January 24, 2009

Blast from the Past: True Nightmares

Yeish, it's been forever since I've posted! Twenty-one weeks actually, but I've only just now regained enough time to notice.

I sadly don't have time for an in depth post on a new topic, so I've decided to bring you our first blast from the past post. Below is an excerpt from Succession, accepted by The Writer's Hood Science Fiction page, but never run due to the magazine's founder abandoning it the month it was due to run.

True Nightmares

Brihanni absently looked out the window as their enclosed sled topped the hill and picked up speed. The driving snow blotted out all else.

Where were they? Ralic's men should have appeared before now. She didn't know if the men could even find their small group in this storm. Had she lied to Kalie, pushing her to visit her "dying" mother, for nothing? She felt a pang of guilt as she glanced over at her friend, sitting with her feet jammed against the foot board to steady herself.

A commotion exploded outside, and the sled skidded to a halt. Brihanni looked across at Princess Kalie. Curious as always, the other woman leaned forward to peer out the window. Seeing her opportunity, Brihanni pulled the dagger secreted in her pocket free of its sheath.

"Whats this?" Kalie asked as Brihanni snaked her arm about the princess' neck and laid the bare blade against her skin.

"I'm sorry, Madam," Brihanni whispered in Kalie's ear, gripping the woman's arm as tightly as she could. "But, if you move I will slit your throat."

"Why, Bri? I thought you were my friend."

"I am, but I'm an ambitious woman. If you hadn't taught me how to hide things from that boy of yours, you'd know that by now."

Outside, Borcon's voice erupted in a primal roar. The cold slowed and weakened the dragons, but it wouldn't be enough to prevent Ralic's men from being slaughtered. It was time to give him a reason to still.

"Out," Brihanni ordered, keeping hold of Kalie as she opened the door and exited, gingerly feeling along the blind decent. "Call to him. Now!" She pressed the dagger's point to Kalie's jaw.

"Borcon!" Kalie screamed, setting Brihanni's ears to ringing and drawing the Yekaran's attention immediately.

"Surrender to us now, Borcon," Brihanni yelled, "or I'll kill her."

The dragon snarled, literally fuming but unable to produce flame this late in the winter. He roared again, louder than she'd ever heard any dragon bellow before, but he attacked no more of the strange soldiers. Where they wearing fur over their armor?

"It's nothing personal, Kalie," Brihanni whispered. "You're in my way. If you behave and do exactly as you're told, you'll be free again once I'm on my own road."

* * *

After what seemed like hours, the company reached the shelter of Tembar Proper. She'd be with her beloved Ralic soon, but not before she retrieved some warm, dry clothes. Borcon would attack again if he thought there was even the slightest chance to save his friend, so Brihanni rode beside the sled driver and pressed the dagger to Kalie's throat the whole way. She was soaked and freezing after sitting in the full force of the storm, but it would all be worth it to be queen.

Once they were inside the gates, the sled came an abrupt halt and a man in what appeared to be an odd-looking suit of armor modeled after a large bird sprang from the interior. He grabbed Kalie's slender wrist, wrenched her from the carriage, and held her close at his side. The soldier thrust his hand at Brihanni, and guessing his desire, she gave him the dagger. He laid the blade above Kalie's jugular and turned away without a sound.

Brihanni climbed down from the carriage and stood well away from the soldiers, but remained in the courtyard. She'd agreed to deliver Borcon to Ralic, and she wanted to see him chained and secured with her own eyes. The large, ebony Yekaran entered the courtyard, glaring at the man threatening Kalie, but complied in silence. He lay prostrated while the soldiers bound him with heavy chains and locked them into huge rings bolted into the ground. His silver eyes never left Kalie.

Brihanni watched the other woman; sorry building her future required her to betray her friend. The princess stood unmoving in the bird man's arms. Strands of long, blond hair escaped from her hood and blew in the wind. Brihanni could see Kalie was panting as the cold produced tiny, rapid bursts of fog before her. Brihanni could tell she was terrified even though her features were schooled into a mask of calm reserve. Why nobles always thought they had to hide their emotions was beyond her.

The last chain was secured, insuring Borcon was paralyzed from muzzle to tail, and one of the soldiers alerted the bird man. He nodded in acknowledgment as Borcon watched. In a flash, bright even in the blinding snow, the bird man raked the dagger across Kalie's throat.

The pure, white snow grew scarlet. Borcon's insane howls drowned out any other sound as Kalie's body fell to the ground in lifeless slow motion, and her dead eyes glared.

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