The Girl, the Harp and the Torchbearers

The strings of a gentle harp drew Mako out of his undisturbed sleep. It was the first time in days that he had slept in a blank haze – nothing, not a single sound, groan, shuffle, disturbing his ears, not a speck of colour meandering its way behind his closed eyelids.


Mako found himself crawling, eyes still half-closed, out of the bush where he and Ari had found shelter for two days now while they waited for another snowstorm to pass. His vision still blurry from sleep, the corners of his eyes resisting in tight stubbornness his half-hearted efforts to fully open his eyelids. The melodic plucking of the harp strings drifted from somewhere to his right and, emerging out of the thicket into a clear sunny morning, Mako switched his gaze to the side, rubbing his eyes. The vigour woke him up and he stared, awestruck, at the little fair-haired girl sitting on a mound of snow, plucking away at her beautifully arched harp, fingers pale against the wintry landscape. But she didn’t seem cold. Though pale, her skin spoke of life, her eyes danced as her fingers played, their little tips jumping nimbly from string to string to produce the most beautiful melody Mako had ever heard.


“Who are you?” Mako wanted to come closer but it was as if his feet were being held in place, sinking him into the deep snow.


For a moment he thought the little girl had even looked at him, and in her face he saw something deeply and strangely resembling Ari – was it her face or the look on it? He couldn’t tell as she looked away as quickly as she had turned to him. Her dancing eyes, reflecting the flames of some invisible fire amongst the whiteness of the valley, seemed to stare out further down the valley, lower, to where Mako could suddenly make out a little flicker of orange, and then another, as if moving in unison towards him now, only still too far away for him to make out anything other than the dark shapes moving behind the little fires.


“What are they doing?” Once again he tried approaching the tiny girl before him, but his legs wouldn’t move.


Burning. The word came out of no where and at the same time from within him – that gut feeling you get and must decide whether or not to trust. But was it a gut feeling or a feeling influenced by some other subconsciously engrained factor whose source Mako had long forgotten? Mako shook his head to clear it, trying to focus on the girl again, but the image before his eyes had begun to blur, fading out the girl and her harp, which also gradually grew silent, leaving Mako to stare through the haze at the now clearer images of the distant flickering flames that steadily grew larger and larger in his field of vision, clear as day and frightening as the nightmares he had been having.


Burning. The mirage of the girl and her harp echoed at him, and his heart fluttered in his chest like a frightened animal’s. He didn’t quite know what had caused the torch bearers to come up the valley, but he knew what fire could bring.


His gaze momentarily flicked to the bush thicket where he had slept that night. A bob of ginger hair was only just visible through the hole he had crawled from. He had to wake up Ari.

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From a story you were uncertain about at the start this is starting to take shape. You are populating the landscape and although Mako's pov is the consistent thread through this story you are bringing other characters in around him. I wonder if the torch bearers are dangerous. I sense they might be but I wonder if you could add his reaction - a sense of foreboding or anticpation depending on what their role in this story is. There are one or two sentences that could split from one sentence to two. I love the mirage of the girl with the first I wondered if Ari had died...but I think not. Your description of the landscape and the girl is almost mystical. I hope she reappears.