Okay! To anyone that's actually reading this, I've decided to co-write this with fellow authoress ShadeOfNyx. Visit her stories (or at least check to see if she's put one up)!


There was a face.

A face that belonged to a young blond maiden.

At first, Dysrael thought this was a certain sign that she had died and gone to heaven, for in all the texts, mythical or not, that she had ever come across, she had read that only angels could possess such beauty.

However, if the maiden presumably was an angel, she was certainly the most… unique angel that Dysrael had ever seen, considering, of course, she was the only one Dysrael had ever seen. The maiden, with a pale face and light, silver blond hair, had icy blue eyes. Contrasted against her dark pupils, they produced an eerie effect that made Dysrael shiver. They were bewitching, almost as if they would watch Dysrael until she died—and beyond that, even.

And then there was her gown. Instead of being pure white, it was a dull cream, hinting of the lightest of blue. And were those ice shards, fringing the hem of the gown, supposed to act as a collar?

There was also the fact that she was missing a pair of wings, of course.

Weakly, Dysrael tried sitting up, only to experience a deep pain in her side. Grimacing, she tried again. This time, she successfully managed to sit up, her gaze now shifting to the girl, who sat in a corner with her eyes downcast.

"Um… excuse me?"

The girl looked serenely up, rising slowly out of her chair. She stared at Dysrael, a cold, uncaring manner in her eyes. Dysrael flinched, but nevertheless proceeded to ask the girl another question.

"W-Would you know where we happen to know where we are, by any chance?" she said timidly.

The eyes now shifted skyward as the girl looked up, ignoring Dysrael's plea, and clapped her hands twice.

"She awakens, milord," she muttered, her lips barely moving.

Dysrael flinched again as the maiden's voice reached her ears. Her tone matches her eyes perfectly, Dysrael thought. Both as cold as ice.

Then, with a sweep of her gown, the maiden had turned to face Dysrael again, who desperately hoped that her question would be answered.

Sadly for her, it wasn't.

Folding her arms, the girl stood still, looking skyward, her eyes narrowed. Suddenly, there was a shower of ice shards, which swirled around her, much like ribbons, and the next moment, she was gone, leaving a perplexed Dysrael in the enormous room alone.

It was then that Dysrael noticed that she had been stripped of her tattered cloak. In its place was one of a majestic shade of pale blue. Dysrael was rather pleased by this turn of events (it was the latest trend in Limehill, after all), but she couldn't help noticing that the soft-as-down cloth did little—no, did nothing to warm her at all.

Why is everything here blue?

That was her second thought. Indeed, as she admired her present surroundings (judging by the size, she presumed she was in the threshold of… wherever she was), she couldn't help but notice a distinct theme: ice, ice, and yet more ice. The chandelier above her head looked like ice shards about to drop down, the walls around her were crystals, tinted blue; even the stairs seemed to be made of ice and lined with frost.

Dysrael suddenly shivered as she felt the room's temperature noticeably drop—at least ten degrees, she thought. Her teeth chattering, she drew the cloak around her body tightly (even if it didn't warm her), kneeling on the ground and hugging close to herself in an attempt to warm herself.

From what Dysrael could see, considering the position she was in, she suspected that the room had only become colder due to an opening of some sort. A draft, perhaps. A split second later, Dysrael found herself numbed by a cold flurry of ice and snow, one hauntingly similar to the same one that had whisked her away from Limehill. A harsh, cold wind whipped around her kneeling form, biting her cheeks and stinging her palms. The flurry soon turned into a severe blizzard, and Dysrael, who fought to stand but found that she could not, was genuinely convinced that she would end up as a frozen statue by the time this had ended.

And then, suddenly, it stopped.

Still shivering, Dysrael opened her eyes confusedly. The room, despite the blizzard, lay untouched, still shimmering pristinely as it had been when Dysrael had first seen it. The raven-haired girl frowned. No way a cleaning spell had caused that blizzard!

She heard a soft chink!

Dysrael looked frantically around. What was that noise? She struggled up, wincing as she felt her legs pricked with thousands of needles—and saw yet another flurry of snow. Yet this time it was more confined and looked almost like—like a person, a tall person. The snow began converging together, squishing together, until they formed something like a snowman—except this snowman was so superbly human-shaped that it was impossible for anyone to make it.

She blinked repeatedly, trying to convince herself that she had just seen a hallucination. When the obstinate hallucination refused to blink out of existence (or out of her reality, as it most obviously Did Not Exist), Dysrael decided to at least examine the curious phenomenon. Struggling up, she trudged over to it, still shivering, and poked her finger in the snowman's chest. Finding the snow hard and unyielding, she shrugged to herself. There were other, more engrossing wonders in the room to be examined than some unresponsive snow-statue, regardless of the curious way it had appeared, such as that beautiful chandelier.

Crack!

Dysrael's head immediately whipped around to see a most unexpected thing happening to the snow. It was crystallizing, turning into clear ice, until a vague face and body and blur of white and blue could be seen—and then it was cracking, with sharp shots that made Dysrael wince.

The crystal now began to crumble to the ground, revealing a boy who looked of nineteen or twenty, with white spikes for hair, framing his pale, utterly snow-white face. He was clad in a blue robe and white pants—shirtless, Dysrael noticed, although she couldn't understand why in this freezing temperature. Nevertheless, she felt a faint blush rise to her cheeks—what decent boy would walk around shirtless in the company of a lady?

He opened his eyes finally, and Dysrael saw that they too were icy-blue, much like the girl before him—his arms were folded, too. He now turned to Dysrael, staring at her intently.

Dysrael swallowed nervously as she felt her heart beat against her chest rapidly, her eyes now staring back into his.

Stop staring at me!, she thought.

The youth now began walking towards her, his eyes clouding with confusion as they narrowed. If she had felt uneasy before, Dysrael certainly felt worse now—she could almost see the swarm of butterflies that had invaded her stomach. She felt as though he was inspecting her, and by the way he scoffed lightly, she also felt that she hadn't passed whatever test he had put her up to.

She gave a small sigh of relief when he stopped about a foot from her, but stiffened again when he started to circle her, just as a cat did its prey.

After completing another round, the youth walked away, leaning then against one of the chamber's walls and looking closely at her. He took the most leisurely, casual inventory of her, as though once more comparing her to some inner standard and finding she did not meet them.

"Peculiar," he mused.

His tone too, Dysrael noticed, was just as icy as the girl's had been.

Coincidence?

"P-pardon?" Dysrael stuttered uneasily.

His gaze was annoyed for an instant before it became his usual icy disdain.

"How peculiar that they should choose you, when they could have chosen anyone else."

He now walked away from the wall and began padding softly towards her again.

"W-what?" asked Dysrael, utterly puzzled. "Chosen me for what?"

He gave her a superbly disdainful glance. "You don't know."

Dysrael straightened herself out and raised her chin. There was no way she would allow herself to be patronized like that, regardless of who he thought he was.

A second later, he had her pushed against a nearby wall, drawing steadily closer with every passing second. Dysrael gasped in shock and outrage. "What are you—!"

"What kind of power do you hold, anyway?" he asked. Dysrael said nothing, only blushed at the range of proximity between them as his blue eyes scanned her facial features.

After about a minute, unnerved by his close scrutiny, she managed nervously, "I-I'm a witch; does that count? Well, actually, I'm still apprenticed to a witch, but—"

Here she yelped, as the youth suddenly left her side and began pacing once more. "A witch…" he muttered. "A witch… They choose a witch of all people…"

He now paused and stared intently at her with his blue eyes, which were now narrowed. "There must be something about you… They wouldn't choose you if there wasn't." With that, he turned on his heel and began to walk out of the room, quite rudely dropping her, if she might add.

Dysrael was perplexed. Who were they? Or was it who was They? And what did their decision have to do with her anyways?

Still, before the youth left, she did feel compelled to ask him at least one question.

"W-wait! I have a question!" she called.

The youth stopped, but did not turn around. Dysrael took that as an invitation to continue.

Dysrael bit her lip. "W-What is your name? Where am I? Why am I here?" The questions flooded out of her before she could stop them, and she winced at the high, unsure, uncertain, and nervous tone in her voice.

The white-haired youth now turned to look at her, his eyes still narrowed. "You may call me… Winter," he said icily. "As for the rest, I recall you asking only for one question."

And with a flurry of ice and snow, he was gone.


Dysrael was quite perplexed, to say the least. And annoyed. She'd been dragged here, and Tiffryl was off doing heaven-knows-what, and, added to that, her father and mother were probably worrying their heads off. How long had she been out? Looking around, she searched for a plausible means of escape. There was no way an arrogant little boy who was probably around her age could hold her here. She was a witch, for God's sake!

Stairs. Well, it was always useful to see where stairs led. Who knows, perhaps they led to an exit—although Dysrael knew that was highly unlikely.

She climbed up them, wincing as her feet touched the cold ice of the floor, but by now she had pretty much become numb to the cold. After countless spirals, she almost tripped as, in her mindless daze, she noticed that the stairs had become an almost-clear, flat expanse of ice.

She looked up and saw a door which she was sure was made completely of ice—except for the door handle, which she was sure was glass. It had the same grainy, stratified texture she had seen in those new windows Lord Phinam, the richest man in Limehill, had ordered.

Dysrael trudged slowly towards the door. It didn't look very deadly, but the door was icy cold (well, what could she expect?) and it was probably impossible to open. Still, she decided to try to open it using the door handle—but the moment she touched it, she was flung back.

She looked down and saw a cold, steel sword at her throat—but when she looked at the swords, she found they were made up only of tiny words, a graceful script that was used these days only by Madelings and their mistresses, witches. She looked up, and saw a pale hand (made also of rotating, revolving script) connected to an arm, connected to a body that was taller and thinner than a man could ever be (all made of the script as well).

"I—stop!" Dysrael screeched, but she had the sudden, awful feeling that no one was close enough to help her, or even hear her.

In a flash of metal, Dysrael flinched as the Madeling (for that what it was, formed to protect the door, apparently) pressed the blade close enough to break the skin of her neck. A single, ruby-red drop of blood rolled down the blade, but the sword went no further. Immediately, the sword withdrew, the Madeling bowed, and came apart in long strings of letters that converged once again into a ball of infinitely bright light, and winked out again.

Dysrael drew in a deep breath, gingerly touching her neck. Her finger came away with only the slightest drop of blood, and there was a slight stinging on her neck, but it was merely an annoyance and nothing more. Shaking still from the encounter, Dysrael gingerly touched the door handle, and to her surprise, it swung open. How could such a light touch open such a large and obviously heavy door?

Dysrael took a deep breath once more and stepped inside.


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edited o4.o7.o8