Briars and Vinegar – Blood on the Snow, a story of fae-apoc post apoc for the Giraffe Call (@anke)

For [personal profile] anke‘s prompt, although title from Rix_scaedu‘s prompt.

Part 2 of either 3 or 4, we shall see.

Fae Apoc has a landing page here.

Part 1: Briars and Vinegar (LJ)

The snow kept blowing, pushing away the nice drift they’d been standing on, revealing more and more roses in front of them – not just a rose bush, it seemed, but an entire hedge, a monstrosity of roses sticking out of the snow, their thorns long and sharp, their buds few and blood-red, like the drips Darrel was leaving on the snow.

“Maybe we should head back,” Clarence sighed. “The deeper we dig, the more thorns we find. This seems fruitless.”

“But it’s right there,” Jeri complained. Indeed, they could see more and more of the house, through the hedge of briars. “And the other place was barely there. This one looks lived in.”

“Well, if it’s lived in, maybe they don’t want company?” Darrel pulled out his long knife and contemplated the hedge. “They might not be happy if we cut through.”

“They might not,” Clarence agreed. “I think I see a break over there.” He slogged that way through snow that seemed to grab on to his snowshoes and pull him downwards. Night was coming. If they didn’t find shelter soon, he wasn’t sure they’d survive. It was madness to stand here fighting with a flower bush.

And yet they kept doing it. He was surprised Darrel hadn’t mentioned sorcery yet. Darrel liked the old tales, the old myths. He liked to believe in magic, and dragons, and monsters. Jeri liked to believe, on the other hand, in old documents and old maps, old books and older pamphlets, as if the ancients had somehow had all the answers.

Clarence just wanted to find new things, or things that, at least, no-one living knew about, since, as everyone liked to tell him, the ancients had known everything, been everywhere, and done everything. But, since they were dead and he wasn’t, finding it all over again, he thought, should count.

“I found something,” he called. It wasn’t a gate, not anymore, but he could see the edges of the arbor that had been there, and the swinging door that had fallen off, or been pulled off by the weight of roses. They would have to crawl, but they could get through.

“Doesn’t it seem strange?” Darrel asked, as he and Jeri slogged over to him, “All these roses, still doing fine all this time later? We’ve never seen anything quite this alive.”

“They don’t have many flowers anymore,” Jeri pointed out. “Maybe they went wild?”

“But it’s winter, or, well, it’s acting like winter. They shouldn’t have any flowers at all by now.”

“We’ve seen stranger things,” Clarence soothed them. “Right now, we need to get to that house, so we warm up, then go tell the folks at home about this.”

“Right,” Darrel agreed, rubbing his hands. “And put a bandage on these thorn-holes in me.”

The tunnel through the briars seemed smaller than it had when he first looked, but surely that was just the perspective, comparing it against Darrel’s broad shoulders. “Right,” Clarence steeled himself. “I’ll go through first. Jeri, you bring up the rear.”

Part three is Briars and Vinegar: For 100 Years (LJ)

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