Well, we’re getting down to the wire on the Christmas holiday, and, once again, it’s come upon me unawares. I think most things are done, but I can’t be sure. Tree. Check. Food. Check. Gifts. Um…partial check. There are still a few more things to get. Holy cow! Am I gonna make it in time? I’m not sure. I could sure use a little help from the man in the red suit. He hasn’t let me down yet, so I have complete faith that things will be ready on time.
As to the Christmas story, it’s coming along. The first draft of the first two sections is complete. Now, on to the rest. I did come up with a title and a cover, though, so that’s something.
If you read last week’s excerpt (remember, these are unedited), then scroll below for the next installment. Also, remember there are spoilers for those who haven’t read Wolf in the Shadow.
All the best and have a wonderful holiday season.
Flight Through the Forest
Snow on snout.
Leaves under feet.
Eleanor wanted to rid herself of her human mind. She wanted to forget she had ever walked on two legs. She wanted to revel in the joy of being a ly’kita, to hunt, to leave the past behind forever, not just in the world but in her mind as well. She wanted to run forever, to be free. She let the scents of the forest—the trees, the flowers, the animals, life and death—wash over her as she cried to Worichiom to take her body and mind and set her free.
Before she realized it, Eleanor had left the cover of the trees and entered a small range of hills. She slid to a stop in the snow and sniffed the air. The cold crispness of the winter air filled her nose and cleared her mind. She panted and licked at the snow to quench her thirst then sat on her haunches to rest.
I need to return for the clothes.
The thought entered her mind unbidden, but she pushed it aside and looked around her. Hills rose above her, grass almost covered with snow. Wind howled between the hills and blew snowflakes into her face. She blinked her eyes to clear them, and her breath caught in her throat. A creature, not human according to her nose, crawled up the hill in front of her. Eleanor blinked again, several times, and cocked her head to the side.
The creature climbing the hill was unlike anything she had seen before, in either form. Cloven hooves sank into the deep snow, and multiple tails whipped away the falling flakes. A mass of tangled hair whipped in the breeze, and a sack across its back wriggled eerily.
Eleanor dropped to her belly, her canine senses telling her to be cautious. She slithered forward to get a better smell but stopped when the creature halted its climb.
“I see you.”
Eleanor froze. Snow whipped into her face and ruffled her fur the wrong way. Her heart beat wildly in her chest, and she panted as terror pumped through her veins. She tried to speak, but the sound was nothing more than a growl.
“None of that. I know you. Better than you know yourself. Come with me and join me. I could use another creature to help me with my work.”
Eleanor stood, but she didn’t move forward. A gust of wind shifted and brought the creature’s stench to her nose. She sneezed. Ogre. She hated the smell of ogre.
“Come on now. I won’t harm you.”
Eleanor shivered. Ogres couldn’t be trusted, and this one was far different from others. Older. Almost godlike. She sneezed. Still… It was cold. Frigid. And she could use a rest before returning home.
“That’s a good girl. Come with Grýla and let’s get you warm.”
Eleanor took a tentative step forward, then another. Her fur stood on end from more than the cold, and she wanted to turn and run. But she was exhausted from her run and the discussion with Abilene. Rest wasn’t an option, and this creature, Grýla, was currently her only choice.
“That’s a good ly’kita. Come on now.”
Eleanor took another step, and something set fire to her chest. She howled with the pain and buried her face in the snow to ease the burn. A throbbing, began near her heart and moved through her until every part of her ached. She tried to take another step, but her legs gave out, and she landed on her side in the snow.
“Begone, foul beast!”
The ogre screamed and hurried down the far side of the hill, while Eleanor’s head swam. She tried to rise but found her legs too weak to hold her. She shivered at the chill wetness against her skin and realized she had lost her ly’kita form. She was lying naked in the snow in a storm increasing in ferocity. She could barely see in her ly’kita form, and now she’d lost the heightened sense of smell she needed. She tried to will herself back to her Lycan self, but her body refused to respond. She searched for the source of the voice, the one who had sent the ogre running, but all she saw was a vague, humanoid outline. She tried to call out in hope of help, but her voice, too, had abandoned her.
The world went black.