I. The Lady In His Arms
A young man clad in white clothes, and a dark blue cape walked out of the cave. He was holding a woman in his arms. Her face was so beautiful that it could mesmerize anyone. Her ears were long and pointed at the end, like an elf’s. Her long golden hair would reach the ground if the winds weren’t giving them a free ride as they passed by. The woman was dressed in a purple robe. Her body laid was as motionless as a lifeless doll. Her eyes were closed gently and there was this enchanting smile on her charming face as if after years of suffering, she finally found peace. Her hands were over her abdomen and below her hands was In a neatly folded paper white paper.
He walked slowly, as if he feared he might disturb that woman’s sleep. He looked straight ahead. His face was expressionless, but the glistening corners of his eyes told how terrible he was feeling. But no tear fell out of his eyes. At times, the winds would carry some strands of her hair over his face, but he wouldn’t try to get away from them. He appeared like some statue.
A girl cried out from a few meters away when she saw that young man coming out of that cave. Sara was waiting for him outside. For some reason, she couldn’t enter that cave. At the cave’s entrance, there was this invisible wall that prevented her entry.
She wanted to tease Ice for carrying a beautiful maiden in his arms at first, but when she saw his expressions, she realized that she should not. When she walked near, she realized that that lady was probably dead. When she looked at that woman carefully, Sara found that her golden hair and her facial features had a striking similarity to that lady in his arms. They would appear twins if their age was same.
“Are you alright? Who is she?” Sara asked him.
Ice didn’t respond. It looked as if he couldn’t respond. He kept walking at the same pace. Sara didn’t ask anything anymore because she knew him better. She tugged on to a corner of his robe and walked behind him silently, just like she used to when she was a kid.
As they walked, the girl felt that the forest has become deadly silent, unlike before. Before, they’d meet some small and big beasts from time to time. Ice would take a detour if he felt something was ahead. But this time, she didn’t see any trace of life. No beast roared. No insect chirped and made a noise. It was like every living being in the forest had vanished, evaporated into nothingness. This strange occurrence frightened Sara.
But after a few minutes, Sara saw a snake on a tree. It was a Brown Eryare snake that could change colour of its scales to any shade of brown and camouflage itself. Normally this snake would coil around the barks of trees, and it was very hard to spot. It was famous for its aggressive behaviour. Its toxic venom would first paralyze the prey first and then it would start rotting the muscles. It’s slightly golden eyes were the only feature that could help in detecting one of Eryare snake. Ice had told her to be specially aware of this snake.
Sara quickly rushed to the other side. The little girl tugged on his shirt.
“There’s an Eryare snake. Be careful.” Sara warned him, but Ice kept walking as if he saw nothing. The snake slithered down from the tree. The snake first raised its head and then it lowered it to the ground as if he was giving respect in its own way. When they passed by the snake’s small territory, the snake didn’t even hiss. The strange occurrence surprised Sara.
Going ahead, she saw other beasts with their heads down while trying their best to stay away from sight. Some beasts were even near their natural prey, but they didn’t dare to hunt them. It was as if the king of the forest was passing by.
Ice, with a beauty in his arms, and the little girl who was tugging on his shirt kept walking in the silent forest. Gradually, the forest thinned out and after some time they reached a cliff.
The light from the sun fell on his body, but it couldn’t heat up his broken heart. Sun, as if feeling sad for its wasted efforts, hid behind the clouds. And as the sun hid, the flow of air underwent a change. It was subtle but perceptible.
From there, Ice could see the sight of a city. That city was Eudora, the capital of the country of Yalia. He could see three circular walls in the city. The royals lived inside the innermost wall, the nobles in the middle and the citizens within the outermost wall. At the centre of the city, there was an enormous stone castle, residence of the rulers of Yalia.
Sara was observing him carefully. It was the first time Ice had behaved like that in front of her. Ice had been with her ever since she was born, but he never behaved so cold and distant. Ever since Sara was born, she and Ice had kept their distance from others. Ice couldn’t have known that lady. In the forest, they had come across quite a few dead bodies, but none had induced such behaviour from him. That’s why Sara didn’t understand how that woman changed his mood.
Sara saw that his silver pupils had a faint glint of redness. At first she thought it was her imagination, but it didn’t take long before that redness became more intense as he looked ahead towards Eudora. It looked as if his soul was bleeding.
“Ice! Your eyes are turning red! Just what the hell is happening to you?” she spoke up, concerned about this unusual thing and also spooked by it.
“Don’t worry, love.” he said as he turned his head towards her, revealing his eyes. Even though his words were calm, his manner was so cold that it sent shivers down Sara’s spine.
When he turned back his head, the winds started blowing faster. They went berserk and started running amok like a wild horse that cannot be controlled.
“Stay here.” Ice commanded and started walking ahead towards the edge of the cliff. Even though Sara was afraid that Ice might fall, she let go of his clothes, albeit reluctantly.
Ice stopped at the edge of the cliff, looking straight with his chin up a little to hold back those tears. He knew he wouldn’t be able to hold on to them if he looked down at that woman.
Ice closed his eyes and whispered, “I only wanted to live, but I guess my wish was too naïve. Today, in the name of Yavie, I offer my life as sacrifice and open the first seal.” The winds became even more chaotic as they roamed around his body like a small hurricane, seemingly wanting to rip him to pieces. But he stood there like a stone. Ice felt something inside him setting free. Something he never wanted to happen.
‘Come Ice’ a voice echoed his ears out of nowhere after the seal broke. And as it did, Ice’s heart let out a loud beat. It resonated with his very soul, and his soul felt detached from his body for a brief moment. The voice was deep as if someone was speaking from the very depths of the oceans.
Ice replied in his mind, ‘Not now!’. He firmly denied the calling and regained his senses.
When he opened his eyes again, his pupils were deep red, the crimson colour of blood. The last trace of that silver colour in his eyes had disappeared. And unlike the blaze in his eyes, his body became cold.
The white clouds above his head turned grey. As if a chain reaction had happened, the grey clouds spread and soon every corner of sky was covered by those clouds. The darkness in the mid-day appeared out of nowhere. The temperature of the surroundings dropped to the point that Sara could see her condensed breath. The wild winds quietened down. If wind had a form, it would appear just like those beasts of the forests, bowing down to Ice.
A storm was coming...