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Winter's Grip IV :iconpossessediron:PossessedIron 1 2
Literature
Winters Grip III
The water lapped over the sides of the raft, or splashed up between the gaps in the tied logs. Those who were huddled aboard didn't row. Their oars were lost, the current being their only form of locomotion.
Abjin sat, shivering violently as he scanned his rifle through the woods. They'd been floating up the river for around an hour or so, yet he still couldn't shake the screams of his fellow scouts as the hordes of beast-like Shurido skirmishes charged out of the woods. Every time he closed his eyes, he pictured them, hollering and bellowing as they shot into the masses of packed infantry.
There was creak beside him and a bottle was pressed into his hands. He looked up to see Kip, his beard dripping moisture sitting down beside him.
"How are you holding up?" The other man asked, looking over the slabs and floes of frozen ice that were carried along the river, beside them.
"Okay, I guess" he shivered, rubbing his hands together to try and get some warmth into the numb digits. "Is this.
:iconPossessedIron:PossessedIron
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Literature
Mother and Child....with a baggage carrier.
It was time for the rest of the family to make the migration to Pakistan.
While my dad went through Moscow we took a more and longer route.
We went via the Far East.
My mother packed for the trip.
My brother was just past one year old and so ready to travel  vaccinated for every disease known to mankind.
My uncle took care of my best friend......a shepherd chow cross name Smokie. I don't know who was sadder......me or him.
My mother loaded up enough clothes for me and my brother to grow to adults. These items carefully packed into giant shipping crates to make the sea voyage to us.
 I was 12 when we headed over.....puberty awaited and I would be several thousand miles away when it did hit.
My mother carried my baby brother while I followed like a Bell Boy.
We flew Pan Am.......my does that ring of old times.
We flew out of Dulles International on United to San Francisco.
Oh my god, we nearly froze to death in mid August.
Finally after two days we loaded onto Pan Am and chased
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They awoke to find themselves a man short. One who went by Pandu, whom had been with their the night before. Upon the discovery, they wandered about, calling his name and yelling for him. Though after a few minutes, it came to a halt.
“We can't keep screaming like this” spoke up Kip, rubbing at his shoulders as he stamped his feet. “It'll get the Shubs attention, if they're still following us”
“We can't just leave someone” muttered Namoor, his voice quiet and his movements slow and lethargic. The lack of food was starting to take its toll, and Abjin couldn't  help but look at him and feel guilt at keeping the bone marrow between himself and Saldana. Still, he was starting to feel hunger creep into his near empty stomach.
“We need to if we're going to get over this mountain and get some food” Lt Naveen told them, trudging over with his head bound in bandages. “We have to go now”
“We’re just leaving Pandu?” Yelled one of the others, seemingly one of the missing man’s squad members.
“He's either dead or he's run off” Abjin replied “we can't stop wasting time”
“We wouldn't have either to worry about if we weren't blindly crossing this damned rock”
Ibrahim muttered, slinging his rifle over his back.

The Lt ignored him and turned about, starting the climb over the lip of the valley.
“Fucking idiot” Ibrahim said as he watched him go “First Pandu, it won't be long until the rest of us are dead from that moron”
“Shut up Ibrahim” Abjin sighed, before starting to follow his officer, his legs like leaden pipes as the exhausted band started off again.

The mountains were coated in fresh snow from the previous nights winds, the snowdrifts hiding more rocks and hidden pitfalls for the fleeing soldiers to fall foul upon. Once again the sun was shining weakly, though it gave little warmth to the weary travellers who trudged along.

“When I get back” sighed Kip after a few hours of dreary travel “I'm killing some hot fafel. Sauce dripping out over my fingers” he sighed a rubbed at his gurgling belly.
“I'm heading straight to the waterfront” Namoor nodded, almost dreamily. “Pick myself a curried fried fish. Hot, spicy and fresh off the pan”
“That does sound delicious” Abjin agreed “Though I have to agree with Kip on the fafel”
“What about you lieutenant?” Namoor asked up the line, attracting Naveen’s attention “What are you having when you get home to Ghurkka?”
“Anything hot. Anything that my wife can cook up that's hot and steaming I'll eat” he muttered “I don't care what meal, I'm eating it all”

That garnered a few chuckles and laughs before the monotony of their dreary trudge set back in.
“Can anyone else not feel their toes” spoke up Kip “They've gone dead on me”

“We’ll check for frostbite as soon as we get to a good camp” Naveen muttered, trying to ignore the lack of sensation in his own feet. “Just keep on going”

Ridges gave way to more stony ridges but the monotony allowed for one thing, for Abjin to collect his thoughts.
The lieutenant seemed to be made of stern stuff, but even Abjin could feel the cracks forming. The lack of food was continuing to weaken his hold as the officer, and his own resolve. All they could hope for was the situation improved before Ibrahim could take the advantage.

Ibrahim. The jackal in their scrubland. Any fool could tell he had an issue with authority and pissed that he hadn't gotten his way. But Abjin didn't know what was holding him back. Was the rest of the units allegiance to their officer? Or was he waiting until circumstances changed? Either way, Abjin wasn't good by to let that bastard just walk over them.

Kip, the merchants son. He may be posh but he was smart. And he wanted to get back home just as the others did. Hopefully he could support Naveen enough to keep them all together. His rational explanations could do well to counter Ibrhaim’s irate accusations.

Namoor was just a boy. He seemed to have some closeness to Ibrahim, having saved the boy's life. But he seemed willing to follow the Lt. But he was young, inexperienced. His support might matter little, though all he wanted was to get back home to the love that he spoke of. Abjin would hate to disappoint him.

Saldana seemed to throw her own support behind Naveen, but her position as the only woman for miles around worried him. He remembered the fireside talk, the longing for female company that the brash, boisterous members of their company had spoken, before their camp was destroyed. What he feared was that sentiment festering here. But then there had been the previous night, when they had shared that little bit of food together. She seemed to trust him. He hoped he could protect her, for what he was worth.

That left the others. Six the night before, but now five. Jayesh. Kiaan. Advik. Ojas and Shray. All your standard Ghurkkan soldiers. Some bigger than others, some stronger than others. They were the possible issue. If Ibrahim was to try anything it would be done with them on his side. If Naveen was to crack, they would be the the ones he would lose.

And he was coming close. The terrain was unforgiving and harsh, the weather freezing with the winds coming in over the hills and most of all, the lack of food and firewood. As far as he knew, only he and Saldana had eaten, having selfishly hoarded all the bone marrow they had dug out of old animal bones. The rest were running on near empty.

Not to mention the cold. He could feel his lips starting to blister, the chill damaging his skin. The nails of his fingers felt… loose. Like they were ready to come out. Something kept dribbling out of the nail bed of his right little finger, and when he could manage a glance, the nail started to look darker.


“Ahead!” Yelled Naveen “Forests ahead!” He stood atop a slope, waving his arms as the other surged forwards. Abjin felt his heart soar and he charged ahead, stumbling over himself, the others following behind him as they scrambled to the top.
Before them was a vista of yet more hills and low mountains, but a thick field of green pined carpeting the ground.
“Thank fuck” sighed one of the others, wiping at his frozen brow. “Some proper shelter”
“The second anyone sees something edible you shoot the hell out of it” growled Ibrahim “I'm close to ripping my boots off and eating the fuckers”
“The boots would probably taste better” chuckled another of the soldiers.
“You're willing to try” Ibrahim grunted back.

They started off downhill, taking their time navigating over boulders and crevasses that ran through the ground. Their bones felt brittle, while their still sodden clothes continued to sap at what little body heat that remained.

“I can't wait to sleep in some actual cover for once” muttered Namoor, swinging his gangly legs over a boulder, dislodging by snow as he slipped downwards.
“It won't be much of an improvement” Kip chuckled, helping the boy down. “Still be pretty cold”
“Don't care”

The ground started to level outwards and they were left consolidating themselves at the base of the slope, exhausted from the hike, their backsides and thighs rubbed raw.
“I'm never going hiking ever again” moaned Ojas. “I'm sticking to the Great Sand Sea from now on”

Their revelry was suddenly interrupted as a loud, bloodthirsty howl, one that bounced off the slopes and shook the trees. Abjin felt the hairs on the back of his neck suddenly prick as a deep, primal fear filled him.
What. The. Fuck.
Slowly they turned about, most already fumbling for their rifles. Each pair of terrified eyes scanned over the terrain, until they alighted on something, to their left, a few hundred meters away.
And it was huge.
The monster was a horse sized shadow wrought into the shape of a dog. It's body rippling with primeval muscle, hunched over into a quadruped pose.

“What in the name of hell is that thing?” Trembled Namoor, his eyes as wide as they could physically go.
“It's one big fucking dog” snapped one of the others. “It's damn huge!”

The monster started to slowly slink forth. At the distance it was from them, the details were hard to make our, but Abjin someone knew that it's eyes where locked right onto their weary band.
“I think it's one of the great wolves” stammered Kip, his own rifle rattling in his shaking hands “From further north in Karelia… but they're not supposed to hunt humans”
“Fuck that” yelled Ibrahim “Just shoot it!”

They levelled their rifles at the slowly prowling beast and let loose. Shot after shot filled the frigid air as each man loosened off a round or two. The beast didn't even flinch. It kept prowling forwards. Then it's shoulders tensed and it started to run.

With the monster now bounding towards them, the group opened fire once again. They blasted and blasted, their crude clip-up sights fixed on the beast as it ploughed towards them. A few shots sunk harmlessly into its flanks, but it kept coming.
There was a sudden *click* and Kip looked down at his gun. “It's jammed!” He yelled, before trying to pull at the freezing cold bolt, his fingers too numb to be if any use.
Right on time, another of the soldier’s weapons made the same noise.
*Thunk* Abjin glanced down to see his own weapon double feed, two bullets becoming jammed in the chamber.
All that snow and ice...it had to happen….but why now?
“Oh fuck this” yelled the other soldier and he started to run as fast as his malnourished legs could carry him, off towards the cover of the trees. The others watched him go, before Kip slung his own jammed rifle and started to run after him.
“Wait! No! Hold together!” Lt Naveen tried to tell after them, only for another of the soldiers to stop firing and sprint on past him, gasping and panting for breath.
Ibrahim fired off a few more shots, but then he too started to the run for the trees, followed by Saldana.
Abjin squinted down the sights of his rifle and he saw it clearly. Long snout, its lips peeling back to show fangs, eyes glinting in the weak sunlight.
“Fuck it” he started to turn and run, followed by Lt Naveen.

His legs burned, malnutrition and the punishing hike over the rocky hills having sapped almost all his energy. Yet fear kept him going. That image of the beast loping towards him, mouth gaping like some hideous demon.
A few token gunshots echoed behind him, but for all he knew everyone had began to sprint for the trees ahead.
Two hundred meters.
His legs dragged through the snow, the muscles starting to burn. The rifle bounced against his chest, painfully bashing against his ribs but he forced himself to ignore it and run onwards.

One hundred and fifty.

His feet kicked up a spray of snow, the laces on his boots coming undone and flipping against his feet.
Those fangs, the dead eyes and slavering jaws.
There it was. The rasping, feral breath as it bounded towards them, faster than any could hope to run.
In desperation, he tried to pick up the pace, his furs flapping about him. He could see Kiaan, one of the other soldiers running ahead of him, while being dimly aware of Lt Naveen running along on his right.
He had to run. Ignore the pain that was lacing up through his calves and ankles, or the burning in his chest.
One hundred meters.

Up ahead, one of the others looked behind them and gave a scream, before running even faster. Abjin had no clue how close the monster was, but above his own heavy footfalls and laboured breathing he could hear another sound. A rhythmic tattoo of four clawed feet, pounding into the snow, growing louder and louder. A deep panting, interspersed with rumbling snarls.
It sounded closer and closer with every second. He could imagine hooked claws reaching out to snatch him, a mouth stretching wide to devour him in a single snap…
Seventy meters…

The pain only grew, his body begging for respite, despite the copious amounts of adrenaline racing through his veins.
Just a bit more, keep on going until he could reach the trees. He could hide...climb… start a fire. He just had to make the last stretch.



“Come on” he wheezed, tears starting to drip from his eyes as sheer exhaustion started to set in. His legs were shot, and he could feel everything start to slow down. Every breath he took felt like fire in his lungs.

Something gave way under his foot. For a horrifying split second he tottered, before crashing into his side, collapsing into the snow. His legs still pumped weakly, kicking into the air as he tried to crawl forwards with his frozen fingers. But he could hear it now, right atop him.
Gasping in pain he rolled over, half heartedly trying to reach for his rifle.
He could see it clearly now. Less than fifteen meters behind him.
It was canine in appearance, but huge. Massive and bulging with tightly coiled muscle. It's skin was coated in dirty grey fur though it was matted, with large patches missing along its flanks and spine. From his glance, Abjin could see masses of fresh scar tissue, clotted blood and reknitting flesh from what could have been horrific wounds, healed over.

He also saw something between them. A single stumbling figure. His face locked in an expression of terror as he tried to make that final stretch to the cover of the trees.
It was Ojas, his face locked in a mask of terror, arms failing in a shambling run. Between his ragged lungfuls of air, he seemed to be screaming for help. Begging and pleading for the others to assist him.
The wolf bowled him to the floor, knocking him sideways with a smash of its powerful head. Ojas hit the snow and tried to scramble upwards, only for his arm to be gripped in the embrace of a huge set of jaws. The monster panted and snorted, spraying the prone man with its foetid breath before it yanked upwards. There was sickening crunch of bone and the tearing of flesh and tendons as the entire arm came away.
Blood soaked into the snow as Ojas screamed and cried like an infant, the beast wolfing his arm down before it gripped him in his jaws, plucking him off the floor and started to lope away.
Abjin could only watch in stunned horror, his whole body quivering like a leaf in the wind. He could faintly hear shots, an attempt from the others behind him to get some measure of revenge, but the huge shape of the beast quickly headed away, leaving a trail of blood and gore in its wake.


“The fuck was that?”
They all crouched about a fire, trying to warm their wet bodies and frozen fingers in the radiating heat. Abjin had found the will to take off his boots and rest his socked feet by the fire, steam rising off the soaked material, dark stains of blood visible around his toes. He prayed he wouldn't get trench foot.
“I told you” replied Kip, rubbing his hands together. “It's one of those Karelian wolves. Dire wolves I think”
“So those things live in Karelia? And you didn't think you'd let the rest of us know about this, posh boy?” Snapped Ibrahim, who was in the process of boiling pine needles into tea.
“I didn't know they lived this far down!” He yelled back. “And they're not supposed to bother people anyway?”
“Tell that to Ojas!”
“Shut it” snapped Abjin. He glanced over at the Lt who merely sat, looking into the fire with a mute expression.
“It doesn't matter if they usually attack people or not. It attacked us. Those things on its side. It looked like it had been attacked. Scarred. I think it's angry”
“You mean… it's looking for revenge?” Asked Namoor, shivering with fright.
“I don't know” Abjin admitted “It's just my guess”
“Then we need to get out of here” the lieutenant spoke up in his shaky voice. “Get out of its territory or something, so it won't bother us”
“Do these things have territory?” Muttered Kiaan, one of the others.
“Hell if I know” Kip shook his head. “The point is, if it comes back we need to be ready. Make sure all the weapons work. Keep fire close by to scare it off”
“Fire? That thing is going to be stopped by fire?”
“It's an animal” Kip replied “All animals are afraid of fire”

They ate for the first time in days a few hours later. Small furry animals would run along the branches of trees, easy to spot with their bushy tails. A single shot was enough to dispatch each of them and they ate them, roasted over the fire, picking the bones clean.

Travel started once again, and they continued their trek through the woods and snow. Up through valleys that were now marked by trees and shrubs, allowing for some level of warmth to be trapped amongst the branches.
Abjin however, could feel himself start to decline. His feet refused to regain all its sensitivity, and no matter how much he massaged and attempted to dry them by firelight, he began to fear the onset of trench foot. Nails continued to blacken and drop off, while the leftmost two fingers on his right hand were starting to swell and tinge blue. It was like his was being eaten away by the cold, swarmed like a corpse being gobbled by maggots.
Not only was his exterior breaking up but he could feel his insides falling apart. With little fruit or vegetables around in the desolate forests, there wasn't much that could be done to try and stave off the effects. Kip had told them to boil down pine needles to try and get some of the vitamins within, but even then, it was starting to rot them from within. With each breath, Abjin’s teeth felt loose within his jaws, rattling about. He could feel sores starting to form about his armpits and chest. But there was little he could do. The others all felt the same. Kip and Lt Naveen had began to loose teeth, while a few of the others staggered on feet laced with frostbite.

Days of non stop walking continued. Punctured by pauses to eat and rest, to try and dry out the clothes that were seemingly soaked permanently, the wetness creeping into all the seams and folds of their bodies to brew misery and suck the heat from their figures.
“We need to keep going” Naveen urged as they sat around the fire, the vague shapes of their triangular shelters dimly lit around them.”Were heading in the right direction, we’ll run into the front soon enough and then we can slip over back into our lines”
The others wordlessly looked amongst each other, picking from the bodies of rat-like creatures that they had roasted upon skewers.
“It's tough I know” continued the officer. “But we’ve gotten this far”
“Oh spare us the shit and just let us eat in peace” snapped Ibrahim, his overgrown beard giving him the appearance of some kind of wild-man. “I'd be fine with all the walking if I didn't have to hear you”
Naveen stopped and went to reply, but found his words not coming out his throat. He looked from each of the tired gazes that were fixed upon him, each pair of heavy lidded eyes looking upon him with contempt.
“Oh fuck this” moaned Kip, rising from the fire and rubbing his shoulders as he staggered off “I'm not in the mood for any of this. I’m going to bed”
His feet crunched as he headed off to his crudely constructed shelter, before Namoor got into his feet and followed after him. Lt Naveen followed soon after, the officer keeping his head tipped downwards at his feet, trying the avoid the contempt filed gazes of the others. Ibrahim watched him go with a sneer before throwing some more branches onto the fire.
“I thought that pussy wouldn't leave” he snorted “finally some time without his yammering”

Abjin had also had enough. He didn't want to spend his evening listening to Ibrahim’s rubbish. Silently he tossed the animal bones into the fire and headed off to his own shelter. Behind him, the others watched, harrowing their eyes as they watched him get inside.
“Greedy prick” grunted

It was a rough pyramid of branches and foliage draped over thin tree trunks and sturdier branches, with an opening in the centre. Grunting as he bent his tired legs, Abjin slowly pulled himself inside, feeling the foliage scrape at his back as he tried to arrange his furs about himself, before laying down on the mattress of leaves.
Something moved beside him and he looked up to see a face, bound in fabric to keep the chill out.
“It's bloody freezing in here” Saldana said, softly.

“Yeah” he chuckled “I suppose so”
She rubbed at her face veil before tentatively moving in, closer. Abjin let her move up against him, their damp bodies pressed together in the cramped space as they tried to conserve body heat. He found himself alongside her, his arm slowly moving around her waist, pulling her in close. Her head wrappings slipped and he saw her face, her lips marred with cold sores and her cheeks drawn and pale.
“Do you think we’ll make it out of here?” She whispered softly.
“I…. I can't tell” he told her, his voice starting to crack. “It's been so long, but I don't know how long we have to go. Or what it's going to be like. I don't know what's out there” the Ghurkkan rubbed his eyes and gave a pained sigh. “But this has to end, one way or another. This cold hell cant go on forever”
“Of course” she nodded, her matted, overgrown hair starting to fall free of its scarf. “Our soliders are probably advancing right now. Tanks and Ghurkkans as far as the eye can see. They'll come for us. We’ll head right into them”
“I wish I could share your enthusiasm” he sighed.
She placed a hand on his chest and gently rubbed across his bony ribs.
“I would call it more determination than enthusiasm” she muttered. “I just don't want to die in this freezing hellhole”
“That's an admirable goal to say the least” he chuckled.
“Thank you. I hope it's not too unrealistic” she smiled and the two pressed closer, trying to summon some heat between them.
“I never suggested that” He reached up and felt her hair, the sensation numbed by his cold fingers. It was long and coarse, overgrown and matted from the long weeks. Gently he pushed forwards, easing her facial veil downwards as frozen lips touched.
They pressed together, holding on as the chill of winter tried to break through their hastily constructed shelter. Hands fumbled on furs, easing them downwards as the snow started to fall outside.



The dead of night was broken only by the gentle cooing of the nocturnal birds and the soft crunch of snow. Followed by a deep intake of breath, sucked through wet nostrils. Paws as large as dinner plates punched into the crisp ice as the immense figure stalked through the woods.
It growled, lips pulling back from conical teeth.
These ones, the odd smelling ones. It was the old smelling ones that had killed. Killed its mate. It's omega.
These ones smelled different. But they didn't smell like the ones it was used to. The ones who would leave him alone. They were strange and foreign.
And they were killers.

And now it would follow.
Winter's Grip IV
The fourth part of the Ghurkkan murder-fest. This time they find some issues with the Karelian wildlife and continue to get screwed over by the weather.

Part of the world of :iconunussolum:
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The water lapped over the sides of the raft, or splashed up between the gaps in the tied logs. Those who were huddled aboard didn't row. Their oars were lost, the current being their only form of locomotion.

Abjin sat, shivering violently as he scanned his rifle through the woods. They'd been floating up the river for around an hour or so, yet he still couldn't shake the screams of his fellow scouts as the hordes of beast-like Shurido skirmishes charged out of the woods. Every time he closed his eyes, he pictured them, hollering and bellowing as they shot into the masses of packed infantry.

There was creak beside him and a bottle was pressed into his hands. He looked up to see Kip, his beard dripping moisture sitting down beside him.
"How are you holding up?" The other man asked, looking over the slabs and floes of frozen ice that were carried along the river, beside them.
"Okay, I guess" he shivered, rubbing his hands together to try and get some warmth into the numb digits. "Is this.... really all that's left of us?"

Kip nodded gravelly, looking across the disheveled bunch that clung to the ramshackle craft. Seven. Seven figures that looked nothing like soldiers. More like beggars crowded in filthy streets, or dirty peasants from the borders of the Hijian mountains.
"Shit" Abjin muttered. He looked away and the next thing he knew, he could feel warm tears dripping down his sodden cheeks.  
He was hundreds of miles away from home, stuck aboard a raft with soaked clothes and freezing weather. Most of their unit was dead, left behind in the mud and snow. And now they had what seemed like half a Shurido battalion after them. He wished he'd never entered Nordvest. He wished he'd stayed at home, in the warmth of the desert canyon, where your toes didn't go blue and break off or water didn't soak into every single crevice of his body. He wanted to feel the sun again on his face....

Someone touched his shoulder and he turned to see Ibrahim standing there, rifle slung across his front and a pelt bundle in his hands.
"Here" he grunted before handing Abjin one of the animal skins. He took it, grateful for any additional layers and slung it around his shoulders.
"Thanks" Abjin muttered, rubbing his hands together.
"Did you grab anything in the way out?" The other solider asked, sitting down beside him as the raft gently bobbed along.
"No" The young man admitted, shaking his head. "I didn't have time. I only have my patrol load on me. And a few personal things"
"I see" grunted Ibrahim before sighing "We've got no bedrolls or sleeping gear. Not to mention food or ammunition. We're stuck out here with shit all and barley enough layers to clothe us all"
"You think the LT has a plan?"
"Probably not. The guy's a mess" Ibrahim coughed before spitting into the icy water. "He's letting us drift aimlessly"
"Whose your new friend?" Abjin tipped his head at the young boy who was sitting upon the open deck, shivering as he tried to wrap himself in a pelt cloak.

"That's Kamoor" the older man grunted "Some kid from 3rd section. He's barely old enough to shave" he snorted and spat into the water again. "Why the fuck is he even here"
"You seemed to get friendly enough with him"
"Well maybe I'm getting soft in my old age" Ibrahim shrugged "Little bastard reminds me of my brother"

They both sat there, contemplating their existence as the wind rustled and tugged at their uniforms.
The world passed them by, swathed in unfeeling ice, while birds fluttered through the frozen Nordvestian forests.

After what seemed like hours, the raft ran aground on a fresh sandbank, getting beached upon the icy shingle protruded out into the river. The group disembarked and carried their shivering bodies to the forest beyond, nestling themselves under the boughs of a huge pine. Ibrahim and Kip piled a mound of sticks and wood shavings before striking at it with their tie lighters. Soon enough, the fragments and chips had caught light and the little group huddled around the fire, letting the warmth soak into their bones.
"What now" asked Kip, counting out the individual rounds he had on him, before carefully reloading all his magazines, stowing them away in his webbing.
"What now?" LT Naveen looked up from the fire "Well....the mission is shot"
"No shit" snorted Ibrahim "Its suicide to try and keep going. We try and stick around to do some more of that dammed scouting the Shubs will have us strung up like chickens in no time"
The boy, Kamoor, shuddered at the idea while the lieutenant gulped awkwardly.
"Well...as the maps and charts that we made on the area have been lost... the mission is no longer a viable option. We need to withdraw"
"Stop using them damn fancy words and speak plainly"
The officer's face flushed red but he restrained the urge to snap back at the insubordination of Ibrahim and replied in a managed tone.
"We need to get back to Ghurkkan lines. They're pushing through towards us to try and cut the Shubs in half. They... should be.... advancing daily"
"So we head back home?" Kip's voice was heavy with relief.
"Yes.. well... the attack on the camp has pushed us further north. The rivers still taking us up there, that means-"
"We have all those Shurido skirmishes in between us and our lines" Abjin said, feeling his heart start to sink once again.
The LT nodded gravely. "From what I can gather, yes. They've cut us off. So if we want to get back, we'll have to make a U turn"
"That would mean ditching the raft" grunted Ibrahim "And travelling without it would be a hell of a lot slower and tougher"
"We can't take it" Naveen replied "We need to make the turn overland and head back downriver towards our lines. Otherwise they'll just chase up further north"
There was a pause as the others let it sink in. The raft was messy and poorly made, but it did save them wearing out their legs. Now to reach home and safety, they would need to turn about.
"What kind of country will we be crossing?" Asked Kip cautiously
"Mostly pine forest. A few stretches of tundra plains. One or two low mountains"
"One or two low mountains?" Scoffed Ibrahim "This isn't some youth hike lieutenant. We barely have the food and clothing to make that kind of ascent"
"We won't be" Naveen hit back "We'll cross over one of the low valleys"

"Can't we try and see if any of the Karelians will take us in?" Asked the boy, Kamoor "Seeing as we are on the same side....we could try and find a settlement or trading post to give us clothes and food, or even shelter us"
"Don't be stupid, boy" barked Ibrahim, shaking his head and scoffing "The Shubs will have troops stationed at every Karelian settlement across their occupation zone. That's where they'll be looking for us"

"The way I see it" suggested Abjin, speaking up as he tried to warm himself by the fireside. "We have to go with the lieutenant's plan. If these guys are still onto us, they'll keep on tracking us until they find us. So we need to get back to our lines before they find us" he looked around the impassive, cold faces of his comrades. "We can't hide so we need to run like the devil"

There was a moments silence, before the frosted heads started to nod in slow agreement.
“He's right. We need to take the mountain route. It won't be pretty but we're going to have to do it if we want to have any chance of getting home” Saldana muttered.
Ibrahim grunted, but held up his hands and shook his head. “I guess that's me overruled then”



They ditched the raft the next morning, after using it to float over to the correct side of the bank. They stripped it of any of its worth, piling the furs around their bodies and taking up their rifles. Abjin shoulder his pack under a thick cloak of wolverine fur, before sticking his helmet atop his head. The greyish metal was still wrapped in gauze and bandages but the had since grown dirty and soiled. He still felt moist, droplets of wetness soaking against his chest or in his groin. He wanted nothing more than to be warm and dry, but all he could do was watch as Ibrahim and Kip cut the rope that bound the logs of the raft together. Within seconds the crude boat disintegrated, the logs breaking apart to be carried on down the river.
“There she goes” muttered Naveen, standing by the shoreline, listening to the crack of logs on ice. “I never thought I'd be unhappy to see her go. But damn”
“She did serve us pretty well” Abjin nodded “For a piece of shit made of logs and rope”
“I guess so. I don't know how we would have escaped those Shubs without her” the officer shook his head and turned about. “Now I need to make sure you lot get through the mountains and back to our lines”
“I'm sure we'll do it” Abjin said, trying an optimistic manner “I'll be dammed if I die in this wretched country. I'm getting back home”
“We all do” he nodded “I'll be dammed if I don't see my wife again”
A crunch of snow behind them made the two turn to see Kip and Saldana wading through the frigid snow, their rifles slung over their backs and wrapped in as many layers as they could manage. Once they arrived, they threw up a salute, before Kip reported in.
“Everyone's filled up their canteens and are ready to go” he said, his teeth chattering, beard already sprinkled with frost. “There's not much food around so well have to start getting it as soon as possible”
“Good” nodded Naveen “We’ll need to get going as soon as possible. The Shubs will find this lot at some point” he gestured to the disintegrated raft behind them “But even if it's drifted a while, they'll know we're in the area. They don't know if we're scouting or not. For all they know we could be trying to blow up an installation of theirs so they'll be out on the look for us”
“What a cheery thought” Kip muttered, stamping his feet in an effort to get the chill out of his toes. “Well, there's nothing like an incentive”

There were a few small chuckles before they turned their attention to Ibrahim, Kamoor and the couple of other soliders who were kicking about in the shoreline.
“Get into single file!” Ordered Naveen, as loud as he could manage. “I'll take first lead. We need to get away from the river as quickly as possible”
Grumbles and curses lifted above the crowd but they dragged their feet along, getting into place before the ratag group started their painful ascent up the slope, through the woods and toward the shape of the mountain.



The snow was lighter on the ground under the shade of the trees, making for easier going as the Ghurkkans slogged along. They walked over what seemed to be endless slopes of thick pine forest and littered with countless boulders and stones. Each one seemed to just give rise to another, and gradually, Abjin felt the sinking horror of how large and featureless these lands in winter could be. His teeth chattered as he marched, while the inner layers of fur started to grow damp with sweat, which in turn would grow clammy as the material began to soak up increasing amounts of water. His legs and feet felt sore, and he wished he could trade his dammed rifle for a stick or staff to rest upon.
The others seemed to cope, though he could hear the chattering of the boy, Kamoor behind him. Occasionally one would loose their footing, either stepping into the submerged head of a burrow or slip upon a boulder and go tumbling into the snow and hard earth. At any other time it would have earned bouts of rawcus laughter, but it only garnered a few quiet chuckles.

It seemed to take hours, occasionally pausing in the shelter of the pains to regain their breath and rest their legs somewhat, before starting off again up the slope. They crossed over into one valley and climbed out another, trekking up or down countless slopes before they started to enter another final valley. The sun was starting to dip, and as they reached the base of the valley Naveen called the long awaited halt.
There they gathered branches or cut them down to build as big a fire as they though necessary, that was set alight in a searing rush of heat. Wordlessly they all collapsed in front of it, some removing outer layers of fur to hand in front of the flames to dry it off.
Abjin merely lay there on his back, feeling the warmth soak into his frozen body. The smell of burning wood and pine needles filled his nostrils, alongside that of roasting meat. Ibrahim had been spotting these large, furred animals skulking amid the trees and shot them whenever they could. Their skinned corpses hung over the fire, the flesh cooking while the Ghurkkans watched with growling stomachs.
I'd kill for a good fafel right now; thought Abjin.
There was a shuffling sound beside him and he turned his head. He expected to see Saldana or Kip but instead saw the boy, Namoor crawling close to the fire, holding his fingers out to the hot coals as he gasped with relief.
“Should you be tagging around with Ibrahim?” grunted Abjin, lethargically reaching down to tug off his own boots and set them up by the fire, hoping to dry the sodden leather and his own socks.
The boy shrugged “I don't know”
“Whatever” sighed Abjin “Id get bored of him. Bit of a grumpy bastard”
“Hard not to be in this weather” replied the boy
“Eh, I guess so. I'm too tired to be grumpy”
Kip crunched past, holding one of the roasted animals. Abjin lifted up his mess tin and the soldier cut off a hunk of steaming meat to deposit it in.
“I guess he'll probably stop being grumpy when he feels some poorer Ghurkkan sun on his face”
“Yeah” chuckled Abjin taking a bite of his meal, the juice and grease filling his mouth. “I guess so. I'm probably never going to voluntarily leave the motherland once all this shit is over”
“You got a wife sir?” Kamoor asked.
“No” he replied “Not yet. Though I'm trying to stick it out for my parents though. Not letting myself die in this shithole for their sake. How about you?”
“I got someone waiting for me. They'll want me back”
“Huh, sure thing. Looks like we both got people to come back to then”
“Yeah” he muttered, chewing thoughtfully. After a few seconds of bliss, finally having some hot food he spoke up again “How long do you reckon it'll take before we get back to our lines?”
“Weeks. Maybe months” he sighed dejectedly “It's going to be a long hard trek before we even get close to our lines. Here's hoping they make a big advance or something so we don't have to travel that far”
They ate as much as they could, stripping the small animal to the bone, while the fire burned on through the night.



At morning they buried the ashes under snow and headed off again, shouldering their packs and trying to wrap up as warm as they possibly could. LT Naveen lead once again, after abandoning a fruitless attempt to shave his growing beard. They were fast becoming more akin to a bunch of homeless vagabonds than they did soldiers. Ibrahim and Kip both sported sizeable beards and Abjin’s own was fighting back at his attempts to keep it in check. Saldana kept her hair in a turban, but it had gone uncut for so long it was forcing the turban to grow larger and larger daily. Kamoor didn't need to shave yet, while the other Ghurkkans survivors had also given in to their beard growth.

But as they started to ascend further, they found the trees that surrounded them started to thin, growing increasingly sparse. The ground started to grow harder, their feet hitting stones and gravel as the soil under the snow grew thin and gave way to gravel and stone.

“Fucking wind” roared Ibrahim as they trudged along, a thick tale rippling and pulling at their crude clothing. “Whoever made this damnable country deserves to be fitted like a flat fish!” He kicked at a wayward stone and sent it tumbling down the slope.
“The bastards could have at least sent us in the summer” added Kip, lifting his leaden feet over a rocky outcropping, the stones tearing at his exposed hands “Fucking morons in high command”
“Cut that out!” Yelled Naveen, as high as he could manage over the screaming winds.

“Ay,  keep a lid on it” snapped Ibrahim to the others “This bastard will drop us all in to the Military Police the second he can”
“Uptight officer prick” nodded one of the other soldiers.
“When he gets back he'll be the one rewarded with medals and cushy posting. We’ll all just be shoved back into the line with the rest of the army and be dead by the next week!”

“Shut your fucking mouth Ibrahim!” Yelled Abjin, clutching onto the strap of his rifle as tightly as e could manage “I'm freezing my toes off and fed up with your shit”

The other soldier scowled from behind his crude face mask but ceased his diatribe.
I don't need that fucking goat to be making this any worse, Abjin thought to himself, trying to shield his eyes from the gale. His whole world has shrunk to a tiny viewpoint, a single lane of white and blackness, the figure of Lt Naveen slogging his way through the rock and snow. It was like the outside world had simply ceased to exist. There was nothing. No Ghurkka. No sweet little flat overlooking the beautiful river’s banks, with the bird flying overhead, the ships making their slow way along. His nails and fingers felt like burning.

“I can't feel my fingers” Kamoor whimpered behind him, stuffing his hands deep into his armpits to try and coax some semblance of warmth back into them.
“Just keep them moving” Abjin told him “Just push them under your layers. Keep them warm”
“I'm trying” he gasped, his good chrunching and grinding on the stones and rocks.
“How long have we been going?”
“Hours kid. Just keep walking and the miles will go by”

The slopes just seemed to keep going. Once they would crest one small hill or peak, another would appear just as windswept and rock-strewn. Around them the light, what could manage to protrude through the thick storm clouds that coated the watery sky, started to fail.
“The light is failing” yelled Kip “we need to stop! We can't walk in the night, we’ll freeze to death!”
“Just keep going into the valley!”  Naveen shouted back, struggling onwards “Just a bit further!”
“A bit further!” Snarled Ibrahim “I'll give him a bit further. Fuck his valley!”
“Shut up you stupid bastard!” Kip interjected, waving a fist “It's warmer in the low lying areas at night and it will keep us out the wind! So shut the hell up and stop acting like you know what your talking about!”
“Alright posh boy!” The older man snapped “Don't go slinging your fancy schooling around!”
“Fuck off!” He made a crude gesture before turning around and staggering onwards to the lip of a valley  before they tumbled over the edge and down into the snow covered rocks and frosted bushes.

They worked as quickly as they can, undoing the bundles of wood that they carried before stacking them into a fire. Lt Naveen crawled forwards and with clumsy fingers, managed to light a match to ignite the branches. Sheltered by the sides of the valley, the fire was allowed to catch and burn, granting some desperately needed warmth to the band. They didn't stop to talk. Merely they tried as best as they could to form shelters with old raincapes and furs, before they fell asleep, one by one.



The next morning they woke, cold and miserable to a clear, frigid sky and fresh snow on the ground. The fire was abandoned as they started off again, climbing up the rocky slopes and beginning the arduous trek up the snowy side of the next hill. The wind had died, though the cold still hung in the air as they climbed up over boulders and slogged through patches of broken single: the tiny remains of fallen boulders from above.

Food had been forgone in the morning. They'd eaten as much as they could earlier and as the day passed they grew increasingly hungry. Bellies growled along as they walked, deep pits forming in their stomachs. Abjin’s own insides clamoured for more food, though he gritted his teeth and tried to ignore it. A friend of his father once said that one should chew leather to starve of hunger, though none could be found. He’d hear pained moans from behind him as either Namoor or Saldana would crunch along, clutching at their stomachs in pain.
They needed to get off the high ground. Here there was little cover or food. They wouldn't last long at this rate.

The day passed in a painful blur of walking and climbing, until the sun started to dip in the sky. Night was approaching, and so where the winds, whipping up cold gales the that started to stir the snow into a frenzy. It bit at their exposed skin and tugged at their clothing as visibly rapidly dropped.
“Into there!” Yelled Naveen, pointing at a rocky crevice that cut into the ground, forming a kind of trench. “Wrap up and stay down. We’all weather it out here”

They did so, numbly collapsing into the cold rock, bundling up to another as the the winds engulfed them.
Abjin plunged into the crevasse alongside another, who gave a yelp of pain as they landed atop something with a crunch.
“Shit” moaned Saldana, as Abjin fought to unroll an old riancape to cover them with. “I landed on something”
She squinted through the darkness before exclaiming “It's a skeleton!” Only for her mood to fall when she saw the bones were picked clean and starting to turn grey.
“Long dead” she muttered as the two wrapped the raincape over them, attempting to seal out the wind.
“Maybe” Abjin told her, before reaching out with chattering fingers to take one of the bones, before smashing it against the rocky walls. It broke open and he shoved his finger in, desperately searching around, until he felt something.
He withdrew the finger and plunged it into his mouth. Yes….he could taste it. Disgusting, but it was something. Hungrily he scooped out some more, shoving his cold fingers ingo his mouth.
“What is it?” Saldana asked, her teeth chattering.

Abjin took another bone and snapped it open, scooping along the insides before holding his fingers up to her face. She pulled her veil down, exposing her lips and cheeks, blue with cold and sniffing at the stuff. The woman made a face, but she allowed him to press it past her lips, chewing at it. She gave a little sigh of delight that she had something to eat at last.
“Marrow” he told her “its old and it's not nice, but it's something”
She nodded, passing him another bone that he broke open and handed her more of the slimy bone marrow. They quickly scoured through them, huddling up close in the uncomfortable confines of the crevasse, until their sodden bodies were pressed right up, in an effort to conserve body heat.
“We need to get off the high ground here” he told her, a few minutes later, as they lay there, clutching together to try and get warm, listening to the wind rattling at their crude protection.
“I guessed” she muttered, shivering slightly “There's no wood and nothing to eat up here”
“I'm just hoping that we're over the pass, and can start heading for lower-lying land soon. Otherwise I'd hate to side with that prick, Ibrahim”

“He's just being difficult”
“Maybe. But I don't like what he's saying. That kind of stuff could get dangerous. And I don't want any of that shit, especially out here”

They feel asleep, all huddled together in the small amount of protection that the crevice afforded them, while above them the winds raged and the temperatures continued to fall, growing more dangerous by the second.

All that is, aside from a single figure who lay, several meters from the lip of the crevasse. A Ghurkkan, whos unconscious face was already turning blue with frostbite, his foot tissue already starting to die off as the temperatures fell further.
So close to safety...yet too late
Winters Grip III
Part three of my series set inside the world of :iconunussolum: where the Ghurkkan scouts are rallying from their recent attack by the Shirudan army. Freezing temperatures, frostbite and scooping bone marrow out of animal skeletons follow...:
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I'm very excited to present my new long term project: A Town Lost in Time!

This is a story telling the tale of a remote town in Montana, where a strange and mysterious anomaly transports the inhabitants more than 65 million years into the past, into the brutal days of the late cretaceous. There they must survive their new and hostile environment, enduring its massive denizens while looking for a way back home and protecting what they have left to love.

Described basically, I would call it a mish-mash of the Walking Dead, Far Cry 5, Outlast 2, Lost and Jurassic World, all set within the final episode of BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs.

This will be told in chapters over a long period. Posting will be intermittent, but I hope this will be a fruitful project indeed!
The first two chapters of "A Town Lost in Time" are both up and ready for your viewing!

A Town Lost in Time (Ch 1)The world has seen a lot. A Single patch of ground has been the stage for an unimaginatively long epic, of war, death, survival and nature. Countless billions of lives have moved over this patch, even as it has shaped and changed, moving above water or under, shifting from desert to mulch, sand to soil.
This goes for a whole area. For once it was a barren lifeless desert, devoid of all life. But as the millions of years slipped by, the first life bloomed. Not on land but in water, growing and multiplying until the seas and rivers were teeming and squirming. But the sky remained poisonous and thin, even as the first colonists stalked forward on bony legs. However, life would slip around this obstacle, tiny growths of algae becoming thin stalks. Over millions of years the thin stalks swelled into thick trees and the myriad of all plant life that dominated the earth. Insects grew huge before being replaced as the amphibians crawled out the waters to grow tough scaled skins. Primeval monst


A Town Lost in Time (Ch 2)Max was driving along, allowing the cool morning air to slip through his open windows against his stubby beard. He hummed a Nirvana song, tapping his fingers along the faux-leather seating and upholstery as he watched the world and fellow drivers shoot past down the road. His bed, warm sheets and a refreshing drink all beckoned to him. He could put his feet up and maybe stick the satellite television on if the reception was good enough. After a nice long nap that was.
His cheerful plans of the coming day were disrupted however, when he caught the sight of a deer leaping past him, crossing onto the road as it sped away as fast as it could.
“Fuck” he yelped, peering into his wing mirror to see the deer sprinting off down the road. “Stupid little bastard! I almost ran into you!”
The deputy was in the process of sticking his finger up at the animal when he was forced to swerve, avoiding three more that burst out of the trees in quick succession. All the animals carr

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:iconzang-zip:
zang-zip Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2018
Thanks much for the fave of Friends in Strange Places.  Hope you enjoy the rest of the series if you check more out.  :)
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LordCarmi Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2018
Thank you for the fav I has a hat C: 
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:iconlordcarmi:
LordCarmi Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2018
Thanks for the watch Hat Flip 
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DesertGuerilla Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hey dude much obliged for the watch, it always means alot. 
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Yoblicnep Featured By Owner May 4, 2018  Professional Artist
Thanks for the fave and I hope you have a great day.
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Rambojoe446 Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2018  Student Photographer
Happy Birthday you glorious bastard XD
Hope to talk to ya soon~
now im not trying to be rude 
Have your cake and eat it too 
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FLAMMER-EUGEN Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2018  Hobbyist Artist
Happy birthday to you >W<
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Yoblicnep Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2018  Professional Artist
Thanks for the fave and I hope you have a great day.
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Mama-Devil Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
T R A S H
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PossessedIron Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2017
MAN.
I eat GAAAARBAGE
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