|Posted on December 12, 2011 at 10:30 PM|
Saria was wading through the snow, her grey fur crusted with ice. Her breaths were deep and raspy, painting the air white in front of her snout. The great she-wolf limped towards the roots of a spider tree, and collapsed beneath its twisted shadow. The days were growing cold and brief. There was no warmth left in this place; no creatures to feed on; no caves or hollows to escape the bitter winds. There were only the harsh white snows, that stretched eternal; and the cruel, brooding sky above.
Saria’s stomach groaned in agony. It had been ages since she'd last eaten, and she was becoming weaker with each passing day. Her fur with thinning, and had started to fall out in matted clumps. Her skin hung loose, and the cold had crept into her bones and stayed there. She could feel her life-force draining away. Only death dwelt in these colourless fields, and she would soon join its pack. The Nightlands awaited her.
Saria had been following the scent for weeks, but it was gone now; dissolved in the winds and rains. The scent had been old, but familiar; a smell that she had known at her mother's teat. It had been her brother, the white wolf. She had felt his movements in the snow, and bound off after him… but now she was lost and alone.
She looked down at her hind leg. There was still some meat on it, and warm blood coursing beneath the skin. The wolf thought for a moment, questioning whether she had the strength to do it; the will to dine on her own flesh. She had tried it two moons ago, but the pain had been too much to bear. In the end, she just licked at the snow for a few drops of water. The liquid burned as it trickled down her throat. Saria curled up tight beneath the tree, and closed her eyes. Sleep, sleep and never wake up, she told herself. Darkness closed in around the beast, and the sound of the wind began to fade.
That night, frightening visions infested Saria’s mind. She dreamt that icy claws were scratching at her chest and belly. She saw a white landscape, bathed in an eerie shadow. Fierce storm clouds were rolling in from every direction. There were figures all around her, tearing at her flesh. They were dead men, with yellow, rotting skin, and black holes where their eyes should be. In the distance, Saria could see a host of white wraiths, galloping across a sea of red snow. They were demons, carved of ice, and their armour shone like glass. They rode dead horses, and their swords were cold and sharp. She heard a war-horn screech above the winds, and its song made Saria’s skin burn. It sounded like a dying boar. She tried to scream too, but she had no voice. The demons were at her throat, and she a red tide spreading out around her.
“—Little sister,” a voice whispered through the darkness. Saria’s head perked up, and her eyes darted around. Her neck was wet with fear. There was nothing there, save for the fog. She let out a meek howl, choking towards the end of it. “Little sister…” There it was again; soft and familiar. Saria rose to her feet, threw back her head, and let out a great, soaring wail. When she had no more voice left to give, she collapsed onto her belly, panting heavily.
Then, from out of the silvery mists, two blood-red eyes appeared. A great wolf, larger than herself, came padding towards Saria. His fur was thick, and as white as snow. “Brother,” she barked, and bounded towards him. The two beasts collided, and went tumbling across the frost, arm in arm. She yelped with delight as her brother wrestled her to the ground, and greeted her with a flurry of licks to the snout. She pushed him onto his back, and gnawed at his belly softy. Saria and Sole threw back their heads and howled as one. Long and trembling, their voices sung out across the fields of wrinkled snow. The raging winds were finally drowned out by the sounds of two wolves, reunited at last.
“Where have you been?” she whimpered. “I have been searching forever.”
“It's okay,” he replied gently. “We are a pack again.” He licked the tears from her cheek. They returned to the spider tree, and nestled into its thick roots. They clung together, feeding off each other's warmth.
“I thought you were dead,” she sobbed. “I thought I was the last one left.”
“Rest now, little sister,” he murmered. “And dream of warmer times.”