And heavens above, did it take forever or what? The last time I wrote LotSF was in August. Holy crap. Long enough to forget what happened, eh? I’ll catch you up in just a sec, but first a boring update: this blog is under construction at the moment, whoop-dee-doo. I’m making new pages and compiling info and drawing pictures and this that and the other to make it presentable. So don’t mind the mess. But! I’ve decided to try out a monthly newsletter, and I have that page up and running. If you go to the menu and hover over “News”, it’ll drop down so that you can select “Newsletter”. There’s a form where you can sign up if you’re interested (or just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org). The first issue’s going out February 15th.
Now, onto the story! Here’s a link to the last chapter, and a short summary below:
After a grueling battle with the bearskins, Alex was overwhelmed by the dark magic in her soul and unleashed its power in a burst of flame. However, despite the strength of her magic, she was unable to stop Nolan being abducted by a strange human woman living amongst the bearskins. Now, empty and alone, Alex must find her own strength to overcome the anger that so plagues her.
And so comes Winter.
I couldn’t catch my breath, I was so cold…
Couldn’t think straight… but there were memories, flashing erratically.
…don’t hurt her…
I groaned, feeling my cheek pressed against something sharp… something gritty…
…why are you doing this?
A shudder ran through my body, forcing air out my lungs as my chest contracted. I coughed, breathing in something fine and gritty. Ash. I lifted my face. My neck was sore from lying there so long.
I meant to speak the name aloud, but something wasn’t right. The words didn’t come out. I coughed again, gagging from the bitter taste in my mouth. I tried to push myself up, off the ground, but my arms were trembling with the effort.
I hummed, an uneven sound that was more like a whimper, just to be sure I could still make a sound. I spat ash out of my mouth, disconcerted. “What…?” I said, this time forming the words and spitting them out of a raw throat. Everything hurt, and the pain was starting to ebb into sharp focus. It was more than just my neck and my throat. My shoulder burned. My back was knotted with bruises and aches. My legs felt mostly numb, but I knew it was a hidden pain, waiting until I tried to stand before it sprang into action.
I forced my arms to work. I pushed my chest off the ashy ground, struggling to get air in my lungs past my uncontrollable shivering. I put my knees underneath me, steadying myself. I rocked back, sitting on my heels, and waited for a wave of intense nausea to pass.
I screwed my eyes shut, wrinkling the bridge of my nose. I couldn’t… I didn’t know. I couldn’t think straight. I had an urge to vomit but I felt so empty. I looked at the backs of my hands. There was… blood. And soot. I studied the blood and my shoulder ached, reminding me. I was wounded. I had been bleeding.
“Nolan?” I murmured, my voice hoarse. I knew… I knew what had happened to him, but… I didn’t want to. Everything was clouded. Everything hurt. I hissed through my teeth and grabbed my forehead with one hand, squeezing tightly as if that would help me think. I inhaled as deeply as I could but every breath just dissolved into a shudder. My back was throbbing with pain…
I swallowed. My throat stung, and my eyes. I opened them again and looked at the ground. The ash was everywhere. That was my ash, I remembered. I’d made fire. And it had hurt me. It had emptied me. All that time, I’d gone around with the anger building in my chest, and this is what it felt like now that it was gone. No, not gone. Depleted, maybe. But the seed of it, the very heart of all that anger… I could still feel it pulsing in my chest like a heartbeat.
I looked around me, taking in the full scene. There was nothing to take in. A barren wasteland. Ash and soot. Bear pelts, and scattered bodies of colourful birds. No one was here. Nolan was… gone. I’d lost him. He’d slipped through my fingers and I didn’t even know where to look for him.
I didn’t want to sit there any longer. I forced myself to my feet, pushing through the screaming muscles along my hips and thighs and calves. It hurt to stand. It hurt even more to walk. But I staggered forwards, searching the ground for footsteps, or clues, and finding nothing I could understand.
There was nothing. No one. Nolan was kidnapped, taken by a woman I didn’t know to some dark lair I couldn’t find. And Faith… I thought of Faith, who had been so badly injured the last time I saw her, in the midst of that awful battle… even she was gone. I didn’t know where she would go. The bearskins could’ve eaten her, or she could’ve bled to death alone in the forest, and either thought made hot tears well up in my eyes. Both of them… I’d lost both of them.
I had no one to rely on.
I didn’t know what to do.
I didn’t want to stand anymore. My legs didn’t want to support me. What was left for me, in this barren field? I knelt in the ash and doubled over, clutching my ribs. I sobbed, and the sob was deep and racking and painful. All my breath escaped me, ripped out in an anguished scream, and then I inhaled shakily and started again. Every sob was ripping me apart, digging a sharper pain into my heart, but I couldn’t stop. The grief inside me cut into my soul and I wanted it out. I wanted to force it out with every desolate cry.
I needed help. I had nothing. I had no one. But I needed help to make this right.
And there was no help to be found.
What was I going to do?
Oi. That was incredibly difficult to write. More difficult than I thought it would be, really.
Mostly, I think, because I try to put myself in these scenes and really feel what’s happening. I’m usually in a bad mood when I write LotSF, so the dark feelings come easily, but I’m actually doing quite well tonight so it was a bit of a challenge to put myself into such a desolate position.
But yes, I’ve finally started this story back up again. In the time I spent not writing it, I thought a little bit about what it means to me and why I started writing it in the first place. I’m not going to say just yet what impact this story has had on me, but I can tell you that my reasons for writing it now are very different from when I started. Back then, it was a simple adventure, but now? Now it’s a journey. Now I’m purposefully going somewhere.
Anyways, I must go get some sleep, dear readers. This week is gonna be fun, let me tell you. I hope that you are all well, and that you have a fairly pleasant Monday. Until next I write :)
Are you going on any journeys right now?
May you have faith that, wherever you’re headed, you’ll find what you’re looking for.