Winter walked across the ledge of crisp white snow and dusted off his seat, by the fire, with his hand. He shook the cold fluffy snow from his fingers and rubbed them against his coat, “good evening sheepies. Bear, here boy, come here. Come sit by the fire and I will tell you a tale.”
The sheep seem disinterested, munching away on the thin pale yellow-green blades of grass sticking up through the white blanket, but Bear walked over to Winter’s side and sat next to the warm fire. The heat from the fire melted all of the snow on the rocks and nearby grass making it seem like spring, if only in a space a couple metres round.
Winter began his story, “I once had a brother named Deven. No, another brother, before Helmut. You see Deven lived before me when our family lived in Numenor. He was a strong young man. He was growing up to be a mercer like my father.” Winter glanced through the flames and across the river to a strange pale light flickering along the shoreline. Deciding it was nothing he continued his story as he looked down at Bear. Bear’s black eyes reflected the flames of the nearby fire and he licked his chops as he waited for Winter to continue.
“It was late one night that he was at the shop when I am told a dark vampyre called on him. He did not stand a chance I guess.” Winter picked up a couple small twigs from the ground, snapped them in to two with his hands and tossed them into the flames. “He was set to be married before that night, in less than a week in fact, to a young woman. I never knew her name. My father never spoke of her or Deven much. But I think her name started with a W or an N. I remember seeing it written down somewhere in my father's study.”
The flames curled and danced as they embraced the dry scraps of timber. Winter continued, “You remember I was born in the Forests of Sangha, about one year after Deven died. Oh yes, well, they tell me he died. I think the truth is he was banished and they just called him dead. But like I said, father rarely spoke of him.”
A cold wind trickled past under the chair and Winter shifted his weight in the seat and pulled the corners of his coat up against his legs. “I wonder what he was like. I wonder if he looked like me. Sometimes I have dreams, of a young man with sandy colour hair. He speaks to me. I feel safe. But then the clouds move in and it starts to storm. I look at the young man and he has turned into a most dreadful skeleton. And then I wake up.”
Bear looked up at Winter and made a curious huffing sound. “I know, not much to go on Bear but I think the young man was my brother Deven”, said Winter.
Winter paused for a moment to stand and look to the edge down to the partly ice coated river. A splashing sound lapped against the rocks as a large fish swam nearby and fragments of ice rolled and clicked together like natural wind chimes. Satisfied it was nothing but the fish Winter returned to his seat and his story. “A couple years after I was born there was a day when the earth started shaking and would not stop. Many things fell and broke during the shaking and a fire soon started that eventually burned down the Sangha Forest.”
Winter’s family had fled the quakes and forest fires to a beautiful hilltop retreat with long but not so hot summers and short dry winters. “I was just a very small boy when our family fled the forest to live high in the rocks above the inlet nearby. It was a nice place to live. I had a pet squirrel who would eat nuts from my hand and not be scared of me. It was a green place with many flowers. I felt safe there. I remember my friend the squirrel. I called him Peter. I do not remember why.”
Winter drew some salted meat from his pack and began to cook it over the fire. The meat sizzled and cracked in the flames and within a few minutes of silent reflection had cooked to a fine dark colour fit for Man and beast. Bear woofed at Winter when the smell of cooked meat reached his nostrils and he pawed the ground in anticipation. “Yes Bear here you go you can have some meat.” Winter said as he tore a couple pieces off from the hulk of flesh and tossed them down to his loyal Shepherd.
Winter began chewing on the meat but then paused for a moment to rise up and draw some cold fresh water from the river for a drink. He glanced once more across the river to the spot where the mysterious glow presented itself before but there was only darkness there now. Upon returning to his seat he finished the story for Bear “My father came to me one day when I was in the meadow and told me I would be leaving for the North the next morning. He said that dark times were coming to Numenor and I would be safe with the Chieftains. My father said that I might not see him or mother again for many years but that we would meet again in Summerland."
Winter paused for a moment to wipe a tear from his cheek that burned cold against his fire warmed flesh. "I remember crying and telling him I did not want to go but he said that I must. My mother tried to comfort me when I laid down to rest that night but I would not speak to her. I was angry at them for wanting to send me away. The next morning a rider came for me and told me I would be going across the water to a place called Eriador. I had not heard of it before. I would not look at my mother or my father as we rode away on the horse, which is one of the last times I saw them alive.”
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We are a roleplay publication featuring activities in the Manitou, GCG regions and beyond.
Kevin M. Klerks, Editor
(aka Winter Silversmith)