The Ice Storm Chronicles
“For a Bit of Seed”
By Jonathan Snyder
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“For a Bit of Seed”
The wind blew bitter cold as the howling storm swept across the white landscape. The battering winds showed no signs of letting up, but just the opposite. It had never let up for all the years that Temperance could remember. She had heard stories of the warmth and the sun, but even that was a cold, white, disc covered by thick blue clouds.
Wrapping the warm yilisk fur robes tighter around her thin frame, there did not seem to be anything that could stop the shivering. Each step she took through the knee deep snow seemed to be one step towards oblivion. Looking up through the blinding snow, she could barely make out the armored form in front of her. At least she was not lost…yet.
Temperance cursed herself for allowing her brother to drag her out in to the miserable cold instead of staying in the mountain cave that at least cut the arctic wind. It was not quite warm, but at least the mage fires burned crisply and the descendants of the survivors of the sundering remained warm and together. The little hovels made of piled up stone and skins of animals draped over them did not seem like much before Temperance left, but now she would have given anything to be curled up in one of them again.
“We need to find shelter!” A voice up ahead roared, but the screaming wind almost stole the whole sound away. The male voice of her brother shook Temperance out of her inner musing and she blinked the wind burned tears in a futile effort to see clearer. Four other silhouettes were becoming more visible as the party drew close to each other. The wind grabbed at her cloak’s fur lined hood, but she clamped it in place with her mitten hand keeping it from escaping. Daphina, their leader, crouched down in the snow and the others created a circle with their heads in the center. At least here, the wind was cut by their bodies and they could hear much clearer.
“It is only a few more miles.” Daphina said still yelling out of habit. She shifted her sword and tried to show strength, but even her young adult form was becoming weary from the storm. She was one of the apprentices of the warrior caste, but even the rough treatment she received, her body was still taking its toll in the weather.
The young man whose dark eyes sparkled under his fur lined hood shook his head vigorously to make sure it was seen. Temperance tried to smile at her brother, Astor, but he did not notice. He was looking directly at Daphina.
“If we do not make camp soon, we are going to have to face the night, and you know what comes out at sunset.”
The party did not even have to ask him what he meant. Though only a few of them had seen one meandering out in the snowy wilds, every one of them had heard about the ice demons that came out at night. Temperance did not want to be the one to meet up with one of the nine foot creatures made of pure ice.
“Then camp.” Daphina said clearly upset at the decision, but she had to know about the threat. The cold disc in the sky had already begun its descent towards the horizon.
“Over there is a boulder. We can build the snow holes there!” Gimlak said, pointing with his staff.
As soon as a person was old enough to move, they were taught how to make a snow hole, a hole dug in to the deep snow and piled around them to create a small circular dwelling that would not only shield them from the wind, but their body temperature and mage fire would keep them warm. That was why Temperance was persuaded to come with them, she was an acolyte of the Mage caste.
Half running, half jumping, through the mounds of snow, the party arrived to the boulder and quickly dug their entrance and hole. Before the sun touched the horizon, they were dug in their nighttime hideaway, the entrance sealed off with some snow. Already the wind had died to a quiet hum from outside and it felt much warmer.
“Alright, Temperance,” Esta, the scout, said as she shook the snow off her hat and head. The sun was barely piercing their snow home and if she did not hurry, they would soon be plunged in to darkness and a deep cold.
Removing her gloves and blowing on her fingers to try to warm them up, Temperance removed a smooth obsidian stone from the pouch she wore around her neck and laid it on her palm. Fear coursed through her as she had only recently learned the basics of controlling the magic that she was able to touch and though she had never learned exactly how to do it, the girl had seen her master preform it enough times.
Closing her eyes, Temperance felt the smooth weight of the rock and she began to concentrate on it. Her master had taught her small things like moving a pebble or drawing a cup to her through the air and it all had to do with visualizing and allowing the energy to flow. The hardest part was manipulating its gentle currents to something useful.
Focusing hard, she imaged the blue flames of the fire and felt a warm, gentle sensation leave her chest and flow to her hands, her eyelids lit up in a bluish color and they quickly popped open.
In her hand, the obsidian rock was now glowing blue and a distinct and noticeable heat was emanating from it. She looked around at the party proud of herself.
“Well,” Esta said with a chuckle. “It’s not quite Mage’s fire, but it is warm.”
“Of course. That’s why we brought her.” Astor said tousling her hair.
This was a fool’s errand and deep down Temperance knew it. From the looks on everybody else’s faces, they seem to sense it too. The sundering has destroyed the majority of the world and plunged it in to a deep winter. For over eighty years it raged with no signs of letting up. The world, that was once beautiful and full of life, now was filled with ice, snow, and monstrous ice titans and other dire creatures that preyed on each other for survival.
“How far did we come?” Esta asked peering towards Gimlak. The young man with already a full beard peered cautiously at the map he pulled from the folds of his cloak. They were all in the early twenties, Temperance being only eighteen herself. Each had a specialty that Daphina put together for this specific trip.
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Temperance is a acolyte mage living with the survivors of the Sundering in a large, underground, cave complex. She has made the choice to join a small team leaving to search for seeds and food that they can bring back to their people. What they find is a lot more terrifying. Facing the the blinding, cold, and incessant storms on one side and monsters that inhabit the frozen wasteland, Temperance, her brother Astor, the book worm Gimlak, Esta the scout, and Daphina their leader, they must survive together or die alone.