Deep Scars

Once Honora was calmer, Aidian stretched his back upright, letting the muscles roll out the anxiety that had built up within them. Squinting in the darkness, he saw his sister covered in mud and dirt. 

"Wash your hands and face, ma won't be happy." Gently he led her to the water at the base of the cliff and let her do what she had to do. 

A twig snapped but he thought nothing of it, the wind was howling and badgers and such would be roaming at that time of night. Unseen to Aidian, a black shape slithered into the picture, playing with his blind spots. 

Honora screamed and the moonlight glinted off two large eyes and fangs that were bared a few inches from her face. The bear roared and swiped a paw at her, sending her tumbling off the rock platform and into the waist deep water. 

"Get back, Honora!" Aidian sprung up to the platform and drew a knife, anything to keep the large bear's attention from his sister, "Up the rock, go!" He commanded. 

Sodden and terrified, it was all she could do to get out of the water and cower with her back pressed to the sharp rocks.

Aidian jabbed forwards with the knife and hit the bear's ear, making it roar in protest. Bounding up on its hind legs, the bear suddenly towered over the young man who turned to run, dropping his knife. The bear came down upon him, his paws on Aidian's shoulders and the sharp claws penetrating the soft flesh by his collar bone and the front of his shoulders. In agony, Aidian cried out as he was pulled to the ground. He felt teeth slide hotly down his chest and heard snarling radiating form the beast. 

Suddenly the bear reared up with a howl of pain and swung its great head round to see the source of the pain. Against his blurred vision, Aidian tried to focus on what he was seeing and tried to formulate the words to tell his sister, now wielding the knife, to run. But he couldn't and a darkness blacker than the night surrounding him swamped his senses and he lay still. 

Honora stepped backwards, now aware of what she had brought upon herself. But she was swift, she had seen Aidian hunt; she knew where to dig the blade in that would render it senseless. As it began to rear up, she ran forwards and sliced its neck. With a final growl of protest, the bear sunk immobile to the floor. The silence blared around her and she was afraid. 

"Aidian?" She begged at her brother who appeared more blood than flesh but he did not move, "Aidian!" Only owls hooted in response. She bit her lip, holding back tears. She had been stupid and run away and now her brother was going to die. 

Glancing up, she saw the horse her brother had ridden down on poised for flight. Gently, she clicked her tongue reassuringly and coaxed it forward. Less afraid, the horse tentatively edged around the carcass of the bear and stopped beside Honora. The small girl took the rope wound around the saddle and tied it around Aidian's chest. In dismay, she realised she could not lift her brother onto the horse using the rope system she intended. Desperate, she threw the spare end of rope over a tree branch and then another and tied it back onto the saddle. Pulling the reluctant horse forwards, as the beats moved so did the ropes and gradually Aidian was lifted from the leafy ground. Turning the horse around, the branches kept him moving upwards in the same direction and placed the horse underneath him. Then she cut the rope and he fell neatly onto the saddle. 

In any other situation, she would have been proud of that stoke of insight, but her brother was dying and what she had just done would have made things worse. Gathering the reins in her hand, she urged the horse up the cliff, repeating 'home' for it knew where to go and she did not. 

The End

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