Thursday, January 26, 2017
Flash Fiction # 235 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 19: Snow City
Not far? The Icelings clearly didn't understand the term in the same way that a battered, tired human did. I kept moving and gave a grateful thank you to Lord Snow when he called a halt several hours into the walk. From the way he looked over his shoulder, though, I could tell that we were not going to be here long.
I had to believe the Icelings knew where they were going. The idea that there might be another gate to Elsewhere made me hopeful. If we could get there, get allies, come back through the gate near home -- yes, that was a plan. I had never had a plan during this madness.
For the moment, at least, I even let myself believe it would work.
We climbed and hiked, moving onward all through the day. The air grew thinner, and the cold tripled, but I adjusted. I'd never liked cold before, and I didn't now, but I was doing okay.
At sunset we arrived at a high alpine glacier, the edge running with a waterfall, a pile of debris dropped at the edge as the ice melted back. I had thought it close to the ground, but we went down under it into a tall, wide area. Dark for the first few steps, and then we passed through some sort of wall of magic, and I could clearly see the winding path ahead of us.
The icelings were far happier now that they were down here under the ice. I didn't think we would be safe from the actual trouble. Lord Snow had told them we had enemies, but they were aware of that anyway. The magic used to make the avalanche had been what drew them out.
We did not go far into the icy cavern before they began to gather at the rock wall. Boulders moved aside, and we quickly headed in, the rocks moving back into place behind us. Not really safe, I knew. I had sensed the magic here and so would Alsia when she came this way. We had to work quickly --
I turned around and felt my breath catch.
A city sat in a hollow below me, the walls of translucent stone rising one floor atop another and glittering with magic light. Paths led down the hillside at a gentle slope, and far down I could see what must be the closed gate.
"Make sure they understand that I have not one this myself," I said as we went down the long path. "I was with Lord Cayman when he opened that last door, and I had a feel for it, but --"
"I have explained," Lord Snow said. "They understand that you can only try. If you do this, it will help us all, though."
He didn't say so, but I had the feeling he worried about our next encounter with Alsia. I hurried a little faster, despite that my body ached.
I also wanted to stop and look at the buildings we passed. They were wonders of stone and ice, filled with magic color that spilled out all around us as we walked. Edmond darted here and there, but never went far. Lord Snow talked with our hosts and from the way his tail twitched now and then, I could tell that what he learned did not please him very well.
He finally dropped back to talk to me.
"They knew about Alsia already," he said. "They'd sensed her in the city where she turned up just a few days ago. When they went to her, though, she killed three of them and the others barely escaped. They think she might be insane."
"Maybe she spent too much time here among humans," I offered.
He gave a little rumble of a laugh. "You might be right. I think, though, Alsia's appearance, and her dislike for the other beings points more to someone who is working with Darman. She is not Potilia, but they have a lot in common."
"And she is still coming after us," I said with a nervous look back over my shoulder.
"She'll have some trouble getting through that shield and into the city. They took quite a chance coming to you as they did because they knew Alsia was in the area, too. She is an enemy, though. I don't think she realizes how much her callousness is going to cost her."
"Best if I get the gate open," I said. "Better if this doesn't become a fight."
"True," he agreed.
I hurried forward. Edmond bounded down with me, though he did to the air. I had the feeling his inability to land well would have embarrassed him before the icelings.
The closer I got to the gate, the more I felt a link to the magic there. I put my hand to it and felt it swirled and touch me.
"I don't think I'll have much trouble opening this," I said looking down at Edmond. "But is it safer for us to go through. I never felt very safe in Elsewhere before."
"Nowhere is safe," Edmond said and rubbed against his legs. "We just have to do what we can, Mark."
I mumbled agreement, but my attention was not on the bit of magic before me and tried to ignore the sounds of trouble -- and the growing feel of magic -- behind me. I had to block it out and recall all I knew about magic, which was not a lot. I'd been around it enough, though -- and this gate wanted to open. The icelings had not touched the right chords with it. This was fae magic, and though I wasn't a full fae, it still recognized me as one of them. That was an odd feeling, there in the midst of all this trouble.
And there was a problem. I could hear Lord Snow growling as the trouble came closer....
To Be Continued....