This post is from a weekly event on Google+ called Saturday Scenes, in which writers share scenes and snippets from their various works. This piece is brand-new and unedited and may be part of a new project I’m brainstorming. It’s looking like a possible portal fantasy with a few retold fairytales and a bit of a quest. Please feel free to comment!
Unseen force hurled her across the room. Whipcord thin, the invisible magic binding tightened around her throat. She choked, and the binding tightened inexorably.
She fought, clawing at her own skin.
“You’re not real,” Hvardr gasped. He glared at her, eyes wide and glassy.
She could barely see him through the dancing spots invading her vision. A desperate flail brought her fist against the wall, and she pounded it until her arm no longer obeyed.
Limp, she lay on the stone floor. Everything was distant, fading. Panic danced in her chest but her body no longer wished to do anything about it.
The door crashed open.
Someone roared at Hvardr, though the words were indistinct. She felt the slightest tug on the magic binding, but it held firm.
Abruptly the pressure eased. She sucked in a ragged breath, then another. Wheezing, she curled on her side and tried not to vomit.
Over the sound of her own thundering heartbeat she heard Hvardr murmuring. “It’s a trick.” He sounded as weak as she felt.
She rose to her knees, moving slowly so as not to attract his notice. His eyes fluttered closed, then open again, looking at a figure by the side of the bed.
“What’s a trick?” The voice was smooth and calm. Soothing, with a thrum of magic beneath the soft words.
“Claire. She was here.” Hvardr sucked in a breath that sounded like a groan. “Or not. Maybe she wasn’t.”
A crystal vase near the foot of the bed shattered, spilling water and the dying flowers it held down the front of the table.
“There’s no reason to be angry, Hvardr. Why do you think it was a trick?”
“She’d never…” His eyes closed again. “Shouldn’t…”
Silence, broken only by her own raspy breaths. No, she could hear Hvardr’s breathing too, a horrible gurgle in his chest. The rhythm slowed, then caught for a moment.
The figure shook him roughly by one shoulder. “Stay with me, Hvardr!” he growled. The man’s voice rattled in Claire’s bones, low and angry and tightly controlled.
Hvardr murmured something indistinguishable. Then, “—never forgive me.”
Claire sucked in her breath, then winced at the sound.
Hvardr didn’t notice.
The figure turned to her. “Come with me.”
She crept past Hvardr’s bed. His face was turned towards her, eyes closed. His skin seemed stretched tight across his cheekbones, his thin lips pressed together as if he was in pain. Perhaps he was. One hand lay palm up near his face, fingers curled. The position made him look vulnerable and oddly childlike, despite the faint lines beside his mouth and around his eyes.
Then his hand twitched, fingers clenching briefly.
Power whipped past her, invisible and silent but for the whoosh of the air as it passed. A stone across the room snapped as if struck by lightning, a few crumbling pieces falling to the floor in tiny shards.
The man grabbed her hand and yanked her out of the room. He closed the door behind her without a word and hurried her away with one hand on her shoulder.