Branna’s Song: The Coldwood Saga

 

Every muscle groaned as Branna pried herself out of the alcove, protesting the sudden work they were asked to do after too many hours of being confined. Her feet were on fire with the pinprick sensation of sleeping limbs, and when she tried to walk on them, she promptly came face-to-face with the ravine’s floor. As she lay sprawled out on the ground, her eyes fell upon the body of the young man. It was still there, accompanied now by a murder of crows.

Branna pulled her eyes away, but as she hauled herself to her feet, they kept drifting back to the body. Lying there, he was like a once-precious object, broken, discarded, and left to rot. Her stomach was in knots at the sight, and added to that was a twinge of guilt she felt for having ignored him the other day. Her reasons seemed solid enough at the time, but now they didn’t seem worth it. She wished she’d at least gotten to know his name.

Her legs still unsteady, Branna took two shuffling steps away from the body and examined the face of the ravine. It was at least 12 feet high, and rose up in a near-vertical wall along most of its length. At a spot several yards down the ravine, however, the incline was slightly less steep and a few sturdy-looking rocks jutted out from the side. Branna made her way towards them, her steps growing surer as she walked, and took the last few paces at a sprint. She managed to run halfway up its face in one go, and the rest of the distance she cleared in a mad scramble as she pulled at the rocks to hoist herself up.

The moment Branna was safe atop the lip of the ravine, the scene that greeted her tore the breath from her lungs. The ground was stained reddish-brown with dried blood, and bodies littered the forest floor. Carrion birds were everywhere, so intent on their feasting that they paid no mind to the interloper as she took in the scene. The dusky light of the approaching evening only served to enhance the sense of desolation that permeated the battlefield.

Mystery of White Horse Lake

I stood silently at the window, watching and waiting. After everyone else had gone to bed, I kept watch over the still waters of the lake, as I had every night this entire year.[...]