Chapter 1: Into Summer Ice

Soft, quiet voices.

Not whispers, exactly, but subdued, kept low, they rippled through her blackout until she started to understand words.

A male voice, “I can’t.”

“You must.” The second voice a little higher-pitched, probably female.

The male voice continued, “In her state, it’s dangerous. I don’t know how she will react. If something goes wrong, Vrezh will-”

“Look at her!”, the other voice cut in, “Everything has already gone wrong.”

“Precisely. I can’t even touch her.”

“Do it!”

“An order?”

“Do it!”

She moaned.

The voices had brought back throbbing pain in her limbs, a steady, knocking burn. It had broken her endurance earlier. She curled up and whimpered, but these very actions sparked an even more intense agony. The pain even cut off her scream. Then, through the haze, she heard the male voice murmur very close to her ear, “I can help you, but I have to touch you to do it. And then I have to get inside, to join.”

Her eyelids fluttered open.

His face hovered just above hers, hair framing it like a golden waterfall. Some of it brushed against her left cheek. With a little flick of the head, he lifted it off. She recognized him immediately. In the ten years since he had disappeared from her life, he had barely changed. A few fine lines had started to etch around his eyes and around his lips, but to her surprise, he looked almost as radiant as she remembered him.

Another wave of pain broke over her and she closed her eyes again. Eyes closed, eyes open, it didn’t really make a difference. She was just grasping at straws. Exhaling slowly, she tried to say something. She understood what he was trying to tell her. She wanted to tell him, ‘Yes. Go ahead.’ She managed one minuscule nod.

He slipped both hands under her torso and cradled her head against him. The agony of it almost knocked her out again, and she let out a little shriek. By the time she could feel something other than the burning in her limbs, his fingers were already in position, his mind already touching hers.

The terror of it engulfed her. Despite his warning, despite her understanding and approval, it swept through her with such force that it actually vanquished the physical pain for one moment.

Another man inside her.

She started to hyper-ventilate.

He held back, waited for her terror to crest and break. He started to hum quietly, and when her moment of panic finally spent itself, he focused, pulled their joined minds into a golden-white light. The light grew and started to permeate her broken limbs, work itself into her chest, then her belly. A feeling of well-being began to saturate her. The throbbing in her arms and legs died down to an echo of itself.

“Good. Good.” It was the second voice, only closer.

He stopped humming, and let his fingers slip between her curls into a very gentle caress.

She sighed.

The second voice ordered, “Stay with her.” And after a short pause, “Pallas Thor Goal, as hard as it may be, don’t break off the link. Stay with him. His strength will do more than simply kill the pain.”

She half-opened her eyes and caught a quick glimpse of the ice mentor, a short woman with hair as white as the snow outside.

“Your grandfather will be here soon,” the ice mentor continued.

“Shhh.” He brushed her eyes closed again with his thumbs.

She felt herself fainting again, only this time, she was slipping into light, not darkness. With another sigh, she let herself go.

About gfiezmont

Dune and The Left Hand of Darkness made a big impression before I went off to college. Once there, I discovered comparative literature an enriching journey that added magical realism and epic storytelling to my growth as a reader and a writer. A decade later, I had the great fortune of meeting Octavia Butler, whose work continues to inspire. Genre-blending speculative fiction has become my writing province; I hope you enjoy your visit with my Alnos Chronicles.
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