“I’ve come to far to stop now!” I shuddered with nerves as I let lose the words. The temple was lit well enough. The braziers and torches provided ambient heat, enough to keep me from literally freezing in my tracks.
“Follow the path of Malygwen.” Repeated in my head. The colossal stone likeness of the fallen conjuress held the great brazier, the source of all heat in the temple, maybe this world. I’ve come to find out.
Before the hermit died, he gave me the map, and an estimated 15 minute life expectancy if I lingered anywhere in this land before reaching this temple.
I heard legends of a frozen tundra, vast as the eye can see, but farther. In this realm, a sorceress cursed the land with a never ending ice age.
The glaciers immediate surrounded the small village of her lifelong enemies, but the titanic sheets of ice moved instantly outward. Forever some say. All the earth was covered in icy doom, a mile high, except that village.
Some would believe the great shamans of the clan had placed a barrier protecting the small territory, but the truth was far more grim. Her spell was designed to imprison them in an area as small as their minds, encroaching upon them by inches every year. Shifting plates of ice were to close them up for good over time.
As their generations came and went, watching the inevitable doom come closer.
“She closed our lands, as we had closed our minds to her.” The hermit told me. Frostbite had taken whatever years of conversation he had left, frozen black up to his waistband, willing words at me with the strength of his fading hope.
The cruelest part of her enchantment, only the strongest in spirit of each generation, could survive the climb up the glaciers, to the topside, where they would find the path she’d walked every day to mock the tribe. She followed the same deep foot falls to and from her temple, for years, until she finally died of old age. But with her death, the spell was not broken.
The shamans over the generations had deduced that the key to salvation must exist in her palace. On that whim, they prepared and sent the most powerful of them on a life ending journey, to get a little farther than the last man. Generations of dead and frozen men cobbled a road to a hypothetical solution.
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