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Rated: E · Chapter · Fantasy · #2210434
First chapter of A Frozen Flame; readable but unfinished, mainly for beta read purposes.

Prologue:



I struggled against the grand, overbearing chapel doors, bursting them open with all the strength I could muster. Even in the bitter, desolate cold, the chapel stood tall and proud; as if a beacon of light amidst almost endless darkness. Yet, in spite of its grandeur, the truth within could not have been darker. Even with nothing but the flickering, distant candlelight casting the congregation in a golden glow, my vision stayed clear. A pale, lifeless woman lied on the red strewn altar, her long, burnished brown hair pouring down the side, an intricate dagger plunged deep into her chest. It was too late for her. I didn't recognise her, and yet, I knew her name. The priests slowly turned towards me; their expressions cloaked in ceremonial veils. Even after everything I had been through, I could do little but watch on as the essence of her soul poured out from her body and dissipated before my eyes. As the glacial winds cascaded through the chapel doors, the candles flickered out before me, and the world was cast into darkness once more.

I woke up with a dazed mind, and a throbbing headache. The wind tunnelled through the rickety door of my cabin, making it squeal like a skittish mouse. Lifting my head up from the ground and glancing around with dreary eyes, I just barely managed to figure out what was going on. I was jolted out of my rest, and my elbows were pierced with frostbite. By the looks of things, my recurring nightmare had passed once more; with me none the wiser as to its meaning. All things considered; this hadn't been an unusual start to my day.

'Urgh... and here I was, thinking I might get good sleep for once.'

It was still dark out for sure, though I had a feeling it wouldn't stay that way for much longer. I'd lived around these parts long enough to tell if it was very late at night, or very early in the morning, and it was certainly the latter now. The only things that kept me out of the boundless landscape of snow and the endless expanse of the night was this simple, oaken-walled cabin, and a flickering lamp nestled on a quaint wooden table across the room. It was all a stark contrast to the grand chapel within my dreams. I reached up from the ground, fumbling my hands over the rough indentations in the wall before lifting myself up and off the damp twigs, sprouts and leaves lumped on the ground where I'd rested. It'd been a long time since I woke up without a sore back.

I brushed off what had gotten stuck to my clothes, frowning. Even having something relatively smooth to rest on would make things a lot easier around there, but alas, I didn't have that kind of luxury. Straightening my back, I walked over to the table with a groggy mind before yanking away my satchel and taking a peek inside. I didn't expect much, and even then, I was disappointed.

'No food... again. And I'll be damned if I ever got lucky hunting this time of year.'

I pursed my lips, already exhausted simply from the thought of going back into town. I toss the satchel strap over my shoulder, turning over and snatching the lamp off the table. There'd be no chance of getting any good food hunting in these woods, especially right in the middle of winter. But getting in and out of town was easier said than done, and the weather wasn't on my side. I held the lamp close as I glanced over at the old, rickety door; watching it relentlessly toss itself from side to side in the harsh winds. Sighing deeply, I reached out, gripped the door handle firmly, pulled it all the way open with force, stepped out onto the porch and slammed the door behind me. From experience, there'd be almost no chance it'd actually stay shut. Even so, it was worth a shot.

Off in the distance, the first glint of dawn peered over the horizon, smearing a soft, warm glow across my face. I took a deep breath in, relishing the fresh air as the harsh winds began to dissipate. It wouldn't be too long before the townsfolk woke up and the day started proper; which was not ideal. I'm not supposed to be around these parts anymore, let alone inside the city. That's never stopped me from sneaking in before of course, but it wouldn't do me any good to be recognized after all these years. Despite the incompetence of the city guard, I knew fully well that it was still best I made it in and out quickly. It'd been nearly six or seven years since my exile, and I'd hate to imagine what would happen if I got caught now.

I step out onto the thin, wispy sheet of snow, watching how it smoothly blanketed the ground for miles. Even through the seemingly endless dead trees and blackened wood, I knew this wouldn't take long. I'd be heading back to Ereshire, the town I once called home.

The glistening snow and brittle grass grinded beneath my boots, as the withered, inky trees that patterned the landscape stood tall in spite of the harsh winds. Left with nothing but my imagination and the slow, ever-present rising of the sun in an isolated woodland, there was little to occupy me. My mind drifted to the past; the life I led in Ereshire, the friends I made along the way, and the events that led to it all crumbling down. It was something I should have long put behind me by now, yet that never stopped these thoughts from creeping up on me in my moments of solitude. I was little more than an orphan boy back in Ereshire, with no known parents in a small city where, funnily enough, it seemed like everyone knew each other. Yet, when I was found abandoned by the doorstep of the orphanage, nobody could say where I came from. Even under these conditions, all I could have ever hoped for was a relatively normal life. I'd heard so many fanciful tales from when I was younger of grand adventures, damsels in distress, and brave heroes. Frankly, I was never so idealistic. Most people would consider me a cynic, but to me, I just didn't care for all these hogwash tales. If I could just have lived my life, living day by day with the few people who could tolerate me, that would've been enough for me. It didn't take long for my caretakers, the people within the orphanage where I resided, to know even that could never happen. The townsfolk soon learned what I was truly capable of, the kind of power I wielded, and my life came crashing down. But that was something I'd much, much rather forget.

Suddenly, the patter of small, yet forceful footsteps approached me from behind. In these eerily quiet, desolate woods, there were few things that could make such a sound. I turned around quickly, knowing already what to expect as I backed away from the lone wolf that had made their entrance.

'Hey... hey, easy, easy there...'

The wolf looked over me hungrily, a deep sense of forlorn in their eyes. Through their hefty, powerful, yet limping movements, I could only assume that it was starved, and desperate for new prey. They seemed to gain a sense of confidence as they stepped closer and closer towards me, yet their legs continued to shudder, as if their assertiveness was little more than a facade. In this harsh, bleak wilderness, I knew there'd be little chance it would survive much longer. I wasn't comfortable with taking the life of an animal so easily... yet, a quick death would surely be more merciful. I didn't have the time to consider my options though; as the wolf leapt up at me with gnawing teeth and shoved me to the ground without a blink of an eye to react. I was sent flying backwards, panic cloaking my mind. The wolf looked deeply, and ravenously into my eyes, giving me little choice but to look back. I could feel each individual pound of my heartbeat as I gazed over them, each individual strand of grey hair piercing through my soul. I was afraid, and I knew at that point I didn't have much choice. I pulled my arm out and reached out, gritting my teeth as I gripped onto their throat beneath the fur with numb, cold hands. I watched in dread as shrivelled, sharp needles of frost pierced through their veins; a branching pattern forming where I held. The light in their eyes quickly flowed out as they dropped unconscious. I shoved them to my side, finally being able to breathe again, even if the same couldn't be said for the wolf. Either the wolf was dead, or it would be soon. I slowly lift myself up off the ground, panting. This power was dangerous. No man should have the power to take life away so easily, and my recklessness in spite of it is exactly what led to my exile so many years ago. This was exactly what I wanted to forget.

I jolted out of my disorientated state, looking around in a panic. I was back up off the ground completely, with nothing but inky, twisting trees stretching for miles. I looked down at the ground, but the wolf was gone. No longer laid out next to me, rather, it had simply disappeared.

'What... what the hell?'

By all means, everything was back to normal. No evidence was left to suggest the wolf was anything more than a trick of the light. But I knew that couldn't have been the case. It had to be real. Without much else to go on, and no immediate threats, I leaned against a tree and tried to get my bearings. Something was clearly wrong, but I needed to focus on my own safety first, and answers second. After a short minute, the sweat in my eyes had cleared. The wolf was still gone, with no evidence it even existed. Not even footprints in the snow were left behind. I wanted to know what happened, but as it was, I didn't have the time to sit and ponder it. The city was drawing near, and the sun was starting to rise. I pulled myself away from the tree and continued down the track.

Just over a tall hill, one I recognized quite well by this point, I saw thick, dirty smoke begin to pour over the golden horizon; and cast a murky shadow over the landscape below. I was getting close to the city. This meant people were surely awake by now, but I was confident I could make it in and out in time. Even so, I'd have to be cautious; just one person recognising me would be the end of everything. I made it to the hill, lifting my leg up and burrowing my foot into the side to lift myself up. Pulling myself over the top, I finally got to see the sunrise properly as it peered over the tallest buildings in Ereshire. I climbed up completely, noticing my clothes got covered in dirt and grime from the hill.

'Ergh... that won't clean off easily.'

I slowly and carefully lowered myself down on the other side of the hill, facing towards the city. It was still a short walk to actually get there, but I was right beside the dirt track leading up to the city gates. I made it to the bottom of the hill, brushing myself off again thoroughly. I didn't have many clothes, after all, so I knew I'd ought to make these last.

I made it to the road, breathing a sigh of relief. No more trudging through the snow, at least for now. I was finally able to put the forest, and hopefully the thoughts of that damn wolf behind me. Even so, I had to go in, get supplies, and get out as soon as possible, so I knew that feeling wouldn't last for long. The first thing I needed to handle was food, and for that, I knew I'd best visit an old childhood friend. Her name was Emilia.

I approached the city gates as the towering cobblestone arch stood ominously, blocking every little speck of the early morning sun. I slowly stepped underneath, glancing around to make sure none of the guards were already patrolling the area. As usual, it seemed the city guard was completely incapable of doing their jobs. Not that I minded, of course. I ran past, bolting down the desolate, pungent street before quickly taking a hard right to a nearby alleyway. The city was musky, every inch of stone and wood in it creating some new, bizarre stench, with the alleyways magnifying those scents tenfold. Even so, to any casual observer at that point, I'd just look like an early riser. So long as nobody recognized me, I knew I'd be safe for now.

I stepped out onto the next familiar street; the tall, decrepit buildings just barely keeping the light of dawn at bay. The street was long and winding, with many branching paths and confusing intersections, but I'd been down there enough times to know it all like the back of my hand. Admittedly, while that made it easier to go through there, it was always far harder than it should've been for a completely different reason. Just a stone's throw away was the orphanage where I grew up, and just a quick turn to the left at the upcoming intersection would've led me to it. Yet, as it was, that wasn't what I was there for. Emilia worked as a vendor, having a stall set up just nearby, but on a street far off to the right. Every time I'd come through there, I'd thought about taking a detour, maybe just to see the orphanage one more time. But, of course, that's never happened. I'd grown content with my life at that point, and I didn't intend to remind myself of how things once were.

'This is how I'd lived, this is how I live now, this is how I've continued to live, and this is how I plan to spend the rest of my days. It's not as though I would have achieved anything in my previous life anyway.' I told myself.

Upon coming up to the intersection, I barely took a moment to glance the other way as I turned to the street on the right.

Looming in the distance, through the mist of the early morning, I spotted a hefty timber stall packed to its brim with wide varieties of food and a short, blonde woman stood right behind it. I didn't have to take two guesses to say who the woman was. Straightening up my ruffled, damp clothes and putting on an attempt of a smile, I prepared myself to greet Emilia with the same warmth she'd always shown me. It was surely a miracle that she opened so early in the morning; without her help, I likely wouldn't have survived so long. I took a deep, sharp breath in before approaching, just barely making out her features as her long hair swayed to the side and she slowly turned in my direction. She always had the most beautiful, comforting smile; one distinctive enough to recognize even from here. Getting close enough to make out her features, I approached the stand while barely noticing her suddenly dash out from behind it. I had little chance to respond when she bolted right at me; leaping out and holding me tight while I stumbled backwards and a big, playful grin stretched to both corners of her face.

'Corrin!' She said, a giddy tone in her voice. 'I've missed you!'

'Shh!' I responded, snapping at her. 'Quiet! It's... it's still early morning. Don't cause any trouble. And let go already!'

I retracted a bit. Too harsh. Way too harsh. I looked down guiltily as she turned her head up at me; giving an innocent smile.

'Sorry Corrin... I didn't mean to make you mad...'

I gritted my teeth, silently cursing myself. Why am I like this?

'It's... it's okay, Em. I don't really mind... as long as no-one heard us.'

With an even bigger smile, she burrowed her head into my chest and gripped onto me tighter, her arms nearly suffocating me. She was a lot stronger than she looked; to say the least.

'I've just missed you, that's all!' She continued, popping her head back up, 'You barely ever visit these days... and it's lonely without you...'

I looked down, far off to her side, regretfully listening to what she had to say. I'd long gotten used to living like this, but for her, it was clear it wasn't the same way. She still wished I lived here, in Ereshire, and with her. It'd still be a hard life for both of us, even if I wasn't exiled, but... there was truth in saying things would be better.

'Em... you know I never wanted this, right?' I said firmly, looking deep into her eyes, 'If it'd been my choice, I'd still live here. We'd spend our whole lives together. I'd be by your side each and every day! I might have even helped you out with your stall. But as it is, it just... didn't turn out that way. It's simply our fate; we have to live with the cards we're given.'

She paused for a few seconds, looking down at the ground beneath me intently. I couldn't see her face, but it was clear this hurt for her to hear.

'I guess...'

She gently released her arms, finally leaving me with some room to breathe. I waited for her to step away before putting my hands on my knees. It felt like I could have suffocated if she held on any longer.

'Corrin! Are you okay?' She replied, panic in her voice.

'Yeah, just... give me a second.'

I eventually pulled myself up and gave Emilia a weak smile. I'd already surely ruined her mood with all this talk of past lives and fate, so I knew it'd be best not to make the situation any worse. Trying to drift away from the topic, I peeked my head over her shoulder and glanced at the food stall behind her.

'So, Emilia. I, uh... I need some more supplies. I'm almost completely out, an-'

'Consider it done!' She replies, her voice as chipper as

I was a bit taken aback. No matter what I did or said to her, it seemed like nothing could ever keep her down. Beats me how she does it, but she's always been a lot tougher than me. She quickly spins around on her heels and walks around the food stall, standing behind it with a huge, serviceable smile. I give her a grin of approval and take a look at her selection.

'You're looking like a real merchant, you know that?' I say. 'It's good you've been so successful... god knows how I'd turn out if I had to continue hunting in this climate. Not to mention that my bow broke down.'

'It's no problem, really! I... I just want to make sure you're safe, alright? I became a merchant for your sake!'

'Well, consider me grateful then.'

I look down at her selection. She was nearly overflowing the entire stall with everything she had, from fruits, vegetables, cold meats and even some pots of nuts and legumes. While I'm focused on the selection at hand, she slowly leans forward over the stall and catches my attention.

'You should get a bit of everything, Corrin! The only way you're going to stay healthy is with a balanced diet!'

'Yeah, yeah, I know... you say it every time. I get the point.'

It felt good, having a real conversation with someone for the first time in a while. Things get pretty lonely in my cabin in the woods. Even so, we both knew that I didn't have much time left. I grab small handfuls of just about everything I can fit in my satchel, making sure it was balanced out just right so none of her customers would notice there was anything gone. I just barely fit it all within the pocket of my satchel, stuffing it in tight. I couldn't fit much more within that pocket; and I always made sure to leave the other pocket free in case there'd be something else I need to collect. It wasn't exactly hygienic to package all of these different foods together, especially in a satchel of all places... but there wasn't much else I could do. I look up at Emilia and smile softly, seeing her watch me intently as I packed it all up.

'Alright, Emilia... I don't have too much time left before people start crowding the streets. And, if I can, I wanted to go visit Fremont before heading off. So... I guess this is goodbye for now.'

She glances down at the ground, her brow softly lowering. She slowly turns around and walks around the stall, coming face to face with me and looking up into my eyes.

'Corrin... you don't mind giving me another hug before you head off, right?'

I smirk and look back down at her. Suddenly, I reach down and wrap my arms tight around her waist, holding on and lifting her right up into the air with a grin.

'Aaah! Corrin! Put me down!' She squeals out.

I chuckle mischievously and slowly lower her back down to the ground. It was careless of me to do that, of course, but as long as she had a bit of fun I didn't mind. I'm not made of stone after all; she's done more than enough to deserve it.

'Whew... Corrin... You nearly gave me a heart attack!'

'Well, I didn't, did I?'

I smirk and glance over at the nearby intersection. Fremont's place was nearby. He worked as a blacksmith in the middle of town, where he'd always get up early in the morning to work on his craft. He'd be awake by now, so there shouldn't be any problem going over to say hi if I was fast enough. I turn towards the intersection and glance back at Emilia, standing there and looking up at me with a soft smile.

'It's alright, Corrin. You don't have to stick around for me.'

Even through her soft, comforting smile, it was clear she didn't want to see me go. Yet there wasn't much else I could do. I give her an almost forced smile, trying to put her at ease.

'Em... I'll be back soon, okay?'

I turn around and begin walking off. After going far down the road, I turn back to her and give her one last wave goodbye, seeing her wave back timidly. Even by the time I reached the intersection, I could still see her watching me from the front of her stall. I regretfully walk around the corner, her figure disappearing just out of sight. I wished there was more I could say to her, but for now, this was the last I'd see of her in a while.

I take a deep breath in and continue down the road. The rising sun had just clipped the tips of the taller buildings in the town, so I didn't have much time. I hold my satchel tight and try to run ahead, the distinctive fumes of Fremont's smithery polluting the sky and marking his territory. It seemed most of the houses around his smithery were on sale, and for good reason. I approach the smithery slowly, walking up and knocking on the door.

'Hey, you there Fremont?' I say loudly, knowing he'd never hear my knocking while focused on his handiwork anyway.

I wait. A few seconds pass, nothing. I was about to try calling out again when the thundering of heavy, worn boots pounds towards the door. It bursts right open in front of me, forcing me to take a step back to dodge out of the way when he appears. He was a man with a black singed, yet cinder coloured beard and an unnaturally thick mustache, along with a big toothy grin while standing tall enough to bang his head against the door frame. There was no mistaking him for someone else. That was Fremont.

'Corrin!' He bellows out with a thick, barely decipherable voice. 'Ah, it's been too long y'know? How've you been?'

He steps outside, needing to duck just to get through the door frame. The fumes desperately escape his house through the entrance. You'd almost never find his windows opened inside, despite working with a forge. The only thing letting the smoke and dust out at all was the old, empty fireplace off to the side. Frankly, I'm often left puzzled how he's still alive, with how he's practically forced to breathe it all in.

'Come on in! I just got myself started a wee bit ago, you can make yourself at home!'

I try to give him a weak smile. I wasn't exactly looking forward to walking in there... but there wasn't much I could do at this point. Fremont grins ecstatically and turns back around, ducking beneath the door frame again as he heads back inside and to his forge. It looked like the devil's breath in there. I walk inside reluctantly, coughing my lungs out the moment I enter.

I glance around the place as I step through the door. The place had quite clearly been refurbished over the years; mainly around the small forge off to the side, seemingly to stop himself from breaking or burning everything. The forge was surrounded by stone on all sides, likely to keep the embers separated completely from the wood. If anything, the forge was ironically the least likely place for a fire to start in here. I walk further in, Fremont glaring over at me with his distinctive grin. Even when sitting, he was still nearly at eye-level with me.

'Oi, Corrin!' He shouts out from the other side of the room. 'I meant to ask, what'd you come 'ere for? I appreciate it of course, but you must've had your reasons!'

'Uh, well... just to say hello, I suppose?' I respond.

Fremont slowly lifts himself back up, seemingly taking a full break from his work for now.

'Aw, lad. It's means a lot t' me, you know?'

'It's no problem, Fremont, really. I might as well, since... well I was just passing by anyway for supplies.'

Fremont's face lights up, as if hit by a sudden revelation.

'Yes, of course! I nearly forgot. Y'know how you haven't had anything to rest on for a while now lad? Well, of course you'd know, just... never mind. I gotcha some sheets!'

He dramatically turns and points up the stairs to his left.

'Just up there, in the linen cupboard. You got space left in that satchel of yours? I made sure to get you a thin sheet, so it should fit!'

I glance over at the stairs and then back at Fremont. I wasn't exactly sure how to react; on one hand, I appreciated the gesture, but on the other, it felt wrong to take it. It's not easy to get your hands on proper linen or fabric these days, and I really hadn't done anything to deserve it. I glance up at Fremont, doubt strewn across my face.

'Fremont... you didn't have to do this for me.'

'Aw, don't tell yourself that lad! Besides, I've already gotten it, haven't I?'

I look up at the stairs, sighing deeply and walking ahead. Unsurprisingly, I never had the chance to do much for Fremont. Almost every time I've come around to his place, all I've done is ask favours or get things from him. I can't remember one, single time I've done anything to justify his hospitality. He must think my company and presence is enough. Frankly, I don't agree.

The stairs creak and moan beneath my boots. Compared to the almost intricate design of the main floor, it seems Fremont never put much effort into cleaning up the upstairs area. He was always a man of his craft, after all, and there'd be no way to work upstairs with his kind of equipment anyway. Anyone who saw this place would get a very clear picture of what kind of man he was. I walk up the stairs completely and make my way into his bedroom on the left. It was an overly large room, nearly taking up the entire floor, and yet seemed to be in even worse shape than anything else in the house. Just through the doorway was a cupboard; probably the one he was referring to. I step through and grab the handle on it, opening the cupboard slowly and carefully as it squealed on its hinges. God knows this entire place would collapse if I wasn't careful. Inside, there were two giant piles of mangled, carelessly strewn about sheets and towels, with a neatly folded linen blanket on the top. I didn't have to think too hard about which one was supposed to be mine.

I snatched the sheet right off of the top of the pile, slipping it right into the spare space I'd left in my satchel earlier. It looked thin, but knowing Fremont and his relentless hospitality, it'd surely be enough to sleep in. He'd never get me anything that wasn't top quality. I sigh deeply and close the flap of my satchel, turning back and walking down the stairs reluctantly. Fremont was sat down to the far right of the room, grinning with his legs crossed. To say the least, he was eager to see me. Quickly rising up from his seat, Fremont walked over as he pounded on the floorboards beneath him.

'So, what'd ya think?' He says, looking down at me with a toothy smile.

'Oh, uh... it's great, Fremont!'

I was genuinely pleased with the gift, of course, but I was still uncertain about accepting it from him. I look up at him and give him a small smile of approval, seeing him give an even bigger grin in response.

'It's great to hear you say that, lad! Say... while you're here, mind if I ask you a couple o' things?'

'Well, of course!'

At this point, I was hardly in a position to deny him such a simple request. Yet the moment I replied, Fremont looked down with what looked like a guilty expression and cleared his throat. Seeing him of all people seem downtrodden was a once in a lifetime occurrence. I knew I'd still aught to hear him out, but I was a bit doubtful I'd like what he was going to say.

'Corrin... have you figured out how to control... that whole "thing" yet? That thing you do, where things just freeze over with a simple touch! Well... you know what I mean. And I know you don't like to talk about it, but-'

'No, Fremont. Enough. We're not talking about this.'

I had to be blunt about this. Even for him.

'Lad, please. I'm just asking.'

'It's... I'm able to control it, alright? I'm learning how to, at least. I'm not perfect at it, but I'm not just... whatever, you get my point. You should know that by now.'

'I... I see. I'm only asking because... you don't have to live like this, lad. You can't get yourself a truly good life the way you are now, but it doesn't have to be this bad! If you know how to control it, then you could live here! With me! You wouldn't be able to live a perfectly normal life, of course, but-'

'Enough!' I shout out.

He took a step back, retracting from my words. I felt my hands slowly going numb and cold as Fremont stood there, nearly petrified. My hands had never truly felt warm, not once, but this was unnatural. I was going too far.

'Alright... alright lad. I can't force you. You... you can do as you wish.'

I pull myself back a bit, looking down at the ground with a twinge of guilt.

'Fremont... I-'

'No, lad, it's fine. The sun... it's rising up by now, ain't it? You'd best be on your way.'

Fremont slowly turns around and walks back to his forge, pulling up a seat beside it. Looking over at him, I could see his expression was nearly pained as he stared into the embers. Regretfully, I start to back away. I wanted to say something, but there simply wasn't anything I could say like this. I slowly turn towards the door and walk out, taking one last glance at Fremont and the glint from the forge before stepping outside completely.

'...Damn it.' I say to myself.

I walk out onto the street, deciding that I'll visit again tomorrow to apologize. Coming here two days in a row was nearly unheard of for me, but I knew it'd be best. He deserved better than that. For now though, the sun was starting to rise fully, and I had little time to waste.

I bolt down the street, taking a different route down to the city gates. Previously, I took the path so I could visit both Emilia and Fremont, but now I was more concerned about getting out of town as quickly as possible. Darting around each desolate street corner and alleyway, it didn't take long before I reached the gate. Just through the gate, beyond the main road, I could see the orange glint of the sunlight reflect off of the glistening snow. I ran up to it carelessly, taking only a second to glance behind me at a few early risers giving me strange looks. It didn't seem as though any of them recognized me, at least, and I'd be back in the wilderness far before any of them could call out for the guards. I didn't let their stares bother me. Taking a sharp turn off the main road, running for the hills, safety was in sight.

I push my feet into the snow and soil of the hill. I latch my hand right on the top, pulling up and rolling right onto it. Tossing myself over the other side, I carefully make my way down and nearly drop to my knees upon hitting the bottom. I was probably in the clear, for now at least. But I wasted far too much time in there and needlessly put myself at risk. I didn't intend to do that again. I slowly lift myself up and off the ground, continuing onwards deeper into the forest.

It didn't take too much travel before I spotted my small cabin in the distance. With my eyes trained on the cabin, I ran as fast as I could to get inside. This wasn't particularly fast, especially in my state, but I knew my time to relax would come soon. I trudge through, finally coming up to the cabin door within arm's reach.

As expected, it didn't stay closed.





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