Saliphae glared at the fallen bullock. It had proven unusually resilient for a mere animal. She pressed her hands over the gouge wound on her left torso. She had been careless, no stupid; toying with the beast, allowing it to fight, when she should have killed it immediately, like she had the rest of the herd, now lying strewn about the plains. Fire burst from her hands, healing the wound and bringing pain; punishment for such childish behaviour. With more delicate magic, she repaired her torn tunic. She turned back towards the bull, preparing new magic that would roast it to perfection.
Despite her aggressive nature, Saliphae did not kill for pure pleasure. This herd was to provide her food, to this season’s close at least, part of the next if she was lucky. Misonass, the minotaurs’ month, marked the end of Nyuphorr, the season of changes. Nyukare came next, whose fierce extremes drove most creatures out of Saliphae’s reach. Still, for a while now, food was supplied.
Saliphae watched the bullock roast, and brought it to perfection, as always. She ate as the burning sun set upon the distant hills. Saliphae had chosen to live here because of the beauty, and the sanctuary. She was a demon, a hybrid demon to be exact. Born from two of the most powerful demon races left in existence. It hadn’t been easy though, with her mother, a hybrid vulture–wolf and her siren father forever screaming and fighting. Leaving them had been the sweetest relief she had ever felt.
Although she looked almost human, she was unable to hide her true heritage. Demons were frowned upon by most races, and hybrids such as herself were viewed with especial horror. She had chosen the natural life her animal instincts so urged out of necessity, but had never once regretted her decision.
Twilight was almost over now, and she heard the sounds of the nocturnal scavengers stirring. Best store her catch safely away, while there was time. She lifted her head and gave one of her ear piercing screams, a gift of her siren father, warning the carnivores away.
No, she admitted to herself, That wasn't the real reason. It just felt great to be so in control of the power.
Clouds of dust rose as the bullock herd stampeded across the plains. Out here, many carnivores lurked, and the beasts had learned to trust their instincts. Fear was survival.
Minutes ago, as the herd had stood grazing in the blazing noon sun, the lead bull had felt something, something hunting them. A presence he had not sensed before, far away, but powerful. They had left, travelling at full speed, covering many miles.
But nothing gave chase, no danger appeared. The herd slowed down. With nothing to sustain their fear, the urgency left their gallop, and they stopped. The leader remained irritated, as the feeling of menace refused to lessen. It was wrong, nothing was after them. He bent his neck to graze.
The shrill scream of an eagle split the air, and the already tense herd scattered across the plains. The leader checked his dash, skidding to a stop to see which of his herd needed aid. As a blurred red shape crashed into his side, he realised the only one in immediate danger, was him. He turned to face the predator, but a powerful blow to his side knocked him down. As he struggled to rise, he felt strong hands grasp his horns — human hands. With a toss of his strong neck, he hurled the offender backwards and turned. Humans he had dealt with before.
As the body thumped to the ground, the charging bull impacted. Satisfaction registered in the beast’s mind, as it heard a sharp gasp from its victim. Wrenching its horns free, it rose for another gouge to finish the wounded figure, but abruptly swerved sideways as it felt claws rake its side. It fell to face the new menace, but the open prairie revealed nothing. Then the human was on him. He reared, attempted to throw the attacker again to the ground. The human clung on as the beast bucked and twisted, before a solid blow to the head ended all conscious thoughts…
Mittel blinked and all was ice as his vision filled with the frozen vista. In that instant the ice shards ploughed into him. Slivers scritched past his cheek, stung his forehead, cut his hands. Straight on they came at first, some shearing sharply upwards as they ricochetted off buttons, buckles and any small resistance. Nicks appeared in number, kissing his face as he laboriously turned his head aside.
His skin burned red raw in the blizzard’s frozen wrath. Air turned frigid around him as the deluge increased in tempo. Heat steamed into the vacuum of ice as his body cooled at an alarming rate. Tiny tremors racked his limbs.
Heat! his mind screamed in response to the debilitating temperature. Heat. Heat. Heat. his body replied, steady as a heartbeat. A glimmer of warmth lit his depths and he anchored himself around it, dammed it against the subzero invasion.
The spreading cold halted, then receded as warmth flowed through his limbs. Icicles turned to snowmelt then droplets that sizzled in evaporation as his skin heated. A cocoon of warmth surrounded him, protecting him against the icy onslaught.
As suddenly as it began, the attack abated. He staggered, gasping in the fresh air, rubbing warmth back into his arms. Fadro laughed heartily in amusement.