Snow, snow, and more snow. Howling
around the trapper in flurries that chilled his fur-clad body to
the bone, the snow was his enemy, promising him a slow, numbing
death. While the trapper thought himself a fool for venturing so
far out on the mountainside today, it was too late to build a
snow-house; he would have to find shelter or risk frostbite, or
Trudging through the coniferous
forest on furred snowshoes, the trapper’s steel-jawed snares
weighed heavy upon his back, and the cold was beginning to make
him feel faint, despite having lived all his life upon the
Northern Ranges. Sending up a prayer to Caine for help, the
trapper struggled on and almost as if his desperate prayer had
been smiled upon by the Valorous, the pine trees parted to reveal
the mouth of a huge cave before him. A last spurt of strength in
his legs brought him to the arching entrance, and there he
collapsed into a cranny out of the wind’s way.
When he finally awoke, cold and
hungry, the ice upon his clothes and beard had melted, soaking his
body with chilly water. The trapper knew he must return to his
cabin soon. There he could kindle a fire, and in any case, his
provisions he had with him were frozen solid and inedible. It
would be a pity to escape cold, yet perish from starvation.
Blowing into his gloves in an attempt to restore circulation to
his hands, the trapper was about to leave the cavern when
something caught his eye.
Sculptures of dazzling ice lay strewn
along the cavern floor--figurines of men, animals, trees, dwarves,
and other things the trapper did not recognize. Scratching his
soggy beard in confusion, he could not fathom who could have
carved such things and placed them here. Drawn by their pristine
allure, the trapper reached out to touch one of the sculptures and
cried aloud as he withdrew his gloved hand, for the ice figurine
was bitterly, forbiddingly cold, colder than even the blizzard
that had forced him into this cave. Deeper into the tunnel, more
figurines rested, but the trapper dared not to venture further in;
he had no light, and knew dangerous beasts such as snow-cougars
and bears sought refuge from snowstorms in caves too.
Instead, amidst the debris and snow,
a lump of ice rested, as about one and a half times the size of
the trapper’s head. It was brighter than the rest, and there was
something even more special about it that made the trapper reach
out even more cautiously to grasp it. Unlike the forbidding ice
sculptures, this chunk was warm to the touch, and it made the poor
man wonder even more, for he was a simple man; the Northern Ranges
did not look kindly upon intellectuals upon its slopes. As he held
the ice up to the sunlight, a myriad of colours pleasing to the
eye shone though it, and the trapper was pleased. It was ice, and
yet it did not melt to his touch or breath, a very strange thing
So the trapper took the lump down to
his cabin and set it above his hearth, where the dancing flames of
the fire almost made the trapper believe he had chanced upon a
huge diamond. Yet although he knew it was ice, there was something
about the lump that desired to be something more than a mere
decoration, and so he took out his spare knife, some other tools
and a whetstone, and set to work. By day the trapper would check
the snares on the mountainside, carve the meat and pelts off the
caught animals, and store them away, while in the long, bitter
nights, he would work the knife and borer against both ice and
stone. Even then, the ice was incredibly hard, and it took two
spare blades before he finished his work.
Lump turned to rod, and rod turned to
flute, and by the start of the autumn, the trapper had music to
accompany him through the ever-lengthening nights. He played music
of his youth upon the ice flute, music of the village in the
valley below him, where his sister and he had grown up. Life had
not been easy in the village, but it had been happy, and notes of
joyousness rang out from his log cabin into the desolate
mountainside, staving off the loneliness that the peaks brought
down upon all those who dared stay upon them.
One night, the trapper had settled by
his fire and begun to play the ice flute yet again when the earth
beneath him began to tremble. Fearing an avalanche, the trapper
fled from his house, flute in hand. What met his eyes was far
worse than an avalanche--a Great Dragon of the Blue Flight, as
large as a small mansion. Freezing mist curled from its snout as
the Ice-Wyrm swiveled its head from side to side, seeking out
something with its radiant eyes.
Solokar, Solokar, where are you?
It cried dolorously. Come back to me... I hear your voice... Lowering
its head so the trapper could smell the rankness in its breath and
shaggy mane, the Great Dragon snarled at the trapper.
You there! Human! Have you seen my mate? I heard her voice!
Terrified, the trapper was trembling,
knowing full well the majestic beast could entomb him and his
abode in ice with a mere breath. “F-forgive me... I... found
this lump of ice and carved an instrument out of it... I... I...
didn’t mean any harm...”
Play for me, human. Let me hear the
voice of my mate’s breath again. Take my pain away.
So the trapper played the merry tune
again, the tune of joyous times gone by. To his surprise, the wyrm
joined in the song with its humming, its spiked tail swaying from
side to side in time with the music. When the trapper had
finished, he looked up to see oily, rainbow tears falling from the
T-thank you, human,
it said, and with a beat of its wings, it was gone.