ABRAXAS the LOVESICK SEA DRAKE
Taking a fix on his position, Agustus resumed his hunt. For sure these aren't the wind's footsteps I'm chasing. If there is a lost child out here, I can't leave him to the mercy of this blasted tempest.
He listened for any whine or cry, yet heard only the chilling howl of wind. The storm whipped to such a pitch, only remnants of tracks remained to prove he was not insane. “Hold on! What's this?” Agustus knelt down for a closer look. “More tracks … Fresh. And not a child's!” These were cloven, like his own, only larger—much larger.
While stopped to ponder just what he was trailing, the young prince felt chills. “They're like my own prints … only gigantic! My wits HAVE gone numb.” Ice clung to Agustus like crust, the shivers reaching clear to his marrow. The albatross in him was beginning to yearn for a burly fur-bearing uncle.
“Blast it all, child! This godless storm has you now!” Agustus kicked up the snow, reeled around and started to retrace his own footfalls before he too was hopelessly engulfed. After only a few steps he saw it. First the black 'spot' … then the pair of eyes. Steely and hungry—they were not the eyes of a child. Even above the wind, he could hear the skin-crawling growl. Agustus gripped his sword. Fool! I've become the hunted! The eyes began to rise high over him. That's when he could make out the shape, like a man. Only bigger. Huge. Agustus heard tales of such white brutes stalking these wastes. The polar bear rose on its haunches as if to introduce himself before lunging forward.
Agustus tried to duck from the bear's path, but the snow was too deep. It was all he could do to stab the beast's flank before it swatted him aside like a twig. Face down, and bleeding, he lay where he fell and stared at the pale hulk as it wheeled and came back for the kill. The sword cast out of reach somewhere in the snow.
What an embarrassment he proved to be for his family, again. He failed his expedition, his father … and that Blasted 'snow child'! All flashed before his eyes. His corpse would never be found. He could even see his brother snickering at the senseless way the Gull Prince died. “NO—Not on my belly!” Agustus climbed to his feet, puffed out his chest and clenched his fists. “And NOT today!” He let out a shrill, heart-pounding screech that rivaled the squall, and stunned the charging bear. Agustus whirled his arm and trounced around in the snow screaming like a lunatic. The polar bear peered in his direction, eyes wide and muzzle twitching. To the prince's utter amazement, the huge beast retreated a step or two, then turned tail and vanished completely behind a curtain of snow.