The mountian’s base (Talia, p. 48)

She is trudging up the slope between the trees, the snow now high enough to make walking difficult, deeper in the drifts. She can no longer hear the wolves in the distance, they have been silent for some time, but still she continues on. The landscape is unfamiliar, but she knows these are merely foothills of the great mountain. With no recollection of how long she’s been wandering, she still feels the tug of that which pulls her forward. That which is unknown. Both desperate and afraid, she presses on. The sun is below the horizon and an eerie green light fills the air, coming from no single source. It lends the feeling of nightmare to her surroundings, yet in this alien world she feels as if she belongs.

Topping a small rise, the ground suddenly gives way below her. There is nothing to grab hold of to slow her fall. She tumbles down the slope of the small, bowl-like caldera, head over foot until finally coming to rest in a shallow covering of wet snow. Every muscle hurts, the aches set deep in her bones but nothing seems broken. She feels a hot wind on the back of her neck and rolls over, eyes widening as she spies the source. She is face to face with a great beast, its red scales glimmering in the green light. The snow around it has melted. Where its feet and tail touch, the ground is clear, dry and brown. It rears back to its full height, towering over her, looking down at where she lay and she wishes for the cover of the trees again.

“Who are YOU and why are you here? You do not belong HERE.” The voice floods her mind as much as her ears. Covering them with shaking hands does not lessen the impact.

Words refuse to form, she only wishes to be somewhere else, away from its notice.

“You would disturb me in my HOME?”  Its massive head leans forward, hot breath melting the snow around her. She fitfully scrambles with her feet, trying to push away while keeping her ears covered. “BEGONE, I would have you out of my sight.”  The wind whistles past as the beast takes a deep breath. Looking up into those terrible eyes she knows it will all be over in an instant.

She wakes to a crash as the wind tears at the window and shutter. The inn room is empty, save for the lonely bed. A slight smell of sulfur lingers on the air.


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