red tinged eyes glaring at him.
He lifted his hand, calling up more fire to rest upon his palm. She backed away, mouth drawn back with a sound like a hissing wind.
"Be gone, Sherina --" He lifted his hand prepared to throw the flame into her icy heart.
Before he could finish the spell, she screamed and retreated out through the night-filled window. Wind shook the room and rain poured in, some of it turning to ice in her wake. He heard the sound of people and animals suddenly awake everywhere. Lightening rent the sky as a gale hit, blowing through the room with a new sweep of torrential rain. He regretted seeing the bed almost immediately soaked.