Darkest Highlander

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     It was the growl, the low, menacing rumble that implied doom for her.

     Sonya sucked in a ragged breath and lifted her head from the damp ground of the forest floor.  Her spirit was broken, her body failing rapidly.

     She raged with fever, a fever she couldn’t heal.  Just as she couldn’t heal the cut which sliced open her palm.  At one time, the barest of thoughts would have propelled her magic to take care of such injuries.

     But that magic had failed her.

     Nay, you failed.

     Sonya squeezed her eyes close to shut out the loud, and persistent, voice in her head.  She was nothing without her magic.  How could she help the others at MacLeod Castle?  How could she look each of them in the eye day after day knowing her magic was gone?

     Vanished.  Disappeared.  Lost.

     Everything she was, everything she had been was no longer there.  Her life had been defined as a Druid.  Without magic she could no longer call herself a Druid. 

     And that distressed her far worse than her sliced palm.    

     Another growl, this one closer, more looming.  She tried to gain her feet, but she was weak from lack of food.

     Sonya had been dodging the wolf for days.  Or was it weeks? She had lost track of time after her flight from MacLeod Castle.  She no longer knew where she was, and even if she wanted to return to the castle, she couldn’t get there.

     If you want to live, get up.  Run!

     Sonya wasn’t ready to die.  She didn’t give up easily.

     Liar.  You never try for the things you want.  Like Broc.

     A tear slipped down Sonya’s cheek at the thought of Broc.  Each time she closed her eyes she could see the Warrior kneeling in the midst of the bloody battle at the castle holding Anice in his arms as he bellowed for Sonya to heal her sister.

     A sister that had known him.  Broc, the one man Sonya had wanted for herself.  The one thing she hadn’t had the courage to make known her feelings.    

     Sonya shoved aside thoughts of Broc as she grabbed hold of the nearest tree with her good hand and pulled herself to her feet.  She leaned against the trunk and glanced around the forest for the wolf. 

     Nowhere did she see the creature, but she knew he was near.  The black beast was large and ravenous.  It would take just one swipe of his huge paw to end her life.

     Sonya cradled her wounded hand against her chest and wondered how much longer she could evade the wolf.  It was a cunning animal. 

     The trees swayed above Sonya, reminding her of the magic that used to allow her to commune with them.  How she missed their knowledge, their words.  Their magic.  Being among the trees had always soothed her, but no longer.  Not since her magic had abandoned her.

     Sonya knew she had to move if she wanted a chance at survival.  Remaining meant certain death.  After a deep breath, she stepped away from the tree and turned, only to freeze in place as the wolf stood in front of her.

     He growled again, lifting its lips to show large fangs which dripped with saliva.  The animal crouched with its ears back against its head, its muscles tensed, ready to spring at her. 

Time slowed to a standstill.  With her heart pounding slow and hard, Sonya knew she had only once chance to get away.  She lifted her skirts and ran to her left. 

     Her feet slipped on the dried leaves and pine nettles coating the forest floor, but she kept moving.  Behind her, she could hear the wolf as it crashed through the trees chasing her. 

And rapidly gaining ground.

     With hair tangling about her sweat soaked face, Sonya glanced back and saw the wolf almost upon her.  A scream lodged in her throat, but before the sound could release, the ground fell from beneath her.

     Suddenly, the earth rose up to meet her face.  Sonya grunted as her head slammed into the ground and she began to roll.  She tried without success to grab a hold of anything that would slow her descent.  The sky mixed with the ground to become a whirl of colors which spun around her as she continued her brutal tumble.

     When she finally came to a grinding halt, it was with her body wrapped around the trunk of a young elm.  The breath left her lungs in a whoosh, her body wracked with blinding pain.  She tried to stay calm and suck in air, but the more she tried to breathe, the more her body refused to take in the air.

     When breath finally filled her lungs, Sonya took it in deep and winced at the agony that exploded through her.  She opened her eyes, but her world had yet to stop spinning. 

     And then she heard familiar growl.  Much closer than ever before.