Writing Challenge #1 - An Antagonist For Jaq

I blogged last week about a Writing Challenge I've been working on and then realized I never shared the end results.

An Antagonist For Jaq

Ubel Gale loomed over the dying fire. Cold morning rain fell lightly from the gray sky above, wind whipped at his face and threatened to extinguish the wavering flame. Water dripped down his forehead, through lines across his scarred cheek, over delicate glass earrings and over cracked lips. Water pooled beneath his chin and dripped down his bare chest.

His knife reflected firelight as it flashed across one upturned wrist. Rain mixed with blood that sprayed across his chest. Pain and blood washed quickly to the ground—his blood, mixed with rain, suffocated the last of the fire and it blinked out, leaving only thick black smoke sputtering towards the sky.

Deep red and ashen gray water ran in a small stream down the Glass Plains. Black smoke tinged with bruised purple and gray rose, fighting the wind and rain with an unnatural strength.

Ubel rocked back, cradling his bleeding forearm over the sizzling embers. Smoke filled his lungs and slid over his skin. The heat licked at him and clung to his long black hair. His dark eyes were the color of smoke with the darkest ghost of purple—the color of the Glass Plains—scattered like stars across his gaze. His eyes were old; he saw dreams as often as he saw the present. He had been alive too long. Some days it was hard to tell when he woke, dreamed or both. His connection to the Glass Plains ran deep; he felt the pulse of magic beneath his feet, like a dull, fading heartbeat.

Something was wrong with the magic.

Ubel clenched his fist, causing blood to spring to the surface of his arm. His vision blurred as magic welled to the surface and beckoned him to follow. The wavering, sharp horizon of the Glass Plains danced in his vision. The magic called to him—and all the blood in the world could not bring him any closer. His free hand lifted to the glass collar that clung tightly to his throat. The pulse beneath his feet was echoed within the collar, a heartbeat in unison, two veins running to the same heart. And yet the collar—that damned collar—kept him from reaching his magic. He could feel it, oh, he could reach out and feel the power raging beneath his flesh, just beyond reach.

But so long as Jaq Lo’ren lived—Ubel Gale could not. The damned collar would continue to cut Ubel off from his magic—his magic—until he could find a way to destroy Jaq and the collar once and for all. But all it took was time, and time was the only thing that Ubel had. And so he wandered the Glass Plains, drawing blood, testing slowly and quietly at the edges of the collar, trying to find a weakness. Some day and some day soon, Ubel was going to find a way out of his collar, out of his exile, and back in front of Jaq. And then he was going to kill him.

Ubel scratched at the edges of the collar, scraping broken nails against his flesh. Dried blood flaked away, getting lost in the wind and the rain. If there was any pain beneath his swollen, broken flesh—Ubel showed no sign. He watched as the last tendrils of black and purple smoke rose into the sky, and waited.