Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kimmydonn Week 87: Ladies, please


Picture 1

Picture 2

Kimmydonn's Choice: Both

Ladies, Please

Standing at the edge of the lake, she shed her feathers, taking shape in a green gown. A boat was approaching, and the Lady of the Lake would meet it on two human feet, not webbed ones. She had seen the men in the boat, men armed as if for war. Although she was stronger as a swan, their faces bore fear, not violence, so she planed to use words rather than winds and rain.

The breeze off the water blew her hair back and carried to her the scent of the men. It was familiar and unappealing. She preferred the smells of the water, even the rotting smells, to the sweat of men and horses that wafted toward her. There was also the tang of blood. Although she preferred it to the man-smell, it did trouble her. Were the men injured or had they injured others?

“Ho! Madelac!” the youngest of the men called. As he moved she spied the coronet on his brow, glinting in the sun.

“Cormac?” she asked. Was this the son of her sister, the Lady of the Mountain?

“Yes, Aunt.”

“Dare I ask what brings you?”

“May we rest on your shore?” he asked with a weary sigh.

“Of course, please.” A surge of wind grounded the boat on the grassy plain at her feet. “Tell me, is my sister well?”

She watched the men falling out of the boat onto the grass, lying on their backs and breathing heavily. The blood was their own. Madelac quickly set to dressing wounds with the fluff of her rushes and using their wide blades to tie them.

“She is... well.” Cormac didn’t sound sure. Perhaps Mademon was well when he saw her last. “She is besieged. She and my father are being held inside their castle by the Morrigan.”

“The crow goddess,” Madelac murmured. “How did she draw her attention?”

“It seems I did, Aunt. I slew-”

“You didn’t,” Madelac cut him off. “You know the dragon is under her protection. Why would you-”

Her nephew’s manners were as good as her own. “To save a woman. The woman. The most beautiful, wise, wonderful woman in the world.”

Madelac shook her head. “A wise woman would never require-”

“She was being held by the dragon, Aunt.”

“Then she wasn’t wise enough to avoid such a fate,” Madelac snapped. “And you lacked the wisdom to leave her where her folly landed her. Let me guess, she’s in the castle with my sister.”

“Yes, Aunt.” Cormac hung his dark haired head in shame.

“Well, at least she’s safe there then. How did you escape?” Madelac crossed her arms, expecting this to be a fantastic tale.

“The sewers. We slipped from the moat where the attack was thinnest and ran. Obviously, it was a less than flawless escape.” He gestured to his men.

“Obviously. So, you’ve come for my help, have you? You will not get it, but my sister will. Did you really slay the dragon?” she asked in wonder.

“I think so. It certainly appeared dead.”

Letting out a sigh, Madelac gathered her strength. “Stay here. You will be safe enough. If the Morrigan comes, take your boat back onto the lake. My friends will help protect you.” Then Madelac sprouted white feathers and ran across the top of the water, taking flight. The swan headed North, but not toward her sister’s castle. She glided slightly eastward to the cave where the dragon nested.

The gore that surrounded the body was terrible. Rather than shift back to human the swan waddled, ungracefully, surveying the damage. Most of the wounds had crusted over, blood scabbing. There was no fresh blood to be seen. She put her beak near the dragon’s face and was blown back when it sighed heavily. It was still alive.

Madelac took to the air again, this time approaching her sister’s castle slowly. She reached out with her thoughts to the crows circling the grey stone tower. “Morrigan! Your dragon lives! Let my sister help me and we will heal him.”

The crows swooped as one and headed for the swan. Madelac dove for the moat, using the water to protect herself. Fountains sprayed up, scattering the black birds.

“Please!” Madelac called again. “We can help him. Let my sister out.”

“One Chance,” came the booming reply. The black birds settled on the tower, allowing Madelac to leave the moat and return to human form on the bridge.

“Mademon? Are you well?”

Her sister’s blond hair streamed in the icy wind as she stretched out of a window. “I am! Thank you Madelac. Is the dragon really alive?”

“Yes. He nearly bowled me over with his breath,” Madelac answered, smiling.

“Then I have another to bring with us.” She said nothing more, but met Madelac on the bridge with another woman. Her hair was as black as the crows above. In fact, they cawed and took flight when the young woman stepped out of the castle.

“I am Vessa,” she said. “I know the dragon well. I can help.”

“You were held by the dragon,” Madelac surmised. “How do we know you won’t injure him further?”

“I was studying the dragon. That is how he found and captured me. And I wouldn’t call it a capture. I simply... was prevented from leaving. As I had no desire to do so, I wouldn’t call it captivity.”

Madelac closed her eyes and shook her head. “But your son,” she looked into her sister’s icy blue eyes, “had to be the rescuer.”

Mademon’s smile was thin. “Indeed. Tell me you have him somewhere safe so I can be the one to take his head?”

Madelac laughed. “Yes, he’s safe. Let’s go. The Morrigan isn’t known for her patience.”


J.M. Blackman said...

Glad to read this first piece after checking out the sequel. You've got some fantastic and unique elements here that you handle very well. I enjoyed taking a peek into this world.