NB: Iron and salt and symbols of God are the traditional weapons against supernatural evil.
Something flitted through the woods. Anjen looked around wildly, caught it, lost it. The child burrowed into her coat; her arms were burning, she shifted her burden. Summer wiped his bloody hand on his coat and took a less slippery grip on the iron knife. Ahead she glimpsed daylight and open space.
“Hear that?” Summer brightened. “Horses! People! That’s good, right?”
She stopped in her tracks. Then she caught it too: hoofbeats like distant thunder.
Pale shades slipped through the woods. Moving toward them. Fast. She felt their advance in a wash of bitter cold.
Panic dug its icy claws into her. She cleared her throat; her voice was abnormally calm. “It’s the White Hunt. The Winterfolk.”
“Is that bad?” said Summer, blissfully oblivious.
God she was an idiot. She should have snatched the child and run the instant she recognised the white arrow. “You’re faster. Take the child and run. If you cross all seven chains of stones you’ll be safe. Go to the church father, he’ll --“
“I said no, and please stop making plans, they’re terrible. I have a better idea.” He turned her firmly by the shoulders. “Run.”
The shove got her moving. She hitched up her skirts one-handed and ran. Branches clawed at her with bony fingers, ice and snow skidded underfoot. Thunder rose all around them as the pale horses charged them down, sweeping a killing frost ahead of them, and the riders’ laughter hissed in the air.
They broke into open air. Frosted grass crunched underfoot like glass. Her arms were on fire, the little girl squirming. Ahead icy roofs glittered under the sun.
A lone hunter swept in from the left to cut them off.
Both of them skidded to a halt. Anjen went for the salt with her free hand.
The pale horse picked a leisurely path through the snow, placing each hoof with care. Sunlight danced on its icy coat. The rider shone translucent. She felt the murderous cold contract like a fist; pain and thunder and ice sang in her bones.
She put her back against Summer’s. He was shivering even harder than she was. Should have stayed in his summerlands.
“I always thought a valiant last stand sounded fun.” Summer’s voice was sharp with strain.
Her laugh broke down into coughing, lungs burning, air frozen. “Didn’t you say you were too pretty to die?”
“I’m prepared to make a heroic sacrifice. There could be songs. Possibly even legends.”
The hunter leaned down from its horse, blinding bright in the sun, and reached out -- delicate frost feathered its fingers.
Anjen stayed frozen. The little one yelped and grabbed a tiny handful of Anjen’s coat.
“This is definitely the worst plan you have ever --”
“Get ready,” Anjen said through her teeth.
Pale fingers brushed the child’s pale skin.
Anjen threw salt in the hunter’s face. It jerked back with a hiss and its face started to melt. Water ran down its armour in glittering lines. She shoved the child at Summer -- he caught her, a reflex movement -- “Now run, idiot!” -- and advanced on the hunter, snarling, throwing salt after salt.
Its hiss rose to a shriek as she drove it back. The ice horse reared above her; the sun set every edge on fire, it burned as if lit from within. She snatched up an arm. One hoof carved a line of white fire across her forearm -- an instant earlier it would have been her face. Numbing cold leapt up her arm. The horse hit her with its shoulder, her foot slipped and she crashed to the snow. Impact slammed the breath from her lungs. Thunder reverberated through the iron-hard ground. She rolled over, gasping and clawing in the snow, fingers frozen, and threw another shower of salt upward at the horse. Most of it fell back on her. Both horse and rider were melting fast. She spat snow and salt and scrabbled for something, anything to --
Its hoof smashed down an inch from her skull and the melted leg snapped like an icicle. It lurched. Its other leg snapped. The ice horse fell on its face.
Anjen levered herself upright, clutching her bag of salt, hand wrapped round the talisman at her throat. The ring burned; she felt its heat even through her glove.
The hunter slid down from horseback and drew its sword, a long sliver of ice. It staggered toward her dragging a melted leg. Its half a face turned to follow her.
Anjen tried to douse it with salt. The last crystals rattled sadly in the bottom of the bag.
Other teasers: ChristaCarol, Karla, LynKay, Firedrake, Dystophil, JustLaurie, sunna, KBridges, WritingDemons, Kristin Briana, M Austin, Bryn Greenwood, paranormalchick, Mad Hatter ... and more as I read.