The Boy with Ice in his Eyes trudged through the snow. A thin layer of ice had grown on top of the once-soft snow, creating a sharp edge that tried to cut at him through his thick wool pants.
As he walked, he took a curve around a small grouping of trees. Lurking in the branches of one of the trees was a man, waiting to ambush anyone who passed by to take their money or belongings, anything he could get off them. As The Boy with Ice in his Eyes passed underneath the tree, he dropped down from the tree, trying to shock the boy and make his job even easier.
The boy stepped forward and turned to face the man. As soon as their eyes met, the man froze in terror, just as his blood was freezing, cold and ice spreading through his veins and his body. Frost covered the man.
He fell to the ground, motionless.
The Boy with ice in his Eyes continued the way he had been going, trudging through the unforgiving snow.
The nine of The Chosen stood knee deep in the snow. Cold seeped through their clothing and chilled them to the bone; sharp wind slashed at their sides, chilling them further.
Wind kneeled down to look at the tombstone in front of them, a small slab of rock jutting out of the frozen ground.
“Simeon Chafel,” he said. “It says he died at the age of fifty-nine, twenty-three years ago.”
Memory closed his eyes and used his power, the light coming into his temples. “He was one of the twelve Knowers here, when he was alive.”
Fire shivered. “I hate this place,” he said, frowning. He used his power, flinging back his arms and head, and the flames appeared in front of his chest and hands.
“And well you should,” said Memory, “if what I’m thinking is correct, that this is your…opposite Soudulir, for lack of a better term. Capricorn, if I’m not mistaken.”
“Yes, that is what it is,” said Time.
Water had been looking ahead of them. He squinted. Snow was falling, and, assisted by the wind, obscured much of his vision.
“I think I saw a building, over there,” he said, pointing forward an area mode indistinct by the falling snow.
“Yes,” said Time, light at his eyes. “That is where we are to go.”
The nine Chosen headed off in that direction. But before they walked long, the path they had chosen dipped slightly. In the recess of ground there was a lake, frozen over thick with ice. All but Fire slid across it. Some of the snow had been pushed off of it, indicating civilization nearby.
They continued, walking up a hill, made difficult by the layers of snow. The snow clung to their pants. The heat coming from their bodies warmed the snow, melting it and soaking the bottoms of their pants. The wind that had been blowing the entire time made it even colder.
They got up the hill, and were met by a small house, made of a white stone. It had two small windows, out of which shown a warm light.
Freezing, they made their way to the door and knocked. It was opened by an elderly man. When he saw the flame at Fire’s chest and Wind’s hair, his eyes widened in fright and he shut the door. They heard a click as he locked it.
They looked past the house in the direction they had been walking. There were more houses that way. The nine Chosen walked through the ever piling snow. They knocked on the door of the next house, and were met by the same response, a terrified look and a door shut in their faces.
Four more times they tried, but to the same effect. It was not until the seventh time their knocked on a door, weary and fearing another rejection, that a young man opened the door with a different response. His eyes still widened, but not in fear, but in surprise.
“The Chosen,” he breathed out in admiration. “We have awaited your coming for so long, but I had begun to doubt. But there is one missing of you. The Forsaken of Falx. Where is he?”
“He died in battle on Sagittarius,” answered Memory solemnly.
The man’s face paled. “This is not good.”
“Indeed,” said Wind.
“But in more ways than you may know,” said the man. “Come in, and we may talk about why. My name is Peter Rweles, you may call me Peter. Welcome to the Soudulir Capricorn.”
As The Chosen walked into his house, he asked the name of each. They answered. Fire was the last one to go into the house. The man’s face flinched into hatred for a split second before he calmed himself and asked his name.
“The Boy with Fire in his Heart, and you may call me Fire,” answered Fire.
“Thank you, Fire,” Peter struggled. “And I, in turn, will try to treat you as an ally.”
Fire walked into the house, followed by Peter, who closed the door and bolted it behind him.
The walls, instead of being covered with paint or wallpaper, as some of The Chosen were used to, were covered with fabric. Memory was looking at them closely, and Peter noticed.
“It helps keep the warmth in,” he explained. “It acts as an insulator.”
And indeed, it was warm in the house. Perhaps it was only in contrast the the biting cold outside, yet still it seemed a comforting heat, bringing feeling back into their bodies.
They took off their shoes and put them on a thick mat nearby the door, so as to not track snow into the house.
“Please, take a seat,” said Peter. There were two large couches creating a right angle, next to the wall, on which the Chosen sat, Light insisting that Wind and Life were next to her.
The man sat in a chair in front of them all.
“Now, I will explain to you yet another reason that the sudden death of The Boy with Steam on His Breath is so terrible,” he started.
Memory, Fire, Wind, and Life leaned forward, the first three doing to in interest, Life doing it as a way to distance himself from Light slightly.
“There have been rumors spreading around The Chosen, based on ancient legends and prophecies, that The Boy with Steam on His Breath is crucial to your journey. You all must have noticed that he was different than you, that he was able to gain powers. And gain them easily, as well. I’m sure you have heard, somewhere along your journey, that our battle may not be against flesh and blood, but against God himself. It has been said that, somehow, The Forsaken of Falx is the only one who is able to defeat him. Of course, you all are still important in the quest.”
Fire spoke. “The leader of my village thought similar things.”
Peter stood up out of the chair. “I will let the Knower who takes care of him that you all are here, and that you are ready. After that, would you like me to make you something to eat? Are you tired? It will be a few hours before he will get here, and the sky has already started to darken.”
The Chosen nodded.
“I will make some stew, a fitting meal to have in such a cold place. It will take some time to make, so you all may rest while I prepare it. There are a few rooms upstairs in which you may stay.”
After he spoke thus, he went over to a small black rock, with engravings covering it, emboldened by white. He spoke quietly into an opening in the rock.
After he did so, he set the rock down and noticed The Chosen watching him.
“It is a device The Chosen on this Soudulir use to communicate with each other,” he explained.
The Chosen nodded, then asked how to get upstairs.
“Oh, how silly of me to forget to tell you. The stairway is just over there,” he said, pointing around the corner.
The Chosen thanked him, and headed upstairs. There were three guest rooms, with mattresses on the floors. The five Chosen boys of the White went in one room, Light in another, and the three Chosen of the Black in the third room. Light had tried to convince Wind to stay in her room, saying that it would be crowded in the room of the White, but he refused.
Almost as soon as they laid down on the beds, they fell asleep, not having rested since many Soudulir ago.
While they rested, Peter got a large pot of water boiling over a large fireplace between the kitchen and living room. While that started to boil, he chopped up vegetables and a piece of meat from a yak, which was commonly eaten on that Soudulir. When the water had gotten boiling, he added the water along with several tosses of salt and other seasonings. He moved the pot off the flames somewhat, where it would still cook but not burn or boil over. He put a lid on it, and went to sit on one of the couches, picking up a book as he went.
A few times, he got up to stir the stew, which was thickening and getting infused with its own flavour.
A few hours later, The Chosen came back downstairs. Peter had, a moment before, gotten up to stir the stew. He looked at them, coming down the stairs.
“The stew is ready,” he said. He went to a cupboard and took out ten smooth stone bowls, into which he served steaming portions of the stew. He took out ten wooden spoons and put a spoon into each bowl. He handed a bowl to each of The Chosen, then took one himself and began to eat.
After they had eaten, their stomachs felt comfortably full and warm, getting the final bit of cold out of their bodies.
“Thank you,” said Wind.
The others nodded in agreement.
“No problem at all,” said Peter. “It was time for supper anyway.”
A knock came to the door.
“That will probably be The Boy with Ice in his Eyes,” said Peter. He stood up and went to the door. He opened it, and a boy, seeming around the age of sixteen, came in.
He had sandy coloured hair, and his eyes were a stunning light blue. He stepped in through the door and shook the snow off of his head that had fallen there in his walk to the house.
He looked at Peter and nodded his thanks, then looked scrutinizingly at the nine other Chosen.
He walked over to them and shook each of their hands and asked their names. When he came to Fire, he still stuck out his hand to shake that of Fire’s, but more hesitantly. His voice when he had talked to The Chosen was soft and quiet, yet surprisingly deep for one of his age. He never made eye contact with any of them, even Peter.
“I am The Boy with Ice in his Eyes,
“Well, now, that you have all gotten acquainted, should you be on to the next Soudulir?” asked Peter?
“That would be good,” said Ice. “Do you know where to get the Ieurel leaves?”
“Yes. We grow them in the small pond outside,” responded Peter. Then he explained; “The Ieurel leaves can only grow underwater and in extreme cold. The ‘tea’ we make with them could barely be called that, because you must use cold water. We can just bring the cups with us.”
He went to a cupboard and took out ten cups, stacked within each other.
They put on their shoes, which had dried out, and stepped back out the door into the snowy expanse. The snow was falling harder now, and the sky had darkened significantly since they had last been out there. Ice led the way through the snow, past the houses and back down the small hill to where they small pond or lake laid.
“Where is it?” asked Ice of Peter.
“Over here,” Peter said, walking over to a corner of the lake. Ice and the other Chosen followed him. Ice knelt down to the area that Peter had mentioned and ran his hand along the surface of the ice. When he had found what he was looking for, he touched the ice with one finger and drew a circle. Wherever his finger had been, cracks spread. When he had completed the circle, he put his hands together, palms facing each other, and used his power, light coming into his eyes. The column of ice shuddered slightly, then lifted up out of the layer of ice. Inside the column of ice was a plant, floating around in un-frozen water. Ice lifted up the column of ice and set it on the snow. He tapped the top of the ice, and it slid off to the side.
He put out his hand for the cups, and Peter handed them to him.
He filled each cup with some of the Ieurel infused water, then handed a cup to each of The Chosen. Finally, he took one for himself. He then took the circle of ice again and affixed it to the top of the container of ice. He ran his finger along the edge, sealing it, then slid it back into the hole in the ice. He ran his finger along the circle again, and the cracks disappeared.
He looked at Peter. “Thank you, Peter,” Ice said. The others chimed in as well, thanking him.
“You are very welcome,” responded Peter.
“Shall we drink?” asked Ice, lifting up his cup to the other Chosen.
The ten of them lifted the cups to their mouths and drank the cold water. It chilled them from the inside. It tasted very strongly of mint, which made their mouths and throats even colder.
Ice smiled slightly. “I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time,” he said to the other nine cooly.
The snow blowing about them was the last thing to blur away into the blackness, which was darker than it had ever been before, so dark that it almost obscured them from each other. Then the area sharpened into view.
It was very different than the area they had just come from. They stood on a very small island, so small that only the ten of them and a few small trees fit on it.