Another excerpt from my Nanowrimo 2021 project. The first one can be found here.
As a reminder, in the interest of getting this published someday I’m leaving some gaps in the story and am only going to post 10% of it collectively. There were a few scenes before this that I’m leaving out, for example, and I’ll probably leave another gap in the story with the next excerpt.
To contextualize, after avoiding his dad, his dad’s new girlfriend, and her non-magic using daughter, Kry is finally compelled to go see them after the latter is sent alone to come get him.
By the time they reach the end of the journey, it’s ink-dark outside. Kry fidgets, scratches over his scars, chews on the filter of an unlit cigarette. A fight or flight response is always triggered the closer that he gets to Verglas. The abrupt, impossible temperature shift that chills him to the bone even now, the fog that doesn’t gradually become obvious but instead swaths the world in its damp darkness all at once. He finds himself squeezing his hands into fists without intending to, then relaxes them.
Wynter is fine, after all. She doesn’t seem to have even registered the change. There’s a spaciness to her expression that unnerves him. What is she thinking about?
The ferrywoman doesn’t seem to register the change, either. She simply announces the last stop.
“Let’s get this over with.” Condensed vapor steams from his mouth to punctuate his sigh as he stands up.
Wynter trails after him as he exits the ferry. “Do you know the way?”
“Of course I do.” A few inches of snow made thick with time crunches beneath his sneakers.
His parents had thrown him out into the tundra more than once and told him to find his way back home. The exercise hadn’t made sense to him then and barely does now. Did he get closer to the god? Maybe, but only out of a sense of desperation.
Even with the snowglow, it’s impossible to see far. Luckily lava can be used for more than fighting. Kry doesn’t want to make a new wound, so he breaks what little scabbing has formed on the day’s bite and uses the blood as a sacrifice. The resulting lava only goes up to the middle of his forearm, but it’s more than bright enough to light the way.
Fresh snow starts to fall, icing over his bare arms more than they already are. He’s going to get sick for sure.
He glances at Wynter. “They were really going to make you walk this alone if I refused, huh?”
“Your dad was pretty sure you would say yes. He said just go to your home if you were stubborn.”
He rounds on her. “What? Could’ve said that earlier and saved us both a bunch of time.”
Wynter shrugs and wipes her nose on her sleeve. “I wanted you to come, too.”
“Why?” He asks, exasperated. “You don’t even know me. And if you were smart, you wouldn’t want to.”
The goddess is the closest thing that he has to a friend. That’s no accident.
There’s a defiant gleam in her droopy eyes. “But I do want to. You wouldn’t know it ’cause you’re never here, but our parents are probably gonna get married.”
He turns away from her. The idea of his dad marrying someone else is sickening.
Unabashed, Wynter continues. “That’d make you my big brother.”
“Stepbrother,” he corrects, starting to walk forward again.
“Whatever. That’s a lot better than nothing.”
He’d never even thought about having a sibling. His parents poured all of their effort into training him, for as much good as that did. They probably should’ve considered trying again with another child.
They walk in silence for a while before Kry breaks it by asking, “Your mom an ice user?”
“Figures.” He kicks a snow drift in front of him but doesn’t get any satisfaction from it.
The further they walk, the thicker the snow gets, until Kry is up to his thighs and dragging his legs through the slush, grimacing with the effort. At least his training-sore muscles are getting iced. Sort of.
“Couldn’t you use your lava to melt the snow?” Wynter pipes up.
“Sure. I could also give the goddess half of my blood to achieve that, but I choose not to.”
She quiets again, the rustling of her clothes over the layers of wind the only things to signify her passage.