Windwalker II: Boreas
Boreas: The god of the north winds. The bringer of ice and blizzards and the biting winds of winter. The Devouring One.
"Poseidon massed the clouds, clutched his trident and churned the ocean up; he roused all the blasts of all the Winds and swathed earth and sea alike in clouds; down from the sky rushed the dark. Euros and Notos clashed together, the stormy Zephyros and the sky-born billow-driving Boreas."
- Homer, "The Odyssey"
But see, Orion sheds unwholesome dews,
Arise, the pines a noxious shade diffuse,
Sharp Boreas blows, and Nature feels decay,
Time conquers all, and we must Time obey.
- Alexander Pope, "Ode to Winter"
I was cocooned in white. The weight of it bore down on me from all sides.
Panic flooded my senses. Instinctively, I bucked, heaving against the weight that pressed down on me.
I had to get free. I couldn't move my arms. I had to get free. I couldn't bear this.
I shoved at the snow with all my might, again and again and again. I was frantic.
The weight shifted. Then it settled around me again, groaning.
My breath came in harsh, sobbing pants. More snow filled my mouth, and I sputtered and gagged, turning my head to the side.
I couldn't move my arms. I was shivering. My teeth chattered together hard enough to make my jaw ache.
There was something hard pressing against my ribs. When I shifted, it did as well. The snow overheard groaned slightly.
Silent Partner, I thought. It had fallen with me. It was stuck in the snow. Maybe some of it was above the surface.
Maybe someone would see it. Maybe they'd help me.
"Help," I whispered. More snow filled my mouth, and I spat it out. I raised my voice. "Help!"
My voice sounded muffled, even to myself.
It occurred to me that there might be no one out there. I might be all alone.
I screamed until my voice splintered. "GET ME OUT OF HERE!" I sobbed. "Somebody get me out of here!"
After a while, my head began to spin. I lost what strength I had, going as limp as a rag except for the fine tremors going through my limbs. My breath rasped. Spots danced in front of my eyes.
I couldn't believe this was happening to me. It couldn't happen to me. This wasn't right.
My thoughts spun in circles.
I didn't want to die this way. Shaundakul had promised to help me. Then he'd left me. Maybe I'd see dad again. He'd be so disappointed if he saw me again. I'd been the apple of his eye, all right, right up until I'd turned out to be a disgrace to my blue blood, which was probably going to be found splattered all over the landscape come spring…Shaundakul had promised to get me home. Now where was he? Where were all of his promises, all of his assurances that we were called to each other?
A spike of adrenaline surged through me. My body jerked. "You son of a bitch!" I screamed. "So where's your fucking miracle now?"
The scream pulled melting snow into my lungs. I went into a fit of choking.
Then I laid back and shivered, my eyes streaming tears and my breath whistling in my lungs. I tried to keep my teeth from chattering, but I couldn't seem to.
You promised, I thought faintly.
Darkness closed in at the edges of my vision.
Eventually, I sensed a shift in the weight which pinned me.
Someone shouted something. They sounded very far away.
Snow crunched. There was light. Then there was the faint brush of air.
Then I was being lifted by strong hands.
A strange, indifferent lassitude infused me. I didn't know where I was, or what was happening. Didn't care.
I was weightless. I was moving.
Then the movement stopped, and I felt the pressure of a hard surface against my back.
The indifferent lassitude vanished in a furnace-flash of agony, somewhere around my chest. I tried to scream, but I couldn't seem to draw enough breath.
Then something scratchy and hot surrounded me. Feebly, I struggled against it, tried to throw it off. I didn't feel cold. I felt hot, too hot. I was burning up.
Someone stopped me. "Hold still, lass," a gruff voice said. "Ye've got to stay warm."
No, I thought. I'm fine. Really.
Then the waters of oblivion closed in over my head, and that was the end of everything for a while.