Truce in a Tempest
Chapter 1: Escaping the Storm
"Where's that emerald?! I know it's gotta be here somewhere. I'm starting to not be able to feel my legs," Sonic thought out loud.
Sonic had been out in the snow for hours that day. He was searching for a Chaos Emerald that was rumored to be hidden somewhere in a remote forest to the far west of Knothole. The village was in dire need of a power source during that particularly bitter winter and they needed all the help they could get. Sonic wanted to find said emerald before his black-and-red rival got his hands on it. While the two hedgehogs had sort of reached a point of reconciliation some time ago, that didn't mean Shadow abided by Sonic's values or had the best interests of Knothole in mind. Well, "reconciliation" is a bit of an overstatement – rather, the two hedgehogs learned to tolerate one another. Barely. Even if Shadow no longer perceived Sonic as much of a threat, he still had his own motives for hunting down the elusive gems and wouldn't be letting anyone – including former or present enemies – get in his way.
The most pressing issue Sonic was facing wasn't so much his failure at finding the coveted bauble, but the steadily worsening winter storm he'd been trudging through. The snow was knee-deep and Sonic was fighting against sleety gusts blasting through the trees, the force of which not even his speed could overcome. Blustering winds and thick snow reduced visibility and made it difficult for Sonic to even read his locator; if he wasn't brushing snow off the screen, he was trying in vain to make sense of wildly jumbled signals. In short, Sonic wasn't having a good day and he was starting to regret venturing so far into the icy tempest because he didn't know if he could find his way back at that point. In spite of the unrelenting weather, Sonic managed to spot a distinctive indentation in the snow – a crisp shoe print that, given the steady precipitation, had to have been fresh. It was a large, unique print with rings going down the center, and Sonic immediately knew who the owner was.
He knew the dark hedgehog was lurking around somewhere in the forest looking for that emerald, but where exactly Shadow could be was anyone's guess. Was he stuck in the blizzard too? Had he already found the emerald and left? Sonic couldn't believe that Shadow would be foolish enough to go out into such awful conditions when, unlike Sonic, he really didn't need to. But maybe the dark hedgehog was just as desperate to find it as his blue counterpart.
It seemed like the snowstorm was intensifying with each step Sonic took. Sonic was cold, wet, sore and weak, and he knew if he went on like he was for much longer, he might succumb to nature's ferocity. While Sonic was fast on his feet, he was far from invincible. He really didn't fancy dying in a mound of snow and having his friends find his corpse after the spring thaw, and neither frostbite nor hypothermia were on his bucket list. His primary objective switched from locating the emerald to finding shelter – at least until the blizzard let up a little; Sonic could run on snow and ice if he really tried, but the slick surface made it all too easy for him to slip and fall. His sneakers weren't really made for winter travel, so he did his best to walk like a normal Mobian – something he wasn't very accustomed to doing.
Sonic's legs, which almost never got sore even after running at top speed, were aching. His joints were stiff from the cold and it became harder and harder to bend his knees; he could hardly walk, let alone run. The frigid air bit at his muscles, scorching him head to toe with an icy burn. The sting in his limbs brought tears to his eyes, but even those were not immune to the blizzard's fury. Sonic found that the blustering winds were beginning to freeze his eyes shut. He had to find refuge from the storm, and fast. He could hardly make out where the ground ended and the horizon began – everything had morphed into one gigantic, shapeless white blur. He didn't even know where he was or what direction he was heading.
Still, somehow, in the middle of a blinding whiteout, Sonic caught a glimpse of a dark spot in the distance. It was the entrance to a small cave nestled in a wall of rock, and Sonic felt as relieved as he did grateful to find sanctuary from the merciless blizzard beating down on him. He wasn't sure if he smiled at the sight of the stony haven because he could no longer feel his face. Exhausted and frozen to the core, Sonic slogged through the snow and dragged himself into the cavern.
The rocky cove was just as frosty inside as it was outside, but at the very least, it was dry and relatively free of snow and ice. There were twigs and branches scattered about on the cave floor, which meant Sonic had fodder for a fire. As the day wore on and the snow piled up at the mouth of the cave, Sonic's only light source waned with each inch of snow that fell, and those inches weren't falling slowly.
"I hope those guys are doing okay back home." Sonic thought. "I know they're depending on me, but there's no way I can go back out there. Not now. I'm no good to them as a popsicle. Please, everyone... stay strong for a little longer."
Author's Notes: I know this story has gotten a lot of faves and views over the years, but when I went back and re-read it, I absolutely cringed because I can write much better now than I could at the time I wrote this originally, so I decided to re-write this story and wound up with more than twice as much content as I did before! The new story will be broken up into chapters for easier reading, and I also gave it a new title because I just didn't think the old one really expressed the point of the story very well. Here's hoping the updated version is still good enough to be on people's Favorite lists. Stay tuned for additional chapters! Hopefully I won't keep my readers waiting for updates for too long. :)