The rolling hills of Winsdell remained covered in a blanket of snow as the cold wind whipped around them. They were weary like the folk that lived amongst their valleys and white knolls. If they could tell tales, they would not be weaving any stories for the time being. The hills like their folk would be too anxious, fearful, and tired to tell tales of old or new. All the hills would want to do was rest under their snowy blanket, hoping the news they had heard was nothing but a bad dream.
Their royal family was dead and gone. Their High Captain, a murderer of a foreign king, killed alongside the royal family. Elites and sons lost to a snowy grave as they fought alongside their High Captain, protecting the Cassendars. It was all too much for all those that lived in and around Winsdell. Who would protect them now? Who would lead them?
A mother cried as her only son left could find no way to comfort her. A priest spent all day in prayer, asking the gods that the news not be true. Asking the gods if he should rethink his calling. A Sentinel full of Elites and a few novices looked at each other with suspicion and worry. Who was in command? What did they fight for? A court of lords and ladies that was scattered and frightened had no idea what should happen next. Their highest lord thought to be dead with his daughter, and his sons far away.
No tales were being told in Winsdell, but they did hear whispers from lands far off. As these quiet words made their way through the kingdom and to the main village, they sparked new life in the dead of winter. Could all hope not be lost? Could the quiet rumors from Siccaria be true? Were the Cassendars really alive? Was the High Captain actually inside a foreign palace, protected by a strong family, her supposed crime actually justified?
As the snow continue to build upon the hills, the folk remained frightened, but slowly and surely, stories began to be told again. These stories brought more warmth than any fire that could be built even in the largest manor house. It brought more strength and joy than any high or low festival could bring with its dancing and food. It brought more hope than even the deepest prayer. Even as the snow continued to pile among the hills, the folk came alive once again. They trudged through the snow to see one another, whispering and raising glasses to their king, repeating the words of the Sentinel.
As the hills of Winsdell waited for spring and new life, the folk talked, hoped, and prayed that the spring ahead would bring brighter, warmer days, as they all had a feeling the winter around them would bring nothing but cold death and destruction. As the winter kingdom slowly spread throughout their lands, they held on to their belief that the Cassendars would come back to claim their throne, their High Captain leading the way.