Winter was never a good time of year. It was a season where death thrived in every fibre of this once bright country. But, instead of the clear warm rivers that once flowed effortlessly into each other, now only dark icy fingers splayed through the barren, white-wastelands; carving through crystallised fields of dead grass and traveling across the blackened mountains which, besides the endless tiers of snow, were the only things to give personality to the morbid horizon.
Endless amounts of shadows danced in dreary lifeless forests, born from platinum streams of light fighting against skeletal figures, weakly struggling to stay up-right below.
By many means, Winter was the worst season. Sam had hated it, even before it was never ending. It would always be cold and dark, and he didn’t have a bitter-sweet personality at this time of year like regular people. The only good thing to come of it was Yule, a festive time where people could only be happy. No arguments. No feuds. Just laughing and music on grand stages overlooking town centres, and huge feasts surrounded by friends and loved ones, with all streets decorated as brightly as the houses with arrays of colour, littered with market stalls selling homemade goods and food from all cultures around the globe. A time of happiness; which would be a welcome change to this grim picture.
This month would mark the third year of the constant night. He thought anyways, it was unsurprisingly hard to determine how long days were with no sun. However, Sam became, oddly to his surprise, very good at reading stars; determining days by certain stars position correlated to the moon. An ingenious system he had to admit. Although, having no one to admire his intelligence made him conclude that being the last human alive, was a boring endeavour.
If it wasn’t for his magicka sustaining his life he would have become another one of those things inhabiting this land long ago. The sudden possibility of the grotesque transmutation made his spine quiver, a feeling he had become accustomed to living in a gothic ice – age. He wasn’t a big man after all; he used to be, before he had to use magic to survive. He was once a reasonably well-built man, for a 20-year-old. His chestnut – shade hair, classically slicked back in effortless fashion to create a precise wave of a fringe, almost waiting to crash down over the rest of his scalp. To accompany his pristine hair were eyes of deep blue, which complemented his clean – shaven look, sharp jaw – line and exquisite teeth perfectly. Not a bad looking fellow as his modesty tended to remind him.
But now, his hair was matted and his fringe, instead of its usual perfect wave, was parted, falling below his cheek – bones; if his face wasn’t covered, you would see a thick chestnut beard moulded around small pearl – like teeth. Although, now his once muscular body was covered in black fur, held together by an abundance of small bones and leather straps. Possibly the only good thing that came from the beastly spores that currently skulked this land.
Not an inch of skin was in contact with the outside world. More black fur covered his right arm and hand which were tattooed with various mystical symbols and incomprehensible languages from his life before. His left arm, however, which was covered with similar but different carvings to his right. They were different in the sense that instead of tattoos, scars of similar magical designs showed; a surreal image of his magicka’s demands. His left hand was rough, but tightly bandaged, with old, blood – ridden cloths. The same rough fashion as his chunky fur boots, tattered bag and staff figurine that were slung over each shoulder.
His only feature on display were a pair of piercing green eyes. One of the many more sacrifices which came with utilising magicka for a sustained life-force. His once beautifully elegant blue eyes had slowly transformed into rings of green, resembling sun-kissed grass. He had no need to eat or drink, even his necessity to breathe was a mystery to him, although he didn’t want to test the boundaries of his false immortality. Occasionally he would come across a frozen deer or cow well preserved enough to heat up and eat, melting ice as he cooked to attain water. These were only as treats though, a kind of self-congratulations for surviving for surviving so long. However, not a constant affair due to the smell attracting unwanted visitors.
Therefore, because of the lack of nutrients his once, self-proclaimed, incredible physique had dwindled; yet another point against using magicka. Even though his magicka reserves were constantly being tested and exercised, his physical entities were only exercised in a survival sense; fight or flight scenarios, usually ending in the latter option.
Because there was no sun to melt the ice or evaporate the water, no clouds could form leaving Sam a constant victim to the moon’s illuminating gaze. But Sam liked the moon, it gave him a never-ending sense of comfort. His people had a belief that the moon was the embodiment of life to come as well as life that has gone. He never believed it and neither had his father, but by being brought up as an Anfurer he had to conform to their poxy beliefs. All Sam knew was the moon gave him a sense of strength, as it always had given himself and his family before him; maybe that’s why he has lasted in this world for so long.
With all his daydreaming he almost missed the dark, scarce ruins of a home to his left but his eyes were strong; where most of his magicka resided. Sam sensed the aura before he saw it; an ominous and empty atmosphere, as if the very air around him was hovering in anticipation. Unclear at first but his eyes never failed him and soon adjusted to the new point of focus. The house was covered in it, teaming at the brims. Thick black tendrils curved and licked against what remained of the small hut’s walls, rising into the abyss of sky like smoke from a fire. Death. An aura Sam was all too familiar with.
As he edged closer, the smell of rot and decay creeped into Sam’s nostrils through his fur mask. Blood. The aura so faint he could barely see the maroon blur behind the rotting walls and black tentacles. Not dead, although close. Sam cast aside the possibility of a feast of fresh Deer and turned alert. Something was dying; something had hurt, maybe even maimed it and Sam didn’t want to find out what.
Caution. That’s how you survive here.
His left hand was hasty to climb over his own right shoulder, grasping the end of the well camouflaged staff figure, tightly wrapped in more black fur and leather clasps. His grip so tight he could imagine his knuckles turning white. Then he heard it. A moan, or maybe a whimper? This thing was in pain and if it was an animal it was his duty as an Anfurer to stop whatever suffering this creature was feeling. His Gods would never forgive him otherwise.
His steps were light and slow, each one being taken as his last before being ambushed by a flurry of the night. Sam was at the bottom of the food chain and he knew it. The most he could hope for was that the Grotesquery’s had gotten bored with their prey and left. Worst case scenario… Sam didn’t want to think about.
Each footstep became heavier and more agonising as Sam’s heart lurched forward, begging the meritless task to be completed. He was struggling to contain his breathe from escaping. It had been months since he was in such an awkward and dangerous position. The last time he was the one ambushing the creatures; two of them while they slept, making quick work of the subdued larger one leaving the smaller of the pair to fight alone. Even then he barely escaped victoriously without being seriously injured. But now the roles were reversed. Now he was the prey.