Chapter 2: Fire and Ice

Chapter 2: Fire and Ice

A Chapter by Light

Chapter 2: Fire and Ice

Jaden lumbered through the frozen muck.

The snow that had shed last night had melted as soon as it had hit the earth, transforming the pine forest into a faux swamp as all the dirt had turned to mud. The moon was set high in the sky, its light piercing through the branches like slivers of silver, while its leaves cast pointy shadows on the ground. The cold was bitter and ruthless, as it could freeze any poor man's spirit, and while puffing clouds of steam out of his mouth, Jaden longed for the comfort of the fire he'd just escaped.

His feet were frozen, too. So much so that biting them off might just be less painful than to keep on going. His eyes were small little specks of white with a light-blue glow within. His lower jaw hang loose beneath its upper counterpart as he worked to stand the wintry air. His nose had given up hope and could no longer operate fully. He wore a jacket, naturally, or he would've lain down head-first on top of the frozen plants and mushrooms.

It was the last thing that he could save from the savage flames, the jacket that is. He cherished it like it were the departing gift from a good, old friend, because it was. It was his father's, high-quality animal fur with a soft, woolen inlay to keep you warm through the winter months. It was his safeguard from death itself, the enchanted sword he'd received from the crazy old wizard on his quest to kill the magic dragon. But the weapon had been ancient, as it had lain in a dusty, half-rotten chest for thousands of years, and it no longer was what it once had been. And, as Jaden crawled himself up in this sword of his, eyes narrowed to protect them from the cutting wind, his jaw hanging loose like a zombie's, exhaling small clouds of steam, feet trembling and hands clamped around one another, he prayed. He prayed for safety, for rescue from the beast, but above all, he prayed, may hell be as warm people claim it to be.

And the blade sufficed, for now.

Then, he fell. He tripped over a fallen branch. He could no longer get up, and he lay there for the rest of the night. He didn't rest, he couldn't. His mind was too busy computing the events of this night. He lay there awhile hoping for morning to come, without planning to close a single eye.

He saw things though after awhile, like a distant dream. Screaming people, men, women, children and elders, came flooding from the place where his home had once stood. They'd burned marks all over their bodies, they wore old clothes from another time and their faces seemed frightened, all wide-eyed, like they'd seen things, terrible things, and ... and they were ghosts. He'd had no reason to believe that, nor was it visually visible. But they were ghosts nonetheless, he knew. He sensed it.

After most of the people had left, a howl resounded from where they came from. Jaden had never quite heard something like it. It was the howl of a hound, but not quite like it. Later, once people started questioning him, he would tell them the devil himself was present in that sound. As if all the sufferings and evil-doings of the world was embodied in one single breath and then let out in one big weeping. It was mortifying.

Flapping wings could vaguely be heard in the background as their owners fled to another place, a safer place, and the expression on the ghosts' faces grew even more dreary. The trees trembled. They were afraid, as were the earth, Jaden knew. He sensed it.

He was, too, frightened for the demon that could bring forth such torment cries, and his fears brought him back to his feet as he took off. Regardless of the pain, he ran among the fleeing ghosts.

© 2015 Light

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Added on August 10, 2015
Last Updated on August 11, 2015