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3. On Thin Ice

By Ælfstangard

Fantasy / Adventure

Blurb

While on vacation in Pixie Hollow, the Winx learn of an impending disaster brewing in the Winter Woods that could see the destruction of Pixie Hollow and take the lives of its inhabitants. The Winx and the Tinx join forces to find a solution but fail. The group soon realizes that they also need the help of Icy and the Trix. Joint authored by R. Teague (1955-2016) and Ælfstangard.

Warning Signes

Slush the Glacier Faerie flies slowly along, heading for the front end of his favorite glacier to meditate. It was quiet there, and as a rule nobody came by, so he would be undisturbed.

As he approached, the frozen river of ice gleamed in the morning light, still making its slow way between the mountains as it had for time untold.

He lands near the leading edge and settles into a lotus position, closing his eyes. He centers and begins his chant.

“Ommm. Ommm.” He chants, the soft sound barely to be heard over the wind.

Just as he starts to relax, a sharp, familiar sound breaks the peace; the sound of ice cracking. He knew what was happening. Stress caused by friction between the glacier’s ice and the surrounding rock had built up to the point it cracked the ice for release. More loud retorts sound behind him, but he pays only a little attention to it. He expects things to settle back down soon.

What he didn’t expect was that the spot where he sat suddenly tilted up, throwing him into the air. His wings go to work instinctively, and he gets his tumble under control. He looks at the glacier, and gets a surprise.

“Whoa!” he exclaims.

A chunk of ice the width of the glacier and many wingspans back and deep starts sliding forward with a crunching, crushing noise. It breaks up further as it does and falls into the valley in front of the glacier’s path. The noise is deafening, but thankfully short lived.

When he is sure it was over, he lands well back from the broken part and surveys the damage. The sheer size of the dislodged piece is a record in his experience.

“What happened, Man?” he asks the glacier. There was no answer, and he hadn’t expected one, but you never knew.

Sitting back down, he puts his talent to work, feeling out the cause of this unexpected event. Unexpected because the last time he had checked, the buildup of pressure had not been so great. He could tell that it was doing so again, slowly, and would likely take several months before manifesting.

Only one thing could be happening; the glacier was moving faster. But how? He knew for a fact the slope of the channel it sat in wasn’t getting any steeper for another few hundred wingspans, and that would take a long time to reach.

Maybe there had been a shift in the flanking mountains, and rock was squeezing the ice back toward the glacier’s source pushing it forward.

His morning meditation ruined, Slush stands up and looks around. Nothing seemed to have changed, but… did the air feel different? He wasn’t sure.

In any case, he couldn’t stay here any longer. He had five more glaciers to check this morning, and his friend Sled had invited him to help teach some warm Faeries to ski this afternoon. He most definitely didn’t want to miss that!

Putting the event in the back of his mind, he flies off to his next stop.

When Slush arrives at the meeting place near the Frost Forest, the warm Faeries had already arrived. They were three music talents and two light talents, all girls, brought by Sled’s girlfriend Rosetta.

“Hey, Slush, how y’all doin’?” the garden Faerie greets him, bundled warmly in her dark red coat and white leggings.

“Copasetic, man,” he answers, giving a thumbs up and a slow grin.

The afternoon passes quickly, everyone having fun with the lessons. Rosetta didn’t participate, having already been taught; she was there for Sled’s company.

Finally the lesson ends and the girls decide to go home. The cold is starting to get to them, and they are hungry after using all that energy. A light snow had started, helping them decide.

As the gaggle of Faeries disappeared into the distance, Sled turns to his friend. “Is something wrong? You’ve been distracted all day.”

“Not really sure, man,” he answers, looking up at the taller sparrow man, “A huge piece of ice broke off of my favorite glacier, but I couldn’t find any reason for it and it’s kinda bothering me.”

“Hm. Well, let’s go have a look,” Sled replies, thoughtfully, “It’s not my talent, but maybe I can help.”

Minutes later they crest the edge of a cliff and the glacier comes into view. Slush gasps, making Sled look at him.

“What is it?” he asks.

“Look, Man,” is the reply, “More ice has fallen off!”

Indeed, much more ice has fallen into the gorge ahead of the glacier, past the point that had broken off this morning.

The friends land on the rock to the side and look over the new front.

“You sure?” asks Sled, “Looks the same to me.”

“Yeah, I’m sure. See where the rock is a little darker? That’s where was this morning.”

“And that much is unusual?” The only difference Sled can see is that the newly-exposed ice is jagged, not smooth, if he remembered correctly what it looked like before.

“Yeah, man, and I don’t have any idea what would cause it. Some breaking is expected as the glacier moves along, but not like this,” he says.

Sled pauses and sniffs the air, brow wrinkled. “Come on,” he says, and takes off toward the source of the ice river, higher up the mountain.

Slush catches up after a few moments. “What is it, man?”

“The air feels… different in this direction,” is the answer.

“I noticed that this morning too, but it’s stronger now. Is it warmer?” he asks.

Sled doesn’t answer, as he has noticed something. They have flown out of the falling snow and into sleet. Ahead a copse of evergreen trees stands with no snow on them at all.

“Whoa! Never saw that in the Woods before!” Slush comments. “And look, the snow on the ground is shallower around the trees!”

Sled holds out a hand and drops of water fall into it. “I thought that was sleet, but it’s melted snow!”

A gust of wind hits them, and it is noticeably warmer than it should be.

“Let’s get outta here, man!” yells Slush, and they turn to fly back the way they came.

Safe back in the colder area, they fly away from the glacier.

“We need to tell Lord Milori!” says Sled.

“Yeah, man, that’s too freaky!” agrees Slush.

Flying at top speed they get to Milori’s home and are granted an audience. They explain what they found, and the tall, white-haired sparrowman listens closely.

“Show me,” he says at last.

Mounting the snow owl he used in place of his broken wing, the three of them go back to the spot.

“Do you know what’s going on, sir?” asks Sled, as Milori studies the trees and feels the melted ice.

“I… no, I don’t. This looks like the border of the Fall Forest, but that’s impossible! We’re thousands of wingspans from there!” he answers.

“Yeah, and thousands of wingspans high in the mountains,” adds Slush.

Milori glances toward the westering sun beginning to hide behind a mountain. “It’s getting late. I want you two to go to the library and tell the Keeper about this. Ask him to find anything he can about this, and report back to me.”

“Yes, sir!” the boys echo, and take off.

Milori climbs back on the owl and takes off. He studies the area some more, but the shadows are starting to get deep, and he learns nothing new.

Troubled, he turns his ride and flies back home.

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