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Mountains Feel No Pain (mature, 2300w) (1 Viewer)

kbsmith

Senior Member
Mountains Feel No Pain

Along the fields before him, a heavy fog breathes upon the deep green of flowing hills. He stands in blood as it gathers in a pool; an arrow protrudes from the beast at his feet. Dropping his bag, he withdraws a long saw toothed metal object. He grabs the horns of the creature, its neck relaxes and its body moves freely in death, like clay to his calloused hands. The neck of the beast between his legs, left hand on the horn, his right hand sets to sawing it off. Silence haunts the softness of the rolling meadows, thick grass blades, frozen, are still in windless morning. The cold peels off him as he sweats with effort. His breath puffs up in clouds around his head; the fields and their fog deaden the whirring of the saw.

Finally, the horn pops off, free in his hand. The head of the beast falls limp to the ground with a light thud of earth and skull. In the frigid air, steam rises from the warm blood as it oozes beneath the dead thing: a fatal heart wound. The horn is long, nearly a meter in length. It curves majestically into a large crescent shape, nearly full circle, ridged and scratched and rough: dry bone. Inspecting it, he thinks for a moment to leave without the other, but his body acts without consent. He tosses the prize to his bag. Switching hands, he fastens his grip on the right horn of the thing, and begins sawing with his left. Halfway through the bone, he steps his foot onto the creature’s head, shifts his weight, and pulls against the pressure of his leg. A quiet splinter is followed by a quick jerk and snap of the horn breaking free. He stumbles back a step, the crack of bone echoes like a whip: twice into the distance.

Tossing the second horn upon the first, he sets about carving off the pelt of the beast. He cuts through its stomach first. Upon the hill behind him, a figure stands, a silhouette against the glowing fog. Wet smacks of freed organs accompany the tearing sounds of knife ripping flesh like fabric. The figure approaches slowly, careful not to be heard or seen. Standing closely behind the man. The figure watches him toss the bloodied knife to the ground. “Have you a place to hide?” it asks the man, unarmed. The voice is fragile and quivering. The man turns not around. He stands tall, feet spread far apart, arms akimbo. He breathes deeply in exasperation and fatigue. “What from, pray tell,” he pants. It whimpers softly behind him.

He turns to face it. The woman’s face is pale and dirty. Her ice blue eyes pierce the gray air and shine upon him, searching his soul for kindness, tear-streaked white face and blood red lips. A large, thick bear fur coat hides her figure. The hood of the thing casts a deep shadow on her face, a shroud. In this cold, even the hidden beauty of her is enough to warm his heart. But, he is not without suspicion: “From whom do you seek to hide?” His eyes scan the neighboring hills, squinting to extend his vision. The fog is a thick veil against his sight. “Please,” she pleads, nearly sobbing, “I have walked alone for two days. I have water. Please.” Stepping toward him, she collapses into his chest. Her hood falls back off her head. Silk, her black hair is straight and long. The soft features of her face now fully visible, she breathes hard into his neck.

Startled, taken aback, transfixed at the beauty on his breast, he slowly wraps his arms around her in protective embrace, a gesture of assurance: “You will come with me then,” his harsh voice speaks gently in her ear. She looks up at him, wide-eyed, vulnerable, her gaze causes a pain in his stomach; his head spins wildly, intoxicated. She turns her face from him, embarrassed, and stands again on her own. She pulls the skin of the bear head up to cover her in shroud again. “I must finish here, then we will go. A half day’s walk will get us to my cabin,” He gathers the tools that lie on the earth around them. Revitalized, inspired, he rips the skin from the beast and quickly carves the meat from its shoulders and hindquarters. Wrapping the meat in the pelt, he ties it tightly closed in a string of rope from his bag. She looks anxiously to the distance, the way she came. He takes no notice of her, lost in his own thought. He tosses the bag and the flesh over his shoulder; they leave the dead beast cut apart and skinless in a pool of steaming blood.

Neither of them speaks for hours. The quiet, cold-gray fog of morning melts seamlessly into dark gray sky over brown-green expanse of field and hills. The freezing air is windless and translucent. The sky above them threatens rain. “Do you need to rest?” He finally asks, concerned at the weight she bears, and tired, yes, of his own burdens.

“We will rest when you feel the need,” she purrs softly.

He drops the flesh and pelt and lets his bag down to the earth, then sits beside it, laying back into the thick grass: “Not much further, we will reach the place we seek.” She barely smiles in response, distant and thoughtful. Still, she looks back and stares, searching the horizon for movement or sound. “No one is following us. I have been listening, watching,” he says, trying to comfort her. She turns, staring blankly at the long lengths of grass; her breath makes no visible exit from her lips.

“Won’t you tell me something?” he asks. She looks down at him; his insides rupture and shake at her eyes’ cold glaze. Trembling, she collapses to the ground, her legs fold up underneath her and she sits, leaning on her hand to keep her balance. The heavy coat folds around her, sensually.

“From whom do you seek to hide?” he asks again. She is void, dreaming at the grass beneath him.
When finally she answers, her voice chills his soul: “I… escaped.” She wipes the tears as they flow. “A caravan… they pose as merchants to enter towns, then burn them down. They take captive the… most useful…” she stammers, choking on tears: every drop from her face falls hard like an anvil upon his soul.
“And you think they will follow you?” he musters.

She snaps up to look at him, lightning spills across the sky in violent whip and roar of thunder, she shouts, “I know they have!”

Her distress is echoed on the silent hills around them, twice, then silence. Know. Know. He stands again. “Well, let’s go then… there is no time to waste.” He fastens a grip on the pelt of flesh and meat, lifts his bag of tools. They, again, walk on toward their destination as the sky opens into light mist and rain.

By the time they reach the cabin, the rain falls unrestrained. The cabin stands along a flat portion of earth, where the plains end and the first trees turn into forest. A large flat roof covered in leaves, walls of logs stacked one atop another, a single window on each of its four sides. One door. A brick column juts out from the side of the cabin: a chimney. The roof extends out nearly twice the length of the cabin, a covered porch. As they approach, he jogs ahead and looks cautiously inside through the window. “Come now! No one has been so foolish yet!” He shouts back to her. She drags along behind, bearing the weight of the wet, heavy coat. Mud cakes up around the bottom of the thing. He drops his tools outside, carries his pelt to the door and opens it, leaves it just inside the threshold. He undresses, removing the wet clothes until he stands naked under protection of the roof.

“Let’s get those clothes off you!” he recommends, stepping inside, wet clothes in a stack outside the entrance. She drops the coat to her feet; a dirtied leather dress reaches down, overlaps the woolen leggings she wears. Thick fur lines the feet of her boots, huge with mud. He steps inside to put on dry undergarments and sets to work on a fire in the hearth. He is piling wood on top of tinder, fumbling with a pack of unopened matches. She steps inside, “Is there something for me to wear?” He turns to answer her, frozen in horror. His skin turns to glass. She stands nude, shining silver skin, unblemished, dirty, wet. The lines of her hips dig into his skull, supple breasts shake gently as she shivers, nipples firm, and her legs smooth and sultry, a small black patch of hair between them. Ten thousand needles puncture every pore of his body; he rips his eyes away, lest he die.

“To your right, all the clothes I own in the closet,” he strikes the match; the tinder catches fire, which in turn breathes hell into the logs. Smoke rises up above the cabin to be torn by falling rain. He aches all over, his body writhes in seething pain. “You look ill,” she sits closely beside him, close enough to touch. She is still nude, save a large leopard hide she wraps around her back and shoulders, straight black hair upon her face and neck, eyes like melting ice. The fire grows, warms them both.

“You…” he tries to describe the feeling, “…make every part of me hurt.” She giggles gleefully. He does not dare look at her; he trembles, if not from cold, than from terror. He flinches when she leans closer to him. He closes his eyes when she lets the spotted fur fall below her shoulder to further reveal her body. She whispers, lips so very close to his ear: “Won’t you help me?” The words hit him like a knife through the ear, carved into his scalp, he winces in pain: “Anything you ask, milady.”

“I am so hungry,” she breathes onto his neck. He stands up abruptly, careful not to touch her. He rushes to the window, “You must hide!” On the horizon, in the rain, figures can be seen riding toward the cabin. Slowly, she rises to her feet; she floats off into a separate room, the bedroom, and shuts the door softly behind her: “Come back to me, love.”

He claws and pulls at his hair, the pain he feels is unbearable. The horses are heard over the falling rain: the thunder of their hooves. He hurries out onto the porch and drags her coat and clothes inside, out of sight. “Good sir!” comes the shout of a man on horseback, followed by the winnie and neigh of other horses coming to a halt: three horses, three men. The man who calls out carries a blunderbuss on his saddle, and a rapier at his hip. “Good sir!” he repeats, “we have reason to believe you are in grave peril!” The armed man hops down off his horse and steps onto the porch.

“Peril?” responds the keeper of the cabin. The man of arms removes his flamboyant Captain’s hat and wrings the water from it. The look in his eye shines serious and flustered, frightened and bewitched:

“Sir, we have been hunting what we believe to be… a witch. She will have made every effort to appear the most becoming of damsels, but I implore you: she is not! Nay! She is the devil incarnate! A monster most foul! Have you seen such a creature? Do you house her in your home?! We mean you no harm, we want only the wretched beast!” His eyes search the inside of the cabin through the window as he speaks. He fiddles nervously with the handle of his blade.

“No, I cannot say that I know… a witch, you say?” he asks.

“Ay, sir! A most foul demon, indeed! She will seem the fairest of creatures, but her heart is as rotten with witchcraft. Please, keep a watchful eye for any passing strangers, as I’m sure you always do. Allow no discretion for a beautiful woman all by her lonesome!” He turns on his heel and jogs back to his horse: “We must continue to warn everyone we can. Sir, do be careful!” With that, they gallop off into the storm; an urgency of lightning paints their hastened goodbye.

The man stands for a moment on the porch in silence, until they are long gone from view. He grabs his bag of tools and removes the horns. He tiptoes in through the open door and, again, finds himself before the fire. Thoughtfully, he turns the horns over in his hands, feeling the rigid dryness of the bone. He fingers the pointed tips of them, staring intently at the fire’s sweet kiss and lick upon the logs before him. The bedroom door creaks open. Light footsteps patter on the flat, wooden floors. If he hears them, he does not look. He holds a long crescent shape of bone from the beast he intended to eat, to wear. Intense waves of pain flood every inch of him. She leans down to kiss his neck, his heart stops. With a single jolt of life, he spins around and pins her to the ground.

She blinks once, then twice more. Blink. Blink. Blood gathers in a pool beneath her: the long curved horn protrudes from her heart, between the softness of her breasts. The pain does not subside, even as her body lie limp in death. Her icy eyes do not close again. His pain does not subside. The fire eats all of the logs. He unties the pelt and fleshy meat, and with that rope, hangs himself from a nearby tree. Above both their bodies, a mountain paints the distant scene, above the haunted cabin, at the first of the forest trees.
 

LeeC

WF Veterans
No doubt a good bit of honest effort went into this piece. You've a potentially interesting premise conveyed in an orderly manner, but to me is so laden with verbiage that it drags.

I believe that good writing reads quickly, lightly, and has discernible depth. That so the reader is drawn in, and along, in captured interest. Of course readers vary greatly in what interests them, but here I see an excess of description, within which there is a minimum of interaction to move the story forward.

So, my take would be to work on bringing out characterizations and interactions better, and reducing descriptive text to a minimum of what's needed for the reader's mind's eye to visualize.

But then I'm only a jaded old fart, whose thoughts should be taken with a grain of salt :)

May the pen be with you.
 

kbsmith

Senior Member
Thanks, Lee.
Great advice. I did not mean to bore you. It is not a thriller by any means, and I do not think my mind lends itself to that style of writing. I will keep working at it and try to build a piece that moves more quickly with living characters.

Perhaps much of the verbiage comes from a premeditated goal of getting the word count up.

The gist and method of the story is that we must discern the meaning of our own interactions and not look to others to define our feelings.
For all we know, the pain he feels is love, and she is no witch at all.
 
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