Maude really hated pirates. Not that this was exactly an uncommon attitude, but as far as Maude was concerned, there was a special place in hell for anyone whose interior design motifs routinely involved severed legs. Maneuvering through the strung-up bones and jagged scrimshaw, she clung to anger. Turning up her nose in disgust was the best she could do to block out the craving to curl up into a tight ball and hide. Fear would not trump duty. Not like last time.
Or the time before that.
This time, the brute was there – this giant ursine creature who’d obviously seen human affection before he'd met her, if the braid in his mane was any evidence – and a black wolf, who darted from tree to tree. Today, they were storming a camp of Amazons.
She’d located the site, and her quest was, thus, half over, but she’d yet to find the end of it. It spiraled off in random directions, each path marked by bones and body parts in various stages of decay. Maude wanted to fight, to win, cutting her way, knife-first, through swarms of violent women, their eyes lined in black kohl, but she knew the odds, and so she’d settle for swiping with whatever goods she could rope together and run away with.
Koan had smelled out in an instant that the young woman was out of her element. She was twitchy, sweaty, her reactions to every tiny motion more parts fear than rage; it was the behavior of something accustomed to being prey. Koan was unsure why, but he picked up on it – and so, felt defensive, snarling at every movement until he simply stopped snarling altogether, lips taunt and trembling as Maude wove through the pines.
Koan did not usually make a habit of protecting prey, but he’d long ago become aware that Maude, like other humans, was responsible for food, protection, and warmth. Following her would mean a way out, and veering off to carve a path through the woods would mean losing a comfortable place by the furnace, and dinner. Forever.
Maude knew that he didn’t much care for that thought.
Maude was not a fighter. She was aware of the consequences of straying this far into Amazon lands. Death was at the forefront. Maude didn’t want to think of anything worse than being strung up and left to die, but worse was all too possible. When your entire compound believed you to be dead in a raider caravan somewhere and you, indeed, were, it was a lot less infuriating than if you actually weren’t.
The odds were not good, but Koan was a living wall of iron.
A yell, and Maude’s voice became a hazy mumble, and then silence. The voices of each character in her mind faded.
She was no longer the only voice on the beach, and as she turned to face the other women, the swords she was holding became driftwood again, and the spires of carved human bones turned once again to twisted hunks of pre-cataclysmic refuse.
Koan was gone.
Second PotA prompt for Koan 11035. Also, introducing Maude (finally.)
EDIT: Of course, I noticed something off. Fixed Koan's markings. Whoops. And got the prompt number wrong, whoops.
EDIT 2: More fixes to things here and there. Little touch-ups, getting the characters right, etc.