#NaNoWriMo : Winter Discomforts
It was the first snow today. Twisk therefore made some cute stick pictures of everyone enjoying themselves- or not- and I had to make a story.
The preparatory signs of a heavy Frewyn winter were everywhere when the party returned to Diras: the first light snows blanketed the capital, the streets that had been used to the bustle and gaieties of the autumn harvest and holidays were now subdued, a frost began to gain power over the air and what was once a delicate tinge of cold was now a frozen gale; denizens shuffled about and huddled together for warmth, wearing clothing that was hardly warm enough for such a sinking climate; the skies churned a foreboding grey, cider carts were being wheeled round the square, a early fires glowed amber in the windows of every home, chimneys billowed with grey-black smoke, the scent of hickory and mulled spices lingered, and the capital was well-braced to surrender to the winter’s ascendancy.
Upon seeing the falling flakes, Soledhan broke from the party and ran toward the square with a felicitous shout. He whooped the entire way from the port to the square, running in under the mist with hands raised and head high, Hathanta hastening after him while the commander laughed and shook her head, delighted that he should have inherited her affection for the cold. Kai Linaa bore a similar character, hopping up and down, endeavoring to catch every falling flake in her open mouth as she dragged Unghaahi by the arm towards one of the nearby vendors. She would enjoy the cold, but only if she could have a large knitted hat, oversized mittens, a long and cumbersome scarf, and her mate to carry her about and warm her when her first enchantment with the snow had done. While she had missed all the beauty and quietness a thick Frewyn snow could supply, Ladrei could not share in his sister’s sentiment. He had always done his utmost to avoid the long Frewyn winters when making a visit. Here was a accomplishment, for is snowed almost half the year, through the second half of autumn and first half of the spring, and though the latter months were of a more tolerable hue than those in the autumn, they were still colder than any winter day in Lucentia could provide. Ladrei sighed and sulked as he stepped off the pier, raising his hands to shield his high hair from the clumping flakes. He would not grump and grouse as Rautu would do of something he could not change, though he might wish to do, but he would brood in silence and lament that Lucentian hair wax though strong could not withstand the weight of collected snows. His disenchantment was calm in comparison to the Den Asaan’s; they had just been in the north, reveling in the mild climate and brilliant sun, and here was a prospect to destroy his blithesome humour: dampness underfoot, frigid air, wretched flakes sticking to his fibrous locks. The giant blew every snowflake he could away from his face, growing more disconsolate the more his attempts at remaining dry had failed. It was all misery and agony to him, and seeing Soledhan and Kai Linaa’s enjoyment only expatiated his detestation. He grabbed his mate, held her against his chest, huddled beneath his trappings and demanded that she should not move until they were all safely near a fire.
“Every year you contrive to control the Frewyn skies and every year you fail, Iimon Ghaala,” she laughed, muffled by the giant’s trappings closing about her.
“Quiet, woman,” he grunted, placing his giant hand over her face. His palm soon tickled with her stifled simper, and though it itched, he would not remove it, knowing well that she should only plague him for not wearing his Sindhaara in such weather.
While Soledhan and Kai Linaa were well-employed with building a lopsided snowman, Arkastino, who had never hitherto seen or felt such a marvel as snow landing on his tanned skin and melting into a frigid thaw, held a childlike fascination for the cold. He was forever warm, but by growing up and living in the dry desert heat of Lucentia, his assumption was that everyone must be as temperate as himself. Here were new notions, granted by an abundance of flakes being shaken down by the boughs of one of the trees in the square. They swirled about and enveloped his features, their brisk movements tingling his features, and the more they glided about on the wind, the broader he smiled. He touched them with his fingertips, almost afraid of harming them, and watched them waft away until their white colour was indistinguishable amongst the moderate crowds. His attention was only drawn when he felt Nidello suddenly sidle him.
“So,” said he with chattering teeth, “this is a Frewyn winter.”
“This is a Frewyn autumn, Nidello, I assure you,” the commander said, standing on her toes to address him from beneath Rautu’s furs.
Nidello shivered against Arkastino and stare at her in horror. “You mean, it gets colder than this?”
The commander gave him a sagacious grin. “This is mild compared to how Frewyn’s climate is in the height of its winter.”
He paused, looked about him to see if anyone else were freezing, and then held his arms close and muttered, “This is almost unbearable.”
Arkastino felt for his mate and instantly took him into his arms when he heard Nidello’s profession. He cradled him in the bend of his arm and brushed the few flakes dangling from the ends of his mohawk. He cooed at him and asked if he were well sitting as he was among his muscled mass.
Nidello looked up at his mate, nestled against his immense chest, and smiled at him and said, “As long as I have you as a heat source, Inpalo,” with renewed cheer. He marked the rosy glow in Arkastino’s cheeks, the joyful twinkle in his eye, and made an amorous sigh as he was conveyed to where Kai Linaa and Soledhan were just finishing their work. They were at their elven midlife, and they were still discovering new exultations, still coddling one another, still enjoying new experiences at one another’s side. Nidello reckoned that his mate appeared as handsome and delectable now as he was when they first expressed interest in one another and owned him fortunate to have captured the attention of one even half so mesmeric. He plucked the glistening flakes from Arkastino’s scalp lock and kissed his cheek, enjoying the prospect of being themselves without having to perform their duties as guardsmen.
Unghaahi was cherishing similar sentiments as he watched Kai Linaa trip over her own scarf and tumble head first into a small drift. He could be comfortable and easy on the islands under Leraa and Otenohi’s joint rule, but ever since Frewyn had been his once-home and Alasdair had granted him full sanctuary, he had ever held a fond place for the strange and frigid kingdom: it had reunited him with Kai Linaa, it had seen their first home together, it had afforded him many months of peace and exultation, and in observing his mate prancing about with her immense scarf trailing behind her and pompom bobbing upon and down upon her head, all his doting remembrances rushed on him. He was silent with quiet joy, and sat beside Hathanta to watch Kai Linaa and Soledhan revel in their game.
Even near the small bonfire in the square, Ladrei and Rautu still shivered and sulked. They grumbled to one another, Ladrei standing with arms folded and hair wilted and Rautu with his mate in arms, scowling at the wretched children, who were running about the capital and glorying in the first snow, their tinkling laughter offended their ears and their smiling faces a horror to indulge. Even worse was Kai Linaa, who was skipping about, putting the finishing touch on her snowman, fitting an acorn for his nose, giving to her by a passing squirrel after some persuasion on Soledhan’s side. He watched is a silent hatred, feeling colder every moment regardless of the dry heat the fire afforded. It was little use in trying to warm him when there was damp all around; if his front was warm, his back was frozen, and there was no end to his perturbation. At last, when Soledhan began singings the snow’s praises, conducting a symphony of falling flakes as Kai Linaa declared that her time in the snow had quite done, Ladrei could bare it no longer, and demanded they find refuge in the Lucentian café. Coffee and tea must be got, a more encompassing fire must be suffered, and only a taste of home would smooth away any ill the Frewyn cold had roused.
Kai Linaa agreed to the scheme, shouting her approbation in pancakes and chocolate, much to Unghaahi’s reluctance, but as the cold required more nourishment to ward against, to the café they were to go, to the appeasement and hesitation of each. With wilted hair and a countenance that was trying not to flout, Ladrei led the way with Rautu and the commander directly at his side.