Simon spoke so quickly that he was midway through his statement before Fiona even registered his presence.
“…out there in the snow. Hurry!”
“I’m sorry. What?”
Simon stamped his bare feet on the flagstone floor impatiently. “Your brother! He’s sitting out it the cold, waiting to freeze to death. Don’t know how long he’s been there, but he isn’t looking too good.”
Simon took her by the hand and ran.
It was beginning to snow harder by the time they made it outside. They stopped at the top of the steps. Seoc was nowhere to be seen.
“He was right there a few minutes ago,” Simon reported, pointing.
Fiona swore in a most unladylike manner and pulled him down the stairs. “Where did he go? We must find him!”
Simon danced down the pathway, nose to the ground, probably searching for footprints.
“For Rezyn’s sake, Simon! Where are your shoes?”
He gestured to the snow-covered lawns. “Somewhere over there. I took them off.”
Simon stopped in his tracks and looked up at her sardonically. “Any other scintillating bits of breaking news you’d like to report, m’dear?” Upon receiving no reply, he turned his attention back to the snowy ground. “Aha! Here’s something.”
Seoc’s trail was already beginning to be obscured with fresh snow. They ran along it, occasionally losing it, but always finding it once more. The winds began to whip, and then to howl. Snow fell in thick, opaque sheets around them, stinging their cheeks caking onto their clothing. The temperature dropped.
They found Seoc’s cloak draped over a snow-covered hedge, but no Seoc. A few minutes later, Simon caught sight of a scrap of fabric poking out of a snow drift; it turned out to be a corner of Seoc’s discarded tunic.
“SEOC!” Fiona screamed. “SEOC! COME BACK!”
The wind shrieked in reply.
When the visibility became so poor that she nearly lost Simon, who was a mere three feet behind her, she grabbed hold of his hand and pulled him close to her. They could no longer run. The wind was too harsh, and they were too tired. Seoc’s footprints began to vanish before their eyes.