(Linking back to Magpie Tales 84)
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
Dark and Stormy Night
It was a dark and stormy night and the rain came down in torrents washing the heat of the day into the swollen river. The traveller huddled down closer under the rocky overhang that just barely protected him from the worst of the onslaught, drawing his cloak tight around him. He had thought to make the town before nightfall but the downpour had turned the forest path to a quagmire. The man was no longer young but there was still a strength and vigour to his body. Calloused hands and a scar that ran from eyebrow to jaw told the tale of a harsh life but the quiet peace in his eyes said he had not been beaten by it. The cloak had seen better days but the clasp was silver and finely wrought. He travelled light, purposeful, a staff and his sword his only other possessions. He crouched in the rain, neither resentful nor impatient, but merely waiting for it to ease. As he rested his head back against the rock and closed his eyes, resigned to a long wait, violent lightening flashed across the sky and the man started at the sight it illuminated. On the far bank stood a woman, her hair wild and her arms flung out, not welcoming, he knew, but summoning the storm. He watched her as she whipped the wind and rain to a frenzy and roused the thunder to greater peals, and as the storm crashed about them he rose. She was more startling than he had anticipated, and more beautiful. He had known the confrontation would come, had prepared during the long months of the hunt, but now faced with her reality a momentary doubt seized him. Fire flashed suddenly from her fingertips and ignited the trees above the rocks. They burned ferociously in spite of the rain, and he knew that the fire would spread and destroy everything in its path. So much depended on him, and he felt the weight of it as he drew his sword.