Kostromo slowly untangled herself from the thick oak roots that had freed her from the cold weight of the earth, and rubbing her eyes she got to her feet and stretched in the cold crisp afternoon air. Grey clouds hovered ominously in the distance and an icy wind blew flurries of snow about her feet. She attempted to spread her gossamer wings, glistening still with the finest of ice crystals, but they would not open.
The air was sharp and unfamiliar as she breathed, chilling her to her core, and as she became accustomed to the brightness once more she gazed out upon an world so very changed from the one she loved. She gasped, never had she seen such a sight.
“How long has it been this way Oak?” she asked.
“Too long faery” Oak mumbled, his voice seemed to vibrate inside of her “far too long indeed.”
Where once she would have expected to see the verdant greens of springtime, punctuated with the vibrant explosions of tulips, daffodils and bluebells, now only a blanket of white stretched as far as she could see and the trees she so cherished stood grey, silent and bare.
She began to speak but Oak cut her short. “Run Kostromo, you must run.” he growled.
With Oak’s warning still ringing in her ears she picked up the distant howl and bark of wolves. Wolves were never a good thing, and she was already moving as Oak’s voice rumbled deep inside her again “Run faery run!”
With everything still so foreign she raced through the snow as fast as she could in what she guessed was the opposite direction of the howls. The cold slowed her, deep drifts causing her to stumble as trees flashed by in a blur. Moving downhill, trees rising high on both sides, she could hear the very feint trickle of water as the ground levelled off in front of her.
Her breath blossomed as a swirling rose as she exhaled, her heart racing as she again attempted to spread her wings but still to no avail. Slumbering trees stirred as she pressed on, whispers of “faster” echoing in her head as her legs carried her onwards.
With the howls and barks now even closer she leapt over a fallen birch and looking up she caught a flash of a dark silhouette running along the hill top parallel to her. Instantly she knew they had caught her up and were now hunting her.
Heart pounding she ran and ran, straining to put distance between herself and the pursuing pack. She could sense them drawing in around her when recognised a familiar rocky outcrop ahead of her and knew instantly where she was. If only she could make it there she would be able to slip down inside the small opening she knew was at the base of it into which the river trickled into a large underground opening. Many times as a youngling she had crawled inside and fluttered down exploring the huge expanse below.
Focussed she raced, it was now close, and as she looked up to her right as she ran and saw a large grey female wolf tracking her and heading down the hill towards her. She looked left, more were there but she could not see them yet. A howl sounded as stumbled in a drift, but in an instant she was back on her feet and focussed on nothing but the base of the outcrop which was now so very close.
“Faster Faery” she heard in her head as she raced past a tall Elm.
The female had travelled down the hill and was now not far behind her and catching her fast.
Not long to the opening Kostromo told herself, her heart pounding in her chest. The grey female bounded through the snow behind her and was now joined by a second larger male, teeth bared and eyes dark. Kostromo could hear jaws snapping, but she was now almost at the opening. It was there, she could see it.
One final burst and she dived for the small entrance, head first and burst through the snow bank and into the hole, the wolves snapping at her heels. She slid inside on the frozen surface of the river bed, gasping, lungs bursting and the wolves growling and snarling, heads thrust into the opening but too large to pass through.
“I’m safe” she thought to herself as she continued to slide and then in a moment she was falling uncontrollably, downwards, into the darkness.
Photo Courtesy Of Kellepics@pixabay
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