Winter’s Gifts


An icy cold wind blew from the north. It made the tall snow laden pines rustle, giving an impression of tall white sentinel giants whispering to each other, the secrets of this wintry night. A carpet of fresh cottony snow covered the forest floor which in the moonlight, glittered and shimmered like scattered diamonds. It looked like a harsh wonderland; a scenery of stark white and dangerously seductive beauty.

Dave hated it. He hated the creepy whispering trees, the snow crunching under his boots and the freezing cold wind. Oh, the wind. He hated it most. It whipped at his wools, stabbed his furs and penetrated deep inside his body to chill his bones. He cursed himself for coming to this cold hell when he could have stayed at his winter manor in Falmona, tanning his body at the beach and enjoying fresh tropical fruits. But he had come too far now. Turning back now would be pointless. So he gritted his teeth, hitched his cloak and plodded down the forest trail, hoping to finish this cursed quest as soon as possible.

After huffing and puffing for a while, he reached a clearing in the forest. As he walked onto the open ground, he felt a change in the air. The weather became a lot more frigid than it was before. The already unbearable cold dug further inside him and got his teeth chattering uncontrollably. It felt like the cold was burning inside him. Burning up all the energy he had. Dave pulled his wools tighter, trying to preserve the heat.

He looked up to the starry purple sky and muttered the words the village wizard had told him. And then he waited for her to appear.

According to the local legend, if you go to the clearing in the forest, summon the Lady of Winter and somehow please her, she could reward you with gifts. It was only a legend but such things attracted Dave and so he had rashly decided to undertake this quest. Now if this did not work, he will probably go back home and never leave his bed.

As he waited, shivering and shuddering, a sudden flurry of snow materialised in front of him. It soon solidified into a woman. Describing her beauty was impossible. It was not enough to describe her hair, which was darker than the night and glossier than butterfly wings. Or her skin, which was as pale as the winter moon. Or her lips, which

were the color of the night sky. When she opened her mouth, the voice was sweet and resonant but somehow cold at the same time.

"Who are you and why have you summoned me?" she asked.

Dave tried to stop gaping and said "I'm Dave Sheffield from Darwin. I'm here for your gift, O Lady of the Winter. "

She raised her thin eyebrows. "To get my gift, you must please me first."

"How can I please you?"

"By proving your endurance to me."

Dave did not like the sound of that. "How can I prove my...endurance to you?"

The woman smiled for the first time since she appeared. She raised her hand and all of a sudden, the cold became impossible to bear. It got inside him and started filling him up, draining his strength. He sat down and felt like going to sleep forever.

"What's happening Dave Sheffield? Giving up so soon?" mocked the woman, laughing.

He felt weak and drowsy as everything started to fade. He sank into the snow which somehow felt like a sea of warm milk.

The woman suddenly stopped laughing and gave him a frosty stare.

"You thought I would actually give you gifts, you naive foolish summerchild? I'm the Lady of the Winter. I rule the snow and frost. I harness the freezing wind. This is all I have. I freeze and I kill. You want gifts? Go back to summer and frolic in the warm sunshine. Don't come to me." And with that, she disappeared in a flurry of snow.

Dave had stopped feeling cold. Everything was warm and numb. He felt no pain anymore.

Author: Sai Reddy

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