Written Nov 26, 2021. Prompt: winter is on my tongue

It is dark. It is cold. A sliver of moon glows unexpectedly bright on the untouched layer of frost. There are no clouds in the sky, no lights in the windows. Everything is still.

The perfect stillness is broken only when a slight figure steps out from the shadows. He does not shiver, his breath does not fog the air, and his clothes are light and tattered. As he walks, the air grows still colder, and the frost grows thicker under his bare feet. He carries no pack, holds no staff or weapon. He is blank.

His eyes scan the homes, peering uninterested through the windows. He searches for the familiar pull of magic that has led him here, that will lead him to his goal. He begins to wonder if his journey will be longer still, until the pull strengthens, and unmistakably leads him to an unassuming home not a stone’s throw from where he was.

He enters the wind and flies through a crack in the door, past the sleeping mother, snoring father. The pull leads him to a boy, he does not know how old. Mortals age so quickly, but this one is clearly still growing. He leans in to the boy’s ear and whispers, winter on his tongue, “You are meant for more, my king. Make the journey. Take the Test. Become.”

No sooner have the words been uttered than the figure has disappeared into the night. The boy shivers in his sleep, and dreams of a castle covered in ice, of strange people who speak in frost, and of an empty throne. When he wakes, he will not remember the words or the dream, but he will find himself unbearably warm, and he will set off on his journey with not even a word to his family, or to the girl who thinks she loves him.

He will think himself cursed, and he will wander in desperation, sweat running down his forehead even as his fingers turn blue. He will ask, then demand answers from any who might know, and he will find his search leading him to the Frozen Folk, and to a castle covered in ice despite the sun. It is here that he will finally feel cold.

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