Supernatural Fantasy

Supernatural sample (1100 words)

Grenda:

Anardir winced as a limestone stalagmite exploded into dust less than five paces away. He steeled himself not to react as shrapnel peppered his bare arms, but his eyelids fluttered as the limestone sand scoured his face. His chest swelled within his leather jerkin as held his breath for a long moment, then released it – just as the cavern bulged from the howl that sounded like Hel himself was breaking free from the underworld.

“How could she REFUSE me?” the dark creature howled. Her dark wings exploded outwards, rocking Anardir back on his heels. His balance failed him, but rather than demonstrate any sign of weakness, he used his momentum to sink to his knees, bowing his head. He hoped she would see it as a sign of respect. Instead, she stamped towards him, her black claws extending.

“YOU!” she screamed, stabbing a claw towards him. “Bring me those who have failed so terribly!”

“Lady Grenda…” he began, but her answering scream stole the breath from his throat and silenced his protest. Shaking, he heaved dusty air back into his lungs, desperately trying to smother his urge to cough.

“You will bring them to me so that I may rend them,” she growled. “So that I may rip out their hearts and feast upon them.” Her claw curled into a fist that she drew towards her snarling face.

“I will seek them out for you,” Anardir groaned, desperately hoping that she would fail to see through his flimsy promise. “But may first I offer a compromise?”

“I do not compromise,” Grenda growled. In a heartbeat, her face was an inch from his. Her hot breath burned his eyes and he was forced to close them. He dropped his head momentarily, then forced himself to meet her furious gaze.

“I would offer you this, my Lady; if you spare my brethren, I will seek out your sister. I will speak to her myself.”

“And?” Grenda spat. “What will you do? Gaze into her eyes and mutter sickening platitudes as you do to me?”

He bowed his head. “If that is what it takes to secure her promise to meet with you…” He lifted his head to look into her dark and fiery eyes. “…then yes. For you, my Lady, I will.” Grenda stared at him for a long moment during which he remained unsure whether she would smile – or tear him to pieces. He released a long, shuddering breath when she opted for the former. Her hand, its claws softening into gentle fingertips, reached up to stroke his bearded cheek. Still, he shivered at her touch.

“Dear Anardir…” she muttered.  Her cooling eyes searched his face. “You always say the right thing. You always know how to soothe my rage.” Silently, Anardir thanked Odin for that particular ability.

“And yet….” She gazed deep into his eyes – giving Anardir the feeling that she was peering straight at his naked soul. “I sense a certain reluctance in your words…” She cocked her head. “Do you seek to deceive me?”

“No, my Lady,” he stretched his mouth into a smile. “My reluctance stems from the fact that my heart is torn – because I do not wish to be parted from you for a single heartbeat, let alone the three days that it would take to journey there and back.”

“Oh, my sweet Anardir…” Grenda pressed her dark lips to his. Her black wings crackled as they swung around to envelop his body, pressing him against her. Anardir’s feet were lifted from the ground as hot darkness smothered him.

A moment later, the shredded remnants of his clothing fluttered to the ground.

~

 Sygaran

“Elran’s higher now,” Mayhar chuckled, her wings shivering upon her back.

“Not for long,” Oskway hissed. She stared fixedly at the distant specks that circled above the cliffs. Two leagues distant, their friends were quickly gaining height as the winds caught their white feathers, driving them ever higher into the twilight sky. Mayhar bounced happily as Elran’s amber jewellery briefly threw out a glint of sunlight.

“She’s done it! She caught the sun!”

“Come on Savanavit…come on,” Oskway muttered, but her friend fluttered, faltered, then slid sideways, heading back towards the distant cliff-face.

“Hel…” Oskway groaned. Mayhar nudged her in the ribs. Her reproachful look drew a mutter of apology from the younger Swan.

“I apologise, O mighty Hel. I did not intend to take your name in vain.” Oskway sighed as Savanavit alighted on the clifftop, quickly followed by Elran.

“Do you think we’ll ever see more than a glint?” Oskway said. “Apart from at Nottleysa?”

Mayhar shrugged. Midsummer was still half a moon’s turn distant. On that day all the Swans would gather at the edge of the cliffs, their faces turned towards the warmth of the sun. For a few precious moments, they would absorb what they could of the rare light, extending their arms – and their wings – to give thanks for even a brief respite from the eternal dusk. Then the sun would sink once again and the only way to view it would be by soaring. And soar they would. They would ride the air like birds, climbing invisibly and with unshakable determination – or exhaust themselves without ever seeing daylight, as Oskway and Mayhar had so recently.

A blur of outspread white wings flashed over their heads, distracting them from their gloomy thoughts. As one, they turned to watch as Sygaran, the oldest of the Swans, crossed the shoreline and hurtled across the lake, a mere arm’s length above the dark waters. Sygaran’s wings were beating gently, conserving her considerable strength as she sped towards the base of the white cliffs. A moment before she would have smashed into the towering chalk face, she kicked downwards. The watching youngsters gaped as she flashed up the sheer face, bursting into the open air above, startling the exhausted swans gathered there. And still Sygaran continued to climb, her huge white wings beating furiously as she gained height – dwindling to a pale speck that the youngsters could only envy.

Oskway shook her head in wonder as Sygaran rose higher, showing no sign of weariness.

“How does she do it?” she murmured. “I can soar three, maybe four times in a moons turn.” She glanced at Mayhar. “And she does that every night!”

Sunlight exploded across the sky as Sygaran’s wings carried her upwards. Reflections of her glittering jewellery sparkled across the surface of the lake far below her. A distant cheer rose from the cliff tops and Oskway found herself smiling.

“I just have to wonder…” Mayhar began.

“Wonder what?”

“Why she does it.” Mayhar turned to meet her friend’s puzzled gaze. “I don’t think it’s because she’s having fun.”

“Oh?”

“No. I think she’s watching out for something.”

~

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