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Nearly There Nicely: North Snow

Short story By: lancetti

NTN spin off: Crow is travelling north the first time he leaves the kingdom. Crow has left the knights, his first winter alone, heading north.

Submitted:Jan 24, 2014    Reads: 6    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

Crow has left the knights, his first winter alone, heading north.

North Snow

"I knew this was a crazy idea." Crow grumbled to himself, clinging to his shoulders with his frozen fingers through his dark red jacket. He shivered a bit, shaking his head to shake off the shiver and peered ahead. Snow was falling slowly, in white light fluffs, and the sun was hidden behind the thick gray clouds. All of the light illuminating the street lit up the cold wet concrete sidewalk and cobblestone road. Everything looked dreary and tired, which was exactly how Crow felt, plus wet.

Again, Crow shook his head, reaching up to tug his straight locks of hair over his ears. "I'm a genius. Leave the barracks in winter, just before snow-season. So... genius." He gritted his teeth, rolling his eyes. There was no one else on the street, leaving him to grumble about as he wished.

Walking forward through the edge of the city, Crow could spot areas where the snow was beginning to thicken up and stick. Some puddles and low areas on the cobblestone was beginning to look like it was freezing over. To entertain himself as he walked in his ill-prepared clothes, Crow let out puffs of warm steamy air from his lips. He tried to blow straight lines, o-shapes, and solid clouds.

After a bit, he reached the outer edge of the city. It was dark by now, and Crow could look out to the fields and dirt roads ahead. He could make out small farmhouses by their lights in the windows and a small village in the distance to the north. He huffed a bit, swinging his small bag off of his back. Opening it, he dug through until he pulled out a thin blanket- probably a throw for a sofa- and dropped it onto his lap. Digging further in, he pulled out a thicker spread of fabric decorated in red and white plaid, and then another throw. He straightened up, swinging the large plaid over his shoulders, revealing its poncho shape. After he wrapped the first small throw over his head to cradle the back of his neck, he swung it around his neck fully before looping itself through to stay secure. He unfolded the final throw, wrapping it around his lower back and hips, and tied it tight above his left thigh.

Once he had bundled up as best he could, Crow dug out a small hanging kerosene lantern. He checked the oil level in it, then prepped the wick inside. Before lighting it, he dug out a small handkerchief. Finally he closed up his bag, and then put it back onto his back, under the poncho. After he wrapped the handkerchief around his palm and fingers, leaving his thumb out, Crow took ahold of the metal handle of the lantern and straightened up. With his free hand, he lit a small match kept in a storage compartment at the base of the lamp, and lit the wick. He spent a few seconds fussing with the knob so the wick took the flame properly. Satisfied with the light being given off, his blue eyes peered ahead into the darkness. The night had come over the land quickly, but now it was easier to spot the village.

He took in a deep breath, glancing over his should at the innards of the city. It was well-lit in there, but it looked cold, empty and gave a feeling of pain and solitude. Turning his face forward after leaving a glare to the city, he smiled a bit. Walking out into the wild was intimidating at first, but after a few minutes, the feeling of the city looming tall at his back was gone. The falling snow was lit up by the light of the lantern, giving a peaceful sense to the air around him as he walked down the dirt road. Even though he was cold, and still shivering now and then, Crow kept his eyes ahead.

"Freedom," he said aloud to himself. "Freedom is ahead."

Within the hour, Crow arrived at the edge of the village. They had more snow here. Their street lamps cast warm orange and yellow light over the blankets of snow and frosty windows. It felt oddly warmer and more relaxing than the cold air of the city. Just being this far away from home brought a smile to Crow's face. Still, he felt curious, and turned around to look at the glistening city. He noticed more snow had fallen than he had thought. The thick clouds blotted out any hope of seeing the stars or moon, leaving a dark shadow over the ocean, city and fields. The only light seemed to come from the whiteness of the snow itself, fluttering gently through the sky down to the blades of grass. Even though the city looked bright and welcoming, to Crow, it just seemed to be covered in a shadow that the snow was cleverly hiding. For a moment, he felt the seduction sink in, and he took a few steps toward it. He caught himself, hearing the crunch of his shoes on the snow, and jerked back.

"Nope. Not going back there." He said aloud. The sound of his own voice startled him. It seemed to sound and echo differently here in the village. Yup, this is right, he thought, turning away from the city once more.

His blue eyes, vibrant and clear, focused on the falling snow. If it were daytime, and he was in a forest, with sunlight poking in through the branches and leaves, it might be glistening gold, sparkling and shimmering from the lazy wind. It would breathe and float, down and up, around in the warm light. At night, and it being snow, it seemed to give off a similar mystical look. It was powdery, white and silver, but it caught the light of his lantern. To him, it seemed as though he was walking down a perfect path laid out for him.

It made him smile, looking in through the windows of the village houses as he walked by. The warm golden lights from within let off warmth that sunk into his heart. It gave him the strength to continue walking. By the time he reached the other side of the village, continuing north, he saw no sign of anything ahead. He could barely make out a small shimmer of light that might be a small village or lighthouse to the northeast, hugging the ocean. He move the lantern down, inspecting the ground to see where the road led. There was no sign of it, lost to the snow, nearly six inches thick here.

"Going blind?" He asked himself. Doubt rose up from his gut. Suddenly he felt colder, confused and lost. He took a few steps out into the snow devoid of guides. He glanced around, noting the city to the south-east, the ocean to the strict east, and the flickering light to the north-east. To the west was the dark shadows of the mountains, with small flickering lights that looked like stars, but he guessed were small farms.

He took in a breath, lifting his chest and filling his lungs with air. He let out the air with an exasperated sigh, and then started walking forward. "You gotta go blind if you seek freedom." He told himself aloud. "Just keep walking, one step ahead of another. Lift your feet, with your knees; keep going, keep going."


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