The Lightning Stone

Eight thousand years ago, somewhere on the land bridge which is now buried beneath the North Sea, Thara is struggling to survive with the help of her wolf-dog, Tang.

Then, in the midst of a wild storm, Thara finds a softly-glowing stone which calls to something deep within her, something she thought long buried, a call which will change her life…

Formats: ebook $2.99

Genre/s: urban fantasy

Series: Wayfarers

Audience: general, young adult

Length: short story

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Thara crouched in the cave mouth and watched the storm with equal parts fear and fascination.

The storm had come in off the sea, clouds building from white and frothy, like the water rushing over the rocks in the stream beyond Thara’s cave, to huge grey-green mountains against the sky. Thara had stayed out on the water as long as she dared – she had not eaten for three days and she’d only caught one small fish. But finally the driving wind, not to mention Tang’s widened, white-rimmed eyes, had forced her to paddle desperately for home. Pulling her little hollowed-out boat as far up the beach as possible, she lashed it swiftly to several stunted elms high up the shore and headed toward her cave. The wind tugged at both of them like a live thing, tangling her long hair even more around her head and whipping Tang’s fur this way and that across his sturdy body. The rain hit before they reached shelter, icy fingers pelting against them and chilling skin already punished by the howling wind. Thara almost fell several times before she stumbled into the relative safety of her cave. While Tang shook his fur, loosing a mass of flying water droplets and hair, Thara stripped the wet furs from her body and flung on her other tunic and leggings. Grabbing her blanket, she huddled with Tang at the back of the cave, which was still not far from its mouth. Tang pushed his way beneath her arm, his weight a familiar and comforting thing.

Lightning striped the sky almost constantly now, and the boom-crash of the thunder was unrelenting, literally shaking the ground beneath them. Poor Tang was whining in protest, his neck-fur raised and his ears flat to his head. He was as terrified as Thara, burrowing into her side, his eyes white around the edges. Thara had no doubt that her own were probably the same. Beyond the thick, sharp-edged grass surrounding her cave she couldn’t see the beach. But she could see the sea, a dark grey heaving mass with waves higher than any she’d seen in the last two full moons.

She wondered suddenly if her boat was safe. If it was destroyed, so was she. There was very little food here now that winter was creeping in, and the fish she caught were all she had to eat apart from a few late, wizened berries. She would have no choice then but to move on, something she did not want to do just yet –

The sky flashed white-purple, so bright that it leached the colour from the world. The ground shook, and the loudest sound Thara had ever heard pounded at her head, a crack so sharp and close that it left her ears ringing. She felt Tang bark, felt him struggle to break free of her hold, but she dared not let him go. She could hear nothing besides a dull roaring in her ears. Her head felt numb, like it had when she’d fought Graan off when he’d wanted to make babies with her despite her revulsion of him, and he’d shoved her hard into a tree. She remembered feeling her head rattle, then the world had broken into white strips of light before fading swiftly to black.