thoughtofyou
Dinah Lance blondecanary
Previous Entry Share Next Entry
The village of Kundersom, through Horsetooth Pass, to the village of Taiga (very early Friday)
So there was a job to be done, and Momoko, Dinah, and their crew got tapped to do it.

Which lead to commandeering a Coach. Because Momoko was fine with carrying that kind of thing....


Momoko let her grip on the coach go, setting it down in the center of the village ... it wasn't really a 'square' so much as an open area accessible to all the little log houses. All in all, it was rather familiar to Momoko - there were still several villages like this in Japan. Maybe about thirty-five, forty houses and she could just see single large building, probably for the larger animals. There was a tall fire tower with a huge bell just at the edge of the village, right before the forest started in earnest.

Under the tower, sheltered from the snow that was everywhere else, a young boy had been drawing a pail of water from a well when they landed. He dropped the well-lid and his water bucket and ran into one of the houses, screaming for his mother.

The curt sigh that Momoko gave had nothing to do with the effort it had taken to fly and pull the coach and its occupants over the mountains to this remote village and everything to do with the young boy's reaction. She had a feeling that this was not going to be as easy a job as they'd expected, and she was now wishing that they had brought Kirt and Mark along. Despite the added weight, the boys had a way with reluctant Landens that even Samantha's motherly affect couldn't induce.

"We're here." She retrieved her yo-yo and set it in her pocket. It was going to be a long night.

Dinah gave a look a round, then pointed to the fire-bell. "Ulrich? Would you do the honors?"

He bowed with a small, tight grin. "At once, my lady." Then he took off running. Within a minute, the bell was sounding through the dark evening, and people were coming out of their homes: the boy and his parents first, gaping at the coach, then others, from the local tavern, from the dwellings over the shops, from the stables....

"Where's the fire?"

"There isn't any fire, why did someone ring the bell--"

"Here, stop that boy!"

"What is -- is that a Wind Coach?"

"That lady can fly!" hissed the boy. "And carry people in that coach!"

"May I have your attention please," Samantha called out, stepping up to be seen over the crowd. "Please! This is an emergency!"

"Hey, you there, gel, what d'you mean, emergency?" asked one of the older men. "Why'd you get us out here in the cold?"

"There's a storm coming," Dinah called out, supporting Samantha. "We need you all to evacuate the town."

The rising tide of disgruntlement would have been worrying. Except it just looked like it made people want to leave, judging by a few who ducked back into their homes.

Momoko was watching the sky, tense more than she was angry. She wasn't sure they would be able to do this and save everyone, and that had her scared.

"Listen! There's a giant witchstorm on it's way. It's already destroyed other villages. We don't have time to argue," she turned back to look at the crowd.

"It's worse than a fire; would we be here at this time of day if we had a choice? We could be warm in our own houses, sitting down to our own dinners. Not here in the cold dark, hauling around a carriage and asking strangers to go walking in the mountains."

"It's a trick!" someone near the back called, and Dinah wanted to facepalm at the jumping to the obvious negative conclusion there. "They want our land!"

"No we don't," Dinah called back in exasperation. "How would we get it, anyway, with only four of us? There's more of you than there are of us. We don't want your homes, we don't want your livestock, we don't want your kids! We want you to survive!"

"Let 'em die," Ulrich called from his perch on the bell-tower. Dinah turned a glare at him, but he shrugged. "Stupid loggers. Wooden heads, you know?" He grinned, cocky. "I'll be sayin' I told you so from a warm bed tonight, gents."

That.... actually seemed to be working. Or at least be spreading enough doubt that no one else was leaving.

"Tell us more about this witchstorm," commanded an older man with pale eyes and white hair. "Where's it coming from? What caused it? I never heard of such a thing."

"Yllestad," Momoko replied. "There was a fire started by witchfire. They burned a field of poison herbs. The smoke killed everything. People and animals."

She pulled a yo-yo from her pocket, sending it spinning at the bottom of the string for a moment before making the yo-yo climb back up to her hand. "The poison smoke got caught up in a storm cloud and it's now flying with the winds. Heading here."

She looked up at the old man. "If a storm came here... how long would it stay in this gully? Trapped here between these peaks."

A couple of the men are looking deeply worried by now, and one of the women pipes up, "Days. We get snow for days..." She pales, and looks frantically toward Yllestad. "Who cares who did it? That won't make any difference!"

Dinah wanted to hug that woman for making sense, and Samantha's shoulders went down in relief. "Exactly. We're here to help," Dinah added quickly. "Momoko can carry those who can't walk, in the coach. You saw us come in." She nodded toward the boy who they'd startled earlier. "And we have extra witchlights and lanterns--"

"I'll hook up the dogsleds," one of the teenagers said, taking off as his parents shouted after him. Followed by a handful of his friends, younger men and women who clearly weren't taking any chances.

"Who'd you say you were?" asked an old, brittle stick of a woman.

"Ah, we didn't, but I'm Dinah Lance, this is Momoko, Samantha, and Ulrich," Dinah added, as he swung down from the bell tower. "We're with Karla, the legal Queen of Glacia's army. We've got a route mapped out over the ridge west of here."

"Anyone who can walk needs to walk. As much as they can. We can alternate persons riding in the coach and sleds, as well as pulling." Momoko lifted higher into the air and let herself go for a moment, feeling the wind move her.

"We need to go! Now! I can't see the cloud, but the wind's picked up a bit."

She fell back to the ground with a rush. "Sam, go help gather the children and all the blankets. Ulrich. Go with the men and free the animals. We don't have time to take them with us but they may be able to escape on their own." Karla was going to have to buy them more. Sorry Lord Mallory!

"Dinah? Can you help me secure the coach?"

Ulrich had already run off with a whoop, a bunch of little kids trailing behind him. Yeah, they'd enjoy making that mess.

"The trail horses, for hauling logs--" One man was trying to protest. "All our equipment. How're we gonna live, if--"

"You'll live," Dinah reminded him, heading toward Momoko. "Things can be replaced. We'll tell Karla. Maybe she can find someone to help. But it won't do any good if you're not here." She stopped in front of Momoko, and started distributing more witchlights and blankets, making room in the Coach.

"We need to move fast to beat the storm, so hurry." The people stared for a moment, then took off, squabbling about what to bring along and some still arguing that the whole thing was a trick.

But fifteen minutes later the area surrounding the coach was full of people and sleds. And a basket of kittens that Momoko didn't have the heart to refuse, especially when told that the mamma cat had run off when they'd tried to bring her along.

It took another few minutes to sort out who was in the coach and to pack any who needed it onto the sleds, but they were soon on their way. Momoko would have the coach in the air for much of the way, but while the road was there, she was totally pulling it along.

"Everyone stay together as much as we can. It's cold and dark, so if someone needs help, call out. But we need to keep walking."

Samantha, with the help of one of the head loggers (call him Natan, he'd said) was leading the way. Riding in one sled so she could catch messages, or see any magical problems, her witchlight was held high over her head to cast more glow. The rest of the dogsleds, over thirty, followed them, packed with children, older people, a few sick. Between normal logging, the steep slopes, and irregular forest fires, there was plenty of space for a sled without slowing down. Dinah and the last of the men and teens brought up in the rear, tramping through the snow on snowshoes as fast as they could.

Dinah kept checking behind them, scanning the horizon.

Was that lightning?

"Faster, guys. Faster."

Horsetooth Ridge loomed up ahead, a line of square rocks like the jawline of a horse, and they had to make it over that ridge before they could even think about stopping.

"We're going as fast as we can," one of the sled drivers hollered back. "We can't push the dogs too hard."

Momoko was feeling the wind as she pulled so she didn't need the reminder, Dinah. She opened her mouth to reply, but was cut off by a woman's scream.

"Jan? Where's Jan?!" A murmur went up and several people broke what little formation there was among the people who were walking. "Jan? Where is he? Jan? He was just holding my hand. WHERE ARE YOU? We have to find him!"

"Marta, we can't."

"He's your nephew!"

"My god man, what are you saying?

"Karl's right. We have to keep moving!"

"We can't stop for just one person."

"My son!"

"He's here! I've got him!" A man rushed towards Momoko and the coach, the mother not far behind, tugging at him to see the child. "He fell in a crevasse. He's hurt his leg."

"Put him in," Momoko slowed but didn't stop, nodding towards the door of the coach where an elderly man with only one leg was already reaching for the child. "And let's go." She didn't want to say it, it broke her hero-heart, but Yllestad had shown her that they really didn't have the time to stop.

"Thought I saw Miley," the boy mumbled into the old man's jacket as he cried.

"Miley, boy?"

"My cat."

There was a stumble in the pull of the coach. Momoko was not going to be able to ever un-hear that.

"People, please be careful," Dinah begged. That got her a snort from someone close by.

"We know these mountains better than you, girl. What'll you do if you fall down a crevasse?" asked a huge bearded guy.

"Float," Dinah said. Then stepped up to air-walk. "If I'm conscious. But you guys better just mark where I am and keep going."

"No worries," said one of the teens, cheerful. Only to get a smack on the head from Ulrich. "Ow! She said--"

"She gets left, you get left," Ulrich snapped.

"Ul, stop it. No one's ..." Right. No promises. Dinah stepped back down, looking behind her and shivering. Their line of lights ended with their small group, and she kept checking to make sure no one was lagging, or drifting too far off to the side. The line of lights snaked up the mountain, and she hoped Warren and the others could see them from far enough away.

The wind picked up from the other direction, cuttingly cold.

Down below, the clouds were rolling in.

There wasn't much more chatter, unless you counted teeth, as the group marched on through the darkness. After another few miles, one of the sleds overturned and the load of water it was carrying soaked into the blankets, making them impossible to use. They were left behind as useless and the occupants of the sled had to walk to stay warm.

They'd been on the march for just over two hours when they finally came across one of the things they'd feared - a rockslide blocked the pathway that was marked out on the map.

Not only did this mean that they had to find a new route, but the fall was fresh. That meant there was a possibility of more.

No cursing. It was too cold for that. Dinah felt like her feet were going to fall off, but they turned around, being so, so, so careful.

"We start an avalanche out here, they won't find us 'til spring." An older woman coughed, then added, "If then."

"Goddamn Hobart." Dinah trudged next to her, steadying a younger woman who was silently crying with tiredness, her feet still moving even as she listed from side to side.

"Is that who did this?" The older woman considered this a moment, then conversationally said, "Bastard."

Which was a much worse curse in Glacia, Dinah remembered. Meaning his parents wouldn't even claim him. "Too damn true."

Momoko would blame herself for this for years to come.

They were a large enough group that the whole could keep moving while small sections took small rest breaks with relative surety that they would be able to catch up to the main group again. This time it was just a small number of walkers, a dog sled or two, and the coach. While she'd never admit to being tired, Momoko had eagerly given in to the request for a stop and she had found a relatively dry patch of ground that allowed her to rest against a tree with her eyes closed while they stopped for a water break. More people had been added to the coach in the last mile or so due to frostbite and just extreme exhaustion, making it heavier than she was used to carrying for such a long time.

But they'd been on the march for hours now and even the town elder with only one leg and two of the pregnant women had been forced to spend time walking with the rest of the able bodied as often and as much as they could or ride the sleds, simply because they needed the room for the ones who absolutely had to be in out of the weather.

But the important part of all of this, at least to her, was that Momoko wasn't on her guard. Wasn't watching out for the people in her care.

And so she didn't notice the eyes glowing the the darkness. She did hear the snarling though, and blinked open her eyes in time to see a small pack of wolves rushing over the surrounding brush to get to the people just climbing out of the carriage.

A cry went up as one of the teens that had been running the dogsled went down. The dogs themselves howled and barked, hackles raising for a fight as they rushed into the fray.

"Oh crap-- EVERYONE! WOLVES!" Dinah said in her loudest voice, then hit the snow with her telekinesis, trying to force it into the wolves' eyes, cloud their vision, their sense of direction and smell.

It didn't seem to slow them down nearly enough. Snarls rose and a howl, somewhere not far off.

"Get in the coach now! Everyone!" Momoko rushed to her feet and checked that the others were clambering back into or on the coach. Just... out of range of the wolves. The younger brother of the fallen teen was rushing the pack with a shovel.

"JUST GO!" Momoko yelled at him as she ran and pulled out several yo-yos, sending them flying fast and hard at the attacking animals. She wanted to save the dogs, but at this point... "Get up there and get ready to go. Make sure everyone else is aboard."

But the boy didn't listen and slammed his shovel into the flank of one of the wolves, trying to drive it from the dog it was attacking. The wolf staggered a few feet, then shook its head and leapt.

"NO!" Momoko's yo-yo reached the animal and dragged it away, but not in time and the boy fell to the ground, bleeding from his neck, his eyes wide with shock and realization.

"Shimatta," Momoko cursed. "Boy?!"

One of the younger women screamed suddenly, as Dinah heard Momoko cursing. Two of the wolves had broken through, taking down the woman and the young man walking next to her. They tumbled in the snow together, other wolves circling, as the men tried to pull the wolves off them. The dogs were straining at their leashes, growling and yapping their outrage. Another howl. More circling from wide-eyed, feral faces.

“Torches! Threaten them with the--” The woodsmen knew this even better than Dinah did, and were already making an arc around the sleds, witchlights and torches being shoved at the attacking animals.

Momoko was still holding off a pair of wolves and trying to get to his body when there was screaming from the people in the carriage. Momoko turned to see that some of the wolves had already dispatched their canine opponents and were circling and snarling at the coach and occupants.

Dinah drew breath and snarled back, a low, furious vibration that cut through wind and screams.. She threw two wolves back into the snow, head over heels, into two of their fellows.. They scrambled backward now, warier, watching them all. The girl-- the girl was dead, but the young man was just badly bitten, blood on the snow.

A spear cut toward another wolf; an arrow from the end of another sled.

“You want some of this?!” Dinah yelled out at them. Another growl, a yowl, more like a furious tiger.

The wolves froze, unmoving.

There was another howl in the distance, almost an answer to the earlier call, and Momoko once again made a decision she never would have thought she could: she had to leave the fallen, humans and dogs. She called back her yo-yos and flew to the carriage, lifting it high and up and out of there.

The wind changed, blowing the torch-and-lantern smoke toward the wolves. Maybe that’s what did it. Or maybe the group no longer seemed to be prey.

The wolves tilted back their heads, and howled back, then broke formation, running, melting back into the shadows of the night snow.

Dinah slumped, then went to help the men place the girl’s body on the last sled.

“Keep an eye out. Just in case…” Yeah. People were already wrapping wounds. The last thing they needed to leave was a blood trail. She'd mourn later. No time, no time, no time...

Another hour, and then, finally-- they reached the pass between the rocks. A ragged, soft cheer went up, as the dogs huffed and puffed their way in between the rocks-- the Teeth-- and started downward.

"Where to now, m'lady?" asked Natan.

"Uhh... hang on a second, guys." Dinah called up to Momoko. "Momo! Quick conference!"

Momoko set the coach down as gently as she could near the front of the group, cautioning everyone to stay inside, then went to join Dinah.

"Partner?" Momoko stretched her arms as she landed, scanning the sky as if she could see what they were running from. "We can't stop for long. Once they sit, they won't want to get back up."

"I know." Dinah could feel the urge to drop right where she was, and that would be fatal in these temperatures. Some people were wheezing and looking like they were okay with sleeping in a snowbank already. "We just ... need to know where we're going. Natan, you got any suggestions?"

He pursed his lips as Samantha hugged herself and shivered, and said, "There's two, three villages this side of the ridge. Taiga's closest, but they're Blood. Hrovath's further, down the ravine..." He sounded dubious about making that trip in the dark.

"Momo? Think you could scout ahead, in the dark?" If she couldn't, well. "Take someone with you, who knows the way?"

"Makes sense. And I can go faster on my own. Keep them moving? Exercises or checking on each other? The two with frostbite in the coach need tending and probably everyone needs a water ration."

Yeah. Ration. Losing that sled of water had hurt more than they'd expected.

Momoko took off, flying just above what was left of the trees to see if she could find a good route. They were out of the obvious danger zone, the bowl-shaped gully that was not only in the path of the poisonous cloud, but that would hold it there for days. But they now had to find a place to go. They couldn't go back, if the village was even still there, and they couldn't just stop...

The first village she saw was Taiga, of course. Literally a bright spot in the darkness, since there were lamps lighting up the night. It looked to be just a bit larger than the village they'd left behind, which was good. And easy to get to once they crossed the stream.

But it was a Blood village. That wasn't a bad thing, but it was something to consider. She flew on, finding the ravine that Natan had mentioned.

She hovered over it, trying to see if she could make out any safe crossings, but failed. Perhaps on foot there were some, but it looked from here like Hrovath was out.

Enbrech was what her map called the last village she found. Well, it was more a collection of houses than a village. A small settlement, it was mostly just a warm place for the local goat-herders to sleep in the winter. There wasn't nearly enough room for the group they were bringing.

She flew back to report. It took a moment to locate Dinah, but, "We're going to have to lose a few of the sleds, but it looks like we're going to Taiga."

"Okay. Taiga, everyone," Dinah called out, taking the tail end of the group again. There wasn't much grumbling or mumbling; everyone was too tired and cold for that. "You're doing great."

Another hour's trek downward, downward, downward... no avalanches, at least. No one fell into a crevasse. Dinah was beginning to feel her eyelashes freeze together.

They hit the edge of the stream, unloaded the dogsleds, and everyone sloshed across the shallow creek, carrying the kids, and the elderly, in slings or piggyback. They'd come back for the sleds in a few days, probably, Dinah decided. Maybe when they headed home.

She squinted at her watch in the moonlight, and was kind of appalled to see it was closing in on midnight now. A five-hour trek. Jesus. When could they stop? Taiga. Right.

"Just a little farther, guys."

Momoko had taken the lead, with Samantha sitting atop the coach now that Momoko was able to once again just pull it along instead of flying it. The light Samantha was giving off had apparently drawn attention and a few men had come out from the village to see what was going on.

"You! What's the meaning of this? Do you know how late it is? Who are you?"

Momoko didn't stop. She almost couldn't. "We're from Kundersom. We had to evacuate the whole village."

"Mother night."

"Kundersom? That's on the other side of the Teeth!"

"Evacuate? What happened."

"We've been walking all night," Samantha contributed, pulling her blanket tighter to her. She'd long ago switched to using her witchlight only for short spans of time, but she was still exhausted. "Some of the people are sick and the children are tired. We have injured."

One of the men spluttered in surprise, but the other shook his head and said, "I'll go wake up the Healer. Take them to -- oh, Sally's tavern. At least they can all get warm there while we figure the rest out."

"Okay," said the first man dubiously, gesturing to the group. "Follow me. Who's in charge here? And why did you all evacuate?" He gave Momoko a wide-eyed look of confusion, watching her pull the coach.

"Uh, I think the headman of the village is Natan over there," Dinah said, trudging and holding up someone who was holding her up. They'd both fall over if they stopped. "There was-- someone set fire to a field of Witchblood." That stopped him cold, gasping and fish-facing at them. "Yeah, we know, horrible. That's why they had to leave Kundersom."

Lights. Warmth. Oh God, it was warm inside the nearly empty tavern, and Dinah just kept moving mechanically, helping people sit down or get Healers or find extra blankets or...

"Momo?" She staggered over to her friend some indeterminate time later. "Are we done yet?"

"No. Not by a long shot." But Momoko smiled as she caught Dinah and sank with her to the floor. "We have to get back and see what else needs doing." She looked up as a bowl of soup appeared in front of them.

"Oooh! But first, food! Hey, Dinah, here. Share?"

...

"Dinah?"

Dinah's snore was totally adorable.

"...I'll save you some."





[WARNING FOR SOME TRAUMA AND VIOLENCE, INCLUDING DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DEAD. ALSO, HUNGRY WOLVES. Part one, part two, part three, part five; this post is directly after part four, if you missed them! One more to come! Preplayed with heromaniac. NFI, NFB, OOC would be awesome.]


?

Log in

No account? Create an account