--Warning: there will be swearing in this. Hopefully it does not offend. -
"When the sky falls, we'll catch larks
" -Irish proverb
Groaning in frustrated annoyance, Quinn made herself push through thick bushes that grew on the steep walls of the narrow pass. The thickly growing branches were tangled and scratched at Quinn as she worked her way through them, branches and twigs breaking off as she passed.
But she slowly forced her way through the bushes, doing her best to keep her footing on the dangerously uneven rocky ground. Her feet had to fight to keep her balance at times, the thick soles of her boots easily slipping over the rocks at the bottom of the pass. At points the ground would drop to an angle with one of the sides of the pass rising higher than the other, and she would have to struggle to scale the walls by finding slippery footholds in the rock walls around her, or even by trusting the thick roots of the bushes to move on.
After clambering over a boulder almost as tall as she was Quinn finally paused, warily stopping when she reached the surprisingly wide and flat top. Tiredly, she slumped against the wall behind her and pulled her large pack off her back to drop the heavy weight between her feet.
She leaned against the wall for a few moments with her eyes closed and her head resting against the wall. She was almost painfully aware of the uneven texture of the rock against the back of her head even though she wore a thick hood. Having to force them to work, Quinn lifted her sore arms and grimaced as she turned them over. There were tears in her charcoal grey shirt, the long sleeves taking the brunt of the tearing, and some of the now fraying edges were stained to a brown black from bleeding scratches on her pale arms.
Quinn's face fell into an exhaustedly apathetic frown as looked over her heavily disheveled self. Sighing she carefully rolled back her sleeves to expose the cuts, gasping a light hiss as the cloth brushed over the wounds, then reached down and pulled her canteen free from the strap holding it to the outside of her pack. She unscrewed the top and poured water over her arms, a scowl now pushing at her lips and hazel eyes as the tepid water painfully washed her cuts.
After lightly screwing the top back on, Quinn shook the excess water from her arms. Moaning pitifully, her heart shaped face twisted into a pained wince as the overworked muscles in her arms ached from the excess movement. Quinn couldn't believe her body ached so damn much. She was used to at least a few forms of hard work. The bow strapped to her back and pair of knives at her belt weren't there just to decorate and add weight her short frame.
'Though I guess that I haven't been on the run before,
.and then climbed my way through something like this
.Or go for so damn long at such a pace
..AND without a lot of sleep,' she thought sardonically.
Quinn reached up and pushed the deep hood off her head, shaking her dark brunette hair free of it. "Unh! Dear Creator
.my ear too?," she muttered in irritation when the falling hood brushed against her ear and there was a stinging pain on the tip.
Her hand lightly touched her ear, trailing up the long tip that was pierced by a three plain hoops, though the last hoop was thicker than the other two, a thin outline of the moon covered by clouds enameled in its surface. Quinn's fingers lingered on the last one for a moment, her dark hazel eyes becoming sadly thoughtful as she felt the outline, but her hand moved on and found the tender scratch. Cursing how sensitive elven ears were, she poured some more water into her hand and did her best to wash the blood away from her long ear.
The cold draft that had been sporadically gusting through the crevice since Quinn had started climbing through it the day before, pushed down the pass again, strong enough to make the ends of her wavy hair flutter. The cold bit into her exposed arms and head, making her wet skin break out in goose bumps.
"Damnit! Since I came to this forsaken land, all its been is freezing cold followed by HELLISHLY freezing cold
.not even the grass and wild flowers I saw on the lower parts grow up here..," Quinn growled to herself as she rolled her sleeves back down her arms and threw her hood back up over her head. The wind continued to bite through her clothes, the dark vest with its hood and the couple of thin layers of sleeveless undershirts not enough to keep her warm. "Creator damn this pass," she mumbled bitterly, "I cant even wear my jacket or cloak with the fucking bushes everywhere."
Quickly Quinn swung her pack back on and tied the canteen to her belt, eager to climb down from the boulder and be out of the strongest gusts blowing through the pass. Half sliding down the side of the boulder and grabbing at the thick growth close by, the elfess started on her way again, tiredly resolved to make it through before the sun set. The ledge she had found last night had been a lucky find, and had kept her from huddling out in the relative open of the pass, while the bone chilling wind had blown through the pitch black night.
The young elfess kept walking, pushing her way through an almost solid wall of bushes, the branches mercilessly catching at her clothes, feet fighting to find purchase among the loose rock, trying not to think about how the stones high above and around her could suddenly become loose and fall; but most of the time, she struggled to keep recent memories from pushing into her brain, and replaying over and over as she walked.
But the elfess was unsuccessful, and the memories forced through to the front of her mind. The frown on her face deepened as she mentally watched them scene by scene.
Three weeks ago Quinn had been riding down a wide cobbled street in a sleek and darkly painted car, thick steam and a goldenrod haze misted from the muffler of the magicked car. The car bumped slightly over the tightly fitted cobbled streets with a few other cars, their magicked engines also issuing steam and colored hazes from their mufflers, and the deepening dark of evening outside had been held back by the car's interior lights. Smoke from chimneystacks lightly pillowed the air above the brick and wood buildings that lined the streets. Fading sunlight glared off the soft edges of the clouds, casting a dark orange glow that outlined a few dirigibles and other flying machines that still flew high above the horizon.
The city had still been much the same as it had been before Quinn had left, spending the early spring months with her mother's sister and her family, a husband and Quinn's older cousin Danna. The cousins had spent the time catching up after an almost two year absence when Danna had moved far away to attend an intense graduate school program. After spending weeks talking, shopping, reading, getting advice on how to be a first time college student, trading spells of various uses, and basically getting very little sleep, Quinn was actually ready to go home and see her parents before she had to leave again to start classes.
As the cars traveling with Quinn's left through the west side of the city, the buildings faded into open parks full of tall trees, more than a few extravagant restaurants, and sprawling homes sitting on large estates. Quinn remembered feeling the familiar sights of everything soaking in, adding to her steadily shimmering excitement as she finally got closer to her home. Unconsciously she had scooted forward in her seat, trying to see around the dark cars that blocked the scenery as the road seemed to narrow, tall trees lining the curving road. Finally they rounded a bend and the trees abruptly stopped, a massive and sprawling manor suddenly spread out right in front of the small caravan of cars. The large iron gate was open and the tall forms of guards could be seen standing in the brick archway. A few waved in greeting to the approaching cars.
There was a distinct memory of elation when she had seen the huge home she shared with her parents, and the numerous staff that worked there. Quinn had been slightly surprised at her reaction to coming home, but an ironic smile had pushed onto her face as she admitted to herself that home felt safe and
generally good after spending most of the spring far away and with only a few months before she left to start college.
As the cars were had driven up to the gate, the windows had been rolled down so the guards could pass friendly and sometimes slightly inappropriate greetings with each other, leaving Quinn's long ears twitching in embarrassment even though she couldn't help but laugh along. Her eyes had stopped on one guard, his laughter lighting up his strong face as he stepped forward to greet the cars.
Quinn couldn't forget how his face had changed when the shout from behind him cut his laugh short. How he had half turned back looking for whoever had shouted, but a split moment later his head whipped back around, and disbelief had quickly made his face go slack while his light green eyes stared up at something above Quinn's car. As seconds slowly inched by, Quinn stared at the guard through her window, his face turning an unbelievably pale shade of white. But she suddenly realized that the world outside of the car was being washed out by an immensely bright light from somewhere above them.
'Probably the same thing that he's looking at
The thought had been cut off as the bright light had suddenly become unbearable, making her close her eyes and turn her face away from the window. Her ears had completely wilted, tense and straight as the sound of something huge.. falling
..suddenly hit the cars with a force that violently shook them. An overpowering aura, coming from what Quinn guessed could only have been a spelled missile of some kind, pressed hard against her. She remembered hearing people shouting and yelling as they fell from the pressure of the spell,..
her body being forced painfully back against the seat, and then
free falling as the world turned a bright white edged in a burning red, then snapped to solid black. And then there was nothing.
Rocks under Quinn's feet suddenly crumbled and her foot slipped, twisting her ankle to a painful angle. Cursing she slowly pulled herself forward till she was in a less awkward stance. 'Fuck this! If I cant even keep my mind on what I'm doing right now, how in the damned hells will I survive when I finally get
to where I'm going?'
The thought rang sharply inside her head, trying to force back the distracting and painful memories. Taking a breath, the exhausted girl forced herself to keep going, trying not to acknowledge how the pass was starting to slope upward at a steeper angle. Quinn knew that if she did, then the fight to keep herself moving would get that much harder to win.
Even though Quinn tried to deny them, the rest of the memories played on at the edges of her thoughts. As the struggle to put one foot in front of the other slowly became an uphill climb, Quinn again remembered how she had faded in and out of consciousness. She didn't know for how long exactly, but she had been passed out for days, sometimes surfacing through the smothering black enough to hear some of the world around her, recognize a few voices, but she would quickly be pulled back down into deep unconsciousness. When she had finally woken up, Quinn had quickly snapped awake this time, barely feeling the residue of what she groggily realized had been a magic induced sleep. And then she distinctly remembered being violently ill. The ground had been pitching back and forth, making it hard for Quinn to crawl to a chamber pot.
As the next few moments passed with her bent over the thankfully empty pot, she mentally cursed whoever had magicked her and then thrown her on a ship. Her back had been to the door, and Quinn didn't notice when someone entered, but suddenly there had been hands to hold her hair away from her face till the queasiness passed.
She remembered still feeling exceptionally tired and weak, almost unable to move back to the bed, even with the hands of the still unidentified person helping her across the small room. But after a moment of just sitting, Quinn finally felt strong enough to face whoever was in the room with her, fearing the worst. She still wasn't feeling exceptionally strong or aware yet, but Quinn couldn't forget anything that had happened before she had woken up. But after she had finally looked up, relief spread through her when she quickly recognizing the other elf in front of her as one of the guards from her home.
The blond haired elf tried to quickly but delicately explain what she could, letting Quinn know that her parents manor had been attacked, and Quinn herself had been badly injured. The healers had induced a deep coma to let the healing spells knit everything together quicker and easier. But Quinn had been quickly moved, leaving her home behind again; this time to protect her.
A coldness had washed through Quinn as she stared at the older elfess. Her voice croaked and cracked as she tried to interrupt, demanding to know about her parents and the other guards that had been driving with her. The sad and reluctant face of the blond elfess still haunted Quinn.
both of my parents..gone. No one knows yet if it was the anarchists or
random country declaring war by attacking us..a Lord and his family
.my fucking home. Several of the guards...dead as far as she knew
..and I knew most of them
did this really have to happen?' Angrily she perched on a rock, balancing her weight as she tried to force back the tears that were gathering in her eyes. 'Great
tear stains in dirt
..I'm absolutly going to love what this dirt is going to do to my skin.'
Glancing at the sky, the elfess shook her head when she realized that it was already pushing a few hours past midday. Yet again, she forced herself to keep moving, the half climb, half crawl upwards starting to completely push her body beyond what she thought it could take.
Quinn had passed out almost immediately after the older woman had given her the news. This time her sleep was restless and troubled as the tossing and heaving of the ship disturbed her sleeping mind, her memories easily turning into nightmares. Shaken awake the next morning before dawn, the other elf had quickly helped her into travel clothes. As Quinn had clothes pulled over her head and boots tugged on, and the guard did her best to quickly explain the plan that had been decided for Quinn. 'And what a plan it is,' she scathingly snickered to herself, '
so simple as just heading inland, following a SEVERALLY disused pass that even the scariest of wanted CRIMINALS barely use,..while everyone on the boat would sail away to draw the attention of
whoever fucking blew up my house!...oh..and not to mention, they hoped to draw the attention of the dark-magicked
..and UNKNOWN golem that was following us. Damnit
is there actually a chance of this working? '
really?" She said, pure annoyance edging the waver that caught her voice. Warm tears were starting to fall down her pale cheeks, annoying the elf at how ridiculous it was to start crying now, as she was precariously balancing on rocks that were now steeply inclining, her hands bruised and sore. Sniffling, the young elfess awkwardly turned her face to rub her tears on her upper arm. She tried not to think how the dirt staining her face would look after being smeared against an even dirtier sleeve.
and on top of all that loveliness
..Im now heading into the one place I literally thought Id never go. Ive got to fucking hide in-..Oh
,' Quinn's thought abruptly stopped as she felt the pile of rocks under her subtly
Her eyes went round, the dark circles under them standing out more as the blood drained from her face. Surprise and fear jolted through Quinn, making her heart miss a few beats while her ears twitched at the sounds of large stones starting to slowly move, rough surfaces budging and shifting against each other. Her hands tightened their grasp on the painful handholds she was clutching, and her body went completely still. She desperately hoped that if she kept herself from moving for a few moments that the rocks would settle again.
But after a moment of hanging onto the rocks, barely letting herself breathe, a sudden boom and cracking as massive rocks broke free, told her that she was definitely wrong.
The boulders under the elf began to slide, now starting to quickly roll as the whole uneven ground shifted forward. Quinn's cries of terror were drowned out as the rocks she was clinging to fell forward, the rocks around them carrying them along to ride over the tops of others. Instinctively clinging to the rocks she was still holding onto, the elfess tried to quickly think as the bone-jarring ride continued for several desperate seconds. Smaller rocks that were kicked up by the rockslide were slamming into her, the painful pummeling ruining anything helpful that tried to form in her terrorized brain.
Quinn made herself lift her head, bringing her arm up with it to try and protect herself, and hoped that she would see where the rockslide would end; hoping that she could think of a way to save herself.
But all she saw was everything drop.
The rocks barely several feet ahead of Quinn were tumbling over an edge, the walls of the pass and rocky mountains that she had been traveling through for so long suddenly ending with a bright blue sky and blinding sun.
Unable to believe what was happening, all the sound around Quinn suddenly stopped. The breath in her seemed to want to now choke her and her ears felt muffled. Silently, the rock that had somehow carried her safely through the rockslide, slipped over the edge, boulders and rocks tumbling down around her.
She suddenly felt ridiculously light as the rocks fell straight down and she was carried several more feet away from the cliff's edge. But the momentum quickly died, and then Quinn started to plummet. She tumbled and spun through the air, flailing till she stopped spinning. Now the elf fell head first, clearly able to see the ground hundreds of feet below rushing closer.
Now seeing how far she was going to fall, all the air that had been trapped in her throat loosened and she screamed.
"Oi, c'mon now
..You wretched machine its time to fuckin work.. ," the words came out in a soft growl, rough sounds rounding into a thick brogue.
Ronan leaned forward just slightly, his long and thickly heavy arms reaching for tall chrome handlebars that were almost level with the bottom of his chin. The side of his lips tensed into a focused and rather tired frown, and he shifted in his seat to look down past his long legs easier. Peering down with a slight squint, he watched intently, the fading sunlight from outside barely shinning off the metallic surfaces of the side of the motorcycle that he was sitting on. Having been rather engrossed with the bike, he had forgotten to take a moment to turn on the garage lights.
I put ya together, so maybe its just fair ya show some love back," he absently muttered.
Powerful arms and legs tensing, Ronan lifted a hand and pushed the starter button on the side of the left grip, and the engine instantly responded by rumbling to life. He twisted the grips to rev the engine, the loud rumble changing into a deafening roar as the engine was fed more power.
Ronan kept twisting at the grips while looking down at one side of the motorcycle, and then leaning down the other way to look at the other. His gut was still telling him that he was going to hear the same bloody noise that had been plaguing him all afternoon since he had finally fitted the last few parts together. His ears started to twitch a little, the slightly pointed tips twisting as he strained to hear past the deafening noises of the engine.
Just as he was starting to believe that the last adjustments had actually fixed the problem, the relieved grin that had started to spread across his thoroughly scruff dusted face was washed off as a different, and much louder noise, started.
"OI! No! C'mon dun do this to me! ," Ronan yelled and quickly shut down the bike. The engine's rumble quieted into a deep murmur as it turned off, and the distinct rattling noise that accompanied it made the mechanic's ears wilt in disbelief and boiling annoyance. He didn't need to take anything apart to know what the noise ment this time.
"It's the CHAIN now?! I can't fuckin believe this!" Ronan yelled again, his anger making his accented words roll into each other until that they came out muffled and almost unintelligible.
A groan rumbled deep in his throat, and he let go of the tall handlebars to rub his large hands over his face. It did little to relieve the frustration or the headache building behind his eyes. If anything, feeling how his hands scratched over the scruff covering his lower face reminded him that he'd been working in the garage since right after daybreak. He had hoped to finish the stock check of all his hardware before he had to put in orders in a few days; but mainly, he had gotten up that early to finish the motorcycle. A motorcycle that he was now convinced was carrying a devil's curse on it.
"Bollocks! Now I'm positive nothin's worth getting up that bloody early," he moaned and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Ronan closed his eyelids tightly as his dark amber colored eyes started to throb and everything closer to him become slightly fuzzy. 'Turnin' on the damn lights in here and my glasses
Two things I can't seem to fuckin remember to save my life
..or my eyesight.'
Still rubbing his face, he half stood and easily swung his leg over the back of the bike to dismount, making a noise that was half sigh, half grunt. Standing up straight, Ronan pulled his heavy and thick shoulders back, rolling the muscles to work the frustration induced kinks out of his neck and arms.
Ronan looked back down at the massive motorcycle in front of him, scowling as he took a few thoughtful steps back. It sat there in his garage like some sort of metallic dragon that was pleased to stay where it was and cause trouble when it felt like it.
His scowl turned into a glare. "I'm starting to reckon you're trying to make me look like I dun know what the hell I'm doin. Well keep it up and I'll break ya down the fun way, and then send the pieces to the scrap yard
..Enh..shite.," Pausing, Ronan snorted and shook his head with a sardonic smile, strands of his long rust colored hair coming loose from the tie he used to pull it back, and fell to frame his strong face. "And now I'm talkin' outloud to myself
.fuckin' bike is driving me damn near insane."
His eyes became unfocused as he considered his options and absently reached to pull the tie out of his hair, which was now slightly fuzzy and a little limp from sweat. He crossed his arms over his thick chest and idly played with the hair tie. 'The damn bike is supposed to be handed over in a few days! I dun understand what the bloody hells keep's funkin' it up even after I try to fix it! Everything was goin' absolutely fine till
.wel till it started to go to completely wrong. There's gotta be some
random and original problem that's messin' up everything-..'
"Ow, damnit! ," Ronan lost his train of thought as a sharp sting audibly cracked against his thumb. Reflexively shaking his hand, he looked down at it and then down to the floor around him. The damn hair tie he had been playing with. must of snapped in two and then flung itself somewhere. He glared around the floor of the shop for a few moments, finally seeing that it had landed under the back tire of another bike several feet away. 'Bloody glorious,
And that was my last one of course.'
With a resigned and tired scowl on his face, Ronan shifted more to the left and looked outside. Glancing out of the garage door, he finally realized how late it was and felt even more exhausted. The world outside the garage was almost completely dark, the last bit of sunlight just barely edging the tops of the sheer faced mountains that sat not far off to the west. Mist was crawling out of the thinly wooded forest that edged the property along the western side and under the jagged mountain outline, marking where McBride's Garage started and the edges of giant country began. The grey mists was starting to slowly spiral over the pale concrete that separated Ronan's garage and a decently sized house that he lived in, but the few lights that were on made the mist thinner and sheer. And less gloomy. 'Geh, I hate late spring gloom and cold. Damn good thing that the cold doesn't affect us giants so bad or I'd probably not get out of bed at all
or for bloody anything.'
Ronan changed his mind as his stomach rumbled an embarrassingly loud growl. ' 'Cept for food
.Bollocks, guess I missed lunch somehow too.' He ran a hand back through his hair, pushing it out of his amber eyes and turned to look back at the still unfinished bike.
"Gods I'll just finish it off tomorrow." The words came out as more of a resigned sigh than a growl this time, disappointment and confusion clouding Ronan's thoughts as he quickly picked up.
Less careful than he usually was, the big mechanic moved most of the tools to a nearby workbench and vowed to put them all away when he'd finished up tomorrow. After a few moments, Ronan walked to the open garage door and smacked at the light switch, the few lights that had been on turning off as he walked outside. A light shiver crept over his skin as the surprisingly biting cold swept over him, the layered dark t-shirt under his unbuttoned work shirt suddenly feeling thin. He quickly turned and reached up to grab the garage door that was rolled up into itself not too far over his head, and pulled the cold metal door down to close and lock up. But the door caught along the tracks, squeaking and grinding to a stop, the bottom of the door leaving a gap that was level with his shins.
'Shite! Another reason I hate this cold! Makes the damn door stick.' Another growl escaped from the frustrated man as Ronan tried to push the door down the rest of the way. It gave only a few more inches before refusing to move again.
that's fine..you both can fuckin win this time." With an annoyed groan, Ronan stood and walked over to the house, resolved to leave the stubborn and hells-spawned problems till later. His heavy work boots thumped against the concrete, and when he reached the sliding glass door at the back of the house, he practically threw it open.
Ronan paused for a moment in the back doorway, wondering if he should worry about closing the garage door more. There were a couple of bikes in there that his customers wouldn't be too happy about loosing.
But the warmth from the inside of his home washed over him, and the sight of his small kitchen and large sofa were too much to argue with at the moment. Ducking to avoid the sliding door's frame, Ronan stepped inside and the worry fell off with most of his frustration as he considered what was the fastest to cook. Not likely anyone was going to mess with the bikes or his stuff anyway. Anyone that knew where the garage was probably had already paid him for their bike, or they knew better than to mess with one of the only motorcycle mechanics giant country had. Or if anything, they knew well enough to think that it was smart to mess with a man who was probably the largest giant living.
The back door slid shut with a content thud, and the bright lights from inside the home spilled out of the large glass door as they turned on, making the mist billow away from the house.