Thank you so much! You have now reached the last section of chapter one. If you missed the first post please click the following link The Ice Clan: Collision of Fire and Ice. I look forward to hearing from you and I hope you leave a link to your blog in your comments.
Karn pulled up on Albin’s reins, stopping him and dismounting. He stood stretching to the tips of his toes, and reaching high above his head. He could feel the blood pulse through his body, warming it up as he moved. He was more than half way home, but the sub-zero temperature and lack of food was beginning to cause muscle fatigue.
He circled Albin admiring the glassy tree growing next to the trail. It glistened, catching every ounce of light the late evening sun cast as it receded from view. Icicles draped from its branches, and one in particular shined as if encased in gold. Karn walked closer, carefully shuffling his feet for traction.
As he examined the crystalline ice he saw Fergus standing before a massive fire near the story tree. The fire raged in front of him, melting ice and consuming the land. Fergus held his crooked white staff high above his head as he sang songs of courage and afterlife to the children. Their tear stained eyes were wide with wonder as they listened to the Bard’s voice, oblivious to the approaching danger.
Karn squinted trying to see more detail in the ice, but the image faded. He hurriedly crossed the short distance from the tree to Albin and climbed into his saddle, continuing to follow the snow covered pathway. He was puzzled, at the vision. Something felt off, but he was unsure what it was.
His light blue eyes scanned far ahead into the clearing, shadows jumped across the trail, everything else obscured with darkness. A faint woodsy smell wafted on the air, and Albin shook his snowy mane as he caught the scent. Karn inhaled heavily trying to determine the origin of the strange odor. It was bitter and sweet, almost like cinnamon. As he emerged from the forest the snow thickened until he couldn’t see more than a few feet ahead of him, but he knew where he was. The valley descent was unmistakable.
Heavy snow obstructed the familiar outcropping of thatched roofs in his village, but from atop Albin he could make out a faint plume of smoke in what he assumed were the eastern fields. The Eastern fields were planted during the spring, but during the heart of winter they were a place of celebration to the goddess Lorna. It was a place where children gathered in front of the story tree as Fergus recounted the great stories, while their parents ate and sang sharing stories of their own.
Looks like we’ve been gone a little longer than I thought. We shall eat well tonight, Albin.” Karn smiled with anticipation urging his horse forward. He imagined seven nights of clan gatherings, fresh honey mead bread, bard song, and courageous tales from the clan fathers. Images of merriment swam through his thoughts. He loved the days of worship.
As he descended the trail, the wind whipped and slashed his face, and the heavy snow turned to a fine white powder. He leaned forward, hugging low to the neck of his horse. The township sprawled across the valley. It was a breath taking winter wonderland, painted in zinc white.
“We’ve been away too long, Albin.” Karn breathed deeply, feeling alive once more as the cobblestone path before him beckoned him home. The memory of last night’s dream, and his vision in Arvid Forest haunted the back of his mind, but he pushed beyond it, and settled his thoughts on Elenora.
As horse and rider drew closer to Bardai, smoke from the eastern field thickened, seeming to confirm the clan’s winter worship activities. Karn’s stomach growled and he licked his lips, as he thought about freshly baked honey mead bread, roasted oxen, salted pork and the warmth of Elenora’s body pressed close to his as they danced before the great bonfire.
A long high caw pierced the air, echoing through the valley. It sounded as if hoards of wounded animals were screaming all at once. Suddenly a chill rushed up Karn’s back like an icy squall blowing across Lake Arcadia. His left hand tingled as though simultaneously asleep and burning with energy.
The already frigid air intensified, around him filling him with an internal numbness, and running across the backside of his spine to the front, walking up and down it like a circular breath, and then swirling through his mind bursting forth in his head blinding him by white light.
Panic struck him, and the strange feeling he’d felt all day seized him by the throat. Karn buried his heel deep into Albin’s flank driving him hard across the remaining short distance from the valley trail to the gates of Bardai.
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