Winter – Chapter 14 – 04

                She slept for a time.  When she woke again, the sun was half-gone in the west, twilight moving in.  Her skin prickled with ambient power.
                Neve sucked in a deep breath, slowly trying to prop herself up on her elbows.  Her body sill felt like a herd of horses had trampled her, but the pain was a touch duller now.  He must have gotten her to swallow some kind of pill when she’d been awake before.
                “Cameron?” What’s going on out there?  Why am I—
                Her brows knit, something stirring in the back of her mind, just beyond the reach of her thoughts.  There was a reason for this—a reason for the power in the air—and it had nothing to do with the two of them.
                Or did it?
                Her heart began to beat a little faster when he didn’t answer right away.  She fought her way into a sitting position, hissing and hunching as pain shot through her ribs and spine.  Her voice became a croak.  “Cam?”
                “Huh?”  He appeared a moment later, eyes widening at the sight of her sitting up.  “Shit,” he muttered, drying his hands on the seat of his pants as he hurried to her side.  “Neve, what’re you doing?”
                “Where were you?”  She gulped down air as if she was drowning, but she hadn’t felt anything pop and she didn’t feel especially short of breath.  I didn’t just accidentally puncture my lung, did I?  Her fingers closed around his arm, tightening painfully for a moment before she forced herself to relax.
                “Fishing.  There’s a jetty about twenty-five yards down and the water gets pretty deep down at the end.  I caught a few fish that look likely for dinner.”  He knelt down, sliding one arm behind her shoulders and pulling their packs and saddles over behind her with his free hand, stuffing her pillow between her back and the pile.  “Here, lean back.  What’s the matter?”
                “Nothing,” she lied.  “You didn’t answer, that’s all.”  She scrubbed her hand over her eyes and shivered a little, tugging one of the blankets up a little, wincing at the sight of livid bruises that hadn’t been there before.
                He frowned and nodded.  “You sure?”
                She nodded slightly, staring out the open tent flap and past the fire to the lake beyond.  A mist was rising.
                Her blood sang, fingers tingling.
                What is…
                “What day is it?”
                He stared at her strangely for a moment, his brows knitting.  “Why?” he asked, elongating the word.
                She straightened slightly even as he tried to get her to lay back.  “Because I’m starting to see something out on the water,” she whispered, hands fisting in her blankets again.
                Out in the mist, lights like will’o’wisps flickered in and out of sight as the sun set.  Neve’s breath caught in her throat.
                Is it?
                “Can’t you see them?” she breathed, pointing.  “Look, Cam.  Look out on the water, into the mists.”
                He shot her a look that told her that at least for the moment, he thought she was crazy.  Then he looked out at the water.  His body tensed next to her, his eyes widening slightly.  He half rose to his feet, groping for the scabbarded sword that lay in one corner of the tent.
                “It’s okay,” she murmured in his ear.  “They’re not here to hurt us.”
                His voice shook.  “W-what are they?”
                “Ghosts,” she murmured, her hand tightening around his.
                “Ghosts?”
                “Ghosts.  Souls.  Call them whatever you want.”  She smiled sadly.  “I think it’s Samhain, Cam.  The only time the veil is as thin as it is now is on Midwinter’s Eve.”  Neve rested her head against his chest, wincing slightly as she moved her leg, rewarded with a stab of pain shooting up from her knee through her thigh and into her hip.  “When I was a girl, we would feast on this night and then the maidens would dance for the souls of the dead, to show them the way to their rest.  Aoife and I would lead the dancers, and our brothers would speak the words to send the dead on their way.”
                Cameron shivered.  “Sounds morbid.”
                “It wasn’t,” she said softly.  “It was beautiful and heart-wrenching, but it wasn’t morbid.”  She rested her forehead against his chin.  “Someday, you’ll understand.”
                At least I hope you will.
                “Someday, huh?” he said softly.
                “Mmhm.  Someday.”

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3 Responses to Winter – Chapter 14 – 04

  1. Antonious says:

    Her description makes me want to help with the dance. But me.., dancing.., uh that is very unhealthy for all around me.

    • …I really have no idea how to respond to that.

      • Antonious says:

        Ka-Ching! Lol I caught the writer at a loss for words. Yay me.

        Believe me, if you saw me coerced into “dancing” you would have no shortage of words if you could say them between gales of laughter and cringing at moments of imminent maiming.

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