I’m into the last pages of the last polish of volume one of my new epic Norse-Celtic historical fantasy saga. Sue’s photo obviously takes me to winter in Vænnland. This bit for the Thursday Photo Prompt isn’t the actual text, but a scene from the story.
The little red horse was lost to sight among the dense tree trunks of the Jötunnskögr. Hakki’s cries of wonderment at each flash of bird-colour, each flicker of sunlight on a glittering icicle had faded into the distance. Una trudged through the snow, scarcely noticing the thickening silence, her thoughts too full of the thrall’s strange unsettling behaviour. She wanted to trust him, needed to feel that she was not alone with her baby brother to protect from the fishmen.
Fiachra was right when he said they had no choice but to flee. Bjarni, unnatural son and brother, would not hesitate to tell the Guardians that his sister and small brother were trollkarls. The thrall too. He had always hated Fiachra for being all that he was not, even though he was not a free man, and Bjarni had the right to beat him and kill him if he so desired. That was not the question. What troubled Una was why Fiachra was so keen to save her and Hakki from discovery. It would have been so much easier for him to take the horse and make for the coast and freedom. Why did he burden himself with a one-eyed girl and a child of three springs?
She shivered. A cloud must have passed over the sun. Suddenly, the forest was even darker than before. Una looked about uneasily, aware at last of the utter silence, the deepening cold, the choking, tense sensation of withheld breath, and the inevitability of approaching danger. A tree branch trembled and shed its burden of snow. Beneath her feet, Una felt the rumbling of the earth. A breeze, sharp and cutting brought the salt smell of the distant sea, and with the roar of snapping tree trunks, the ground before her erupted in a fountain of earth, snow and broken branches. A mass, a whale, a long ship with its oars and serpentine prow, surged from the earth and she was drenched in sea water.
They had found her, tracked her along the underground waterways, into the roots of the mountain. The eye that wasn’t there throbbed, and power filled her from the soles of her feet to the tips of her fingers. An eyeless head swung round, drawn to her body heat, and opened a circular maw where curved teeth spiralled out of sight into the darkness of the sinewy throat. Swallowing her terror, she raised a hand.
Do it, Una!
In her head, Hakki’s voice commanded, and her features twisted into a desperate resolve. With a cry, she threw the sapphire fire that boiled inside her at the swaying head.