“Just stand still and look handsome, or whatever it is you do.”
“I’ll look good and look good doing it!”
Lusa grumbled at Higalik. The fool was stuck waist deep in snow, supporting a large chunk of frozen stone that would have sealed them all in the cave for certain. By all accounts they should be dead right now.
“Good thing my gut was right, eh, friend? The old hero of the Moving Glaciers was here! Frozen in ice all this time!”
Lusa rolled her eyes, quickly dragging the next explorer out from the cave. Just a few more and then Higalik could let the collapse finish without fear of any Salluit explorers being trapped.
Higalik was trembling under the massive weight as the thick metal fingers of his newly acquired gauntlets dug into stone. It was fairly an impressive display. While he certainly wasn’t the legend of old, shifting glaciers by will of muscle alone, he was doing a damn good job of trying to live up to the the name. The scales of the ancient lamellar fitted over his torso rippled, following the ebbing flow of power that coursed through the sinewy man. Higalik groaned under the strain as the collapse weighed down upon him. The momentary grimace that followed couldn’t shadow the thrilled grin splayed on the man’s face; He was enjoying his display of raw thew.
As the last explorer scrambled out, Lusa urged them further from the cave opening and out into the tundra.
“Higalik, come, we are out!”
He didn’t need further encouragement to leave the icy tomb. With a final heave, and the sickening snap of sinew, he hefted the weight enough to roll away into the thick slush that lead to the opening of the cave. A tumbling cascade of white followed the thunderous roar from the cavern’s collapse, rapidly burying the man and reaching out to swallow Lusa and the rest of the expedition crew.
Lusa called out once more, her voice drowned out by the roaring fall of ice and slush. The others pulled the Lunar back, not keen on loosing both of their champions. Lusa had been around for years, kindled by Sister Moon’s succor, but Higalik was only recently ignited by Brother Sun’s radiant light. Losing him would bring great sorrow, but losing Lusa would shatter the Salluit people.
Blinding white filled their vision, half buried in a frozen blanket. The heavy weight of dread filled the air as they reoriented themselves. Higalik was no where to be seen. She called out to the Solar, uncertain of where he was buried. Silence was the only reply.
A murmur of whispers spread between the explorers, a few readying whale-bone spades. They were ready to search at Lusa’s command. She raised her fist, not wanting any to get close. The fresh collapse of snow and slush was still deep and fragile. Disturbing the site further may get them buried for good this time. She urged them away as she began to alter her shape, lightening her step. She would be less likely to disturb the fickle runout and unlike the others, she could readily escape further danger. Her unnaturally lithe form slinked across the snow, quietly calling out for Higalik. There was still no response, save the deadening silence the heavy layer of snow provided. Worry creased her brow as she knelt to the ground, pressing her ear to the icy debris.
Snow shifted under her as a large hand erupted from the snow beneath her feet. A small yelp accompanied her forward tumble from the sinking pit of snow as Higalik dug himself out. Still embedded in the snow with his head above it all, he shot her a stupid grin.
“We did it! And now to just follow Brother Sun’s calling from West!”
Lusa smiled back at the dauntless soul before her. She’d miss the oaf.
Art by RedlyJester