by Matthew X. Gomez
The sounds of battle pealed like thunder over the tundra. The smell of spilt blood and harsh iron were carried to her on an arctic gale.
She danced, the daughter of a god, her diaphanous shawl, a lattice of crystals, scattering light over the bloodstained snow. She stepped graceful and barefoot through the carnage, her laughter like the tinkling of bells. Scarlet and blonde haired men lay where they fell, swords and axes frozen to hands. A few still breathed, ragged and harsh, but quick work with the icicle in her hand put short work to them, their life blood cooling rapidly in the snow. Yet, one of the hot-blooded Southerners yet lived. Dark of brow, and with his mail rent, he staggered to his feet. A great broadsword was clutched in his hand, the edge nicked and scarred from the fight.
She laughed, and struck with her dagger. Panther-quick, his sword was up, smashing the dagger aside and shattering it. Stumbling, she ran, her light steps carrying her over the thin crust of the snow. Behind her, the warrior plunged after, his labored breathing sounding close.
After a time, she stopped and turned, looking for her pursuer. Too close, and yet still distant. She ran again, hoping to elude him. The terrain, though, was flat, and her pursuer possessed of a dogged endurance she found frightening and intriguing. There were more dangers to the North than the cold, and the snow, and the wind, however.
She smiled, then took off at a sprint, still amazed her pursuer came on. Her heart fluttered to think what might become of her if he caught her. As for him, he pressed on, his mighty legs plowing a furrow through the snow, a fine plume of powder erupting at his progress.
Moving between two large hills, her laughter led him on, now bitter harsh as a winter gale. Her ice blue eyes mocked him as she twirled on her delicate feet. Her shawl whipped about her, always promising, never revealing.
When he was between the two hills, the trap was sprung. The hills shifted, moved, stood upright. Her brothers, the frost giants, loomed over the man, their frost-rimed axes bearing down on him.
He should have been exhausted. He should have already been dead from exposure. Still, somehow, this man, this foreigner from the south, sprang to one side, cat quick, his blade striking out in a deadly arc. One of her brothers collapsed, his leg cut out from underneath him, his mouth opened in a howl of pain. Her second brother aimed a backhand cut at the interlopers head, but her pursuer slipped under the attack, drove the tip of his broadsword up under his ribs and into his heart.
She screamed her rage and her pain, and almost too slowly, ran. Her pursuer was on top of her, his fingers grasping her shawl.
“Ymir! Father, save me!” she shouted, feeling his hot breath on her cold neck.
A whirling gale overtook her, her father’s servants whisking her away to his winter palace, leaving the stunned man holding nothing but her shawl.
Matthew was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, though he now inexplicably finds himself much further south than he ever anticipated. Now he lives in Columbia, Maryland, with his wife, two children, and two cats. He has been writing for forever, getting his real start writing for a number of student run publications in high school and college. He has been previously published by Death Throes and Dark Futures, and his work can frequently be encountered at writerscarnival.ca. He possesses a number of esoteric skills, not the least being fencing and historic swordplay, which, if he weren’t a writer, would be pretty useless. Matthew hopes to have an anthology of his own short stories out in 2014.