“Alex,” Nolan said, his voice half a whimper. I saw his chest heave with a sob as he began to break down. And I heard the snarling of the bearskins increase in volume, in response to his emotional pain.
And just as he collapsed to his knees, I felt the anger heave within me.
If he died, if he got us killed… I would not let him ruin my life.
Fuelled by a swelling fire deep within me, I raised my sword and leapt at the nearest bearskin. I dug my blade into the hide covering its shoulder, sinking it to the hilt in the monster’s flesh before the bearskin began to scream. It writhed, turning its head and snapping its teeth where I clung to it, and our eyes met. The creature wore the tattered scalp of a grizzly bear on its head, but beneath that was its ugly, humanoid face with the crooked teeth and red-rimmed eyes which now glared at me with feral stupidity. Its jaws closed in empty air, failing to reach me, but then another bearskin came from behind, crashing into me and knocking me off of its shoulder.
I rolled as I hit the ground and lifted my sword to take on the new bearskin. I was surrounded now, with my own circle of bearskins closing around me tighter and tighter as I slowly stood. My anger roiled, slamming against my ribs in an effort to get me to move, to attack everything that threatened me, but I was struggling to think straight, rationally. I was not going to die. One of the bearskins–the one I’d injured, no less–finally let out an ugly roar and charged me, but didn’t get very far.
“Stop it!” Nolan screamed, and his high-pitched Wind Voice was edging on hysteria as he commanded a gale to sweep down, knocking the bearskin clear off its feet. A wordless shriek caught in his throat, Nolan came closer, entering the circle, churning the wind into a whistling vortex around me so that the bearskins found it difficult to keep their footing. I saw how bravely Nolan was acting, how strong his magic was, but I couldn’t ignore the tears streaming down his face. He probably intended to sacrifice himself to save me, using his magic to keep me safe but leaving himself open to an emotional attack.
I did not need to be saved.
Not by Nolan. Not by anyone. I could save myself.
So, losing all self-control, I shoved Nolan and pinned him to the ground, my blade finding its way to his throat. His spell died, the wind dissipating with fitful bursts, and he could only yelp as he found cold steel pressed to his skin and met my menacing eyes. “Stop this,” I commanded, my words barely recognizable as my own, they were so twisted with rage. “You are not going to die here. I am not going to watch you die, not after I did so much for you, do you hear me? You’re a damned coward, Nolan,” I snarled, and his deep eyes flickered with disbelief and anguish.
“Please Alex, why are you doing this?” he beseeched, sounding pitiful. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong!” I screamed at him, and then pain exploded in my shoulder as dagger-sized claws crushed through my armour and I was wrenched backwards.
The bearskin pressed me to the ground, claws slipping deeper into my shoulder, and then two more came clamouring closer, crowding around me so that I couldn’t see the sky. I could hear Nolan though, screaming madly, and then I felt the same thing he was undoubtedly feeling–the bearskin magic.
The bearskins could feel the dark, angry magic in me, knew its secrets and danger, and they sought to use it against me. The pain in my shoulder was maddening, blocking out sense and reason while bringing to life the powerful heat burning in my chest. It was consuming me, my anger–but even as it flooded my veins and filled my muscles, it was lending me a mindless, terrible strength. With that strength, I kicked the bearskin off me, fighting to my feet and surveying those beasts that threatened me.
As I stood there, my own blood dripping into the grass, my chest heaving raggedly from all the pure rage that was washing over me, my mind struggled for control. I remembered threatening Nolan–why had I done that?–I remembered… losing my sword… somewhere. I couldn’t focus. My anger was burning me alive, swallowing my thoughts… I had had enough of this. I was done. I wanted this all to stop!
And that was when my anger truly burst free.
I raised my hands, giving some horrible shriek, and the dark magic within me found its release, escaping in a burst of sweltering flame. All around me, bearskins were engulfed in the blazing fire, and their howls filled the air as their fur was singed and their flesh was scorched. The fire devoured the grass in its path, leaving behind a black circle of death and ash. And I stood in the centre, surrounded by pain that was the result of my uncontrollable anger.
And worse than the pain that the bearskins were feeling was the reverberating agony that ripped through my system.
Clutching my ribs, struggling to breathe, I sank to my knees and desperately tried to focus, to think, to stop. My fingernails dug into the ashy soil, my breath squeezed through my gritted teeth with a whimper, and every nerve was alive with overwhelming dismay. Then, cutting through it all, was Nolan’s terrified, pleading voice.
I looked up through my veil of pain and saw him shaking, held firm in the grip of a strong arm with a new blade–a short dagger–pressed to his throat. One of the bearskins had stood on two feet, her bear pelt slipping off her shoulders, and I saw that she wasn’t a bearskin at all. She was a human, and on the edge of her steady knife hung Nolan’s trembling life.
“Please, don’t hurt her,” Nolan begged the woman, those endless tears still running freely down his face. I realized that he was talking about me and felt the familiar anger and indignation rise, but I suppressed it anxiously. My fear sharpened my thoughts, cleared my head, because I realized that I was about to lose him. Nolan was inches away from leaving me. No…
“Oh, I won’t hurt her,” said the woman with a wicked smirk. “I only want you, dear.” She then stepped back, dragging Nolan with her, while the bearskins came around me again, using their magic in a last attempt to crush me. This time, there was no anger left to stir within me. I was empty, exhausted, filled only with an irresistible desire to sleep…
END OF PART 1
Yay, more LotSF and after only 2-ish weeks! Amazing!
And yes, this is the end of Part 1. Somewhere partway through, I realized that this was just the start of an adventure that acts in two parts. So this part, unofficially, shall hereby be known as “SPRING”, and part 2 will be known as “WINTER”.
It’s very… interesting, writing scenes with such swelling anger in them. It’s impossible for me to write it without simultaneously feeling it, so I’m sitting here silently fuming on the inside as I rile myself up just so I can accurately describe what it feels like. It’s a breathtaking feeling, to feel something so strong, but not always in a good way.
Anyways. Ugh. Tired. I’m at that point where my head is starting to swim and I don’t want to do anything. I’m just barely conscious enough to write creatively, but emails and such are out of the question. Too much thought. Save for morning.
Off to write, then off to bed. A new Your Story submission shall be posted tomorrow.
Till then, have a good night.
What makes you angry?
May your anger find an escape that is painless to you and those around you.