As Cold as Winter

By Ashley Taylor
  • 15 Apr - 21 Apr, 2023
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Fiction

When the transformation was done, Naerys let out a howl. She charged at the injured intruder and attacked him. She tore into his flesh and kept at it until he moved no more. All the while, the hunter shot two arrows into the last intruder, piercing his heart. He died instantly. All was silent except for Naerys and the hunter’s heavy breathing.

Naerys returned to her human form. She weakly strode over to the fireplace. She took her bowl and filled it with a second helping of stew. She trembled and whimpered as she felt the pain from her side. The hunter watched her warily.

“I suppose I should thank you for helping me,” he started softly, “even though I could have managed them myself.”

“Let me rest for the night,” she replied softly. “I will be out of your hair in the morning. Also, I don’t think you would have managed. If you shot one man, the other two would pile onto you, and you wouldn’t have time to pierce both of them Your reflexes aren’t quick enough. This was but half of my pow.”

“Yes, you saved me, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t kill you,” the hunter snarled.

“What would be the point in killing me? Just because I am what you humans fear? You think just eradicating the things you don’t know will give you a sense of satisfaction?” Naerys placed a hand over her wound. The wound began to get smaller. “I have no strength to heal myself.”

“The lot of you are abominations!” the hunter exclaimed. “You are a product of the Dark Rift!” He pointed a finger accusingly at her.

“Those that were born in the Dark Rift won’t always come out to be evil,” Naerys said. She lay on the rug to rest. “I need to recharge my powers. Let me rest. If you want to kill me, do so. But, your race will die if you don’t use us to defeat the evils of this world.

She lay there, next to the hearth, mumbling something about human fragility.

Morning came. The sun was accompanied by pink and purple colors of the morning sky. But there was darkness, heading towards the cabin. The darkness of monsters and demons. Naerys’s grimaced and covered her head and ears. The hunter, who was sitting across from her, and eating a bowl of stew noticed.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I feel a dark presence,” she muttered, not looking at him. The shrieking became more distinct. More audible.

“Do you hear that?” the hunter questioned. He picked up his bow, quiver, and arrow and started towards the sound.

“Hunter, don’t!” Naerys hissed. “That is an evil creature that is born from the Dark Rift!”

The shrieking noise made the tree branches shiver. A figure of a woman was floating toward the cabin.

“Has any creature from the Rift ever reached this cabin?” Naerys asked. The hunter shook his head.

“No creature of the Rift has set foot upon this land until you arrived,” the hunter growled. He gave Naerys a hard glare. “So, this is your fault.”

Naerys rolled her eyes. “I suppose it is,” she replied, not wanting to argue. “Hey, I did save your life so you should at least give me credit.”

The hunter grunted in response. The figure of the woman floated quickly, peeking through the windows of the cabin.

The woman had long scraggly hair and was dressed in old rags. She was pale and gaunt, the very flesh of Death itself. But the most horrifying thing about her were her eyes. They had no soul. They were milky white with a hint of blue for the pupils. Her mouth was open wide, too wide for it to be possible. She groaned and moaned like an animal in agony.

“What are we to do?” the hunter whispered. At that moment, Naerys’ eyes glowed. White light shone from her fingertips.

“Hand me your bow,” she commanded. The hunter looked at her incredulously. “You heard me correctly,” she hissed. The hunter did as he was told and handed her the bow and quiver. She touched the weapon gently. The weapon glowed with crystalized power. The hunter looked on in confusion.

“What have you done do it?” he asked. Naerys smiled.

“It’s enchanted now,” Naerys stated. She took the weapon and headed towards the door.

“Where are you going with my weapon?!” the hunter asked.

“I’m going outside to defeat that banshee. What else would I be doing?”

“Let me go with you!” the hunter exclaimed. Naerys gave him a look of frustration.

“You wanted to kill me earlier,” she snapped. “Make up your mind, human.

“You’re a human too!” the hunter snapped. Naerys ignored him and quietly strode outside with the enchanted bow and arrow. She aimed her bow at the ready and softly padded in the snow, her long white dress fluttering. From inside, the hunter watched her graceful movements and the form she took while holding the bow and arrow steady. The dark creature had barely noticed her, Until…

The arrow pierced the creature in the back. The creature shrieked hellishly and writhed in agony. But then she regained her footing and lunged at Naerys. Inside, the hunter looked on worriedly, wondering if she would survive. Yes, he had a disdain for magical beings and thought of them as demon spawn. But this…this being that was defeating the banshee was different. He had lost most of his friends to horrible cryptids and creatures and no one could explain how they had come to be in this world. It turned his heart cold as the winter. But this experience, what he was seeing with his eyes, changed everything. Maybe there was hope for humanity. And maybe it started with this witch.

Naerys closed her eyes and words from a spell uttered faintly from her lips. The banshee let out its final cry. Everything seemed to be in slow motion as Naerys’ spell affected the creature. The banshee disappeared in a mystical ball of bright light. Naerys panted as she had used most of her energy defeating the creature. But she knew that it was not over yet. She knew that more evil from the Dark Rift was fast approaching. She also knew that she couldn’t be the only one created for this purpose. She went back inside the cabin where the hunter was waiting, crouched by the window.

“It is done,” Naerys muttered. “The creature is defeated.”

The hunter nodded. “I am impressed.”

“I didn’t do it to impress you. I care very little about what you think of me,” Naerys quipped. The hunter looked vitiated by her words. “But I cannot be the only one willing to fight for humanity. I have lived here after the Dark Rift, and I believe in my heart that my sole purpose is to save humanity.” She paced back and forth across the wooded cabin floor. “Therefore, we need to find others that are willing to help us. If you are willing, I will be forever grateful.” She held out her hand.

The hunter looked at her intently. “Deal,” he said, grabbing her hand firmly. “First, what is your name?”

“Naerys.” She gave a small smile. “And yours?”


And with that, they began their journey together to fight for humanity.