ashes and snow

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twenty-three


Ice and fire.

Sharp needles ran all over Eira’s skin, and her mind was lost in a never-ending fever dream. Loud voices were around her, yelling things she couldn’t concentrate enough on to understand.

She didn’t even care at the moment.

Should the hell open and pull her in, she only cared for the heat inside of her. This burning dared to inflate her body with waves of pain.

Her whole body cramped.

And then, her world was shaken up. Everything shook, and she felt like a ragdoll. She was weightless as she drifted in and out of oblivion. There was no way she could determine the time that passed. Her mind was a blank page, waiting to be filled.

The sceneries changed, but it was not anything she’d suspected.

She was standing in an all-white room without a door or window. She looked down at herself and touched the soft, white robe she now wore. Its fabric was so long that it reached the floor and hid her bare feet. The ground beneath was just as cold as the air around her.

Her brows furrowed.

Nothing about this lined up with the things she could remember.

She took a few steps forward to the high wall. She laid her hands flat on top of it, moving them to try and find a way out.

She refused to be stuck here. Who knew what was happening in the kingdom while she wasn’t there. She called for the magic inside of her, but there wasn’t anything she could hold onto.

Her throat bobbed.

There was nothing there.

Her hands balled into fists, and she slammed her right hand against the wall in anger. She groaned as waves of pain exploded from her knuckles. She bent and pressed her hand against her chest.

Anger wouldn’t get her out of here, she knew that. But this had felt better than so many things these past few weeks.

It took her a few seconds before she could look up again. Her gaze wandered to the wall, which was complete without damage.

She hissed at it and turned her back to it.

Her hand was still hurting, which meant that her magic wasn’t even doing as much as healing her.

How great.

There was nothing she could do.

She moved her gaze through the room, trying to find something that would help her. She refused to admit that she was stuck. She had always found a way out of everything, and she wouldn’t give up just now.

One blink of her eyes and the sceneries changed again.

She was involved in white fog and was barely see anything.

Eira breathed in deeply. Something around her smelled of earth, a musky smell in the air.

A click sounded, and her head snapped to the side. There was a spark of yellow light and heat, a flame that started to move around her. Only a second later, she was surrounded by it, the blazes still wide away from her.

She stilled and waited for something to happen.

There was still no response to her magic. She was alone in this.

And then, the flames began to move again, forming a path.

There was nothing other she could do but to walk along with them. She couldn’t risk getting hurt because her magic wasn’t functioning correctly.

She frowned and raised her hands, taking every step carefully slow. In case she would reach the wall, she wouldn’t run against it.

She walked forward through the white clouds, her hands covering her face against the furring heat. Sweat was starting to form on her body, sticking parts of her robe against her skin.

There was no smoke, but she was still panting with every breath she took. Her lungs felt like they were about to collapse under pressure. It felt like she was deep underwater.

She breathed in deeply and forced her body to move forward, despite her struggles. She would win whatever this game was and get back to her kingdom as soon as possible.

She didn’t even know what had happened to get her here. Had someone taken her? In all her years, nothing like this had ever happened.

She knew there was a first time for everything, but she thought she had mastered it all.

But, if this had been caused by someone other than her, it would mean that she wasn’t the only one that contained magic. And that couldn’t be possible.

Only something that came from her own bloodline should be able to inherit a form of magic. She had always been alone in this world.

There had been a time where she thought that it would change. But it had been ripped away from her arms.

She hadn’t been strong enough back then, barely more than a human. Now she had learned from her mistakes.

She would never let someone get as close to her again, would never find something so special in someone. The betrayal still laid deep in her bones, engraved through her flesh in scars no one could see.

The fire and fog vanished, and she could finally see where the flames had let her. She was yet again in a white room, but there was something different about it.

There was a dark crip, and the gurgle of a child echoed through the air. Eira’s heart stopped for a second before it started to race. Her lips opened, and she breathed out all the air in her lungs.

It couldn’t be real.

She stumbled a step forward. Her sight grew blurry.

Was her mind fooling her?

It was all she could suspect now that her magic had left her with this. There was no way any of this could be true.

She reached out her hand, barely reaching it. There was a second of triumph, the wooden crip cold beneath her touch. A chocked sob left Eira’s lips, and she took another step forward.

She wanted to see the child, needed to know if it could actually be true.

Just another step and then-

The crip faded into a pile of ashes, out of her grasp and the child’s cries quietened until they weakened into nothingness.

A sob left Eira’s lips. “No.”

She dropped onto her knees, trembling hands grasping the ashes, trying to find something that had never been there. Her breaths came unevenly. “No!”

Water dripped from her face onto the white ground and the ashes beneath her. She was a shaking mess, powerless as someone could be. There was nothing she could do, nothing she could do to get back what she had hoped for, for so long.

She chocked on her next inhale of breath.

She had lost everything a long time ago, and there was no way to get it back. As much as she had tried to forget the pain, it had always been there. It came creeping back into her in crashing waves of pain.


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