by thefourpartland

The three friends glanced at once another with bemused expressions, ones that changed as the shock of combat wore off from grim focus to delayed surprise, and thence to laughter.

“Really, Canere? You fired sparks at its butt?” Ira, by now, was laughing, her whole body shaking, even as she cleaned the sword using a handful of snow.

“I just wanted the beast to never think about coming back. Figured he could do with a little reminder.”

“The problem is, we now have to live with the smell of burnt fur. It’s putrid!” Yaden held his nose in mock disgust.

“Better that than the sound of that creature having a little nibble on your flesh.” Ira shook her head. “More seriously, you weren’t sure whether to come to my aid or not, were you?”

At Yaden’s acknowledgement, Ira nodded. “Thought so. As long as you’re more than about three feet away from me, you’re not going to interfere much with the sword strokes, although timing our attacks so they complement one another will take practice. And that light in the creature’s eyes was a nice little touch – kept it from being able to see my follow up strike.”

He shrugged. “I’ve got a few other bits and pieces of magic scattered around, but that’s about the best I can manage at short notice.”

Canere clapped him on the shoulder. “You and I can figure out how they can be used, while Ira goes and gets the rest of the wood for the fire. Sounds, right, doesn’t it, Ira?”

A glare was the only response that the arcanist got.


After another two days of struggling through the overly tight limbs and non-existent paths of the pine forest, the explorers decided that perhaps the best bet was to plot their course along the lowest slopes of the mountains that surrounded them, reasoning that although the pitch might be problematic, it would be less so than the heavy brush through which they already struggled.

Having accepted the logic as reasonable, the three then spent the next day fighting through that brush at a diagonal angle, until at last they broke free and could once more see the sun and sky above them, rather than the shadowed world of the pines. It was a relief, knowing that there was no longer anywhere near the impediment that there was before.

That night, they sheltered against the edge of the forest, the trees providing a reasonable windbreak against the howling winds that cut down the valley above their heads, rustling the tops of the pines and occasionally scattering drifts of snow down upon them.

Morning came, and brought with it a fierce sun and winds that made last night’s storm seem overly peaceful. So cold was the gusting air that the Hanians were forced to wrap their faces in thick layers of cloth, leaving but a tiny slit for their eyes to peer through. It cut their vision down to almost naught, seeing nothing more than a small patch directly in front of the, but it saved their flesh from the ravages of the northern climate.

Midday came, finding the heroes upon a wide and shallow rise, the lowest slopes of a white mountain, covered in the snow that cloaked the northern range. Above them, as they paused for a drink from the water bottles that lived tucked beneath their warm outerwear, came the distant sound of a crack, followed moments later by the distant sound of rumbling and roaring.

Ira glanced up the slope to their left, then cursed. As Yaden and Canere stared at her in confusion, she pointed to the distant cloud upon the mountain, one that grew closer with every passing moment. As realization dawned on the others, Ira set off sprinting, Canere and Yaden following within moments.

Ahead of them was a wound in the mountain, a cliff of black rock that jutted from the engulfing snow. Its sheer face and slightly inward curving face offered their best chance of protection from the onrushing snow.

It was towards this obstacle that they sprinted, with the mass of the snow tumbling down towards them now blotting out the peak from whence it came. The first shards of the snow were beginning to show as they dove into the protection of the overhang, hoping against hope that the snow did not bury them there.


Leave a Reply