Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
Based on the #sunscribbles Twitter prompt, Journey, this is the story of a mage’s journey through a dark, wet, forest.
Despite the Rain:
Rain lashed against Anya’s face, and she stumbled on a rock. Her feet went out from under her, and her hands squelched on the muddy forest floor as she braced herself against impact. A bone-deep ache settled in her muscles. Limbs, weary from days of walking, refused to move another inch.
She glanced over her shoulder. The dense bushes around the sturdy oak trees didn’t stir. She was alone, thankfully. She could afford to rest a while. She shivered and pulled her tattered coat, stolen from a city cafe three years ago and short at the arms, tighter around her. It offered little protection from the elements, but it was better than nothing.
She tilted her face towards the sky. Slanted sheets of rain scrubbed the grime from her face, and for a fleeting moment she considered abandoning her mission and staying here. The thought fled as fast as it came. Without her magic she was vulnerable. She couldn’t light a torch to ward off the chill, let alone fight off her pursuers if they caught her.
Everything was going to plan until her magic stopped working. She clicked freezing fingers, but the soothing sparks that usually trickled through her were still no where to be seen. It hadn’t been an issue at first. Sure, it was freezing without the fiery ball hovering by her side to ward off the chill, but she’d grown up on the streets, sheltering in doorways and letting the pitter-patter of rain lull her to sleep. She was used to the cold, and it would’ve been fine, had the orcs not found her crouched by the river, cupping her hands to drink before she made camp for the night.
Her eyes glazed over as memories overwhelmed her melancholy.
They trussed her hands, lugged her to their camp, and dumped her against a tree. Huge wooden shelters surrounded an enormous bonfire. The flickering flames taunted her as the orcs lumbered around it, grunting and crunching bones. Foul smelling dung littered the edges of the camp. She scrunched up her nose and snapped her fingers again.
‘Come on, come on,’ she muttered, and wriggled her hands. The rope burned her wrists, and her head fell back against the tree she was leaning on. She swallowed a sob. There was nothing for it. She’d have to do this the old fashioned way.
Calloused fingers fumbled in the dirt, and something sharp sliced her hand. She didn’t know what it was, but it would do. The sharp edge tore through the rope, and she flexed her fingers, willing the circulation back into them. Wary eyes tracked the orcs. She needed to time her escape perfectly.
She gripped the sharp implement behind her back and shuffled, still seated, around the trunk of the tree. When she was facing sideways, camp to her left, but still in view in case they glanced her way, she dragged her feet towards her and braced them against the soft, wet, grass.
Steady. Breath in, breath out. Eyes on the camp. No beady eyes looking. Time to run.
She cursed and froze. Three heads turned sharply in her direction, followed by more at their grunts of protest. She bolted. Branches cracked under her feet as she sped through the forest and thorns tore at her clothes and arms, but she kept going. They gave chase, but they were larger and slower. When she’d put enough distance between them, her pace slowed.
It was only then she looked down at the sharp object in her hand. It clattered to the forest floor seconds later, and her hands flew to cover her mouth. A fragment of bone, large enough to be human, embedded itself in the mud. She ran from it, pace renewed, as it began to rain.
It was raining still.
Anya took a deep breath, and her eyes fluttered closed. Without her magic could she even make it to the capital? Past the guards? Into the dungeons to free her captured princess? She rubbed her hands together and blew into them to warm her frigid fingers. There was no sense staying here. She might as well try. She staggered to her feet and started moving. Magic or no magic, she had a mission to complete, and a long journey ahead of her.
She walked through the night, putting more and more distance between herself and the orc’s camp, and rubbing her hands together absently in a constant rhythm. As dawn broke, feeling trickled back into her fingers and she snapped them experimentally. Sparks flew, and a magical flame, impervious to the rain, flickered to life in her palm. Her magic was back. A grin twitched at her lips. Was it chilled dormant by the rain? Did she need to be warm for it to work? She didn’t know, but now, despite the trek ahead and the pouring rain, she knew she’d be okay.
Thanks for reading!
My goal this year is for every short story I write to contain fantasy elements, perhaps in rebellion to the life writing assignment I have to do for university!
Share lines with #sunscribbles every week on Twitter, or write a short story based around the prompt and share a blog link.