Faeries: The long winter – Part 5

As far as she could see the dark pine trunks contrasted against the thick blanket of snow that stretched before her broken only by a dark smear of a track that wound its way through the wood just a stone’s throw from where she was now crouched. 

I had the urge to return to this.  Let’s have another part shall we.  It was only ever meant to be one part…

Faeries: The long winter

Faeries: The long winter – Part 2

Faeries: The long winter – Part 3

Faeries: The long winter – Part 4


Kostromo brushed away the snow at the entrance of the narrow cave exit and looked out across the wood before her.  As far as she could see the dark pine trunks contrasted against the thick blanket of snow that stretched before her broken only by a dark smear of a track that wound its way through the wood just a stone’s throw from where she was now crouched.

“It looks safe” she said to fox in the tunnel behind her.  Behind fox, owl and rabbit pushed forward to get a glimpse of the wood.

“We must hurry” Owl insisted flapping impatiently. We must find a place to hide ourselves.”

“All in time my friend” Kostromo said turning to him.  “All in good time.  We must not be hasty, soon this road will be filled with those from whom we hide.  We need only follow them from a distance, and we must not be seen.”

For many months now no news had come out of the north wood, and every time the Frog King had despatched his spies none had returned.  Day after day reports of strange creatures marching down the road filtered back to his caves but never word about where they headed once they headed beyond the black river.

“Dark forces” muttered rabbit.  “Dark forces indeed.”

They needed to know more so Kostromo had chosen rabbit, owl and fox because not only did they have keen sight but they were brave, they knew the wood as well as any of the animals and were fleet enough to escape should they be seen.

“Owl, take cover in the highest branches and hide yourself well” Kostromo instructed moving to one side to allow her to pass.”

Owl nodded and blinked and in a flash she hopped from the mouth of the cave and launched into the cold morning air, disappearing into the tree tops.

“Rabbit, fox” Kostromo continued, “head up the bank to the left and follow the path to the north from up on the ridge.  Stay below the ridgeline and do not let them see you.  I shall wait here until they pass.”

Without a word rabbit and fox slipped from the cave and disappeared into the snow leaving Kostromo alone in the small entrance in the side of the hill.  She should be safe up here, it was close to the road but the entrance remained obscured by the fresh snow that had fallen the night before.

After only a short while Kostromo heard something approaching from the south.  Something unfamiliar.  At first the noises were muffled and difficult to make out against the whistle of the icy wind that blew through the pines, but they soon turned to the stamp of marching feet and the clink and thud of metal on wood and leather.

She crouched low and pressed up against the side of the cave entrance, her gossamer wings pulled in tight.  She melted into the shadows and watched as a small squat creature burst through the trees and scurried along the path, stopping in the road directly across from where Kostromo hid.  She held her breath.  It was nothing she had ever seen before, the size of a badger but with a longer head and with small red eyes set deep in its skull.  It raised its h  It was covered from head to tail with thick black fur and a long tailed trailed through the snow behind it.  Slowly it sniffed the air looking about then stood quite still.  It looked high up into the tree tops and then up to the ridgeline and then raised itself up onto its back legs as if searching for something.  It was then that Kostromo noticed the rows of long sharp white teeth in the creatures blood red mouth.

She held her breath, heart beating furiously in her chest.  Surely it could not have detected them.  What felt like minutes passed as the creature stood, nose high in the air.  The noise of the thump of feet grew louder and louder and Kostromo saw a dark mass of creatures break through the trees heading down the track.

Every part of her screamed hide but she felt transfixed, terrified to move for fear of the creature spotting her.  She closed her eyes for a moment, trying to calm her mind and slow her racing pulse.  She breathed deep and slowly opened them again.  She looked out towards the path and noticed the creature was no longer sniffing the air.

It was staring straight towards where she was hidden.

 

 

 


Photo courtesy of pixabay

Faeries: The long winter – Part 4

Through the caves the frog king led Kostromo, following the light of the river as it lead ever downwards.  They passed through a small narrowing in the cave wall and she could feel the rock against her skin

I had the urge to return to this.  Let’s have another part shall we.

Faeries: The long winter

Faeries: The long winter – Part 2

Faeries: The long winter – Part 3


Through the caves the frog king led Kostromo, following the light of the river as it lead ever downwards.  They passed through a small narrowing in the cave wall and she could feel the rock against her skin.  It was warm to the touch.  The frog king saw her run her hand across the surface.

“By the light of the river and the warmth of the earth have we survived these many years” said the frog king as he hopped alongside Kostromo.  “Were it not for this place we would surely have fallen to the darkness long ago.”

The narrowing in the rock wall had lead to another large cavern, the ground flatter than before and the river now wider and throwing up more light into the space.  She could not see the ceiling but on both sides were steep craggy walls.  She noticed movement as she looked about and as her eyes became accustomed to the light she could make out row upon row of small caves scattered.

“Welcome to our home” the frog King said with a smile.

He hopped down to a small raised area next to the river and croaked loudly, the noise reverberating around the space.  Slowly there emerged from the dark caves all manner of creature and they began to make their way slowly to where the Frog King waited.

“So many creatures” she said to herself as she watched them descend and pass her.  A wood nymph brushed by her and nodded slowly.  Her skin that of a silver birch, slender arms and legs and her hair a mass of dark green tousles.

It seemed all the creatures of the wood were here, magical and non magical alike.  From high up the wood sprites fluttered down slowly, their gossamer wings blue from the light of the river.  Butterflies, sparrows, larks, dragon flies and all manner of flying creatures filled the air and around her feet there there gathered what seemed to be every creature that had roamed the forest that would have eagerly welcomed her in years gone by.

The magical creatures stayed further back, as if uncertain of her presence.  She noticed two squat cave trolls whispering to each other and a dryad looked away as Kostromo tried to catch her gaze.

“People of the forest” boomed the Frog King, his voice echoing throughout the chamber.  “We have long waited in the dark and in the cold, resigned to the long winter.”

There was a bustle of chatter and a family of field mice scuttled up the nymph to get a better view.  Though the Frog King was speaking Kostromo felt all eyes on her.

“But now, Kostromo has returned once more.  There is hope once again that spring may return to the forest.”

The Frog King paused dramatically.  At first there was silence, no creature spoke and none moved.

“Spring has returned” shouted the younger of the field mice that had earlier found it’s vantage point in the hair of the nymph.  “Kostromo has returned.”

As if released of their fears, a cry of celebration went up from the gathered creatures.  The great cavern reverberated with the shouts and calls as they gathered around her and the Frog King.

He looked across at her, his blue eyes shining and smiled.

 

 


Photo courtesy of pixabay

Faeries: The long winter – Part 3

…”Open” she cried, jaw clenched as she tumbled unsure of which was up and which down.  Her heart raced, surely she hadn’t escapade the cold earth and the wolves only for it to end like this. 

I thought I’d give this another stab.  I use it as practice really and to explore things in my head that I can’t quite get out…

Faeries: The long winter

Faeries: The long winter – Part 2


 

Kostromo tumbled through the opening into nothing, the howl of the wolves fading as she fell head over heels into the darkness of the cavern below.  With light fading fast she attempted to once more open her wings, and this time she felt them move ever so slightly as she strained.

“Open” she cried, jaw clenched as she tumbled unsure of which way up and which down.  Her heart raced, surely she hadn’t escapade the cold earth and the wolves only for it to end like this.

Eyes closed she willed them to again open with all she and this time they burst free from the icy fingers that had held them so tight, and in the blink of an eye she ceased to fall.

On gossamer silver wings she hovered in the middle of the cavern, high above her she could still see the light streaming through the opening she had slipped through.  She looked about but everything was so very dark.  Looking down she could see a feint ribbon of blue light cutting through the inky blackness.  It was hard to tell how far away it was.  Was it the Cavern floor?

There was no way she could go back out the way she had came, so slowly she began to float downwards.  Occasionally she could just make out cold rock faces here and there and as she descended silently the sliver of blue began to shimmer more brightly and she could hear the feint trickle of water.

It was a river, and as it neared she could see that it glowed with a soft blue light illuminating the area adjacent to where it ran.  Small tufts of grass, daffodils and crocus followed its path as it carved it’s way across the cavern floor and silver sprats could be seen swimming in the shallows, larger fish breaking the surface then darting back below the swirling waters.

She alighted gently alongside the river, he wings still beating slowly.  The cold seemed to have lessened, and as she stood bathed in the light of the waters she heard a voice.

“Welcome faery” it said.  It was an old voice, and familiar.

“Frog King” she exclaimed excitedly “Show yourself”.

From the shimmering waters the largest frog you will ever see emerged, his skin dancing shades of  emerald greens and golds and his eyes as blue as the light of the river.  He heaved himself onto the bank not far from her, the water cascading from the bumps and lumps of his skin.  Kostromo bowed in respect.  The frog king was one of the oldest of the woodland kings and was already old beyond memory when she was still a youngling.

“Welcome Kostromo” he said bowing his head in response, “we had all but given up hope of seeing your kind again.”

“Oak awakened me” she said as a dragonfly whizzed past her head.

“Winter has continued unchecked without you Kostromo, and for many many seasons, without your light all of the creatures have suffered.”

“But why was I not awakened?” She asked.

“When you last slept there was an awakening of a darkness that we have not seen before and…” The Frog King paused.

“What is it?” Kostromo pressed.

He looked at her with eyes that were piercing blue like the heart of an ice berg and blinked.

“Your sister was taken Kostromo, she was unable to wake you and so the winter saw no end”

“Taken?  By whom?”

“There are things under the heavens, old forces and long forgotten, that have returned child” he answered in his deep croaking voice “creatures from the darkness and another time that few of us still recall and that we had thought vanquished.”

Kostromo stood still, her head spinning as she struggled with the words of The Frog King.

“Where is Lucia” she demanded.  “Where is she, I will free her” she insisted.

“Patience fairy” Frog King cautioned “now is not the time for such things, first you must eat and rest.  We have much to discuss.”


Photo courtest of Photoparisienne@pixabay

Faeries: The long winter – Part 2

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.

You can read Part 1 here.


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


Want other different stuff?

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and this might make you laugh but maybe you wont admit it

oh and this one i am rather proud of

 

 

Faeries: The long winter

Kostromo stirred beneath the cold earth, it’s weight heavy on her chest and her bones gripped by the icy fingers of winter.  

I’m mostly just exploring an idea here but thought I would share it.  I found a quite fabulous photograph and wondered what I might make of it.  I haven’t planned this out particularly – maybe I should – but I wanted to just see what might come of it if I just sat down and started to write.  If I can get this thought out then perhaps I can take it from there…

Michael.


Kostromo stirred beneath the cold earth, it’s weight heavy on her chest and her bones gripped by the icy fingers of winter.  Opening her eyes slowly she could see only darkness and the crisp smell of winter filled her nostrils as she stirred and struggled beneath the rich dark soil.

Everything felt wrong, surely it was too early to be awake if the ground remained cold.

Her breathing quickened as she pushed to free herself, heart pounding and fingers clawing instinctively.   The earth relented unwillingly and she stretched out an arm and felt a thick tree root between her fingers.  It was oak, old oak, and she could feel so many summers coursing through it but yet it slept, silent and cold.

With all of her will she strained, but with so little strength she could not free herself from the darkness.  She called out to the oak, confused and desperate.

“Oak, awake from your slumber”

She felt him stir, but he did not reply.

She gripped the root more tightly “Old oak, hear me” she continued “hear my voice and shed your icy slumber.”

Oak stirred again, and she could suddenly feel his life in the earth all around her and it felt good.  She felt more alive, less cold.

“Who calls to me?” Oak said slowly, his voice deep and rich “who wakes me from my sleep?”

“Do you no longer know my voice old friend, have you slept so deeply?” she replied.

“Friend?” Oak said, recognising her voice  “we no longer call you friend Kostromo, it is too many years since we trees have felt your touch.”

Kostromo gripped his root tightly, and she could sense a deep pain.  “I do not understand dear friend” she replied “It is still winter, it is my time to sleep.”

“For a season only Kostromo ” he responded angrily, “for a season only you were supposed to sleep but you did not return to us, and the wood has long suffered under the spell of too many winters.”

She was confused but continued.  “My friend, I am so sorry” she said “I do not know why I have slept so long, but I am awake now, I have returned to you.”

Oak paused before responding, the anger now gone from his voice leaving only sadness.

“For many it is too late faerie, many of our kind who once inhabited this wood have passed into nothing so long have they slept.  Birch and Beech and Sycamore have long returned to the earth in which you now lie.”

As they continued to talk Kostromo felt Oak’s life force flowing through her, warming her and giving her strength.

“I need you to help free me Oak” she said “I am no use trapped in the earth, will you not help me?”

“Because we were once friends I will help you” he said, his giant roots beginning to move ever so slowly shifting and loosening the cold earth around her.  With a snap and crack of ice they wrapped around her and began slowly pulling her upwards.  Slivers of light began to appear around her as she neared the surface, the weight on her chest now gone.

Oak heaved her from the ground and lay her gently on the cold snow in front of him.  She could feel the sharp cold on her skin, and opened her eyes slowly, squinting as they grew accustomed to the light.

“Indeed it is you” Oak said, his tone now warm and soft “it has been too long old friend, too long indeed.”


Want other different stuff?

something terrible happens in this one

In this one there is a girl in the rain

and this might make you laugh but maybe you wont admit it

oh and this one i am rather proud of

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/inhabit/