Winter Wizard (snippet)
Copyright © 2008. All Rights Resserved.
A sweep of pale blue hand moved the curtain aside to reveal what the clan had feared all along. In a small alcove just behind the throne room was a statue carved to the perfection of their prince. Once noble and powerful, the prince's sweet-mannered face was now locked in fear and doubt, doubt that he would ever be released; fear that his beloved clan had also met the same fate.
Ashpin stared into those once cheerful eyes. Even now, they still shimmered with what lifeforce remained within the Healer's cold features.
"You see?" Frigarus's hollow tone reverbrated off the icy chamber walls. Like the sculptures he treasured along the corridors, so did his features match their complexions - cold and emotionless. No warmth existed in the weather-maker's blood, for it had long since frozen away when he turned to the alchemist ways to study the wintry northern climates. Now he was that climate. "And you thought one person could single-handedly stop the most powerful magic-user No'va has ever seen. How wrong you were."
"Let him go," Ashpin breathed. He wanted to scream, to wring the neck that had imprisioned the prince for nearly three and a half weeks. "You don't understand. No'va needs his kind in order to survive. We need--"
Frigarus suddenly laughed. "What No'va needs is change. Do you realize that only after winter new life is born? New growth. New energy. A new world that never existed. Well, I seek to make that new life myself, which can only be done after the entire land is covered in winter."
Ashpin could feel his cheeks swell with anger, and he tried hard to choose his next words carefully. The last thing he wanted was to end up a lifeless statue.
"And what new life could you possibly want that's not available in the current?"
The pallid face grinned. "My life..." A flick of his wrist shattered the ice holding the prince.
In a standing position Wisdom blinked, and for a moment seemed to focus on his young friend before his knees buckled. He never felt Ashpin support him. Inhaling for the first time took great difficulity, and when the world finally stopped spinning and his head stopped pounding was he able to peer up at the young man he had cared for since childhood.
"Ashpin?" His voice was hardly audible.
There were tears in the young man's eyes as he gazed down upon the figure who had taken role of his lost parents. He held the elder close, counting between the irregular breaths. He glanced over his shoulder to find Frigarus watching.
"You're no better than Jenario was," Ashpin stated. "What is it with you alchemists wanting to control everything?"
"Control?" Frigarus asked. "Why do that when you can just create your own and not have to worry?"
"Because even new life can eventually think for themselves!" the young man blurted. "Look at the Dracons Jenario created! Look how they turned out!"
"Look, indeed." Frigarus cast a glance over to a corner statue where a Dracon stood frozen.
About to say something else, Ashpin looked down at his hand when he felt cool metal slip between his fingers.
"Take it," the prince whispered, and the young man realized it was the traveling necklace the prince always wore. "Use it. The cloak," he grasped Ashpin's short cape wrapped firmly around his shoulderes, "protects you."
He took a breath, the air wheezing in his half-frozen lungs.
"Look, indeed." Ashpin kept a straight face while tightly gripped the necklace where the other could not see. A quick transfer of energy to the mind was all it took. Wisdom was gone, safe in the sapphire crystal, which the young man slipped into his pocket.
Such a sour expression when he turned toward the weather-maker. In a blur, he was up and running, dodging ice cycles that Fridgarus flung at his backside. One such grazed his side. Yet luck was with him, for it melted upon touching the cloak, the only protection he had.