The talked conclusion to C.R. Gardner’s ‘The Long Winter’
The Long Winter Pt 4
Myst stood at the edge of the lake; Fallon’s voice finally silent. Still in her human form she shivered, able to smell nothing but the Wasteland’s poisoned air. Sighing she stepped onto the frozen lake, applying Fallon’s lessons from long ago to her two legged form.
Enjoying the sensation Myst went gliding over the ice, but stopped the moment she realised she could no longer see the shore. The wispy mist on the lake’s surface had become thick and opaque. She turned in a slow circle, seeing nothing but curling white shadow, insubstantial shapes swirling and spinning, flickering like fireflies.
The air pressure dropped, her ears popped and wind rushed in speaking in a lilting voice, ‘Almost there, Wolf Girl.’ She smiled.
A disembodied voice spoke from the mist, ‘Fallon said you would come.’
‘Fallon said, ‘Trust no-one’’, said Myst.
‘Of course he did,’ the voice laughed. The flickering shapes and mist combined to form a snarling white wolf the size of a bull elephant, towering over her, teeth bared in a semblance of a smile. ‘Oh Myst, you should trust me for the simple fact that I am the one who gave you life.’
‘I believe my parents did that!’
‘Those two are not your parents! I, Shayla, am your dam. Fallon was your sire.’
‘True, he loved you in a less than fatherly way. It is one of the reasons why I took him back. Your father belonged to me alone!’
‘And the other reason?’ said Myst, forcing the change, growing in stature, becoming stronger and faster.
Shayla bared her teeth. ‘He no longer agreed with my plans.’
‘But he brought me here,’ said Myst, her claws extending.
‘He believes you can best me, Daughter.’
‘I am not your daughter! My parents…’
‘Were never your parents!’ snarled Shayla. ‘They kicked you out of the Pakisha once they discovered you were Guqula.’
‘The Guqula are dangerous, Shayla. I believe you set the precedence. We may be of the same blood, but you are NOT my mother!’
‘Is that so?’ said Shayla. ‘Join me, Myst and I will forget this little outburst. Together we can make this world ours. Oppose me, Daughter, all alone and trapped in your human form and I will drain your power until only your husk remains and you are a Ghost Wolf under my command.’
‘I don’t think so! And just so you know,’ said Myst, as a wind swirled around her, ‘I’m not alone!’
She ran, throwing herself down upon the ice, sliding between Shayla’s front legs. Using the claws of her right hand as an anchor, Myst changed her momentum and direction, flipping onto her back, hooking claws into Shayla’s hind leg, slicing through tendons and muscle, swinging out from beneath the giant wolf, propelling herself up into the air, tumbling like a gymnast and landing upon Shayla’s lower back. Myst sank her claws in deep, severing tendons and ligaments, showering the ice with drops of crimson.
‘Catch the wind, Wolf Girl,’ she heard Andreyez cry as she leapt off, scant moments before Shayla’s jaws snapped shut on the space where she had been. ‘Trust me, Wolf Girl!’ said Andreyez, catching her in the wind that roared across the lake, freeing her from her human form.
Laughing, Myst landed on all fours, wolf once more. Snarling she launched another attack, growing as she ran across the ice to a wolf three times her size. Evarin and Calais were right behind her and just as big. Behind them came the rest of the pack – wolves and humans. She was grinning as battle fizzed in her blood and she crunched down on Shayla’s front leg, feeling bone break and tasting blood.
Arrows rained down upon the she-wolf; teeth and claws ripped and tore; the ice turned pink. Shayla screamed as they drove her back. The centre of the frozen lake cracked open, a geyser of frothing, foaming water shooting into the air, showering them with icy droplets. Crippled and bleeding, Shayla fled. Myst chased. Shayla flung herself into the hole. Myst stopped.
‘Hello and good-bye!’ called Evarin, looking over the edge at Shayla’s fleeing form.
‘What now, Wolf Girl?’ said the wind, solidifying and becoming Andreyez.
‘Now I hunt.’
‘No,’ he said, his fingers running through her white pelt, ‘We hunt.’
She stepped backwards off the edge, floating in the world beneath the ice that Shayla had opened. ‘Together then,’ she said, as Andreyez and their pakisha followed.