EverFrost – Chapter 2

Chapter 2

The air was sharper now; a piercing kind of cold that stung Sam’s throat and lungs as he inhaled. His chest felt tighter with every breath, anticipating the next onslaught of cool air. Only 10 metres away from the doorway now; a simple looking frame to match the rest of the ruins that accompanied it. He thought maybe it had been an old hunting cabin, used in the autumn times, his neck had an urge to turn and explore the land surrounding it for tools or perhaps traps he could steal. But he couldn’t allow his head to turn away from the door; it was the only way anything could burst out of the hut to attack so he needed to be ready. The frame was compiled of rough wooden planks which came to a point at the head of the doorway, the door itself was splintered and shattered with its remains lying scattered across the snow in front of the hut. The wood was decayed and dark surrounded by a deathly aura making the type of wood unrecognisable to Sam’s eyes.
He was well taught enough to turn his hereditary Anfurer powers off and on as he pleased but rarely did so in times of danger or, in this case, rescue.
Anfurer’s as a whole were generally protective people, especially over the lives of other creatures and beasts; their beliefs were that all lives are joined as one and if one suffered then all would share in that suffering. Hence why they inhabited secluded villages in regions of forests and countryside to be closer to nature and the world; a very outcast way of living no doubt, but Sam enjoyed it. Because of this lifestyle, Anfurer’s were raised with a certain predisposition to see and feel the aura in the air and in other living organisms, they can even share aura between themselves and other beings, but only if he is accepted, if the other being feels threatened by Sam then they can choose to reject him. A pretty simple concept built on the mutual respect and trust of both creatures in order for them to communicate.
Everyone born with these talents must only ever abide to one simple rule: An Anfurer can never fatally harm those who have shared their aura with them, otherwise their eyes turn to a shade of violet-purple so their power can never be abused again, like a beacon of dishonour.
Sam remembered a story his grandmother would tell him about their Gods and why the purple-eyes were a curse. The Gods were entities from all regions of the earth: from forests, to seas, to skies, to mountains, all equally as wise and powerful as the last and all kept to themselves. However, not all of them were so equal; two Gods were the most powerful: Mani, the moon-god and Sunna, the Sun-goddess. They were deities with such prowess that neither could watch over the earth at one time, so they thought of a deal: both would watch over it equally for half of the day each, a deal most were happy with, but not all. Phritta, the goddess of the skies was jealous of Mani and Sunna, jealous that they could invade the sky whenever they pleased without recognising the domain as hers. So Phritta thought of a cunning plan, she knew Mani was a lonely god, after-all nothing waked or wormed in the night, so she bonded with him, spoke to him when all slept in the darkness he brought and soon Mani forgot about the loneliness he had lived with for the eons of time passed.
He felt so happy for what Phritta had done for him he allowed his aura to be shared with her, to show the love and trust he felt for her. Then one day soon after, with their new found trust Phritta filled Mani’s mind with doubts that the reason he was so alone was because Sunna would tell the world when it was awake not to trust him, fear him and all he stood for. Filled with rage and hate Mani lashed out and attacked the other gods as they slept, pulling the tides from the sea towards him, turning the air into ice in the forests and mountains, freezing life in the world.
Once Sunna had awoke from her slumber she met Mani with confusion and despair, but soon realised what had been done when she saw Phritta unharmed. Mani and Sunna fought in the sky causing a blinding eclipse, repressing Phritta under its gaze. But from starring in awe at the beauty of power on display she never felt her eyes burning from their perfect green into circles of dull purple. Mani, pained from the outcome of his power, begged Sunna to help Phritta, but she would only do so with conditions: Mani would use his power to give back the tide, unfreeze the air and render himself so that he would only have his full power for one night a month. Only then would she help. So Mani did what was asked, restoring the world. But Sunna and the other gods were unforgiving still and decided Phritta’s deception needed to be punished further, therefore decided that all who were blessed with her powers could never deceive others or else they too would be victim to the curse of violet eyes.
It was a story Sam’s grandmother enjoyed telling him so much he believed her, he bet that if she were still alive she would say this world is Mani striking back at Sunna for relinquishing his powers. Who knows she could have been right but he couldn’t allow himself to be so biblical in these times, he needed to survive that was all.

Sam was curious as to why he was no closer to the cabin until his mind rushed back to reality to discover his legs immobilized mid-step. His eyes started to strain from his constant and blink-less gaze at the brief strands of crimson aura flittering between the seas of black that surrounded it. Sam didn’t like this aura, it made him feel queasy and his gut churn as if someone was impaling his abdomen with a spoon to stir up his insides.
He reluctantly refrained from paying too much attention to his own feelings, forcing down his urge to throw-up and sprint in the opposite direction. His left hand started to strain from how tightly he had gripped the peculiar staff strapped to his back; using this pain, he bared the next step forward. Then another. And another. Drowning out the eerie silence with soft crunches of pristine snow breaking beneath his weight. Cautiously, he stood to one side of the doorway with his back to the crippled frame, closing his eyes to steady his breathing and repent his legs from shaking so he could focus on sensing the aura for any life besides the dying creature. The pained, faint wailing had been non-existent since he commenced his trek to the hut but he could still feel the creature’s life-force in the air, pulling each of the hairs under his black fur apparel to a point, although the dwindling intensity seemed to be the only thing driving Sam to hasten his actions.
He swiftly turned the corner, each step, to his surprise on the old floor boards, were shrouded in silence, allowing Sam a slight grin to twitch along his face in a deserved moment of self-pride. The inside of the house opened to a bewilderingly large living room, cold in its attire let alone the temperature; all but an upturned chair and a table with two broken legs, leaving it to prop itself up, lay on the floor, with an oddly sparse bookcase to the left of him staring at a set of questionably stable stairs. To his right was nothing but an old wooden wall with an opening three quarters of the way up leading towards the crimson aura, he didn’t need to see it anymore, the smell alone was enough to identify how maimed this creature must be.
Taking the same approach as outside, Sam took one step at a time; one after the other, each step silent until he neared the doorway where they lay victim to light creaks. Sam grimaced, slowing the amount of pressure on each footstep, his face a contortion of pain as he tried to stabilise his balance. Suddenly his eyes shot open from their strained expression and his movements stopped. Something wasn’t right. The creaking of the floorboards weren’t in time with his own. He started focusing on the opening that lead into the dark imageless room beyond, even with his enhanced eyesight Sam couldn’t make out any figures. Satisfied with the new silence, Sam shifting his weight for another step. Yet another agonisingly loud creak was emitted. But now he was certain; it wasn’t from his side of the wall.

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