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self biased
22-03-2005, 03:57:45
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The air was bitter cold and dry, as it should be in rural New York in the middle of February. But desipte the cloudless sky, the sun couldn't manage to warm the earth today. However, there was activity in the hills. A lone hiker crossed the snow laden field, headed towards a stone fence which kept the forest at bay. The hiker reached the wall and followed it to the corner, where a gap allowed passage into the woods.

The trees were mostly oak and birch, with the odd smattering of pine groves. Snow still clung to the boughs of the pines and small icicles dangled from branches. The figure's path led meanderingly to a creek and then to a small waterfall. It waddled down the path in its heavy tan coat, black pants, and snowshoes. Slung over the hiker's shoulder was a grey bag that had tripod legs sticking out of it. Clouds of condensation rose ahead of the figure as it trundled along the path with the wind at its back.

The breeze died out. Up until that point, the wind had been severe for the last few days. The hiker paused momentarily, taking the time to warm its face in a patch of sun. A subsonic growl permeated the air, and the figure turned to face its origin. Snow assaulted its face, and a shockwave lifted it off its feet and tossed it back twenty feet. With a crunch, it landed on its back, and the man inside cursed the crushed camera equipment.

Thankfully, between the snow and the heavy jacket any sort of injury was prevented. But upon inspection a few thousand dollars in photographic equipment had been reduced to modern art and its owner, Ian Shepardson, wasn't happy. He got up, and looked ahead of him. Snow had been eradicated thirty yards ahead of him and beyond. Ian detatched the snowshoes from his boots, strapped them to his backpack, and continued along the path.

After another thirty yards past where the snow stopped, Ian paused and looked up. There were buds on the trees here. A further hundred yards down the trail, there was honest-to-god green in the branches. Grass had started to sprout up, and the air was pleasantly warm and inviting. So much so that Ian had to remove his hat, scarf, and unzip his jacket.

A cardinal perched on a branch and chirped at the hiker. Ian looked up, and the bird's gaze bored into him. The bird flitted away, and dingy white feathers had slowly started to fall. They were everywhere. The cardinal continued down the path, alighting on another branch, and stopped to chirp at Ian. He nodded and followed the bird dutifully. Feathers continued to fall around the hiker. The gurgling sounds of the waterfall grew, and Ian stepped out into a clearing.

Blood. There was blood everywhere. Splattered in the leaves of trees, on the dirt, and on the grey feathers that were nesting in the fresh grown grass. A woman lay naked near the creek, bruised and bloodied. As Ian approached, he saw that she had wings that were broken, and bent at painfully strange angles. A handful of feathers still clung to them. She looked up to him after drinking from the creek.

"Succurro... Iuvo... " She said in a voice like a bell, and reached out to him.

It began to dawn on Ian that she was laying at the edge of a modest crater. He dropped his backpack of destroyed equipment, and rushed to her side. Her hair was dark and wavy. In the spots that weren't bruised or actively bleeding, her skin looked as if had been carved from alabaster. It was as if someone had reached into Ian's mind and pulled out his ideal woman.

"Succurro... Iuvo... " She repeated, and her warm amber eyes welled with tears.

Not knowing what else to do at the time, Ian knelt at her side and took her hand. A tingling sensation rippled through his arm as his arm went numb. Images flashed through his mind... A man with a rediculously obtuse mustache, and a woman, in a hospital. The woman is giving birth... Those are his parents! [discontinuity] A mop-topped boy is toddling along the edge of a dock. He stops, and wobbles. He could go into the drink at any moment. He topples safely onto his backside and cries loudly, attracting the attention of the nearby adults. [discontinuity] other scenes from his past played out in his mind, each with him escaping death to one degree or another.

When he came to his senses, a chill wandered through the air. The woman was healing rapidly. There was hardly a cut or bruise on her. Ian looked around, and saw that winter was reasserting itself. He did a double take. Winter wasn't just reasserting itself, time was running backwards. Water ran upstream, and birds flew backwards. Grass and leaves on trees retreated to their hiding places, replaced by snow and ice. Slowly the circle of warmth closed in around the pair. Ian took off his jacket and tried to cover her the best he could. As soon as his attention had been diverted he became aware of another presence.

Ian turned abruptly. A faceless mask met his gaze. Whatever it was, it was massive, standing about eight feet tall and built like Adonis. It was hairless, and sexless for that matter. The sun glinted off skin that looked like polished black granite as the figure stood there casting an huge shadow as it folded wings made of brass behind itself. Ian's eyes followed the glare down the figure's right arm, which ended in an equally impressive brass sword. The woman whimpered fearfully.

For a face without any features to it, the dark figure's was somehow expressive. It seemed to will events to happen. Ian found himself stepping aside, making room for the figure to reach the woman without even realizing it. He stood there, dumbfounded.


The woman pleaded in her foreign tongue, terrified. She wept openly as the dark figure knelt down and grasped her broken wings. While her other wounds had nearly healed, her wings festered and rotted. With his free hand he took his sword, which was incandescent, and severed them. She screamed. The figure stroked her hair reassuringly. Scar tissue knotted up around the pair of gouges, which bled minimally. The remanents of her wings turned to dust in the dark figure's hand.

It gently helped the womanto her feet. She shivvered, wiped tears from her face, and turned to face the dark figure, and nodded. It returned the nod, and pressed the hilt of its sword to her chest. A low hiss sounded, and she grimaced with pain. After a few moments, the hilt had been withdrawn, and another scar formed. It was a symbol of some sort, but as much as Ian tried to look at it, his gaze slid off that particular spot on her .

The dark figure stepped aside, turning to face Ian. Understanding filled his head. The future that lay ahead of him wasn't easy, but the rewards for success were immeasurable. It was about a mile or so to his car, and the cold, as well as the wind were returning to their previous fervor. He put the jacket on the woman, and took her hand without his arm losing feeling this time. Hopefully, they could make it without her getting frostbite.