Enter the night as seasons change,
No more will sun shine.
Lock your doors and hide.
She's coming, she's coming,
In a heat of rage.
The heat of the beautiful, long summer was about to end. The people could feel the chill in the air. Winter was coming and winter could not be stopped. Winter was coming and there was nothing to be done about it.
They had to hide deep in their homes. They had to shut their eyes and hope that she did not find them. She always took life away. Every winter those who did not hide, did not live to see summer again. Every winter, she took those who did not hide.
She was coming on cold wings. Everyone one could feel it. Whenever she embraced them with her wings, life was taken away.
Humans were not the only ones to sense that she was coming. Animals hid deep in their burrows, not moving. They pretended to be dead. She did not like dead things and would leave them alone. One sudden movement, however, could end them all. They could not let her know that they were not really dead.
No one dared to show their face during the long, winter months.
No one dared crossed her.
No one dared stepped in front of her cold wings.
No one dared to touch her. Whenever she embraced you, she killed you.
The people were her subjects and she was their queen, their ice queen. She ruled the land just for one season. When winter left, she left with it. When winter came, she came riding on its' brilliant waves. She ruled with an iron fist and always made herself known to her subjects.
Dear, dear reader, do not cross the ice queen. Do not become one of her captured souls.
My village was a small, quaint one. Everyone knew you and your business. There was no secrets. We lived together, we ate together, and we died together. Life was good expect for those few awful months when the Ice Queen ruled. Then, we all lived in fear together.
The Ice Queen was not new. She had been terrorizing my village for hundreds of years. Some say that her reign of fear began with the dawn of time. She brought coldness and ice to our settlement. She killed for pleasure. No one knew what she looked like; those who did were no longer with us. Some say she was an ugly, old hag; some say she was a beautiful, young maiden. Like I said, no one knows for sure what the Ice Queen looks like.
All we knew was that she existed and that she took members of our village away.
The months of the Ice Queen were the worst of the year. When someone went out to fetch water, you never knew if they was going to return. You only went out when possible. Babies, who were born doing the reign of the Ice Queen, were likely to die. The sick and weak did not survive those long months. Anyone who was not strong did not see the sun again. If you were all alone, the Ice Queen took you as well. Night was her prime time to strike.
We stayed inside and tried to avoid her wrath. It was the only way and the only way to see the next sunny season.
I walked along the only street in our village. The air was getting colder and the sun was disappearing. The nightingale was singing her last song in the bare trees. In a few days time, the Ice Queen would be here.
I shrived and crossed my arms over my chest. I put my head down and hurried down the street. Whispers of fear and worry surrounded me. They all knew the signs of the Ice Queen. When the nightingale stopped singing, the Ice Queen was only a few kilometres away. As long as the nightingale kept singing its' sweet song we were okay.
I looked up at the nightingale. "Keep singing, little birdie," I whispered. "Don't stop."
The nightingale did not stop singing.
I smiled at the bird. "Thank you, little birdie."
The nightingale chipped its response to me.
I walked a few doors down and pushed open the Traven door. There was only a few older men in there. They raised their mugs and said my name, Kai, in greeting. I smiled and returned their greeting. I reached for my apron from a peg and tied it around my waist. Then, I took my position behind the bar.
"How's it going, Kai?" one of the men inquired.
I poured him a drink. "Quiet well," I said as I handed him his drink.
He held it up as a sign of thanks. Then, he took a big drink and swallowed. "Winter is coming."
I leaned against the counter. "I know."
He took another drink. "She will be here soon."
"The nightingale is still singing."
"Aye, but not for long I fear." He paused. "It is getting colder. Soon, she will arrive on her cold wings and unleash her freezing Hell."
I nodded. "Let us just hope we get a few more days of summer."
The man looked at me. "A few more days is all we have got."
I wiped the bar off. It was a relief to see that I was not the only one thought about this fact.
The man leaned in close. It was so close that I could smell the reek of rum of him. "Listen, my bones are tingling to their core. She is coming fast, faster than any of us could image." He paused and took another drink. As much as he had drunk, I did not see how he still had some left. "We had better keep moving. If we stop, she will turn us all to stone."
"I thought she turned people to ice..." I mused.
"Aye, that is one version of the story." He took a final drink. "The night is closing in on the day."
"What's that mean?" I asked.
"She's coming." He grabbed his cloak from the chair next to him. "Well, Miss. Kai, I will hopefully be seeing you around."
I stared as he walked out of the bar. I did not know how he knew so much about the Ice Queen. The more I thought about it, the more I did not want to know how. The Ice Queen caused people to act strange; that was what I was hoping was the case with the man. The threat of the Ice Queen's wrath changed people. It was just a simple fact.
I finished cleaning my counter and gathered up the empty cups. I carried them to the back and dumped them into the sink. As I pumped water into the sink, the nightingale's beautiful song drifted in through the open window. I sighed in relief. We still had time.
I watched. The sun was creeping closer to the hills. Night was closing in on day. The sun did not shine its' brilliant rays as long as it used to. She was coming on her cold wings.
I washed the mugs and placed them on the drying rack. A breath of cold air drifted in from the outside. It was cold enough to cause me to shiver. I placed my hands up my arms. Winter was coming and soon we would all be longing for warmth. My blood was only slightly chilled. She was not here yet, but she was close.
I walked back out into the main part of the traven. It had pretty much cleared out. I leaned against the bar and stared at the door. There was just ten minutes left in my shift and I could not wait to get out of here.
I brushed my blond bangs out of my eyes and wondered: how long did we really have? All of the Ice Queen's signs were here expect for the nightingale. She was coming. Did we really have as much time as people thought we did? I did not buy it. I believed that by the end of the week, she would be here. A few days to people around here meant a month. We did not have a month, we had just a few days. The Ice Queen did not send her signals very early. It just was not a thing she did.
Her only kindness to us was that she warned us that she was coming. She did not tell us when, but only offered clues. It was up to us to figure the exact timing of her arrival. If we failed, then we would experience her wrath. Those poor, poor souls never returned to our village. Many in my village had not learned their history about the Ice Queen and paid the ultimate price for their ignorance. Every year, she took life away.
People just never learned or they refused to acknowledge the situation.
Once it was time for me to leave, I grabbed my cloak off the peg and exited. The cold air drifted under my skirts creating a very unpleasant feeling. It was very difficult to describe. To me, it was my personal sign that the Ice Queen was almost here. I ducked my head and headed up the street. The wind's speed was picking up.
She was coming.
I reached my house at the end of the street. My home was just a simple, wooden dwelling. The downstairs had two rooms, a living area and my parents' vacant bedroom. Upstairs there was a small loft. No one else lived with me. My parents had ignored the signs of the Ice Queen and she took them two winters ago. It was not the greatest idea for me to be living alone during the season of the Ice Queen, but this was my home and did not want to leave it. Also, I did not venture out during the Ice Queen's time unless I absolutely had too.
I threw my cloak down on the velvet covered chair near the hearth and went into my parents' room. The room still smelled like them and looked as if they would be back at any given time. My father's discarded work shirt was still thrown on the bed. My mother's perfume still laid next to her side of the bed. There was other signs such as the hairbrushes with strands of hair and razors with shaving creams sitting next to them. It was as if they were coming home in a few, but if one were to look closely, one could see that a fine layer of dust covered everything. Even though I should do it, I could not make myself clean up the room. It was the only sign that they had existed. The room made me feel as if I was not alone.
I sighed and walked out of the room. My white cat, Snö, had claimed my cloak and was taking a catnap on top of it. I stopped to pet her and listened as she purred her sweet song in her sleep. Sometimes I wished that I could be a cat. They had no worries and could just sleep all day.
I walked over to the corner and opened the lone cabinet, which was packed with food. I looked at it and calculated that with the food in the cellar that I would have enough to eat through the winter. That was good. During the season of the Ice Queen, you could not run out of food. She was not stop her wrath just because you ran out of food.
I would not be one of those who died because they did not have food. I closed the door. I was not going to share either. The Ice Queen made people turn hard and cold, which I intended to do.
There was no excuses when it came to the Ice Queen. You were either prepared for her or you died. There was no other way.
I walked over the window and pulled back the curtains. The sun was sliding over the distant hilltop. Even though the sun was not completely gone, the stars and the moon were out as if it was the dead of night. Day was meeting night. I pulled the window open and listened. It was silent. The nightingale was no longer singing.
When the nightingale sang its' song of farewell, the Ice Queen was coming.
I slammed the window shut and pulled both the shutters and the curtains. I slammed the locks. I went throughout the house and repeated the process to everything. I ran downstairs and locked the door. I leaned against the front door, breathing hard. Cold air was sweeping through the cracks of the door, but I did not pay it any mind.
Outside I could hear screams, "SHE'S COMING!"
I was breathing shallowly. Darkness had overcome the room, but I could not bring myself to light a candle. I could hear the wind whipping outside as the Ice Queen unleashed her freezing Hell. I could hear the screams of people as she took life away. Whenever she killed, she left behind ruins. It was rumoured that she just took the dead and their belongings and swept them aside with her cold wings. I did not know if that was true, but I was not willing to find out.
Another hurricane of wind shook the house. Snö's head darted up and she let out an angry meow. I looked at her and whispered. "It's okay, little kitty." The house shook again. "Everything is going to be okay." I went over to her and petted her head. "It will be okay. She cannot get us." I started to hum a lullaby that my mother used to hum to me.
The house shook again. . Snö looked up at me again. "Tomorrow will be a day. The world will be covered by her beauty." I paused. The Ice Queen went away for a few hours each day. The break was like the eye of a hurricane. The worst of the storm followed. "Everything will be clear for a few hours."
I moved my cat to the side and sat down next to her. The wind howled all around the house, but I knew that it could not enter. The house was strong and a little wind would not break it. The Ice Queen had never been able to inflict any sort of damage on the structure. That was good. If she could not destroy your house, then she could not reach you. I was glad that my father had insisted on making the house so strong when we moved here. It kept us alive.
Cold air was rushing down the chimney. I rushed over to it and placed wood into the fir place. Then, I reached on top of the mantle for the matches, stuck one, and threw it into the fireplace. The fire's warmth soon spread throughout the room.
"It's okay, little kitty," I whispered.
My cat meowed at me. She was looking at the door with a worried look on her face. I looked at the door. Frost had formed around the edges. My breath caught in my throat.
The Ice Queen was knocking on my door.
Want to find out what happens? Click the review button and your request may be granted. This story was inspired by the song Ice Queen written and performed by Within Temptation.