MTL & Editing: A s h e s
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It motivates me [ So does buying me food]
In my previous life, the region I lived in was rather warm and snow would fall a few times during the winter, but it’d be so light that the snow would melt the moment it touched the ground. I use to see the images of the heavy snow areas on the Television when the news would show it and I used to think it was a problem. Well, on the other hand, it was also enviable when you’re a child. If there was so much snow, you could make a snow-hut and even a slide.[*1]
But I can say now that this snowstorm had become dangerous. No matter how much snow they cleared, more would fall and quickly fill the cleared spots. Even on top of the mountain, there wasn’t a snowstorm as severe as this on top of the mountain. I watched the storm from inside the one-eyed knight’s room. Certain it was a terrible blizzard for the region…
On the second day, the window was plastered with snow. No light was able to come through and the room was dark like it was night still. For a moment I still thought it was night. The one-eyed knight tried to open the window to clean it, but it was sealed tight by the snow. The snowstorm continued with the same ferocity as the other day, the sky was covered with thick clouds, leaving the landscape gloomy and dark, but not as dark as inside.
Although I was excited that the snow had piled high, the one-eyed knight wasn’t happy and didn’t let me outside to play. All day the raging winds and snowfall continued without end, I even started to think that this was certainly strange. Storms on the mountain could go on for days, but it would fluctuate. Weakening here and there, even have gaps in between. This storm though, it showed no signs of stopping, even for a moment; the wind howled like it was angry as it battered the region. The weather was quite violent.
While I thought about things, another night passed in the snowstorm. I wondered how much the snow would accumulate while I was asleep. There was an uneasy feeling that gripped me as I laid down with the one-eyed knight to sleep. Though I closed my eyes, I ended up not being able to sleep due to the howling of the wind and it battering the window, making it rattle violently.
As the third day arrived, the window to our room was still covered shut, but it wasn’t just our window now that we couldn’t open. The snow had piled so high that they engulfed all the windows on the first floor. Thankfully whether they anticipated such a thing happening or not, those windows were a lot smaller and sturdier than the upper floors.
Inside the dining hall, the main topic among the knights this morning was the storm. It was a given, as most of the knights were from different regions and this being their first time seeing such heavy snowfall. There was a running joke that it would be filling the entire fort, but it was a decent height so it wasn’t a concern at the moment… Is what I want to believe but the dining hall’s chef who is a local person said that there is a huge blizzard every couple of years, but it was unusual for it to get this bad. The mood in the dining hold was quite tense, to say the least…
So I thought since I was a snow spirit, I went to the roof of the fort and yelled at the sky like “Snow Stop!”, but nothing happened. The storm continued to rage and ignored me. I even began to question my existence.
I’m a snow spirit, right?
As the morning continued, the knights continued clearing snow. Even though they cleared the paths, the snow would still quickly build up, but they still had to do it. Because move the snow was such a demanding job, the knights were shoveling in turns. They would dry their wet clothes by the fireplace while warming their hands and feet. I had been staying in the common room for a long time and I felt guilty that I couldn’t stop this storm. So to try and make it up to them, I’ve been walking up to the tired knights who come in and let them touch my fur to their heart’s content.
It seems that the one-eyed knight along with the Chief had been going to the nearby village to help with snow removal on the roads and roofs. It seemed to where trying to say as many homes as they could as a lot of them were old and less resilient than the fort. I just hope that they be careful, but I guess if they fall there’ll be piles of snow to fall in.
Tina had picked me up and took me out to the front entrance to wait for the knights, but the moment the heavy doors were opened, the wind howled violently, causing Tina to shrink her neck due to the cold. She was even wearing lays of warm clothing and hugging me tightly, tho I didn’t think snow spirits would make very great body warmers. In the end, the knights who went to town came back somewhere around noon.
“Welcome back! How was the town?”
“The old hut collapsed and there wasn’t as much damage as I expected. The town folk really are accustomed to the snow more than us. Food reserves will last and there’s plenty of firewood. We’ll be okay if the snow continues for a little while.
With that, the worry in Tina had gone, she was even joking with the others. She loosened her grip enough that I was able to jump out onto the ground. From the entry hall, I ran towards the outside world… Even though I went forward, the wind was so strong I was pushed backward.
“No! Don’t go outside Mil, the snow is really nasty out there!”
I looked back at Tina who was shouting for me to come back, and when I did, the one-eyed knight had also arrived along with others on horses. They were many tools strapped to the horses, all of which were used to deal with the snow. Some of them even had pulled sleds to move piles of snow.
I really wanted to try those sleds out…
“Have you been a good girl ?”
I spun around in a circle quickly while barking in the hall. After a few moments, I calmed down and everyone around me was laughing merrily. The tension in the air seemed to have lifted a little. I thought, since I couldn’t help with the snow removal, the least I can do is make them happy and laugh.
But this storm truly was terrible. The wind didn’t cut things but was like a lead weight smashing into everything. People, buildings and trees were equally destroyed in its path. Even the snowfall was unforgiving. Not even five minutes and the snow piled so high that my body couldn’t be seen, swallowing me whole. I had to constantly shake the snow off.
“You take a break, call back teams five and eight instead!”
The chief, who looked concerned about the knight with a tightening expression.
“Right now? Have you guys had your breaks yet?”
“We have to hurry, the sun will be going down soon so we have to hurry up.”
The chief gave his order and the knight acknowledged it before rushing back to the fortress. I came all the way out here for the one-eyed knight but was he going to leave? I loitered around his feet and pulled on his boot strings towards the fort trying to get him to go back in, but he only smiled and gently patted me.
Then about eight knights wearing thick snow gear along with horses carrying snow tools arrived. It seems that things were moving quickly since the one-eyed knight and the Chief arrived.
“Are we going to the next town to remove snow?”
Among them was Knight and they all spoke with the Chief with ease and I wondered if they could become his friend.
“No, we’ll finish up here and make our way to the foot of the mountain where the snow spirit lives.”
Hearing the word spirit, my ears perked up and I listened attentively.
“Are you sure?! That sounds like suicide to me! The road there is buried in snow!”
“If it’s buried, you just have to dig it out.”
Knix then chimed in with a question.
“What are you going to do up there?”
“Give offerings to the snow spirit so she may stop the storm.”
That being said, the chief looked back at his horse, attached to it was several bottles. It smelled of strong alcohol, the type that if you stood next to it, it would be possible to get drunk. The chief turned his eyes back.
“The old folk in town say that the spirit is angry and this storm is its wrath and that we must ask it’s forgiveness. They also said that even if we ask for forgiveness with offerings, the storm may not even stop immediately. “
“So we have to find the altar?”
“Tes, we had to stop them by promising to take their offerings for them. It’d definitely be suicide if they went. I can’t just let them go,”
“Chief… Do you really think the spirit is the cause..?”
Knix chimed in again, rather I would like if he didn’t try frightening everyone, but it seemed the Knights didn’t notice. As the talk went on more and more snow started to accumulate on my body.
“I’m skeptical on the cause, but I don’t think they’re baseless either. The weather certainly is abnormal.”
The chief replied in a low voice as he looks up. The window and snow continued to batter everything without a moment’s rest.
“If this storm is due to the spirit… Then as long as her anger cannot be calm, it’s possible this storm may last forever. The surrounding Knights looked at the chief with gloom on their faces. I began to wonder what would happen if the storm continued on like this. At the moment, the current situation was good. We had the breathing room that we could joke and laugh, but for others… Their supplies are low and they wouldn’t be able to get any more until the storm stopped.
After that, the monotonous labor called snow removal continued on for hours each day. The Knights’ bodies were becoming exhausted with food and fuel getting lower each day. Morale had fallen and there wasn’t a possibility to evacuate. Unable to move, it’s possible that they’d have to wait until they freeze to death. Their faces are blue and the chief said something about that spring would surely come if we could endure. He was awfully quiet while he said that as he overlooked everyone.
“If we don’t go, it might be too late. We need to take the offerings to the altar, even though the possibility is low, there’s still a chance. We have to go while we have the strength. “
“Certainly it’s dangerous to go to the altar in this storm and the altar isn’t far, those who aren’t comfortable with their strength can stay. We promised the town’s people that we’d go.”
For better or worst, the fortress held many people who would never utter the words “I am not confident, so I’ll watch the fort”.
“If the chief and Deputy are going, we go!”
“Oi, I have faith only in my strength!”
“That’s right, what snow storm!?”
Even though they were blue-faced a while ago, their spirits rose with their cries. Their heated hearts melted the snow, but all within the palm of the Chief. Both the chief and deputy laughed, but one knight spoke up with impatience.
“Oi! let’s hurry, I want to get back before sunset!”
With that everyone began to get up and gather their equipment. The one-eyed knight stroked my head one last time before getting up, and I could only bark
“Oi, noisy. You’re staying to watch the fort!”
I’m apologizing because I’m almost positive she’s mad because I snuck out. I was suppose to be watching our home, but I left while Mother was gone for a month.”Where have you been Millefria!?” I can see it now, while I was here with the knights playing, she out there really angry. I could feel her anger in every snowflake and I could almost hear her wails in each wind. The townsfolk were certainly right that it was something to do with the spirits and unless I soothe Mother’s anger, this will probably last for a long time.. Maybe even an eternal snowstorm.
If the one-eyed knight is going to see Mother, I certainly have to go as well. Because I’m the cause of the storm, so I desperately scratched at the one-eyed knight’s boot with my forearms. I tried to tell him” Take me too!”
“Do you really not want to watch the fort for us?”
The edge of the one-eyed knight’s lips went up slightly into a grin, he picked me up and hugged me like Tina does with one hand holding my forepaw and the other arm wrapped around my belly.
“I’m sorry I take you, it’s too hard to watch you out in this storm. “
It was the Ice Chief that spoke up with a cold tone while watching.
I noticed that his eyes were warning me, that I would be burdensome to take with them up the mountain in this storm and not to follow.
“I’m sorry… But it’s dangerous…”
” Of course, Tina. Please come get Mil.”
Even though the Chief became a little weak when I looked him in the eye, the one-eyed knight remained steadfast. Tina quickly came over and took me from the one-eyed knight’s embraced
No! No, no!
I’m supposed to go too!
I was the cause of this storm and that meant I had to go with the knights to calm mother! I had to apologize to Mother for leaving without her knowing and get her forgiveness! I ended up resting with all my might, my short limbs flaring about. But it was useless, the one-eyed knight’s grip was ironclad against my weak struggles. I could only scratch at the air with despair.
“I’ll be back soon and we’ll play in the room.”
The one-eyed knight said some words of comfort, but I didn’t want to play!
“Mill, why don’t you come and cook with me?”
My will was ignored by them and the one-eyed knight handed me over to Tina. She held onto me tightly so I couldn’t follow after the knights as they walked out the fort’s doors.
“Let’s go!” The Chief gave the command and all the knights mounted their horses, leaving into the storm. As their backs slowly faded into the white abyss, my barks were filled with refusal.
Ashes/MTLN: Forgive me my friends, for I have sin and seen the furture. Also Previous & Next buttons will now be only Adfly links, also the chapter selection links in their respective site pages. Only links from NUF to the chapter will not be AdFlied, but will have a optional Adfly link.
Saphira: I have added Next buttons on previous chapters
1. : Originally Kamakura, but changed to snow hut.
Kamakura mid-January festival in northern Japan, with snow huts in which children play house