Harp of Ice

May 16, 2011
By Anonymous

The wind blew through her hair, frost sticking to eyelashes in a powdery coating. She transfixed her eyes on a figure in the distance, hunched over her only child, bloody weapon still in his hand. His gaze solidly marked toward the grisly task he was now performing, hands moving swiftly and methodically without falter.
“He will pay; there is no way that foul thing will escape.” Clawing across the frozen oceanic crust, ice scraping against her stomach, she dragged herself toward revenge. He was the Skin Stealer, a monster whose name was not known, nor whose appearance was ever the same; a legend among her people. It came and slaughtered any who crossed its path, striking swiftly and carrying its victims away. Even now it wore the skins of those it killed, a grim reminder of how deadly it was. The thing was humming, merrily even, as it cut through flesh and bone, removing her son’s skin with a near sadistic glee.
“My, my. What a fine day’s catch.” Cleaning his knife, he carried away his trophy to prepare for his next victim. She followed him to his den, a strange place smelling of fire and metal. Her large brown eyes glared at him from a distance, waiting for the moment when he would drop his guard.
“The Skin Stealer. Even he must be vulnerable at some point. But how can I win against such a monster?” He raised his arms, stretching out his back before laying his weapon down next to a pile of skins. Grinning in pride, he looked over a few of his trophies, holding them up to admire the sheen of each. After a few minutes, he grew bored with looking upon his handiwork, occupied by another of his pastimes. Bending over, he grabbed hold of a thick pole, placed over an smooth hole in the ice, pulling it up to retrieve a line of fish from it.
She took her chance, sliding stealthily across the ice and pushing his legs out from underneath, sending him tumbling forward into dark waters. For a few moments he thrashed and grabbed for the ice, fingers slipping off and arms becoming tangled in his own fishing line. Then it was over, he sank down into the cold depths, taking along his infernal contraption and his legacy.
“He’s dead!” She flopped about the ice in triumph over the Skin Stealer, shouting with joy at her achievement. It was a triumph against the monster, the boogeyman of snow and ice. Sliding into the icy water, she swam off to regale her people on the end of the monster who had hunted them. Across the ice came the Skin Stealer’s nephews, shocked to find that Uncle James was nowhere to be found.

The author's comments:
The bitterest cold is oft accompanied by the strangest of tales.

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