The sun shown brightly onto the snow creating a crystalized shine that was impossible to see through. At least it’s not snowing. Connor kicked his way through the piles of heavy powder. The air was still and the sun was shining, teasing warmth.
Throughout day the sun had melted a sizable portion of snow, making it easier for Connor to walk through. Although, his body was still sore from the pervious day the lack of snow seemed to be helping. He walked north for miles, and hours until the sun began to cool and wind began to pick up. Connor thought he could smell the ocean. With the thought came a sting of hunger. He thought now would be a good a time as ever to take a break and eat something.
Connor took a seat within the snow, opened his pack, and pulled out a small piece of bread. He gnawed on it slowly; savoring it. The scenery to his meal made the stop worth while. To the west there was endless land which lead to bluish mountains with frosted white peaks. Clouds floating close to them like a blanket. The sun was a crimson red; and was descending itself behind the blue mountains creating a shimmer of red-purple light throughout the sky. After a few minutes he continued his hike.
As the sun sunk below the craters of blue, the sky began to transform. The pale-blue sky that guided him through the snow, now turned into a pink hue of stars. As the hours past, the sky grew darker and the lights above brighter. They became his new guide.
Wiriness grew inside and outside of his body. Connor could barely lift his feet over the plies of snow now. A part of him didn’t think he would make it, another part thought he may have been walking in the wrong direction, but then he saw it. A white bird flapping, cawing, throughout the cold, lonely night. It flew above him, swooping around his head cautiously. Something told him it wasn’t an enemy.
He followed the bird a few yards, until it flew from sight. Blankness and blackness surrounded him the only source of light coming from the stars and ground below him. He squinted his eyes tightly and saw a small lantern swinging in the wind. “Thank God,” he voiced. He voice hoarse and soar from hours of not speaking, and hours of heavy breathing.
Connor gathered energy and ran toward the swinging lantern. Within a good ten minutes he reached it, out of breath. The house stood two stories and was build out of lumber. Any other details couldn’t be seen in the thick of night. Connor scoped the scene and realized there wasn’t jus one lantern, but at least ten. All swinging from different houses. He walked into the town, or city, but it seemed barren; deserted. There were no candles lit throughout the home. They all seemed simply abandoned by their owners. Well, this isn’t creepy at all..., Connor thought dryly.
About halfway in Connor came across a small home, it was only a little larger than Qui-dem’s, a sign hung on the door reading: Errol’s Inn. Either this is the place, or I’m dead.
Connor open the door and a tight ringing noise came from a bell above it. Warmth immediately comforted him. His eyes gazed upon a bright orange fire that lit a dark, grey, room. A stout man with receding red hair and thin white face came into view, holding a loaded cross bow, ready to fire into Connor’s gut. His eyes were the color of tar.
“Elo?’” he said, eyeing him. “Who are ya? What do ya want?”
Connor spoke uneasily, “My–my name is Connor. Um...Qui-dem...she said I’d be able to–”
The man looked Connor up and down, a disgusted frown upon his face. “Qui-dem?”he question, his face lightening. It quickly vanished as he said, “Proof. Give me proof.”
Connor couldn’t think of anything to give the man for proof.
“Proof? What–do you mean? I don’t have– Qui-dem never said anything about needing proof–”
“Enough!” he yelled. “No proof. No food. No sleep. You leave.”
What am I gonna do now?, Connor thought frozen Then it came to him, “Well,” he said reaching into the sack Qui-dem gave him, “she did give me this?” Connor presented the man with Toroak, the tomahawk. “I don’t know if it’ll mean–”
His rough face blended into the room as his eyes widened and smiled, “Aye!” he yelled. “Toroak!” His rough exterior faded as his eyes began to water, “A friend of Qui-dem is a friend of mine! Please, please, come in. Please, sit by the fire.” His deep voice now light and airy.
Connor moved into the dark room and allowed his body to absorb as much warmth as it could. He sat in a worn-brown leather chair, while the man moved silently behind him, handing him a cup of tea. Connor gently placed it on his lap. The man then sat in the seat next to him, a frown upon his face.
“The name’s Errol,” he said, holding out a fat hand. “Sorry if I was rude earlya. Can neva be too ca’ful nowadays,” he said, a hand shaking.
“It’s okay,” Connor said, shaking his hand. “I understand.” He sipped his tea, eyeing Errol carefully. “So, you know Qui-dem?”
“Aye,” he said, with a smile. “We met many ages ago during the war.”
“Did you fight, too?” he asked.
Errol laughed, “Oh, no! No, no! This here, my house, my inn, was a safe place for the warriors to come and rest. A place where I could do my best to fix wounds. But, no, I was no warrior.”
“At least you helped.”
“Aye, tis true. Dark times those were. Dark times still,” Errol said, darkly.
“I appreciate the tea, and offering me a bed,” Connor said.
Errol smiled, lightly, “Please,” he said, “it is good to have someone ere otha then me self. I get awful lonely.”
“Well, I’m glad to be here,” Connor said, sipping his tea.
Errol’s eyes moved to the fire and he was silent for sometime, then he said, “Could I tell ya a story?” His voice darkening; his face changing in the shadow of the flames.
“Um, sure,” Connor replied.
“Many years ago a young woman– I could neva forget her name, Teresa it was. This woman, was young and beautiful, but bared an awful fate.” Errol’s eyes danced as the fire blazed. “See now, the woman, Teresa, was a Seer. Do you know what a Seer is?”
“Um, no,” Connor said, unsure of where this was going.
“A person very limited to magic, but very keen on what is to come,” he said, “ Now I, at the time of her stay, was not aware of who or what she was. I treated her like any other, see? Until one night, she sat in the same chair you now sit,” as Errol spoke his eyes grew wide and wet with excitement. “She spoke, her voice very clear and airy like, and she said: ‘When a youngling with a weapon of familiarity comes seeking shelter, in time, The Cold Days shall cease.’ And before I could even ask her what it meant she was dead. Gone.” A tear fell from his round eye.
“She died? Why?” Connor asked, slightly horrified. Why would he tell me a woman died in the chair I’m sitting in!?
“Aye, it is what happens to a Seer after...well...they see.”
“That’s horrible...” he said, still thinking about the woman’s dead body laying in the chair.
“Aye. Tis is, but it is a fate she was highly aware of. Somethin out of her grasp of control as well,” he explained. “Do you know why I told you that story, Connor?”
Connor smiled, “No, not really.”
Errol looked him straight in the eye, “I believe she was talking about you, son.”
“So,” Connor said after a moment, “you think her premonition had to do with me?”
“Aye,” he nodded, “Qui-dem would not entrust anyone with her tomahawk; such a sacred weapon. No, she would not. You are the youngling I’ve been waitin for, for nearly a hundred yea’s mind you!” he laughed. “Oh, I mustn't wait to tell the town. They would be most thrilled over your arrival!”
Errol begun to get up from the chair, energy coursing through his small body. “Wait!” Connor cried. “I’m not the person you’re looking for. I’m–I’m not staying here. I’m trying to find a way home. I need to get home....I’m sorry but can’t help you,” he said. “Sorry.”
“Ah,” Errol said, sinking back into his chair. “very el. Perhaps throughout your journey you’ll find truth in Teresa’s premonition.” Errol smiled and stood, “How bout’ some warm beans and a new cup’o tea?”
Errol existed soundlessly and reentered in seconds holding a steaming bowl of brown, soupy, beans. Connor took bite after bite not realizing how starved he was. Without notice, a fresh cup of tea was placed on the side of him. He guzzled the drink down without hesitation after finishing off the bowl of beans. For a few brief minutes Connor sat slouched in the chair; stomach full, watching the fire. That premonition, or whatever, couldn’t have been about me.... Right? I don’t belong here. I have to go home. I need to go home. Dad and Maddie are probably all ready freaking out by now! No, no way it was about me.
“I have made a room for you upstairs,” Errol said, interrupting Connor’s thoughts.
Without replying Connor rose from the chair, leaving the warm fire, and walked up a creaking wooden stairs case. His hands grazed against the rail, spraying a cloud of dust into the air; he sneezed. The room was at the top of the stairs down a dank hallway that was lit by candlelight on the walls. Connor reached the door: a rustic grey, the nob an aged bronze. The door squeaked open and slammed shut.
The room was miniature to his at home and very bland. This looks worse than my room, Connor thought wittily. A nightstand stood askew aside the bed, a white candle sat on it, giving the room abeyance. There was one window, on the other side of the bed, that was so filthy even the most powerful storm couldn’t wash away the grime.
Connor fell onto the rock of a bed and moaned in pain. It had stained sheets and a long dark blanket.
His eyes shut before they reach the pillow.
They opened to a scream, “I said leave!”
“Now, now, Errol,” a second voice teased; it was a man. “We tink it be wise yo just did what we asked of ya.”
“Yo’ll have to eat my soul befo’ I let you in!” he yelled.
Connor heard a sound similar to stretched string. “If tha’s wat you wan’ Errol, den tha’s wat you get!”
Errol let out a hunk of air, and tumbled to the floor.
Connor jumped from the bed. Moving slowly along the creaking floor. “E’s all yore's, mate,” the person said.
“Aw! You mean it, Reg?” another person; a man asked.
“You stay ere’ I’m headin atop,” the voice named Reg said.
Connor heard a series of thudded footsteps. Not thinking clearly, he opened the door. A figured stood hovering over him, a smile strung across his face. He wasn’t man at all! His teeth were fanged and jagged, his eyes were a putrid black and his skin a taint of yellow. His hair was nonexistent except for what was on his face: a beard so thick and so red it looked like animal fur.
“Wat ave we ere’?” he said, drool falling from his purple lips.
Connor slammed the door in its face as the creature began to step forward. Connor moved faster than ever and grabbed Toroak off the nightstand. The door flew off its hinges. The creature seemed rabid and vile; angry. His body broad, his shoulders hunched, his neck thick, his waist thin. He wore a long, green, trench-coat, and ripped skintight trousers; orange fur burst through the ripped seams. He motioned closer; chomping his teeth and smacking his lips.
Connor reached for the closest thing: the candle. He lobbed it at the creature’s deformed head. It dodged and jolted with a snap of its jaw. The candle hit the pale wall behind him and rolled along the floor. A flame began to dance its way onto the wood.
The creature swung with strength in its arm. Connor ducked in time making the creature smash its hands into the wall behind him. Connor rolled across the bed. Toroak jiggled in his hand; waiting to be used. The flame spread across the floor and began rising around them, entrapping them quickly within the confined space.
The creature, noticing the flame, panicked pushing its back into the wall while reaching clumsily into its trench-coat and pulled out a small curved knife. It snapped its jaw, attempted a throw, but didn’t trust its accuracy.
Connor stood panting in the corner. The window was less than a foot away. The fire gathered around them, the smoke clogged his throat and lungs. Connor smashed the window open with the hilt of his weapon. Fresh air rushed into the room. “Help!” Connor screamed. “Help!”
The creature grunted and snapped; the curved knife released from its grasp. Without thinking, Connor swung Toroak to his chest and deflected the knife. He turned his arm clockwise and let Toroak fly from his hand across the room and into the creature’s gut.
For a moment, nothing happen.
All at once, Toroak retreated from the dying victim’s gut and flew into Connor’s right hand. The unexpected force sent Connor out the window, two stories below.