Sue Vincent’s #writephoto is one of my favourite blog writing prompts. The photos she chooses are always so inspiring, and she gets such a variety of responses to the same image. I don’t always get a story but, when I do, they come immediately. This one appeared when I saw her image for this week:
The man grinned, revealing chipped and blackened teeth, his hair blonde against the blood-spattered furs he wore. His similarly-attired companion shrugged.
‘Some sanctuary. It doesn’t even have a door.’
‘Huh. C’mon. This is where she’ll be.’
They moved towards the small building, their boots crunching against the snow. More flakes swirled around them, catching in their long tangled hair, melting on the iron blades they carried.
She watched them approach, fear closing her throat. There was no one left to hear if she screamed, anyway. She closed her eyes, willing herself to stay still, pushing aside her grief. When she got through this, if she got through this, there would be time enough to mourn.
She could hear their breathing as they stepped between the pillars, the clank of their weapons.
They entered the sanctuary.
It seemed as though the forest itself held its breath.
From her hiding place she heard a clatter of metal on stone, then a thud. A tear escaped from under her closed eyelids. They had destroyed the offerings, from the sound of it. The bronze bowl she used for scrying now taken as a spoil of war, the stone pillar on which it had rested knocked over.
Anger curled in her stomach, combining with the fear. She felt sick. But there was nothing she could do except wait, and hope.
‘Bitch probably ran into the woods.’
‘Hehe, yeah. She won’t get far.’
‘Let’s go. If the wolves don’t get her, we will.’
They left the small temple, stopping in one final act of desecration to urinate across the threshold, laughing as their piss hit the snow. Then they disappeared among the trees, the crashing of their passage growing fainter until she could hear no more.
She took in a deep breath. Uncurled her cramped and cold fingers, shook the snow from her hair. She spoke a word of power, and the branches enclosing her opened, releasing her. She spoke another, and two grey wolves appeared, their soft fur brushing her hands as they circled her, awaiting her command. ‘Go,’ she said, and they bounded away, golden eyes sharp with the thrill of the hunt. She listened as the howling grew louder, thought she heard a distant scream. Then she stepped inside her temple and began the work of cleansing.
She hadn’t been able to save her village.
But she could still avenge them.
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