Winter's Cold Breath
PRONOUNCIATION OF NAMES:
As Quain walked outside a breath of wind from the trees sliced her skin and turned it pink and bumpy, the hairs on her arms stood on end as they attempted to catch as much heat as possible.
She tried to bring back the memories of her old life, before the war destroyed her village, but could not recall what had happened, all she could remember was fire, and her mother with tears falling in streams down her face.
A shiver passed up her spine as she kept walking further into the forest that surrounded her thatch hut. She paused to look once over her shoulder to see smoke wind its way out of the chimney her father labored over last winter. A smile crept to her red chapped lips at his hard work.
When the village was destroyed her mother decided to move to mountains in the hopes of fleeing the consistent wars between neighbors. She didn't want her family to be forced into the middle of violence and hatred.
The wind grew stronger, which made her hunch over to warm her hands with her breath and hug her shawl closer to her thin frame.
She looked to the sky, to the clouds darkening "Snow is coming", Quain knew this was unavoidable, yet wished it away all the same "and soon the clouds shall open to cry out their sorrows" she whisperd this while still looking up at the sky.
Her older brother Lembro sent her out to the stream to fetch water, which meant that Quain needed to make the long walk through the forest.
Quain loved her forest, but in the midst of winter the walk was long, cold and dark and tonight the spirits would not spare her if she were to venture into their realm, as it was midwinter and the moon was rising to the sky.
Quain heard a faint noise carried by the wind, it was far off, yet she stopped and opened her senses in the direction she had heard it. The noise was a wailing sound, almost that of a wounded animal, it was sorrow filled, and it then morphed into a tune, a song "Non nobis domine…" there was sobbing mixed with the sorrow of the deep voices singing. Men, warriors after a battle, weeping of their loss and singing to the spirits of the dead to set them free as they had died in war, hatred and violence, they needed to rest.
Quain suddenly felt weak in her knees and sat down on the cold hard ground. Her head started to ache as she saw a vision; Men crying out, men afraid, men dauntless in courage, fighting on with smashed jaws and broken limbs and faces running red with blood.
Men with the wounded on their backs, with their dead over their shoulders, struggling to bear them to safety even as the enemy came on and on in a relentless, vengeful pursuit, a horse settled in faithful guard against the curled body of his dead master, the beasts brown coat stained with warrior's lifeblood, its eyes desolate.
A severed hand, a head without a body, young and fierce, somebody's son, somebody's brother, now dead. The enemy came forward in a great wave, shrieking in the triumph, killing all standing in their path.
Quain could take no more and so started screaming. For fear, for the bloodshed, for the cruelty of men, for the unjust way they solved their problems, that it was her father and brothers she could see in the battle.
She screamed until her voice had gone hoarse, wept until no tears came, then curled into a ball and lay there shaking in the cold, for she could not move, not when those men had suffered as they had, not when the men from the wind had just suffered the same loss as she had just witnessed.
Quain lay on the ground blinded by the vision of the battle and shaking with cold until a warm woolen blanket was wrapped around her, picked her shaking frame up and carried her into a hut with a warm fire in its middle "Nice fire" she whispered "it will show me how to help those men" and the last fading picture she saw before her vision went blank was a man, with kind water blue eyes with flaming red hair and beard leaning over her whispering for her to rest.
The fire was beginning to dull on the face of the girl he had found in the forest. She was such a little thing, so fragile and small, yet the way her shoulders were hunched in her sleep, showed she was as fierce as any man he had encountered.
Andrian's wife Nimu came and sat beside him with a bowl of stew in her hand "Will she be well do you think?" Nimu whispered in that soft way she always did "She is such a small little thing, so helpless" Andrian knew Nimu could not help to worry, yet told her not to all the same "She is stronger than she looks on the outside, my love, it is just she has been through much" "well then let us eat" again she whispered.
Andrian was woken constantly throughout the night from the little girl's whimpers. Whimpers that were filled of fear and sorrow. He had to light a new candle and incense every time so as not to offend the dreaming spirits. He wished that she would settle into a dream, that the spirits would not taunt her mind. Every sound that escaped her lips was as though he were living his little one Fana's death again. He immediately closed the door on his daughter's name and story, he would not think of her, not after he had already sent her through to the other world
Andrian so terribly worn out from staying awake fell asleep by the hearth of the fire long turned to embers.