This is my Describli short story a day late. I got carried away with my NaNoWriMo writing yesterday, and didn’t have time. But better late than never, right?
This is an scene set in the universe of the novel I will be working on editing in December. I don’t know if this scene will make it in, but I had fun writing it, giving in to the urge to return to that world.
Her feet crunched in the snow. Cold laced her body, creeping up from fingers and toes, trying to find her heart. She walked on. The wind picked up every now and then, gusting ice-cold air at her, trying to blow her thin cloak from her back. Still she walked on.
From the strength of love in her heart she found the will to keep moving.
The men walking beside her didn’t speak. All energy went into walking. Eyes stayed on the horizon, or the snow at their feet when the winds blew.
The sun was high in the sky. They had been walking for two days, sleeping one at a time to watch over one another. This cold, and undernourished, there was a real risk to their lives.
Ana crunched more footsteps. She chanced a look behind her, tracing the line of holes in the snow with her eyes. They had come so far, visibly leaving behind a trail in the snow.
She kept walking.
The sun sank lower in the sky, casting out orange and yellow highlights on the snow.
Ana wasn’t sure she believed her eyes. She stopped walking and pointed to the black shape on the horizon. The men also stared. The town. The one on the map it had seemed like they would never reach.
Their pace quickened. She prayed they would make it there before nightfall, and not have to spend another uncomfortable night in the snow.
Maybe Ai would have made it already. Ana conjured visions of her sat by a warm fire, waiting for the group of them to walk in. Handing her a warm mug of tea. Heaven.
The sun set quickly, and clouds rolled in. A snow storm was coming. The warning signs were in the sharp drop in temperature, the quickening of the winds. “We have to make it,” she said, her voice hoarse. She moved as fast as stiff muscles and frozen bones would move.
Her companions kept pace with her. The town grew steadily larger. Lights made it stand out from the snow. Lights for the citizens to see by in the early darkness of this land. Lights to keep away the demons and ghosts. These were simple people, never fully taken by the New Religion, always clinging on to the Old and its ways.
The gates loomed large against the night sky. Snow started to fall,, blown by the winds, whipping around them, coating hair and clothing and skin. Ana shivered harder, the ice biting into her face.
The Captain pounded on the wood, shouting, “We are friends, let us in.”
Of course, if they revealed her true identity, there would be no problem.
But that would be too dangerous.
A small window in the gate slid open. An eye appeared, the skin around dotted with flakes of snow. “Who goes there?”
“We are from Elondria,” the Captain said. “We seek refuge. We travel to the safer lands of the south.”
The eye narrowed. “How do I know you’re not invaders, not attached to Her lot?”
The Captain stood back, and Ana and the others followed his gesture. “We are but poor travellers. We have no proof of who we are. Will you leave us out here to the mercy of the storm and the night?”
A gruff grunt. “No. I won’t.”
The gate opened, and the travellers slipped through. “There’s an inn, down the Main Road.” The stout man, half-covered in snow now, pointed into the town. “It takes travellers such as yourself. I’m sure the landlords will take you in, work out payment.” And with that he turned away with his lantern, becoming just a speck of light in the night, bobbing up and down as it faded away.
Ana and the men walked down Main Road, and soon spotted the inn. it was a large building compared to the rest around it. She looked back down the road, footsteps once more marking her path through the snow. It was still falling, and would soon cover them up.
As the inn doors opened, a blast of warmth hit her face. Primal relief filled her, as if she were being saved from death, or drinking water after a long drought. She walked further in and looked for Ai. She wasn’t there. The fire was banked low, the patrons gone to bed for the night.
A woman, huddled in a fur and carrying a lantern, came down the stairs. “Who be you?” she asked.
“Travellers,” the Captain spoke. “The man at the gate directed us here. We have no money, but are willing to pay in whatever form you wish.”
She nodded, as if she were accustomed to such arrangements. “We can work something out. Come, I’ll find you beds for the night, and see if we’ve got some stew left. You’ll need warming up after being out in that.” She turned and started to walk away.
Ana stopped her, asking, “A young Ti’anese woman isn’t here, is she?”
“Sorry, love. We don’t see that sort here very often. Why do you ask?”
She shouldn’t have. Shouldn’t draw so much attention. “Nothing important.”
The woman carried on with her duties, and Ana followed the rest up the stairs, praying for Ai’s safety.
Today’s prompt: Journey to the arctic.