Here’s a bit from my newest WIP, tentatively titled Uprising. Remember, I’m giving a peek before my work even hits the editor.
Each step Ryne made became practiced agony, but he gritted his teeth against the pain. His breaths left his lips in wheezing gasps. Legs and arms on fire, he carried Ancel on his back. The young man weighed more than expected or maybe the heaviness was a reflection of how worn out his own body had become.
Charra loped in front, often tossing its head as if trying to dislodge something from its shoulders. Snow and ice flew as the netherling manipulated the elements to clear a path. With his Matersense, Ryne determined what Charra did was not a Forging. It appeared as if the beast and the elements were one—they, an extension of the netherling—and Charra had some ability to shift them as if they were physical entities. The action reminded Ryne of watching a puppy at play.
A serrated blade of staggered cliff-faces made up the ridges on either side of them. Pockmarked with overhanging rock, crags, and precipices along the canyon walls they spread before disappearing in the light flurries that fell. Under most overhangs were deep hollows leading to caves similar to the one they left several hours ago. The phenomenon occurred every few hundred feet up the sheer, ice-coated walls. At the peak was a massive plateau, its edge jutting over the cliffs and offering protection to the gully through which they traveled. Beyond the occasional snow cornice that tumbled into the passage, not much else was worth worrying over.
“The caves are from all the quarrying,” Mirza said from a few paces behind him. “The cliffs have been our livelihood for years.”
A rainbow of color reflected from the ice and the diamond glint of embedded minerals and metals. The sun shone at an angle well shy of noon, giving warmth to Ryne’s weary bones. He was unaccustomed to experiencing the cold, and he could no longer feel his toes. “Were you both miners?” he asked to keep his mind occupied.
“By the gods, no.” Mirza chuckled. “Ancel was too busy chasing the girls, and well, I had this habit of doing whatever my father didn’t want. I ended up following in his footsteps to become a Dagodin instead of the quarrying and mining that he loves so much.” A hint of regret seeped from his tone.
Ryne could only imagine what the youth was experiencing. To know the Exalted now held your last surviving parent after their followers had taken your mother must be tearing at Mirza’s insides. Ryne allowed silence to grow between them.
A quick glance over his shoulder showed that Galiana still followed, keeping an eye on their rear. The passage continued ahead, the footing treacherous, but not as bad as it would be without the series of ridges protecting the lower areas from the worst of the weather. The wind howled a mournful dirge, but did little more than ruffle his cloak. Whenever a cornice fell, a low rumble ensued as snow and ice showered that part of the passage.
As the noise droned to a halt, another reached Ryne. A cracked howl. He paused. “Wolves?”
“There aren’t wolves in this part of the Red Ridge, not that I know of at least,” Mirza said. The youth’s hand eased down to his bow as he glanced back the way they came.