Hello, all you lovely snow angels.
Have you got your scarf? Hat and mitts? Are you warm enough? I’m not trying to be fussy, I just want you to be ready for your journey. It may be lovely, but it’s still going to be cold, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
The Quiet of Fresh Snow
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
We seem to really like playing with the idea of peace and quiet, don’t we? Freshly fallen snow is such a lovely image too. All those little flakes dancing through the air on a gentle winter breeze… it’s just so serene.
It could easily be a peaceful winter morning, the sky that soft foggy white-grey as you sip your morning beverage, pondering what the day might bring. Maybe it’s the perfect day to catch up on reading, or maybe work on some long overdue project. Perhaps the fresh powder is inviting you to come out for a stroll, or to come and dance a waltz with its drifting flakes. Maybe the fresh snow is a sign that peace has finally come to a city in turmoil, a moment of bliss in chaos. Maybe the fresh snow is the opportunity one is waiting for to leave for a new start, the fallen flakes covering their tracks. Maybe the quiet is a final moment of peace for one soldier as he collapses in the snow, thankful this far too long battle is finally over.
But one thing to remember is that quiet isn’t always a good thing. It’s always calmest before the storm, after all. Perhaps the quiet and gentle snow is just a precursor to a horrible blizzard caused by a scorned witch. The snow could be a special curse cast by some enraged elementals to put a city to sleep, a sort of snowy cryostasis to stop mankind from wreaking havoc on the world. The quiet could be just short of the summit of some massive mountain, the fresh snow falling to envelop a hiker who just couldn’t make it to the top before succumbing to the harsh environment. The snow could be falling on a quiet night during one’s long commute home, the icy roads hidden under the powder. Maybe it’s quiet because everything that lived in this forest has already been devoured… save for you, of course.
Quiet can be peace, or it can be despair; it can bring delight, or it can play host to fear, and to combine these things with the serenity of snow… well, it brings a whole new chill out of a piece, doesn’t it?
So bundle up, get cozy, and send us into a delightful— or terrifying— flurry of imagination. The possibilities are endless.
For just like snowflakes, no two stories are ever the same.
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
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By Green and friend
I can hardly see the once breathtaking view of my beloved lands through the thick frosted veil. It is as though my curtains are still drawn to winter’s rage, the strongest blizzard our fair nation has seen in a hundred years.
This isn’t the last choice I have, no, this is the only choice I have. I must flee.
But how can I? The clatter of a loose cobble tumbling from my windowsill.
Am I strong enough? The crackling of the flames amidst the fireplace.
Will they come for me? The low murmurs of the guards outside.
“Fetch me my sheets, Alison” I whisper before pressing an ear to the door.
“All of them, my lady?” my ever dutiful servant asks.
“Yes my dear, I think I shall need them.” I reply hurriedly.
Alison returns with the entirety of my laundry in her hands and we go to work.
The repetitious work of securing each knot keeps us focused as the night grows longer and the storm outside grows more brutal.
I know my time here is short. I cast a brief glance at Alison’s grim face, she shoots me a reassuring smile, as if to comfort me.
Not a word more need be spoken between us, what could words do now?
We firmly tie the knots until the sheets are exhausted and there is but one thing left to do.
For the dogs at my door, I loudly announce “My dear Alison, I am famished. Could you go and fetch me my dinner?” Nodding to me, my companion left, passing me a knowing smile as she did.
Hesitantly ascending the balcony, wind lashing my face, I dangle my legs over the edge and begin to lower my makeshift rope.
As I look down, the last thing I know I should have done, there is no turning back.
I climb to the ground. The crisp linen meets the fresh frost and begins to blend.
The chill of the snow and din of the blizzard quiets all.
Maybe now I will find peace. In this life or the next.
Three Bugs in a Field
by Jesse Fisher
A light dusting of snow covered the once brown field outside of the small house.Inside the quant house sat a trio of yellow themed kabuto, two almost identical bots looked to the third. The green eyes of it’s visor were that of childish glee, that and the slight high pitched screech. A more detailed kabuto with wheels as the soles of its feet covered his audio receivers in pain.
“What is with her?” The wheeled kabuto groaned. “It’s just snow.”
A more basic kabuto just shrugged out of habit, as it began to check the firewood for the day.
“Give her a break, I built her near the end of winter so this is the first time she has seen it.” It shot back to its near copy as it threw another log on the fire.
“I get that but she has been at this for several hours after we explained what snow was and what you can do with it.” The wheeled one replied annoyed by the younger’s speed talk of ideas once the snow picked up.
“Let her be happy, it’s not like we had that reaction to snow the first time.” The basic kabuto sat down and looked at his near double. “We are born sass machines that take the world through a skeptical len that only got clearer when others showed us there was more than just what we thought.”
“So this is what I’m like as a parent.” the wheeled kabuto replied looking at less hyper kabuto in front of him.
“Ya our trainer was surprised how I acted.” The base kabuto chuckled. “Took me at least a month until I was sure I would not wreck myself worrying about her just wondering off and getting hurt.”
“Dads!” Said younger kabuto, wine drawing their attention. “I want to go out and make a Snowbot!”
“In a bit sweetie, for now how about a story?” The base kabuto asked, getting up and picking up a book.
“Will it involve a snowbot?” the younger asked the wining gone but big doe eyes filled her visored screen.
By Cansas Wanderlust
The cement is cold. It seeps through the fabric of my clothes, creeping along my scalp.
The leafless trees clink together, as the cool breeze runs between them.
The moon hides behind the dark clouds that sweep across the sky.
Streetlights glow white and orange, casting shadows that sway back and forth.
Why can I look beyond the sky without seeing anything?
Is it possible not to see? When I close my eyes, I see nothing. Therefore, I still see something. I see nothing.
What is nothing?
Is nothing just the word we chose to call that which we cannot comprehend?
We created words. Therefore, the only meaning words have is that which we give them.
The only meaning anything has is that which we give.
So then, what gives us meaning?
But god is just a word, a word which we created and gave meaning.
God is a story, given meaning by men, told by men, remembered by men.
If god is a story, then are we stories too?
Will anyone remember my story?
No one remembers the story of the man who discovered fire. So why would my story be remembered?
Then, what’s the point? To live, and die, and be forgotten?
Why do anything if it will only be forgotten?
Why live a story no one will remember?
Why live a story not even I will remember?
The dead cannot remember stories.
The dead cannot give words meaning.
What is the point of a snowflake?
Do you remember every snowflake you see?
Of course not.
Snowflakes fly, they fall, and then… they die, leaving no memory behind.
Yet while they live, while they fall to their demise, they still bring smiles to those who see them.
New snow has formed over the plots.
It should, Guin supposes, feel cold.
At first touch the drifts hold firm, but when she steps down, they splinter. Silently she crushes them into the grooves of yesterday’s footsteps. The moon watches her track them up the hill, up to the bowed barren tree turned crystal in the frost.
She isn’t wearing boots. The snow grazes her bare ankles as she climbs, soaks into her pants when she kneels at the summit. Her fingers push through the sheet of ice, sweep it from the stone in the ground.
Guin’s fingertips press into the carved edge of each letter. She can imagine their jagged bite on her skin.
Then she can imagine something softer.
A little girl’s hand, clammy, sticky with jam.
Warmth, fragile but present, cupped between their linked fingers.
And a time when the girl’s chirping voice had filled the silence and her heart.
Now the only sound is boots crunching their way up through the rime, kicking up flakes in a joyous destruction of Guin’s footstep path. They skip their way over the graves to plant themselves behind her.
The woman’s voice skewers the night, goring it on Guin’s name. Her suit is the color of wine, staining the diffused moonlight. There’s fire in her eyes, kindled by loathing and glee, and she’s happy to throw a new misery on the pyre.
She’s far too loud, and she knows it.
“Leave.” Guin breathes.
“What?” The woman’s grin splits wide. “You’re fine with me watching, but when I come to say hi-”
The bowed tree shudders and moans, frost dragging its limbs down toward Guin’s fists.
“Okay! Not a problem! Stuff to do anyway! Just one thing.”
She presses her palms together, and bows at the waist. The flames in her eyes lick across Guin’s cheeks. They dance across Guin’s Shackles, the ice fractals inked sapphire blue beneath her eyes.
“I need a favor.”
“A Brother’s Keeper”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane
The firewood popped as the ermine-clad dwarf held his hands over a low flame. Hunker down, he’d said. I’ll be back before dark, he’d said. The dwarf let out a huff and checked his pocket watch. Half an hour.
“Oh, hag me.”
The dwarf looked to the mouth of the cave and readied a pistol. Slowly making his way to the entrance, he prayed to every god he could think of: The Heptadeka, Geamhrobbee, Sawesafe, Outoalor. The landscape outside was nothing but an expanse of white with a layer of green on top. Suddenly, a rustling came from a nearby juniper bush. The dwarf pointed the pistol and pulled the trigger. Click. There was a pause as a rugged-looking sylph emerged from the brush.
“So, itchy fingers,” he replied with a smirk. “Ya figured me a beastie, didja?”
“What kind of guide gives their employer an empty gun?!”
“Smart kind.” The sylph sniffed as he entered the cave. “‘Sides, yer shakier dan a naked snow cat.”
The dwarf pushed the firearm back into his guide’s hand. “Just get me to where I need to be, Mister Sliv, and then we can get out.”
The sylph, Mister Sliv, gave a quick nod, squatted next to the fire, and began to warm himself. “Yer here.”
The dwarf blinked a dozen times and fetched a tuning fork from his coat pocket. With a flicking motion, he tapped the apparatus against the cave wall. A pathetic plink echoed through the chamber. Mr. Sliv couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Tunin’ a core ain’t that easy. Yer brother knew that much.”
“So then, what do I do?”
The sylph shrugged. “I ain’t an alchemist.”
“Well, aren’t you a bundle of help.”
“My job is to get ya into and out of the Hoarweld. What ya do durin’ that trip is yer business.”
The dwarf looked down at the tuning fork. Its design was ornate despite the wear on it. A gentle snowfall began outside the cave, and he allowed the tears to fall. His brother was gone. And there was no journey that would bring him back.
A Cold Silence
By L. L. Marco
The sun had been so warm only moments before. Now it fell hollowly around her, empty and serving only to cast a dusty yellow filter on a world which had fallen so suddenly still around her. The forest was silent. The air chilled. The girl trembled as her eyes fell upon a simple oak coffin resting on the dirt path a few paces ahead. Years of sunlight had bleached its surface and only served to make it even more unnatural against the lush green foliage cradling it.
A thick, powerful force reared up from the wood and coiled around her, guiding her towards the casket. Once at its side, her terror numbed and with its absence came an intense desire to see what lay within. A deeply rooted curiosity devoid of survival instinct overtook her. The girl reached out her trembling hand.
The lid slid off silently and with unnatural ease.
Her eyes fell upon a body. His skin was snow white and utterly still. His purpled lips remained ever-so-slightly parted, capturing the moment his final breaths were sealed within the coffin. The air from the casket smelled ancient despite the remains being untouched by time. Staring down at him, she realized that a breeze fluttered faintly in and out from the wood around him. It was as if, somehow, the casket breathed for him….
Suddenly, the boy’s blood-red eyes shot open. His stare locked onto hers, shattering whatever spell had been holding her. Even now, his chest didn’t rise or fall. There was no life in this moving corpse. Panic seized her. Luna jolted back but a stoney white hand clamped around her waist. Her skin burned as steam rose up from where he touched her, the flesh screaming out before the nerves froze solid. A creeping numbness spread up her arm. She was screaming now. Her free hand clawed at him, desperately trying to escape as the cold inched further and further up. There was nothing she could do. So when the cold finally reached her throat, she let out one last choked scream.
The Ones Who March in the Snow
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
Rebecca gasped as she stared out at the sparkling fields of freshly fallen snow.
It was still early in the morning, and the sky was still grey when Ollie and Rebecca set out into the frozen forest. As another cold breeze blew through the barren trees, Rebecca snuggled onto Ollie’s arm a bit tighter for warmth. Their feet crunched through fallen snow as they trekked along the path.
When the sun finally came up, the sun began to flicker on the freshly fallen show, dazzling the pair with it’s gorgeous eminence. Rebecca’s eyes grew wide as she took in the scenery.
“I-Is the snow always this pretty?”
Ollie nodded and smiled at her.
Rebecca was silent for a few moments before she snapped back and whispered. “Oops, sorry. Did I scare them away?”
Ollie shook his head and whispered back. “I don’t think so. Now that the sun is out, they should be coming out any minute now. Come on, we’ll need to hide.”
The two of them, quietly and carefully, concealed themselves in a set of bushes on the other side of the clearing and waited. It was a lot colder in the shade near the ground, so Ollie took off his jacket and wrapped it around Rebecca. Rebecca quietly protested, but eventually relented, seeing Ollie was more adjusted to the cold than she was.
As they stared into the clearing, the scene seemed to slow down. Leaves gently listed in the breeze, and white snow dripped from shaken branches. The forest floor was pristine.
After a few moments, the hidden Rebecca noticed the ground slowly began to shake apart. One by one, little furry creatures began to climb out of the snow. They were white balls of spiky fur with two large eyes in the centers of their bodies. They waddled around on two tiny feet. Being so small, they walked on top of the powdery snow and never fell in.
Rebecca gasped, “THEY ARE SO CUTE!”
Startled by the noise, the fuzzy creatures disappeared back into the ether, and Ollie couldn’t help but laugh.
Waltzing in a Winter Wonderland
Valik’s feet crunched into the snow as he moved through the city park. He raised his head and opened his mouth, letting a few snowflakes land on his tongue. He knew how much it made him look like a child but he didn’t care. He continued to stare up to the sky and enjoy the faint flakes falling.
He twirled and hummed to himself, waltzing with the snow in a dance only they knew. He felt the cold winter wind blow into his face as he continued his waltz. Though, soon the snow had to leave, the last flakes finishing their travels.
Valik smiled to the sky and waved. “Till next time, you beautiful mistress of winter.”
Playfully, the wind blew in his face as he continued on his path. He smiled at the small joys he saw on his path. Snowmen built by children, snow forts battered by today’s wars, and the marks of the people who were there were still evident on the benches.
He continued to walk down the path. He knew he would have to return to his apartment soon, but just wanted to enjoy his time out as much as possible. At least, that was until he saw something he didn’t like.
The smile slowly fell from his face as he walked up and examined the scene. He sighed and pulled up his phone, dialing the proper authorities.
The dispatcher picked up after a few minutes. ”Hello, this is emergency services. What is your emergency?”
“I would like to report a double homicide.” Valik continued to speak before the dispatcher could ask more questions. “The bodies are in the center of Burabura Park, right in front of the main fountain. The assailant is nowhere to be seen but the bodies seem fresh. I would recommend sending out people to search the area. I would also suggest hurrying so the bodies do not suffer more damage from the snow. I’ve kept this call on long enough that you should have traced this call. Now I shall conduct my investigation. Detective Valik Von Vandermeer out.”
They Never Learn
Sonja strode across the frozen field, the snow crunching under her feet, her blonde curls bouncing as she walked. Beside her, Wyndar lumbered, his short, thick legs managing to keep pace as they made their way to the village. Ringed with a wall of stone, the village was made of squat buildings, thatched with sod. At the top of the hill, there was a great hall made of logs.
“Who approaches?” yelled a voice as they got closer to the outskirts. A man, armed with a bow, stood atop the wall.
“My name is Sonja Jarlsdottir. My companion is Wyndar Hammerhaft. We have come looking for Viggo Bjornrock.”
“We have heard of you,” the guard called back. “Sonja the Gold. Sonja Firebreath. What do you want with Bjornrock?”
Sonja sighed. “If you know who I am, you should know not to test my patience. His Majesty, Charles Gustav, has placed a warrant for the arrest of Bjornrock. I am here to execute that warrant.”
“Piss off, Firebreath! Bjornrock is not leaving with the likes of you. Tell King Charles that if he wants my clansman, then he should send more than two people to collect him.” The man scoffed. “Not just a woman and a half-man!”
Sonja turned to look at Wyndar, his auburn mustache bristling with fury. He frequently got mocked for his short stature.
“I say we burn the village down already,” Wyndar muttered.
“Peace, my friend,” Sonja said. She turned back to the guard at the village wall. “You have one hour to produce Bjornrock for us. If you fail to do so, we shall enter your village and take him ourselves. If your people resist, we shall raze it to the ground.”
The man laughed mockingly. “You are free to try!”
Wyndar sighed, pulled out an hourglass, and set it in the snow. “I hate when they choose to resist. They already know your reputation.”
Sonja smirked. “And yet they always do. They have an hour, Wyndar. Unless they choose to attack us first. You should get your crossbow ready.”
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
“Clara! Clara! Get up! Get up!”
“Mmmnnnhhhwha?” Clara mumbled, rubbing her eyes.
“Clara! Clara! Look at the snow!”
Very inelegantly, Clara sat up in her bed, blinking rapidly. Her younger brother, Andrew, was hopping up and down in front of her window, which glowed brighter than a summer afternoon.
“Mmmm, it’s snow alright…” Clara fumbled for her glasses on her bedside table.
“They cancelled school, Clara! Can you believe it? Look at it, it’s still coming down!”
“Yeah…” Clara found her glasses. They didn’t help with the glare.
“We can do whatever we want, Clara! All day! I’m so excited!” Andrew jumped around her floor like a rabbit on caffeine. Clara was too tired to notice.
“Yup…whatever we want…like homework…” Clara yawned loud enough to get Andrew to stop bouncing and look at her. “What time is it?”
“Just past six! I’m gonna play all day!”
“Why don’t you go play downstairs, Andrew?” Clara forced a smile. Just past six. Her alarm wouldn’t go off for another hour. Great.
“But I wanna play WITH you!” he whined.
“Maybe in…a few hours?” Clara was already underneath the covers again. “Just…go play with Bailey. I’m sure she’d love to play all day instead of waiting for us to get home from school.”
“Okay!” Andrew ran out the room. Clara heard his footsteps descend the stairs and she closed her eyes.
…and couldn’t sleep because the light from the snow was too bright. Clara groaned and got up out of bed, clumsily pulled her desk chair over to the window, and gazed over the snow covered landscape.
It was gorgeous. She stared in silence as flakes twirled down from the sky to land on heaping mounds on tree branches or increasingly piling on the ground, currently untouched by footprints.
She sat in quiet peace, fully relaxed for the first time since the start of the semester.
Then her alarm clock went off halfway across the room.
Clara sighed. She should go play with Andrew and Bailey. It was a snow day, after all.
[REDACTED] by OrigonStory2000
Command had underestimated how fast the seasons were turning that year. Before we knew it the Hawk was already on our backs. Our deployment had been rushed to try and beat the snow. That lack of foresight meant that now, five days into our march through heavy forest, we were feeling the effects that lack of snivel gear and warm rations cause.
Private Doss spotted the fires on the sixth night. The camp must have been five hundred strong at least, but there were only a few dozen fires. Barely any guards. It didn’t make sense how they had moved this far without being noticed. Or to expose themselves by lighting fires. Maybe they thought they had safety in numbers. Or maybe they were struggling with the cold, just like us.
Our platoon was outnumbered ten to one. We couldn’t risk trying to slip by unnoticed. If caught, we’d be good as dead. We also couldn’t leave them for another platoon to find. They were our problem.
HQ might have neglected to give us thermals or chow, but one gift they’d left us with was a 60mil and six canisters of homemade whiskey Pete. We fired on the seventh night. The men we’d move in confirm all tangos were KIA come sunrise.
I’m no stranger to death. I know what it is to kill a man. That’s how I knew. Broken and burned bodies, too small and too numerous to be soldiers. Hastily scribbled orders clutched in the skinless claw of a ruined corpse.
But it was still snowing.
I belayed our maneuver orders. We waited at the death site for three days, until a soft white blanket buried our actions. When we finally rejoined the main company, I filed the official report.
“Zero Casualties Sustained.”
by Lunabear (Detective Norton Universe)
Small, soft pearls fluttered around Casey as she lay splayed on her back. The cold flakes melted as they kissed her skin. The liquid scored temporary tracks down her pallid cheeks.
Each breath was deeper than the previous ones.
Nothing else stirred save the frigid wind and the intermediate landing of heavier snowfall. There WAS an odd scraping that accompanied each bit of snow that joined the earth, but she didn’t mind; it was magical here.
How she longed for her father to share in the beauty and quiet of the moment with her. He loved times like these. Although, he’d admonish her for being out in such weather in her sundress and bare feet.
‘Don’t worry, Daddy. I’m warm enough thinking of your hugs.’
She found it queer that she couldn’t speak. That’s funny. How could she have a mouth but not be able to talk?
A strange giggle crawled from her abused throat, and it caused her head to swim. Now that she was in the mood to notice things, from her knees down felt numb. She couldn’t even tell if her toes were wiggling.
That was odd.
The sun-drenched sky above rumbled, startling her out of her giddy state. “SLEEP.”
More snow pelted her face. This batch stung, however. It felt like pellets or rocks being shot through a straw.
‘But if I sleep, my dad won’t know where I am.’
Where WAS she, anyway? And why wouldn’t her body move when she tried sitting up?
The fog at the edges of Casey’s mind parted enough for the winter wonderland to melt away and reshape into damp earth and strips of dead grass.
The last thing she remembered was eating what she’d hoped was food. Everything after was blackness.
Her heart jackhammered against her ribs. Hot tears rushed to free themselves from her eyes. For the first time in her life, her armless state made her feel helpless.
She was going to be just like all the other women on the news.
‘I’m sorry, Daddy. I fought hard.’
More dirt fell over her, and her mind quieted.
“A Quiet Longing”
By Shea Carris
In a seemingly random longing to see something from before, Wander had stopped in his tracks.
Not that he could really step any further. In front of him lay a body of water that stretched on farther than his eyes could see. The salt scented air blew through his hair and robes as he spun on his heels, his emerald eyes glancing around as he pondered where to go from here.
Maybe it was the heat of the sun beating down on him, or maybe it was the want to return to what was familiar, that made him turn to the direction he knew as “North.” In his own rhythmic pattern, he began to walk, tail swaying and dragging behind him.
Wander could never remember where he’d been before. With the passage of time, of which he passed through remaining the same save for the flowers on his antlers, the world around him was always changing. In the many days and nights it took him to stroll to the countless edges of the Earth, this forest could very well have been a field in the past.
The silence of this place was a stark contrast to the defeaning crashes of the waves he had once stood before. Despite the water’s reflective beauty, he found that he much preferred this unmoving landscape and all of it’s glittering glory.
Picking up his feet, Wander found himself twirling and leaping more than walking. With his light footsteps, he was tiptoeing over the surface of the freshly fallen snow, barely breaking it’s surface. His breath, it’s beat rising slightly, manifested in the form of a fog that was gone as soon as it came, drifting away into the peaceful night.
This hush that was near tangible, and the winter air that he danced through, is what he missed dearly when he wandered some place far away. It was obvious, he would waltz solo, but Wander would dance happily regardless. Even when an inevitable pang of loneliness hit his heart, he’d return to the quiet snowy forest and dance with the moon.
Old Friends, New Snow
(Tales from Alsuria)
The aging estrali’s bones ached as he climbed atop the log to keep watch over his herd. They grazed on snow-covered ferns in content peace. However, the tempting lull of the morning did not sway him. Unseen things still lurked in the fading shadows of night. Some friendly, others treacherous.
The sun crested the mountain and spilled its warm rays over the forest below. Boldened by the sunlight, the herd’s colts began to play in the fresh snow. He shivered nervously as their chirps could draw unwanted attention. If the shepherd were nearby, he would relax, but they had long since returned to their home high on the mountain.
He caught the stranger’s scent long before their voice reached his ears. At his warning call, the herd froze, huddled in the snow to keep a low profile. His muscles tensed as he watched the silhouette approach on the southern trail. They were a hulking figure: part beast, part man. And yet… something about their sent triggered a distant memory. Against the primal urge to run, he hesitated.
“Easy there, it’s just me.” The figure whispered as they drew near. As their scent grew, so did the memory. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it, Broken Horn?” At the sound of his name, he remembered. This was the shepherd’s friend, the one who saved him from the fire long ago.
Broken Horn snorted cautiously. It had been many seasons since they last saw eachother—many seasons for one to change their ways. Yet the kind gaze of the friend’s eyes told him otherwise. Hesitantly he nuzzled their open palm and rubbed his forehead against it. They chuckled as they obliged to scratch that special place between his horns.
“I knew you wouldn’t forget your old pal, Paldacer.” He smiled and offered his other hand for one of the bolder colts to sniff. He sat down on the log next to Broken Horn as peace reanimated the herd. Together the old friends watched the herd graze as the sun climbed higher in the sky.
The Quiet of Fresh Snow
I had always thought the Winter King would have blue eyes. That’s how the stories portrayed him, or any other emissary of winter. The gaze I now faced was a ruddy brown, like oak leaves reluctant to fall away, the white of his eyes like encroaching frost. I had not meant to look, I had not known he was there, but when I turned down the snow-covered trail our eyes had met. I don’t think he meant to look at me either. The snowfall around us was deafening, absorbing all sound as it feathered the ground in white.
I turn my head just in time to see a deer’s white tail as the poor creature leapt further into the woods. When I turned back the eyes were gone. There was no one there. I released my breath, billows of white clouding my face before wisping into the cold wind. I could still feel the deep cold of those eyes reaching into me as I continued my walk.
Small details filed into my memory as I walked. His hair had been striped with deep browns and ebonies. He had worn trousers, but his chest and feet had been left bare to the cold. His skin had glowed pale and cold like moonlight. He should have felt out of place.
The snow fell harder, and the trees seemed to draw closer around me making everything unfamiliar and claustrophobic in the haze of falling snow. I took a deep steady breath to calm myself but could not shake the dangerous stillness. I released another long breath, but there was no white cloud this time. I sigh deeply, purposefully, but could not generate enough heat to warm the air.
A branch cracked behind me, and like the deer I thoughtlessly leapt into the underbrush in some adrenaline-addled thought of preservation. I could no longer feel the cold, but my lungs burned with a strange fire as I stood. I saw nothing but trees, and heard nothing but the silence of falling snow.
“Aali, look! My surprise for you!”
Argenn poked her head out of the massive tree, before she grabbed Aalaaros’ sleepy hand and tried to pull him from their bed. “C’mon, wake up, honey! Let’s goooo!”
His hand slowly gestured her back to the bed.
“Aalaaros, Great Stag of Fertility, do not make me invoke the sphere of Guidance to guide you out of bed.”
A groggy voice called back with a coy smile, “Argenn, Serpent of Night, do not make me invoke the sphere of Fertility to bring you back into bed.”
Argenn pursed her lips before snapping her fingers. In an instant, a force pulled the sleepy god out of bed, causing him to stand upright. From there, Argenn then pulled him along from their natural outcropping and out into the field.
The typical greenery of the Lunar Copse was consumed by tiny flakes of dancing white frost. A fresh untouched layer of snow rested atop the grass, creating a pure white landscape. The forest edge surrounding the field was vibrant with birdsong.
“Here. See? Look at it!”
Aalaaros wiped his eyes as he gazed out to the display of winter. “Oh yeah, it’s beautiful. This was a surprise for me? What for?”
Argenn’s face dropped from a smile to an unamused frown. “Don’t tell me you forgot. This is my arrival anniversary. Y’know, when you first brought me here.”
“Ah. Mhm, I remember that. You were wide-eyed, Celastra and Kymenos had just brought you back from godsleep, and then they decided we were just perfect for each other.”
Argenn continued to drag her husband through the snow, out in the open, beneath the shining light of the moon. With one hand on his hip and the other in his hand, they began to sway to the song of the wild, the choir of birds chirping away.
With a nibble on his ear, she then whispered, “Well, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I love you, Aalaaros.”
“I love you too, Argenn,” he replied, a melodious tone in his voice.
Snow falls like confetti on a Carnaval day
By Larissa (Lari B. Haven)
Winfrey was perching on his chair, tearing old papers into tiny pieces. The tropical heat was taking a toll on him.
“Oh, dear! Have you ever cleaned this place?” Alexandria said, annoyed from the other room.
The professor couldn’t understand why she was there.
Being cooked alive, and eaten by bugs while organizing his living room was a bore. Imagine it: a young lady and an old, tired Professor. What a criminal sight.
“You did enough.” He took her by the hands and pleaded, “It’s Friday, and it’s Carnaval tomorrow. Don’t you have real friends to see and go out with?”
“I don’t care about partying; I’d rather come to visit you…” She lied.
He knew she was just avoiding his bigger questions. Alexandria had very few associates, and he was one of them.
“What is this?” She took a little round globe filled with soaked semolina from the cupboard.
“A snow globe. I think It’s from my time in Germany. I miss snow days.”
“This is how snow looks like? I only ever read about it in books. Does it shine like this?”
“A tad,” he laughed. “On the first day of snow, kids would go play in the streets, with their friends. Just to see the snowflakes falling.” He threw his minced paper in the air, while she watched in wonder. “The snow falls as confetti people throw from the balconies on Carnaval.”
“Confetti on Carnaval?” She smirked. “That’s your snow?”
He nodded. She got the message he was trying to send.
She took the globe between her hands, and again, grinned while daydreaming about winter that only existed in a faraway land.
“Still… I’d love to see it,” she half-whispered.
Winfrey could be a couple of years from knocking on Death’s door, and she was very young. But they understood each other. Cared for each other. Maybe all she was missing was a little push to go see the world.
“I will take you there. Someday,” he answered.
He would give that push.
Tiny impacts on the Earth
by Gage Jarman
Breath froze in the air like the plume of a locomotive. The frigid air burned in Mikhail’s chest. A snaking trail followed the suitcase dragging through the deep snowdrifts. Mikhail had to find shelter, not just from the coming storm. They would soon follow him. He wasn’t foolish enough to think they’d let him leave, even if he had made a deal. Staying off the roads would buy a little time. He didn’t want to think anymore. He didn’t have a choice. An early death is of use to no one except your enemies. He focused each stride, but the thoughts forced their way back in. The small rustle of large gentle flakes hitting bare branches filled the void between the squeak of his heavy steps. The dark clouds would soon assert their dominion over the grey sky.
Gunfire echoed over the birch stand. Mikhail froze. It rolled like thunder, reverberating in his very being, fading back into the muted drone of snowflakes. A million miniscule impacts a second. They grew louder, the tiny ticking tapping on his ears.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven.
Tears formed in Mikhail’s eyes. His lip quivered. He tried to suck the tears back in. The wind picked up. He blinked rapidly, staring at the fragile flakes falling to the pure blanket before him.
A wail broke free from the man’s soul. All the turmoil churning within him poured out in a mournful chorus with the wind. He didn’t want this. If there was another way… he sold them out to the mob. They would have still died, but not by his hands. He wiped his face, staring up at the sky, watching the snow drift down to earth. At least, their families were safe. They had this money if he could stay alive.
Mikhail charged forward. He had to get it back. This sin, these shackles he bound himself to would be for nothing if he failed now. He dragged his foot through another snowdrift. The gentle drone of the falling snow following close behind.
Digging Joy From The Cold (Nyssa’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis
Another day in her lonely tower. Snow had fallen last night.
Nyssa looked towards the University outside, blanketed in white. It looked beautiful. Nothing like the dark, messy room she’d been living in for the last two years.
Snow had been rare where she lived, but she remembered almost exploding with excitement whenever she saw that white world outside. Back then, she’d do everything she could think of – rolling it up into snowpeople, shaping snow bugs and snow lobsters with her body, throwing snowballs off the cliffs and watching them fall into the sea…
It also reminded her of how it had never felt the same since her mother had died. She’d stopped playing with it after that. Now snow was just an excuse for her to stay inside.
Nyssa looked away, her eyes catching the reflection in her askew mirror. Her blonde hair was a tangled mess, looking barely any different from the clumps of hair building up on the floor. Her skin was going pale from the lack of sunlight.
She tried to smile. Her lips pulled back from her teeth. Her brown eyes stayed as dark and dull as before.
A familiar knocking shattered the suffocating silence. Nyssa jerked in surprise. She was here? During winter break? She went to open the door, saying “Iyra, you know I’m not doing study sessions during holidays…” before seeing a beaming smile on the half-elf student’s face. “Oh. What’s the occasion?”
“SNOW!” Iyra spun around, arms outstretched in wonder. “Look at it Professor! It’s so, so beautiful!”
Nyssa cocked her head curiously. “I’ve never seen someone so excited for snow in…well, thirty years. Why come to tell me about it though?”
“Well, it’s just that – we never HAD snow at home. I only ever heard of it, and now it’s everywhere!” She spun again, overwhelmed. “Honestly I – I don’t know what to do. Professor, you’ve lived here for years, what DO you do with snow?”
“Never…had…” Nyssa paused, staring into space. Then she smiled, as a distant light began to shine within her eyes. “I have a few ideas.”
A Quiet Warning
Certain things are lost in death. Only the most meaningful aspects of a life remain. In some places, this means that the dead might haunt a place or person; a shadow in a house or a cool breeze on your cheek in summer.
Death is a distillation rather than a reduction.
I found the Origin, the place where Rapaçion ascended. It was one of the desolated planets. I found, also, survivors. You can imagine my surprise that Rapaçion left behind a realm of small gods and proto-deities. Perhaps it is not so surprising such a being would be born in such a place.
There is a god there called ‘Father.’ He found me and walked with me for a time, like blue sunlight on water. I found him to be a subtropical, somewhat coastal god. He was then nowhere near ascension capability. He showed his home and I showed him his world. There is nothing so pleasurable in this life as watching a Stoic wonder.
As I said, it is a place of small gods. ‘Father’ wanted to protect his family, his living legacy. He is a good father, methinks. Not all gods are so inclined, so I showed him one.
I think it was a great wolf in life. In death, it is a woodland spirit and, with enough sacrificiants and devotees, it could one day become an animalistic, boreal god. Father put a stop to that. For a god with no prowess in the hunt or warfare, he was surprisingly well adjusted. The lupine proto-deity died a second death. I don’t think ‘Father’ knew what to think when I told him to eat. He laughed, but there’s only one way to kill a god or ghost. In the end, when it started to reform, he consumed it.
It made me think. It is not in Rapaçion’s nature to leave scraps. A return is imminent.
I am leaving this warning here in the silence between days, in the quiet between snowflakes. Rapaçion will never know I was here. If you’re still enough to hear me, protect your small gods.
System Log for Umonon-17: Temperature Seal Breached; Igniting Distress Signal
The station’s alarms had long since been silenced. Only a tiny flashing blip of red light remained, humming in the climate control room. Under the desk, Quin tucked gloved paw-like hands under her body and settled in to wait, for death or rescue, in privacy.
Snow was both cold and wet. She had never experienced a wet type of cold before. The Meerpine homeworld used to have harsh winters, but it was a very dry world. That was centuries ago; most Meerpines lived in climate-controlled spaces these days.
When Quin volunteered to research this ice moon, she never expected this.
Her eyes stung from the tiny airborne flakes of ice, and she closed them on instinct, relying on her other senses—hearing, heat, vibrations. She would have to remember the feeling to log later. She refused to think of the alternative.
She felt the snow settle like a blanket on the floor, soft and wet. She heard the light bouncing around and reflecting from the piles below.
The excess humidity in the air at this station never really bothered her, until the climate seal started leaking and it began to freeze midair.
Snow was confusing. It was just tiny frozen water, and she had seen small amounts artificially created in a lab before. She had heard of worlds where snow formed naturally in huge amounts, as weather.
Nobody theorized about just how bright it was. The harsh lighting on snow was blinding, even with her eyes closed. Light had a sound of its own, and this was dizzying. Like a shattered mirror.
The snow was melting near her, and she was wet. Meerpines never really had large amounts of water available, this should be fascinating. She reached for a pad, remembered she didn’t have one, and almost went to go look.
Her quills were rising, she realized, and trembling. That was… a cold reaction? That made sense, she was very cold right now.
Her hands hurt, and her nose was numb. There was light singing, and singing, and… something else? A shape—
“Othala get over here, we have a survivor!”
A Deprived’s Guitar (Oneiron Universe)
Jamie’s fingers danced along the strings of his guitar, notes falling like the intricate ice crystals outside the window. Jamie had almost forgotten the calm that came with the first snowfall, covering the sins of the past with its cleansing hue. It gave him hope that the Madness would eventually be silenced and his broken city purified. His guitar mourned for the city and the tears in his eyes blurred his vision.
“Your hope is misplaced, Jamie. Your world is dead, a corpse smothered by snow.”
Jamie did not turn around. He knew what terrifying entity belonged to that taunting voice. His focus returned to the falling snow and the notes that emerged from his fingertips.
“You can’t ignore me forever, Jamie. Go and convince your friends that they have lost their minds, but you can never hide the truth from yourself.” Jamie felt the sweltering heat of the lights that replaced the entity’s face, forcing him to play faster.
“Why do you fight for your sanity? Do you realize how little you have left? I am already inside your mind, controlling your actions. You are Deprived, convincing yourself that you were ever anything but! No amount of caffeine can save you from my grasp and music is as effective as snowfall in a desert! When will you give up and face the truth?”
The music ceased and Jamie spun around in his chair, meeting the gaze of the shadow that stood before him. The five lights burned with an intensity that pierced his soul. “Someone has to be strong enough to lead this small group of survivors! If they discovered I had already lost my mind, what would they do? Would they have the will to cast me out of my own facility? Would they experiment on me like the other Deprived?”
The monster laughed, “Clearly, I’m not getting through to you this way. Let me show you the power I wield.”
Jamie felt something snap within the recesses of his mind and his vision dimmed. He collapsed on the ground, smothered by memories that fell like silent snow.
In the Frosts
As soon as snow started to fall Ada was out of the door, immediately forgetting everything her protectors had told her about why they needed to stay cautious and hidden. She stopped dead in her tracks about 100 meters from the house and looked up at the sky. “… blabla, who cares, there’s nothing here that could harm us anyways, Concern, you know that! ” Ada tried to catch a snowflake with her mouth and missed.
Little did she know (or care) that there *were* things out here that could in fact harm her and her guardian. Apart from the gunman of the White Court, who would be almost indistinguishable from the falling snow should he choose to attack, there was also the biting cold of the Frost. Rainbows were not made for the cold. After all they need rain to thrive.
” …but it’s snowing! Come on, Concern, live a little!” The swirling colors of Ada’s skin seemed even brighter against the stark contrast of the white snow. It almost seemed to glow from the inside. That alone made her stand out, so she didn’t have to run around like a maniac and talk to empty air to make it worse.
“I’m not a maniac.” Ada scolded playfully as she began to climb a tree next to the hut. It’s her nature to climb high but right now that was a very unwise decision. She could fall off and hurt herself. The White Courter could spot her even more easily and if that didn’t make her obvious enough she was the loudest thing in the entire Frosts right now. She was bound to draw unwanted attention…
Ada groaned. “Alright, partypooper! I’m going! I’m going!”
Besides. Simone was waiting inside with a hot cup of tea and some nice, freshly made purple.
“Really?” Hearing that Ada all but jumped from the lowest branch and ran back towards the safehouse. “Race you back!”
[From the treeline the White Court’s best assassin watched the scene in silence and smiled to herself. Then the door of the house closed and all was quiet once more]
A Desert of White Silence
by Exce, checked by Luna and Wvlf
Excelsius stretched, and hot blood ran over his claws even as golden light engulfed him.
There was a violent sensation of falling before he hit the ground, sinking multiple feet into the soft dirt.
His senses in disarray, it took him a moment to realize that he was not stuck in dirt.
When he was finally able to sit up, there it was, as far as he could see.
There was white as far as he could see, and the air was filled with so many flakes that there was no horizon.
A terrifying thought crossed his mind.
The Angels had used some grand spell to travel to LumenOrbis, and the one he had fought…what if she had used her dying breath to banish him?
Excelsius took a deep breath, the air biting his throat.
He had hoped for his voice to carry, but it died off almost immediately after leaving his mouth.
A myriad of ideas shot through his mind, oiled up by his increasing panic.
He could transform or fly and just set off in a direction, but if he ran out of steam before getting anywhere, he wouldn’t be strong enough to stave off the cold.
Excelsius’ thoughts lost coherence, and he felt his ideas slip into nonsense.
And just then, at the edge of his consciousness, there was a blip of life.
Through the snowsquall, there it was ever so faintly. A sentient soul, and a few that weren’t.
They were moving away.
Energy crackled along Excelsius’ arms, and the snow around his feet began to steam.
He needed to alert them.
He raised his arms towards the sky, and with a thunderclap a glowing sphere shot forth. It rose swiftly before exploding into an immense fireball.
Warm rain pelted Excelsius, as he listened into the shattered silence. Until, finally, the shape of a sled became visible.
The figure on the sled spoke, but even if Excelsius didn’t understand, he recognized the sound of it. He was still on LumenOrbis. The Angel had not banished him.
They had failed to stop him.