Fanfic Friday – “Boneclaw”

3 Aug

The man is breaking, but the beast is hungry.

His lip curls back in a snarl as he forces his frozen muscles into action, feeling them tear through cords of ice with every agonizing step. The wind rips at his exposed flesh. He falls only once on his way up the slope, and when he rises again he leaps ten feet ahead with a bellow of rage.

The man keeps pace through the thigh-deep snow, striding ever further into the white storm of the mountain. As the cold assaults his skin, he can feel his mind drifting away – it fills with flashes of a crackling fire, a soft swaddling blanket; darkness and quiet and peace. He yanks it back to reality, furious at his own lack of resolve.

The beast’s nostrils plume steam as he snorts and sniffles, searching in vain for the trail he’d lost several kilometres ago. All smells and sounds are wiped away by the howling snow-filled swirl, and the beast is lost, his heightened senses useless. All that exists is the climb, and the summit hidden away beyond the maelstrom.

Lightning strikes a vast sentinel several yards away and it crashes down into his path. With a toothy grin, the beast unsheathes his claws and slices through the bark, tearing the tree in half and leaping through in a single motion. His blades disappear into his fists with a snikt and he resumes his merciless hike.

The man’s body sings in pain, torn apart from exposure and knitted together again, an endless cycle of agony and relief. He ignores it. He stops, standing tall against the buffeting wind. The beast has picked up a scent. It leads straight ahead, toward the peak.

Good.

The beast throws his head back and roars into the storm. Then he hunches over and lopes on all fours, following his prey. The hunt has resumed.

**

There is a flickering light ahead, drawing him forward like a beacon. In three strides he is there, crouching at the entrance to the cave, eddies of snow twirling around his head, looking into his brother’s face.

“Took ya long enough.”

His brother’s voice is a growl, rumbling softly from the pit of his massive chest. His eyes are flinty points of yellow in the dark. He is holding his hands out to the tiny fire, flexing his razor-tipped fingers. He peels back his lips in a wolfish smile.

“Gettin’ real damn tired of this game,” says the man, while the beast paces back and forth in his mind.

“You look tired.”

Another snikt and the claws burst out. The beast stands with hackles raised. His brother’s grin widens. “We play this game, baby brother, yer gonna lose.”

Now it’s the beast’s turn to bare his teeth. In the moment before he strikes, he says, “We’ll see about that, bub.”

As the blizzard dies, the sounds of howling echo across the slopes.

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