A storm was approaching. Maybe one could sense its movement by the sudden change in the winds, or the new, ominous feeling lurking about behind the cloud filled skies. Birds scattered in the distant trees, creatures scampered off to find refuge within the massive forests. Smart creatures. They knew to run from the inevitable.

Yes, a storm was fast approaching the frozen tundra landscape of the Northern Seas, otherwise known as Montes Nix. If only the people of the country had the same instincts to sense disaster before it struck. If only.

Over the mountains, through the empire of known as Magnus Saltus, to the east of the colossal country, was located the both famous and infamous icy lake, a body of frozen water made with monstrous proportions. Piseium. There, a young Monten boy threw rocks at the dark shadows of fish within the water, pondering over the lifestyle Montens grew to learn.

Many who were born to Montes Nix learned a vital fact to surviving early in life: larger groups of people brought larger chances of survival. Those who considered themselves loners in these lands were never heard from by others again, almost as if they never existed. It was impossible to determine whether the loners were still somehow alive, or lost their lives ages and ages ago. Living without the support of others was the taboo for most Montens, though it seemed that this same principle was not at all the same when it came to the other countries of the world.

Maybe it was Tundae Montes, the giant mountain range surrounding all of Montes Nix, that cut off the Montens from the outside world, yet kept the insiders close and huddled forever together. Maybe it was just the fact that Phoenicia yet again on the brink of world war scared the Montens into cutting off their outside connections. Everybody knew how the last war had turned out. Most especially, the Sterilins, who still suffered daily from the actions of others.

Whatever the case, Montens who prospered often did so by supporting only their own people, whether it be of their own family, village, region, or country. The people neither extended harm to others nor extended help. Worrying about anybody but those of your own kind was foolish, and was why the rest of Phoenicia was in such turmoil.

There were no flaws within these unspoken rules. There couldn't be, right? Or else, how could the Montens have remained untouched for so long, so safe from everything surrounding?

Safe was equal to distance from conflicts, yet survival was equal to being lucky enough to last one more day. Montens had their own issues to worry about, ones dealing with the mass of deaths within their own backyards. They were never safe, no matter how hard they strove to be.

Dammit. As Aidan Karoby threw yet another pebble at a idiotic looking orange fish, the young boy mentally huffed in frustration. Around the lake, it was normal for one to become cynical and deep in thought. Especially for a boy like Aidan. However, already having a cynical personality did not make the truth more easy to accept.

His mother had never been safe. What a horribly funny lie that had been. Her death, an unknowing sacrifice of her life for Aidan's birth. More proof that Montens had given up everything, both the good and the bad, to feel safe, but not actually been ever close to safe at all. Nobody ever knew when death was approaching, it was a terrible, honest fact of life.

"Aidan!" Far away from where Aidan was perched on top of the ice, a middle-aged man strolled towards the ten year old. His father, a man halfway decent in the talents of both fishing and parenting. Maybe less so when it came to the parenting part.

The boy chucked one more pebble into the water, smirking at the scattering fish before standing up from his crouch. His feet were numb, though he had been wearing at least two layers of woolen socks. Aidan must have been upon the ice of the partially frozen lake much longer than he thought. Curse his pondering mind!

He shook the bits of ice off of his dark sweater and pants. Scratching his auburn head of hair, Aidan tried not to roll his eyes at the awkward way his father moved on top of the ice. His father may have traveled around the country and visited tons of different artic terrains, but the boat would always remain his domain. Ice, to Aidan's father, would always be too complex to handle; it always appeared solid, and stiff unlike the ever-changing waters, but to trust the ice too much would end up with a pathetic slip onto one's butt.

Eventually, the two reunited. Aidan made his father come all the way to him. Not only did he want to appear uncaring to a dorky parent embarrassing him on the slippery ice, but he also secretly wanted to laugh at this certain goofiness as well.

Aidan resembled his father to an unfortunate degree; both had the normal blue eyes, brownish hair combination, similar to most Montens, and abnormal tan skin compared to the pale skin of many others. Really, Aidan appeared nearly no different than Jerry himself as a child. It was unfortunate. The only child of the Karoby family looked nothing similar to his dead mother, leaving nothing to remember her by besides inanimate objects.

Not that Aidan would care. Not that Aidan would ever admit anything otherwise to himself. Expressing emotions were for the petty. Maybe those of Terra Aliena were taught to express rage at death, those of Pluvia to weep, those of Sterilis to never forget, and those of Bonum Annulum to… (well, Aidan could never know what went on inside of the magical ring), but in Montes Nix, it was common to ignore death itself. If one acted as if nothing had happened, as if nothing was effecting themselves, than nothing could truly mentally hurt them.

"We need to head back to the Temple," Jerry panted tiredly, "It's time we pay our respects to ol' Karina, as long as we're out here. Remember her?"

"That lady? How could I forget such a witch like her, she's simply awful…" Aidan shuddered just remembering his last encounter with Karina. He had been eight, and having a temper tantrum while running amok in the Temple. After knocking over a supposedly "ancient" vase, the priestess had been much worse than simply unforgiving…

"Jacqueline… er, your mother would want us to check up on her." Jerry looked deep in thought, more like he was talking to thin air rather than his own son right in front of him. Nodding his head, he gave a stern look back to Aidan. " It's only a thirty minute walk from here." And with that last sentence, Jerry turned his back to walk off towards the looming trees of the forest area in the west, his decision already made.

Rolling his eyes at his father, Aidan grudgingly began to shuffle forwards. Why wouldn't his father ever listen to him? It was really unfair, especially when Aidan knew he wouldn't have been forced to follow his father everywhere had the two settled down in an actual home for once. But once again, the rules of survival in Montes Nix. Leaving his father would be like sentencing himself to death (or worse, sentencing himself to a life with Karina). They were stuck with each other, no matter how much of a struggle it sometimes was for Aidan.

The pair of them walked in silence. Just the two, father and son, two who, though they never spoke of it, relied on each other to survive. Between the two was an invisible, shrouded bond of trust. This silent bond would never be broken, it couldn't be broken. Their survival, once again, depended on it.

As the Karoby family traveled onwards into the forest, the wind brought a new feel, a new smell to the lake. A change in the wind. An ominous feeling lurking about in the clouds. Animals scattered to find shelter within the ground, searching to find solace with the warmth and comfort of their kin. The creatures knew, there was no denying it. The truth, the future, the inevitable.

A storm was approaching.


*Aidan is from my horrible submitter, Braille! :p Sisterly love. I kind of liked it, I really have fun writing the different ways of each country. That's the best part for me, finding the balance within the ways of each different country. Fun! Yep, please tell me any mistakes you see. I officially have the future of each character planned out. I must warn you, Phoenicia turned out darker than I expected. Or I guess, it will turn out darker. Eventually. Nikolai will be introduced next, I'm thinking. :D Enjoy!*