The Lefthand Way UPDATED 7/13/20
Posts : 84
Join date : 2020-07-08
Age : 28
Location : Frozen North
|Subject: The Lefthand Way UPDATED 7/13/20 Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:08 pm|| |
Sooooo...do y'all remember back in 2011 when I posted bits of a story where Winnowill was trying to get her act together and dating Vurdah? And I swore one day I'd type the full saga out?
Trigger warnings for Canon-typical Winnowill atrocities and non-consensual healing.
Winnowill did not understand how it had all come undone so quickly. She had ruled under Blue Mountain for untold turns of the years, unquestioned, undisturbed, ordering everything according to her whims. And now in the span of a few days her laws were broken, her plans upended, and Winnowill found herself hunted in her own domain, blood flowing free from the arrow wound in her shoulder, the whole ravening pack of the Wolfriders at her heels.
The child squirmed in her hold, a wild base thing under all his potential, and Winnowill sprinted hard, pushing her wounded body to the limit. If she could reach the door she could hold them off indefinitely, drive them from her mountain before Voll began to wake, but the door seemed to grow no closer while the breath of the pack grew hot on her back.
It began to occur to Winnowill that she could not run forever.
A shout from behind made her turn to look, and she saw that her little dark sister was still hard on her heels, frightened and ferocious as she locked eyes with Winnowill.
“Oh, Winnowill! Do not be so foolish! You have nothing, no one! Must you lose your life as well?” Leetah shouted, and Winnowill rounded on her in fury. She hadn’t the time, the Wolfriders were nearly on them, but she brought Leetah to her knees for her arrogance.
~*Now who is the fool?*~
The Preserver dropped down to harass Winnowill, scolding and spitting until the child twisted from her weakened grip. Winnowill cursed and looked to the door, close enough to plunge through, but the wolf-chief was there now, raising Leetah up and trying to turn her away. Winnowill prepared herself to strike even as blackness ate the edges of her vision, ready for the bite of the blade.
But it was Leetah reaching for her, relentless in her kindness. Winnowill swayed on her feet, flinching away from the younger healer’s hands.
“D-do not touch me…”
“I will. You have more to fear than I.” Leetah murmured, and with a mother’s gentleness she cupped Winnowill’s face in her hands.
The light seared her mind, laying bare all the dark things Winnowill had hidden away. A thousand memories surged up from the receding dark, flourishing under Leetah’s healing touch. She could hear them, the voices of all those she had hurt and betrayed and failed time and time again. Broken bodies under her hands, childless parents weeping over their lost hopes, blood and blistered flesh and a child’s high screaming, her son screaming, her son begging for her to stop please stop --
Winnowill had leaned into Leetah’s touch for a moment, just a moment, but now she pulled away from her treacherous sister, stepping back into nothingness. Under the screaming she heard Leetah gasp, heard the rabble shouting as she fell, but all she knew was the relief as the intruding touch left her. The pain of her body striking stone was a gift she embraced, even as her healer’s instincts told her that the ribs she had broken were in danger of piercing her lungs, that her back was too badly fractured to allow her to run.
The vermin would leave her now, with the child free. Leetah would turn the pack, convince them to leave Winnowill. All she need do was get to shelter and begin her mending. Winnowill lay trembling on the rock, her blood warming the stone under her as she breathed as carefully as she could. She closed her eyes.
“Aroree, help me! She can’t get away!”
Winnowill went still, not breathing, not thinking, unable to understand what she had just heard. Aroree? Aroree could not be here for Voll was vulnerable, and she had sworn an oath to never leave her Lord in danger. It was impossible. The Chosen was too weak to disregard her entire purpose. Winnowill was conscious of sound above her and a shadow falling over her broken form, and she still denied until she felt the touch of hands on her brow.
Winnowill had strength enough to shudder and try to turn away, her own breath a wet ragged sound of fear, but Leetah leaned over her, turned her over until Winnowill was looking into her wide eyes.
~*A healing is needed, sister. *~
Do not shy away from what must come.
Winnowill understood, then, that Leetah was not alone. At once she sank down in herself, slipping the bonds of her dying flesh and hoping to flee before Leetah could destroy everything. But the old desert crone was waiting for her in the black, strong now that Winnowill was weak, as unyielding as a stone. Leetah was there when Winnowill turned away, a star blazing with cruel intention.
You have waited long enough. Savah told her, and threw shining bonds to entangle Winnowill, bringing her down like an animal in the hunt. Winnowill screamed and thrashed, lashing out with the jagged edge of her power, and though the others flinched they did not stand down. Leetah’s spirit engulfed Winnowill in that terrible light, bright and golden and burning away every defense she had raised.
~*It will be better soon.*~
Time and again she tried to claw free. With her flagging strength Winnowill sent withering pain to rend at Savah and Leetah’s spirits, but they were strong enough together to stand against her now, following her to every secret place inside herself and bringing that light. Kindly, ruthlessly, Leetah stripped Winnowill bare and left her at the mercy of her memories. She was in the golden heart of the sun, unable to turn away from what she had done.
~*Savah, tell me it is enough. Please.*~
There is still more to do, my child. We must bury it deep within her, else it will undo our work.
For the first time Leetah faltered, and Winnowill nearly got away. But they caught her up between them and held her fast, pulling her sideways into a memory not her own. They were in the changeful, changeless desert of their people now, a place of strength for healer and lord, a place Winnowill did not understand. Serenely Savah raised her hands above her head and a shrieking wind began to whip the sand up around Winnowill in an impenetrable wall. Winnowill shielded her face with her arms and staggered with the force of it, her body bowing forward into the gale. Through the lashing sand she could see Leetah, standing and staring with pity.
~*Sister, I am sorry.*~
Winnowill snarled into the storm and sank her power down through the desert sand. She called strangling vines up from the land, thorny and poisonous, and reached through the storm to coil around Leetah. The little healer cried out as thorns tore flesh and writhed in the grip of Winnowill’s rage and it was good, it was right that she should suffer as she made Winnowill suffer. Winnowill would drive her from her head and her heart, would take back her soul from this little intruder and ensure she would never come near her again.
Savah’s voice was cold in her head, and with the merest flick of her wrist she changed the path of the wind. The sandstorm knocked Winnowill to her knees and filled her mouth and eyes and nose with choking dust. With the full fury of the desert bearing down upon her Winnowill could not rise, and dimly she realized that the sand was drifting around her, drifting over her. The sand covered her limbs, crept up her torso like a living thing until she could scarcely breathe. With the last of her strength Winnowill lifted her head to see Savah and Leetah standing over her. Leetah looked on her with mingled fear and sorrow, and Winnowill knew the battle was lost.
~*You are not ready, dark sister. Forgive me.*~
Winnowill gave a final desperate gasp as the sand reached her head, and woke on stone still warm with her blood. She lay panting for a heartbeat, unable to contend with the clamoring inside her head. Where once she had rigid control there was nothing but raw memory and she shuddered in horror, her flesh crawling as she rolled to her hands and knees.
“How dare you.”
Her enemy was there, and the traitor Aroree, both of them ashen and shaking in the wake of the healing. Winnowill lunged at Leetah, took her by the wrists and dragged her near. They stared at one another, healer and healed, sharing breath and trembling together even as the beast-blooded ones howled overhead.
“I am sorry.” Leetah whispered. Winnowill hissed and reached for Leetah’s mind, thinking only to let her feel the ruin she had made for herself, to flood her with pain until she begged for an ending. Yet her head pounded, and Leetah’s face swam before her eyes as she strained with the effort of the painsend. Dizzy, Winnowill sat back and shook her head. She raised her hands to her temples to soothe the pain and found that relief would not come.
It would not come.
Winnowill shot a frantic look to Leetah and delved deep into herself, past the chaos of her newly healed mind, down beyond blood and bone, into the place where she was most herself, the very root of her healing. In place of a wellspring of power there was now only a smothered trace, buried beneath untold layers and sleeping quietly.
~* What have you done? *~
Leetah did not cower from Winnowill in that moment. She merely turned her head and buried her face in her hands, her shoulder shaking.
~* Forgive me.*~
Far off down one of his many winding tunnels, she heard Two Edge begin to laugh.
Last edited by Arill3.0 on Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:26 am; edited 3 times in total
Posts : 84
Join date : 2020-07-08
Age : 28
Location : Frozen North
|Subject: Chapter II: The Flight Mon Jul 13, 2020 2:23 am|| |
Here's the second part! Content warnings apply: Canon typical violence, violent/suicidal thinking, mild gore, animal death, depression, Winnowill being her usual charming self (aka: a bastard). I also metagame shamelessly to save my fave.
She was brought back to her chambers, once Voll had been awakened by her treacherous sister. She did not remember coming up from her hidden world, nor being taken before her lord. When she realized what had been done, what had been stolen from her, she…
She drifted now, pressed down by the weight of the mountain. Sleep was dangerous, filled with screaming and blood, and waking was no better. Going out provided some relief but she could not go far; every time she tried to fly free it was as if she reached the end of a tether, and was thrown back into her shell.
Winnowill was defenseless.
She drank the broth Kakuk brought her and allowed herself to be cleaned, but could bear no more than that. She lay now in her bed, curled tightly in on herself, and tried to find the anger that could give her the strength she needed to avenge herself. Yet she could not grasp it. Every time she reached for it she thought of the years before Blue Mountain, when she would encounter a beast dying of the foaming sickness. They would attack anything, destroy anything, and the safest solution had always been an arrow through the heart.
It was cruel, to maim what should be killed outright.
Winnowill lay in a gray stupor, too afraid to sleep but too exhausted to stay awake, when a familiar touch found her mind.
She stirred and opened her eyes, her soul ringing painfully with the force of his sending. Voll was awake, truly awake, and Winnowill was filled with dread. He reached for her, pried impatiently at the poor shields she had managed to raise around her mind. He was too close, too much, and she recoiled from him.
~*Winnowill, hear me: I fly to the Palace! The time has come to reclaim our home!*~
Winnowill gasped and struggled up in her bed, her heart climbing in her throat. She reached back along the connection to his mind even as her soul quailed; she could not let him do this.
~*Voll, no! You cannot go!*~
~*I cannot remain, we have lost too much time already. I swear I shall return soon...we will speak together then.*~
He was gone, and Winnowill was alone. She sent furiously until her head throbbed and her vision swam, but he would not hear her. Voll was leaving.
Winnowill stood and went to the chest where her clothes were kept, dressing heedlessly with hands that shook. Voll was leaving. Thousands of years of stubborn blindness and waking dreams, and now he rode out into a world that would kill him. She must stop him, whatever the price.
The exhaustion fell away from Winnowill as she left her bower and began to run. She pushed down the voices, the aching in her barely-healed body, and gave herself up to the rhythm of it; she had been the fastest in the tribe well before they called themselves Gliders. Her body remembered.
Winnowill was conscious of a voice outside of her head but did not slow; from the corner of her eye she saw young Hoykar flying to keep pace with her, looking bewildered as always. He darted in front of her and caught her by the shoulders.
“My Lady, what are you doing? Lord Voll said you needed rest!”
Winnowill twisted out of his grasp and wanted to scream at him for delaying her. She forced herself to breathe deeply, for that would serve no purpose other than to damage her already wounded pride. She spoke as calmly as she could, and slowly so that not even this young fool could mistake her.
“I must reach the Aerie before Lord Voll leaves. Move or I shall move you.”
“I...was instructed to keep watch over you, my Lady. I cannot--.”
“You may carry me to the Aerie and keep watch over me there, Chosen.” she said, and stared the young elf down. She had known him all his life, and knew that he had no stomach for confrontation. He fidgeted under her stare, rubbed at the back of his neck as he dropped his eyes to the floor.
“Well, I suppose that would be in keeping with orders…”
“You waste my time."
Reluctantly he gathered her up and flew for the Aerie, holding her as gently as he could and asking every other breath if she was hurting at all. Word had gotten out of her fall and everything coming from it, and Winnowill wanted to tear the knowledge from Hoykar's mind. She needed speed, not his worthless pity.
They reached the Aerie in time to see Voll land old Tenspan at the entryway, and the sight struck Winnowill like a blow. He sat astride the hawk as though he had never left, wind-tousled and keen-eyed, so much the elf of her memories that she thought she had stepped eight thousand years back. She heard Hoykar gasp, as stunned as she but far more joyful.
“He hasn’t flown Tenspan in ages!” he said, and laughed with delight.
“Where is your lifemate? I must speak to him.” Winnowill said, unable to tear her eyes from the sight of Voll silhouetted by the morning light.
“He is readying Sweetspirit for a hunt. I thought it would do him good, after the loss of his fledgling.” Hoykar said, and flew them up to where his bondbird was preening in her nest. Kureel stood leaning against the hawk’s flank, arms crossed and eyes intent as he watched Voll invite the Wolfrider chieftain up onto his mount. Winnowill pushed back the surge of panic that threatened and lost no time in addressing Kureel.
“We cannot allow this, you must help me--.”
“Out of bed, I see.” Kureel cut her off, and he made a show of examining the claws of his talon whip. He looked slantwise at Winnowill from the corner of his eye and gave her a very cold smile. “I have seen what your help looks like, Winnowill, and I think our Lord would be better off without it.”
Winnowill grit her teeth and fought hard to keep from hurting the insolent whelp. Below them there was the boom of great wings and cheering, and Winnowill looked back to see Tenspan launch herself into the sky once more, bearing Voll from the safety of Winnowill’s care.
“My Lord summons us. Come, Hoykar.”
Kureel hung his whip from his belt and held out his hand to his lifemate, who set Winnowill down. Desperate, she caught Kureel’s wrist and forced him to look at her.
“Take me with you. You know what he intends to do; we cannot allow him to do it alone.”
She and Kureel stared at each other for a moment that lasted a mountain’s age, Kureel’s eyes searching her face. At last he nodded, and Winnowill nearly went weak with relief.
“Very well.” he said, and floated up onto Sweetspirit’s back. Hoykar seemed horrified as Winnowill kirted up her skirts and began to climb the hawk’s harness.
“My Lady, if you must come then at least let me help you.”
He swept her up again and settled her between himself and Kureel, curling his arms fast about them both. It felt, Winnowill thought vaguely, like being surrounded by a very nurturing rock slide. Without bothering to ensure that his passengers were settled, Kureel kicked Sweetspirit’s sides and she leapt into the air. Winnowill gripped Hoykar’s wrists hard in the weightless moment between roosting and flying, heart jolting behind her ribs until the great wings began their work.
Sweetspirit soared from the mountain with the wind’s own speed, and Winnowill almost cried out in pain as the sunlight lanced into her eyes. She grit her teeth against the pain of it and ducked her head to hide her streaming eyes. She had not left the mountain in ages, not since…
**Hold fast.**Kureel sent, and shifted subtly in the saddle. Sweetspirit trilled and shot after the distant form of Tenspan, happy to follow her mother in the hunt. Winnowill gripped Kureel’s shoulders and squeezed her eyes shut, empty stomach roiling as the ground sped by. Behind her, Hoykar sent cheerfully.
~*Take heart, my Lady! Our Lord is himself once more, and leads us through the endless sky! It is a good day!*~
Winnowill ignored him in favor of fixing her eyes on the diminutive form of Voll far ahead of them, wanting to reach for him and dreading the contact. There was little point in it now, anyway; she could sooner banish a storm with a fan than turn Voll from his quest. She would stay close and bide her time.
They rested for the evening when the light finally failed them, and Blue Mountain was only a small point on the horizon. Voll kept his hostages on a bare peak above the reach of the pack below, and Winnowill kept her distance that first night; she had no intention of being further tormented by Leetah. She ate what Hoykar gathered for her from the forest around them, and fell into an uneasy sleep on the bare rock when the trials of the last two days became too much. It was a thin, poor kind of rest, troubled by the sounds of rock falling and the smell of cooking flesh, and she woke to a gray cold morning.
Voll led them onward, deeper and deeper into unknown territory, and Winnowill watched as the land changed beneath them, the trees growing more and more sparse until a bare plain stretched to the horizon. Winnowill wondered if they would even be able to hunt in this barren place, and supposed that starvation was a quicker road to the Palace, all things told.
That evening she took Kureel’s boot knife and began to hack at the tangled nest her hair had become. She allowed herself to miss her humans, with their soft words and gentle hands, but did not grieve overmuch as she fed the shining skeins into the fire she had built. It was almost pleasant to alter some part of herself, if only crudely, and she could almost love the edge of the blade for the change it brought.She felt strange when she was done, too light, too vulnerable, her body chilled without the mantle of her hair to protect her. She tucked what was left behind her ears, the ragged ends pricking between her shoulder blades. It would do.
She was just contemplating finding Hoykar or Tyldak to hunt something for her when a great sending call caught her up, a vast internal shout that brooked no resistance and invaded her deepest thoughts.
**My children, you must see and know what it is that I offer you!**
Winnowill’s head pounded as the vision took shape in her mind; the secondhand vision of the Palace that Voll’s mother had shown them when they were small, vast and beautiful beyond words. For a moment she was a child again, tucked against Gibra’s side as she told them stories of home, watching as Voll’s young self grew steady under a burgeoning dream.
There we saw the beauty of the universe, my children. There we were safe and sure.
On the heels of the great shared vision, a wordless question for all, a call to arms rather than a demand. Instinctively, Winnowill answered.
~*Yes, I follow.*~
For one moment her heart was light, caught again in the fierce fire of his vision. Moments later she was horrified with herself, for revealing her presence and losing her senses so utterly in the moment. It was inevitable that he would discover her presence, of course, he was not so foolish as to miss her among the Chosen, but she had hoped for a better time.
She was still trembling in the aftermath of the vision when Hoykar and Kureel joined her at the campsite. Aroree and Tyldak, at least, were wise enough to leave Winnowill in peace. Kureel’s face showed he was no less affected than Winnowill was; he looked shaken, as though he had narrowly escaped from danger, and alight with purpose. Hoykar, who Winnowill had helped bring into the world and to bring up, did not seem to grasp the gravity of the situation.
“So that’s the Palace, then? I had nearly forgotten! What makes it shine like that, do you think?”
She wondered, idly, where they had gone wrong with him, and then began to rekindle the fire for dinner. Others were doing the same not far away, the Wolfriders breaking into groups for the evening and assigning watches.
She turned, dread in her heart, and found Voll staring down at her. She had thought he would be angry to find her on this quest, after all she had done, but he was smiling at her in the firelight, as though happening upon her in Tenspan’s Hall.
“You are here.”he said, very softly. She was not sure if she wanted to laugh or weep; she could surprise him still, it seemed. When she did not reply, Voll folded his long legs beneath him and sat beside her, looking so much like the gangling youth of her girlhood that she smiled despite herself. From the corner of her eye, she saw Hoykar take Kureel’s hand and lead him off.
“I could not let you go alone.” she said at last.
Voll once would have laughed and asked if she thought the Chosen were incompetent, and she would have only smiled slyly in return. Instead they sat quietly together beside the fire, for the first time in centuries. Voll turned his head to consider her after a moment, and reached out to touch her hair.
“You have cut it--oh.”
Winnowill flinched from his hand and hated herself for it. Voll slowly lowered his hand and bowed his head in apology.
“I am sorry. Leetah warned me that you might...that touch might not be welcome at this time.”
Winnowill froze, like one who had stepped onto thin ice. With difficulty she swallowed and asked,
“What has she told you?”
Voll leaned back and tilted his head up toward the emerging stars, weighing his words carefully.
“That you have been ill, for a very long time, and that she has...taken certain measures. That you are mending, but will need our help. Winnowill, I--.”
Winnowill made herself like stone, still and watchful and cold, and whatever else Voll meant to say dissipated between them like so much mist. She stared across the camp to where Leetah sat with her mate and children, small and steady in the gloom. Winnowill thought how she would like to take Leetah’s face between her hands and press her thumbs into her pretty eyes until blood ran like tears, and then she recoiled from herself, cold down to her marrow.
“I want to be alone now, my Lord.”
Without waiting for him to reply Winnowill rose and went to her sleeping place, far from the others. Sleep evaded her, even though she felt the full measure of her exhaustion without her gifts to keep her strong. She felt akin to the small crawling things that teemed when a log was lifted, blind and bare under disgusted eyes. How long until she was crushed underheel?
The next few days of their flight felt different, as though flying at the head of a stormfront rather than against it. The Wolfriders were calmed, no longer straining to break away or assault the Chosen, their wills bent toward the Palace. A testament to Voll’s skill with gentling baser beasts. They were very far North now, and Winnowill saw that the land beneath them was blanketed in snow already even though the leaf-fire time had not come. The air was cold enough that their breath misted before them, and Winnowill realized that she was shivering even between the warmth of Hoykar and Kureel.
She did not care; she felt something, felt it, not far ahead of them over the mountains. They were all of them excited now, kindling with it as though Voll was a great fire throwing off sparks. Gradually, the horizon ahead grew lighter and lighter, a false dawn of many colors that caught the eyes, and Winnowill’s pulse began to race and every memory Gibra and her mother and father had ever shared told her that this was it, this was where she was meant to be.
Winnowill filled her eyes and heart with the shining of their true home, and for the first time felt the terrible gray weight lift from her. Behind her Hoykar was laughing, and Kureel’s breath stilled under her hands.
Home, we are going home!
Yet hard on the heels of joy Two Edge’s voice came to her, from a conversation held far under the mountain and nearly forgotten:They meddle and mine, my father’s kin, to guard their ill-gotten gains. Where Guttlecraw reigns, metal rains.” He had laughed and taunted her until driven off, but she had thought nothing of his ravings then.
~*Get to Voll.*~
Kureel nodded imperceptibly and leaned in the saddle. Sweetspirit banked hard to the right, spilling air from her wings until she was level with Tenspan. She was near enough to see Voll and even hear his shouting over the wind, every line of his body alive with joy. He was himself again, the lord who led them from the deprivation of the wilds to the luxury of a tomb. Winnowill swallowed hard and turned her head to scan the mountains ahead, sprawling like dead things beneath the glory of the Palace’s aura. There was a gleam in the gray flank of stone, something shining, and the hairs at the nape of her neck stood on end.
She did not wait for Kureel’s refusal; she wrenched his shoulders and kicked the hawk as hard as she could. Sweetspirit shrieked and plunged towards Tenspan. Voll, who had once nearly lived on hawkback, hauled hard on his mount’s harness; she stalled in the air, her wings beating with a sound of thunder as her flight was checked. Sweetspirit shot past, the wind tearing at her passengers as Kureel swore and fought to correct her fall. Winnowill twisted around in time to see the Wolfrider and his brat flung from Tenspan’s back, and Voll diving after them.
She felt something change in the air, a vibration in the ears and over the skin, and a bright streak clove the air where their mount had flown a mere heartbeat ago. Tenspan screamed, a high and terrible sound, red blossoming over her feathers as a bolt longer than an elf was tall pierced her mighty heart.
Tenspan fell, and Winnowill could hear the other two screaming as she went down. Winnowill looked for Voll in the chaos, heart in her throat, and breathed only when she saw him drifting stunned with his arms around the wolf-elves.
Kureel turned Sweetspirit and brought her down for a landing as quickly as he could manage, and Winnowill slithered from between her guardians before the hawk could fully touch down. Heedless of the knee-high snow or the biting wind she made her way to Voll, turning her head from the mass that had once been Tenspan and swallowing against the sudden thickness in her throat. Winnowill reached Voll before the others, ignoring the Wolfrider’s snarls as she began to check Voll for wounds.
His heart hammered beneath Winnowill’s hand, erratic but strong, and she could find no blood on him. He turned to look at her, tears streaming down his face, as uncomprehending as a frightened child. Alive, wonderfully alive.
“How?” he choked. She only shook her head, pressed her palm to the living warmth of his flesh and stared up into his face. She knew they ought to get away this very moment, but she only stood there and felt the beat of his heart.
Around them the Chosen and the Wolfriders began to gather close, hands on weapons, eyes scanning the unfamiliar landscape of snow and rock for the danger. The silence broke when Tyldak dropped screaming into the snow, his wing torn by an arrow. Voll ran to him at once, dropping down beside him and trying to stem the flow of blood with his sleeve. For her part Winnowill turned to look in the direction the arrow had been fired from, and saw what she had feared from the beginning.
Trolls, two eights or more, bearing long blades and strange bows. They were different than Smelt had been, broader and stronger as though they had been chiseled from the mountains themselves, with as much mercy in them. Distantly, Winnowill could hear them laughing.
~*Voll, we must leave. Take Tyldak and ride with Aroree.*~ she sent, pulling him to his feet. Voll tore his eyes from the advancing trolls and looked to the Wolfriders, who were already mounting their beasts.
~*They cannot outrun these foes.*~
“Of course they can, and we must do the same-- come.” she snapped, trying to tug him towards Aroree. But even as they watched one of the Wolfrider youths was snatched from his wolf’s back and held aloft by the throat, thrashing wildly, and the rest of the pack turned to defend him. Voll’s eyes grew cold and bright, and Winnowill knew that there would be no retreating now.
**My Chosen, to me! Defend our kindred!**
He flew to Tenspan’s carcass and shoved aside her mangled wing, salvaging what he could of the hunting javelins strapped to her harness. Winnowill wanted to scream in frustration, reaching to stop him, help him, she did not know which, and Voll put a javelin into her hands, closed her fingers around the polished wood and stared her down.
~*Winnowill, take Tyldak to higher ground. Find somewhere safe and stay quiet.*~
Voll turned and faced the trolls who had reached them at last; it had been centuries since he had last hunted, longer still since he had fought in battle, but his body remembered the way of the spear. A troll swung a great hammer at him, aiming for his head; Voll ducked and darted in under the brute’s guard, striking just beneath the ribcage with all his strength. Winnowill stood transfixed as the troll gurgled, blood bubbling over its lips, and Voll staggered as he wrenched the spear free.
“Come.” Winnowill spat, hauling Tyldak up and pushing him toward the flank of the mountain. There was a ledge there, raised over the melee and reasonably defensible. Winnowill helped Tyldak climb up, ignoring him when he cursed her and looking over her shoulder to seek Voll out in the fighting.
The battle was fully joined now, wolf and elf against troll. The Wolfriders fought with the savage ferocity of their mounts, matching the trolls step for step in brutality, while Winnowill’s own people flew overhead, dodging arrows and striking from above with the swiftness of the wind. Voll was aiding Cutter, striking the eyes and throats of their foes to leave an opening for the young savage to come and exploit. He was whole, still, his cloak abandoned in the snow to deprive the trolls of a handhold; he fought with grim focus, his face lovely under a fine spray of blood.
She tore her eyes away from her lord and it was her, the little torturer, come scrabbling through the snow with her whelps like a frightened ravvit. She stood at the foot of the ledge, wide-eyed and pale, torn between the relative safety of the outcropping and her fear of Winnowill.
Winnowill could have loved her, for her fear.
It was in her mind to...she was not sure, to deny Leetah refuge, perhaps, as though they were children playing a climbing game. For a very long moment Winnowill held the javelin in her hands and stared down into Leetah’s eyes. She stepped aside, her eyes on the battle again, doing her utmost to ignore Leetah’s presence beside her. If they were to get away, if Winnowill was to get her power back, one healer must survive.
The snow was red now, churned into a noisome mess under the feet of the combatants, and Winnowill was stunned to find that Aoree was down, her arm wrenched from the socket, Hoykar trying to drag her up while Voll and Kureel held back the trolls. The foolish girl, they ought to abandon her and take to the air again, where it was safer--
“Winnowill, the trolls!”
Tyldak had gained his feet and was shouting at her, wild-eyed in fear, and Winnowill saw that two of the brutes had gotten past the defenders, one making ready to skewer Leetah and her children with a wickedly barbed spear. Winnowill went blank--not fear, she refused to fear things such as these--and her mind was too loud, too chaotic to do anything more than step to the edge of their refuge and shorten her grip on the javelin.
The shock of the spear striking flesh went all the way up her arms, jarring them into numbness, and through the thin shaft of wood she felt the speartip grate on bone. The troll screamed and clutched at the ruin of its eye, falling limp into the snow, snapping her javelin, and as Winnowill watched the blood pool around its hateful form something in her woke up.
She met the eyes of the other troll and smiled. She thrust at it’s throat with the remaining end of the spear, forcing it back, and Leetah’s mate buried his blade in its stomach, spilling the entrails into the snow, and Winnowill began to laugh, high and wild. Movement from the corner of her eye made her look over her shoulder, thinking (hoping) that another troll had come to menace them and then her laughter turned into screaming.
She screamed because Voll was on his knees in the snow, stunned and bleeding and helpless as his attacker raised its knife for a killing blow and she was running and leaping onto its back, driving the end of the spear into its throat again and again and screaming all the while that it could not take him, not him, not him--
The world pitched as Voll’s attacker fell back, pinning Winnowill beneath its reeking bulk and driving the breath from her body. The troll shuddered and fell into its final stillness, a crude parody of the act of joining; Winnowill gasped for air, spasmed beneath the corpse as she fought her own body. A shadow fell over her and she could not move, could not even scream--
Voll crawled to her through the snow, his crown gone, his beautiful hair red with blood, and he tried to roll the corpse off of her. He shifted one massive shoulder away, just a little, enough, and Winnowill tried to drag herself out; swaying on his feet, Voll took her under the arms and hauled her free, staggering over the uneven ground. She clawed her way to her feet again, still clutching her broken spear, and looked to Voll. His face was bloody and slack, his eyes dull.
“...told you...not safe…”
Voll stumbled and Winnowill caught him, threw her arms around him and held fast as if she could shield him through will alone. Around them the screaming of the wounded and dying rose to a hideous pitch, and the ground beneath Winnowill’s feet seemed to tremble. She grit her teeth and bore up under Voll’s weight, willing her legs to move, to carry him away.
“Drop the corpse and get on! Dead is dead!”
Someone wrenched at Winnowill’s shoulder, tried to pull Voll from her arms and she swung at the attacker with the broken spear, clinging to her lord with all her strength as unseen hands hauled her up and threw her upon the back of a great shelk.
“Do not touch him, I shall kill you if you touch him!”
“Easy, carrion crow!”
Many voices, the stamping of hooves.Winnowill twisted around to scream into the face of her attacker and saw that she was held by a figure swathed in thick leathers, of elfin shape and seeming. Golden eyes flashed at her from beneath a fur cap, transfixing her in their glorious intensity.
“You must let him go, his weight will only slow us.” her rescuer said, and whatever shock Winnowill felt before was swallowed in a burning fury.
“He is not dead, you fool, only wounded!”
“He is bled nearly white--”
~*I will not leave him!*~
Voll chose this moment to groan quietly and stir against Winnowill, his head lolling. Winnowill shot a triumphant look at the stranger and held his gaze. He shook his head and took up the reins of the shelk, spurring it into flight.
“Very well, shield-biter. Hold tight to him now!”
“I still say you should toss him to the trolls, Rayek; a light meal might slow them down!” called another rider, an unconscious Wolfrider slung across their mount’s shoulders. Winnowill only tightened her hold on Voll and gripped the back of her rescuer’s jacket, fury beating a bright pulse inside her as she watched the trolls vanish into the rising storm.
They had hurt what was hers, and they would suffer in their turn.
I'm quite looking forward to the next bit: Winnowill and Voll express their mutual hurt feelings in a mature, rational way by using their words. At top volume. In front of everyone. The Chosen act like kids whose parents are about to divorce. Everyone else watches and places bets.
Constructive criticism is greatly appreciated! I've never been good at battles, and I want to be sure I'm not treating Winnowill too nicely. I love her but my god, what a bastard.
Posts : 923
Join date : 2015-03-25
|Subject: Re: The Lefthand Way UPDATED 7/13/20 Fri Jul 31, 2020 4:52 pm|| |
The battle looked good to me. I can't wait to see where you go next with this! (Thank you for saving Voll. I do wonder what, if anything, will happen with Rayek, tho.)
|Subject: Re: The Lefthand Way UPDATED 7/13/20 || |
The Lefthand Way UPDATED 7/13/20
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