A Brief Scene

This is a scene (a rough draft) inspired by a writing prompt: How would your character survive a bear attack?

It’s non-canon as of yet, but it would fit neatly into canon if I chose. A deleted scene from The Hanging Tree, for now. It contains one minor spoiler for the PoV character.

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The bear’s growl was deep, rumbling, angry, and yet somehow plaintive. It rattled in Vithia’s chest in the same way that the bear’s charging steps sent vibrations up her legs. Bears weren’t just large. She’d seen large animals, even vicious ones. Bears were more than imposing. Bears were awe-inspiring. Not a being in the world, not human, not Hanged, not Compromised, would keep their heart steady as they stood before a charging bear.

The bear wasn’t a threat, any more than the cubs half-hidden beyond the trees were a threat, any more than the tree whose bark bit into Vithia’s palm was a threat. If Vithia wished, she could snap the bear’s neck like a farmer wrung a chicken’s neck. She could eviscerate the bear before it had finished a swipe of its great claws.

Her eyes followed the bear as it closed through the clearing, splashing through the stream Vithia had hoped to wash at. Ten seconds, maybe, and it would be on her, and her choices would be limited. Her eyes moved to the cubs, and back to the bear. The mother.

History was filled with mothers who killed, who died, to protect their offspring. The thought sent a dozen stories through her head that she knew word for word, and half as many songs.

She reached for the branch over her head, pulling herself onto it with hardly a thought. History was filled with such tales. But there wasn’t a need for her to add another to the list.

She climbed the tree like a normal person might walk, using one branch to push herself up to the next, never faltering, never pausing. Soon she was high on the branches. Any higher and the branches were too thin, too weak, to support her.

Below her, the bear was just reaching the trunk. With another of those plaintive howls, it scraped at the tree, shoved its side against the bark. But the tree was too old, too deep-rooted, to so much as sway. The bear made a sound that might have been a whine, raising up on two legs to look at her through the branches. She said nothing, just meeting those mournful eyes. The bear gave a huff, and headed off back toward her young, satisfied she had scared off the intruder.

Vithia smiled. Then, after a few hours had passed, she let herself down as quickly as she’d climbed, and headed off away from the stream. A mother will do anything to protect her young.

Strange, that she should think of Remy now.

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