The winter wind was laced with a numbing bitterness that made me feel as though I was bare naked in the snow. I shivered violently. I began running, trying to raise my body heat. I quickly shuffled through the thick, snowy town, my pants getting soaked with each step I took. The streets were covered with a heaping, icy coating of the white fluffy stuff. People awkwardly shuffled through the streets, as though it was the first time they had worn shoes. I chuckled to myself. Eventually, I reached my empty shop. It was a building made entirely of bamboo, giving off a peaceful vibe. I fumbled the key in my gloved hands, before finally managing to unlock the door. I stepped inside, the little bell at the top of the door cheerfully ringing. I smiled softly, turning on the lights. The lamps gave off a soft, warm glow. All of the walls were made of off the same bamboo from outside. Shelves lined the wall, filled with different types of flavorful, delicious tea. There were several tables, all made of mahogany wood, with matching chairs. The checkout counter was made of bamboo, like the walls. Tatami flooring was spread all over the entire place. A stove and teapot resided in the back, for customers who wanted a quick cup. I switched the closed sign to open, and took my usual place behind the counter. I took a seat at the stool I usually sat at, and waited for customers to start coming. The bell ringed cheerily, my first customer coming in. "Hi Lydia!" I greeted.

"Hi Destiny!" she chirped back.

Lydia was one of the locals, and one of my friends. She was an elegant sky blue swan. Her face was decorated with beautiful violet markings. We often shared a cup of chamomile tea together, with some sort of lunch. I smiled. "Here for some tea, or just to loiter around lazily?" I asked, smirking.

Lydia rolled her eyes, "Some of both."

I chuckled, filling the tea pot with some water. "What can I get you today?"

"Hmm. I think I'll go with the Oolong tea today."

"Any type of flavor request?"

"I'm looking for something a little muskier, a little more herbal-y"

"Muskier? Earthier flavor? I have something for that," I muttered, digging through my supplies.

I found what I was looking for; Formosa. I began mixing the ingredients, and heating the water. I got a cup ready. It was ornately decorated, with intricate blue designs swirling around the cup. Flowers and stems adorned the cup's handle and just below the lip of the cup. I poured the torrid water into the meticulously designed cup, carefully mixing in the necessary ingredients one at a time. I placed the cup with the oolong tea onto a dish decorated like the cup. I carefully placed the cup where Lydia sat. She nodded her head in thanks. "That will be 2 gold pieces," I stated.

Lydia nodded, handing me two gold pieces. I smiled, putting them into the cash register. I washed out the tea pot, ready to make a new tea. In the distance, a bird chirped, trying to get the other birds started. It was as though that little bird was trying to create a chorus of hope. Hope that winter was going to eventually end. Hope that this winter wouldn't slowly kill me, or any of us for that matter. "Depressing huh?"

"What?" Lydia asked, gulping down the tea, despite the fact it was probably scalding her throat.

"The fact that birds are still trying to make an attempt to create some hope. Hope that maybe spring will come and we won't die of warmth depravation"

Lydia chuckled, finishing her cup of tea, "Honestly, if the birds are gonna chirp, can they wait until spr-"

She was promptly cut off by a shrill, high pitched shriek that pierced my delicate ears. I pricked my ears, leaping off of my stool and running to the door. Another shriek followed, with the clatter of swords and shields. "Oh no," I muttered, peering outside.

Bright, crimson drops littered the white fluffy snow. Soldiers were sprinkled all around, and one was standing over a dead body covered in blood. My eyes widened with shock and disgust. Lydia covered her mouth with a long feathery wing. The wolf soldier who had killed the local sheathed his long sword, and turned to look at the public. "The country of Yeaunasha has declared a state of war," he barked, baring his teeth in a venomous snarl.