As the group of three walked down the road, it changed slowly. The packed sand became dirt; the dirt eventually became tinged with soil. The the castle was less than a day’s journey away.
“I can see a crossroads up ahead.” Yaska broke the silence.
Drake was mildly impressed with her vision. “Really? I can’t see it.”
“Ah… That means we should have around an hour left.” Chloe nodded after quick calculation.
In an instant Yaska felt a sharp burning pain in her upper back
“Ah!!” Yaska called out in pain.
Her shoulders pushed upward. It felt like something was pushing its way out of her from beneath her shoulder blades. Her arms were forced forward to make room; she dropped to her hands and knees and yelled in pain.
“What is it?” Chloe ran to her side and knelt down.
“Did she open a wound or something?” Drake asked.
Yaska said, “No, No!” The second word become to an indomitable roar.
The pain grew worse; it felt like something inside of her was trying to push its way out of her back. She grovelled on the ground, still roaring.
“What is that?” Chloe asked, noticing Yaska’s leather shirt was bulging in the back.
Drake and Chloe looked at her back, unsure what to do. Chloe tried to think of what the problem could be. She flipped through the archives in her mind, bringing what she knew about Yaska’s race, the Plainkind to the front of her mind. It was very difficult to do over all the noise she was making, but Chloe was sure that this was unusual.
Yaska’s yelling continued, her lungs not giving in. She ran out of breath and at last quieted. She grabbed at her waist, took her shirt in her hands and pulled it over her head. The swelling in her upper back were more pronounced now. They moved as she breathed, just like shoulder blades. She faintly whispered something.
Drake had been awestruck by the noise. “What was that?” He asked loudly, his ears adjusting to the quiet.
“I… said… I said cut it out.”
“Wait-wait, you want me to-”
“Have you ever been stabbed from the inside with a dull tool?” Yaska voice shuddered.
“Fine!” Drake revealed a short, sharp worker’s blade hidden in a socket belted to his arm. “Just get down on the ground. This is designed for precision work, I don’t want to miss.”
Chloe put Yaska’s shirt under her so that her bare skin wouldn’t touch the ground. Drake took his shoe off and put a bare foot below Yaska’s neck, in between the knots in her back and extended his razor-like sword. He put the blade to the left.
“Get ready. This will hurt.”
“It already hurts.” Yaska growled at him. Her eyes had turned a bright shade of red, and she bared her large, sharp Plainkind teeth.
Chloe noticed. “You should hurry up, something’s going on with her.”
Drake pushed his blade in, holding Yaska in place with his foot. It took him a lot more effort to pierce her skin then he expected. When he finally got through, he hit something boney.
“Bone?” he said to himself, biting his lip “Is this something that’s natural?”
He cut the second protrusion. It was just as difficult as the first. It’s true what they say, Plainkind have skin three times as thick as normal.
“I don’t know what it is, but it seems like it’s part of you. It looks like an elbow. Do Plainkind grow extra arms or something?”
Yaska’s breath was heavy, her back was beginning to bleed.
Chloe shook her head. “No, Plainkind aren’t known for extra arms.”
“Well, she has something growing out of her, and I’m pretty sure it’s, you know… her.”
The boney elbow-like things in her back started to push out through her skin. They were covered in a soft layer of flesh. Yaska clenched her teeth. She took a deep breath and pulled herself back up to her hands and knees, her arms were shaking. She put her knees underneath and leaned on her arms. She was far past shouting now.
“There’s something attached to it, to the elbow. It looks like you have skin attached to it…” Drake was completely confused.
Tears streamed down Yaska’s face. Her entire body began to shudder uncontrollably.
“See if you can push them out! Push!” Chloe said. She was very curious about the whole event, eager to see what would come out of Yaska’s back.
“Th. Th…” Yaska couldn’t speak. Her pain was overwhelming her. Her back hurt, her throat hurt, everything was in pain, and Chloe wanted her to make it worse? She closed her eyes and let out a breath.
Yaska opened her eyes, ready. She tested muscles in her back, each one firing sensations up her spine and into her head. She tested her nerves until she found the one that hurt her the most and focused on it.
“Might as well jump,” She stated quietly, and pulled the muscle.
“Hey! They moved!” Chloe was excited, “Do that again!”
Small amounts of blood were beginning to run down the sides of her back. Yaska pulled her head down, getting dirt in her hair. She prepared herself. She flexed the muscles with as much force as she could give. The two new boney limbs tore through her, shredding her flesh open from the the top of her back. They pushed themselves out down half her back. She would have cried out in pain but instead her eyes flared with the strain. Tears fell off of her face and into the ground. Yaska exhaled, shaking.
Chloe said, “They’re almost out. It kind of does look like elbows, really big ones, with a net of skin in between. One more!”
Drake rummaged through his bag, “Hold on.” He pulled out left over leather.
“Bite down on this.” He put it between Yaska’s teeth.
Yaska was bleeding freely from her wounds, but she was not done yet. She readied herself, knowing what to expect. She was about to flex again when her body started to convulse with pain, stopping her.
“HOLD ME.” Yaska stated. Her tone was powerful and direct.
The other two rushed to her, Drake grabbed her shoulders and Chloe pushed on her lower back. They worked together to keep her still, and managed to stop most of the tremors. Yaska readied herself and pulled her muscles once more with all her force. The bone tore from her body at high speed, the new limbs set loose, one end firmly attached to the twin spines in her upper back. Blood was launched outward, left and right, showering the sand.
Tears streamed down Yaska’s face as the pain slowly faded away. She did not grieve, she did not wail. She clenched her teeth and lost focus in her vision. Yaska tipped forward, calmly lying face first on the sandy soil, her forehead resting on the ground. She breathed slowly. Out of her back protruded two large, wet wings.
Cover Page Stuff
The King of the Solune kingdom was wary of an oncoming attack. A mysterious mass of creatures could be seen advancing towards his kingdom far, far in the distance. A calculated eight days before they would arrive, the armyless King scrambled to build an army from nothing. Aiming for quality over quantity, he sent out his daughters to recruit warriors who have made a name for themselves in combat or in weapon making. Yaska is known in her village for her brutal strength and cunning instinct. She is recruited, a hunter, a predator. Along with the rest of the recruits, Yaska must be trained to be a true warrior who can defend the kingdom.
Daniel Triumph is eighteen years old and a new writer. He lives in Kirkland Lake for the time being and is a graduating student and also a developing feminist. When it comes to reading literary adventures, he likes to stick to the works of Michael Crichton, Terry Pratchett, and Isuna Hasekura. He is very sad that all of his favourite English speaking authors are deceased, but Rob Halford and the rest of Judas Priest help him get through it with their positive and upbeat classic heavy metal. His hobbies include Magic: the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, bicycling, and, of course, reading.
Word count: 1176 words