In honor of my fantasy writing series, I’m going to share with you the bones of a fantasy story I’m writing that I’ve totally fallen in love with. It obviously needs SO much work, but it highlights so many things I love about fantasy.
This story progresses further by various writing prompts given in Author’s Tale, so the direction of the next section is never really known by me until I get a prompt that I can incorporate.
Prompt: You are lost
If you like this, share it. If you love it, suggest a prompt to continue the series. The more vague the prompt, the better.
Allyandrah ran until she was exhausted. She couldn’t force herself to take one more step, but she hadn’t reached the outpost like she’d expect to do. Knowing that leaving this trail and making one of her own was a death sentence, so she stood, frozen in indecision. Looking up, the sky was still bright. She didn’t even have nightfall on her side.
She had to sleep. She had to eat. She had to be warm. Taking a huge risk, Allyandrah left the main trail and delved deeper into the woods. The trees clustered closer together and she weaved in and out around them. Trudging along in a fog, she startled when she realized she’d walked past the same set of trees for a second time. Looking around, she saw no footprints, but she undoubtedly had been there before.
A faint whimpering caught her ear. She listened for a long time. Cubs? In the winter? It didn’t make sense, but the sound was unmistakable. Since she had no idea where she was in relation to where she’d come, she chose to follow the sounds instead.
Creeping as silently as possible, she came upon the source. A mother saddled wollo lay in the snow, a single black cub nursing. The mother’s ears pricked up as Allyandrah approached, her intelligent eyes watching Allyandrah’s every move. She knelt down in the snow and stared. The long muzzle of the wollo was covered in black fur and her ears stood erect, fluffy tail extending out on the snow. The tiny cub had all black fur except for her paws, which were tan. Seeming to sense Allyandrah, the cub turned and stared. A patch of brilliant white fur sat at the tip of her chin. One ear stood erect while the other remained flopped down.
From behind, heavy panting broke the stillness of the mutual observation. A small woodsdeer struggled through the thick snow. Allyandrah pulled a knife out from under her layers and stole away. The woodsdeer still had his antlers and wounds all along his body. Allyandrah guessed it was from fighting other deer. The Grojodans were legendary for their rutting violence, even though it hadn’t been seen outside of the High Keep grounds for centuries, if not longer.
Allyandrah came up behind the woodsdeer, grabbed one of the antlers with one hand and plunged her knife deep into its neck. Blood spurted. She let go of the knife to grab the antlers with both hands to avoid being impaled by the thrashing animal, though he was far weaker than she would have expected. As its life finally drained away, she pulled the knife from its neck and looked behind her. The two wollo had followed and were now watching with great interest.
Allyandrah shoved the woodsdeer to its side and cleared away the snow. Slicing open its belly, she pulled out the entrails. She cut the liver and heart free, tossing them both to the wollo. The mother stared for a moment before grabbing the liver and pulling it behind a tree. Allyandrah shivered in the cold, but knew she had to work quickly before the woodsdeer froze solid. She skinned what she could with her small knife, trying to keep the piece large enough to use as a sack for her harvested meat. She hacked out manageable pieces of meat from the legs and neck and placed them into her skin sack. It would be worthless unless she could turn it into hide, but she had nothing to tan it, so she would eventually have to leave it behind.
The smell of death would soon attract other predators, so once she had as much as she could carry, Allyandrah stood, slinging her sack over her shoulder. The wollos were back, the mother watching her, the little one gnawing on the heart. Allyandrah trudged away in the growing dark, trying to find a place where she could curl up for the night. After a short time, she found a large Hornothol pine with a well dug out from underneath it. Looking around first, she crawled in. She shoved the various pieces of meat into the snow around her, hoping they would freeze before attracting too many predators. She lay the hide on the ground and curled up on it.
She kicked herself mentally for giving the entire liver and heart to the wollos. She should have kept a small bit for herself since she wouldn’t be able to eat any of this until she cooked it. Sighing, she laid her head down and closed her eyes. Sleep came almost immediately.
After dark, something bumped into her, startling her awake. She tried to sit, but crashed into a branch. A small animal squealed and whined, then barked at her. Reaching out, Allyandrah tried to feel for whatever was in there. Her gloved hand hit something solid. Trembling, she pulled off her glove and reached out again, this time feeling fur. A warm tongue licked her hand and she pulled it away quickly. Was it the wollo? The furry creature gave a low groan and whine, then curled up on the ground next to her. Not sure what to do, Allyandrah sat for several long minutes before laying back down, adjusting her position according to the body of whatever lay down in here with her. Finally, a small animal crawled over her and sniffed at her face before licking her on the mouth. It whimpered and then curled up next to her face.
The next morning, Allyandrah shivered as she sat up. She had to get a fire going to warm up and to cook some meat. The two wollos she’d come across yesterday slept soundly next to her. For such wild animals, they were very comfortable with her. She wondered if it was from her giving them the pieces of woodsdeer yesterday. That didn’t make sense as far as wild animals were concerned, but she definitely felt safer with them around. For now.
She crawled out from under the pine and tried to gather some wood for a small fire. She could probably just contain it under the tree to avoid drawing any unnecessary attention to herself.
It took her most of the morning, but finally she had a small fire crackling away under the tree on which she could finally cook some food. She shared small pieces of meat with the two wollos who had woken up to watch her. If she could keep them on her side, that would only benefit her.
Looking at the small one more closely, she saw how bony and wobbly it was. She might be the cub’s only chance for survival. But why have cubs at the beginning of winter? Or even in midwinter? It didn’t make sense to Allyandrah.
“I suppose you ought to have names if you’re going to be hanging around here,” Allyandrah said. Both wollos perked up their ears. She held out a piece of meat to the mother.
“Mama.” The wollo ate the meat and looked at her.
The cub came over and sniffed her hand and then looked at her.
“Sasha,” Allyandrah said and handed over another piece of meat. She had enough meat to last her several days. Sasha continued to nurse from Mama a few times a day. Allyandrah dozed off several times during the day. Sasha was always nearby, sometimes chewing on a branch, but mostly sleeping under the tree. Mama came and went. Allyandrah presumed she was eating off the woodsdeer as much as she could. Food was hard to come by in the winter. She knew she had to move on tomorrow, but today, she would rest again. She’d gotten used to good rest with Kru’Dael’Nah and could feel it. She would try to make her way back to his home and break in and try to survive there. She wasn’t sure she’d be able to without the kind of help he received, but perhaps things would work out for her.
With the added warmth from the fire and company from the wollo, Allyandrah slept most of the night, only waking up a few times to add another log to her small fire when she shivered.
Early the next day, she tried to get her bearings in order to go back the way she’d come and try to get back to Kru’Dael’Nah’s home. She struggled to get the hide to cooperate, but finally she was able to wrestle it back into a pack to carry her frozen meat and she set off. Sasha followed her closely. Mama seemed to follow too, but only appeared a few times during the day. Allyandrah continued to feed Sasha little pieces of meat and even carried her when the cub was too tired to keep walking. The cub needed all the help she could get and Allyandrah needed the company.
As the day grew darker, Allyandrah hadn’t found anything that looked familiar and was forced to bed down under another pine. Several days passed in the same manner before she finally stopped to admit to herself: she was hopelessly lost and running out of food. Something needed to change quickly for her, otherwise she just might end up as the wollo’s next meal. She wasn’t even sure she was going the right direction. As she bedded down again for the night, apprehension settled on her and she struggled to sleep. As Mama settled in for the evening, Allyandrah tapped her on the rear. Mama turned to look.
“I need you to lead me out of here, okay? Find me somewhere I can live.” Allyandrah felt stupid talking to the wollo. They didn’t speak the same language. The wollo yawned and laid her head back down. The apprehension grew into fear overnight and it was a long time before Allyandrah finally fell asleep to the steady breathing of the two wollos.
To Part 11.
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