Winter Snow - Cover

Winter Snow

Copyright© 2011 by LeeC

Chapter 2: Dark Revelations

The chirping of birds awoke Snow in the morning. As he lay listening to the sounds around him, the fury left over from last night re-ignited. His mother was dead. He'd only been hunting for bear tracks and instead he had found, or rather been found, by the father he'd always wanted to meet.

Considering the circumstances Snow almost wished he hadn't met his father. Shaking his head to clear such thoughts Snow scolded himself out loud.

"It's not his fault, mother made him promise to find me if she died." As Snow said those words he wished wholeheartedly that he could have met his father under any other set of circumstances. "Whatever will be, will be" Snow muttered. It was a phrase his mother had told him many times.

Before yesterday he had never really understood what it meant, now he got it. Whatever was going to happen would happen, we just had to take it. Some things are beyond our control. His mother had often said that too.

Sighing Snow began to extract himself from the burrow he had dug the night before. His father had said precious little to him that night, but when they were done talking it was still midnight.

His father had been able to tell him exactly where his mother was, the northern end of wolf creek, which was two full days travel from where snow was now. His father then had told him that he would find direction in seeking peace, whatever the hell that meant.

His father had also made a few cryptic comments about gifts and inheritances but by this point Snow was numb with loss and a great weariness had overtaken him. Moments later his father just wasn't there. There were no tracks, no noise or disturbances to indicate he ever was. If nothing else could convince him that his father was an elemental as his mother had often told him, that would have.

Performing his morning ritual stretches to limber up, Snow went to relieve his bladder then began his exercises. His mother had been high in the ranks of the Shang who were known across the world as the most legendary warriors who trained from childhood until into their dying days in order to perfect their art. The highest in the Shang order were given more prestigious mythical names like unicorn, sphinx or even the highest rank a Shang master could achieve, Dragon.

Shang dragons were supposed to be truly terrifying when fighting. They could bring down armies alone and unarmed they were so good. Snow had always though no one could possibly be better than his mother until the second time they had visited Fort Brennan when snow had only been ten years old. Whilst they were there his mother had been talking to the commander of the fort. A grisly old man who was just called 'The Captain' by his men.

Snow had stayed in the courtyard to watch the men do their morning exercises with interest. They observed him with just as much interest. They all practised two different styles, one was a form where they used a two handed spear to stab, jab and whack their partners the other involved swords and shields. Something which captivated Snows attention. He had always practised mainly with hand to hand combat with his mother and was actually at that point able to win about one in three bouts against her an impressive amount she had told him, but Snow strived for perfection and wanted to win every single time.

He'd watched as there was one man who was wandering among the men as they practised correcting stances and giving instructions. He was clearly a fighter and probably of his mothers order judging by the fact that he was completely unarmed.

His mother had once told him that only three types of people who went without weapons, fools, mages and those that didn't need them. This man clearly fitted in to the last category.

When his mother came out from visiting the captain, she'd greeted the stranger like a lost friend. She'd later told me that he was taught by the same person she was and they'd learned the basics together but that he'd continued to study the fine points of the art more and more and rose up to the rank of Griffin while she learnt the fined points to tracking and wood craft.

When he watched his mother and the griffin spar he was amazed, he was so fast that his mother barely stood a chance. And so the idol who he had once worshipped as the best became more human in his eyes and from that point on Snows abilities went from strength to strength until he could beat his mother in three out of four bouts.

But he could never have beaten the Griffin and if he wasn't as good as a dragon he never wanted to meet the Dragon lest he annoy him. Snow had a little bit of a incorrect view on his own skills. He knew his mother was good, and he could match his mother most of the time but he didn't realise how good his mother was and consequently how good he was. He believed he would be just about average but a good fight would finish him off, especially if there was more than one attacker. However Snow never having met many people didn't realise that he was actually leagues better than most in combat. So naturally he couldn't really realise that he was actually one of the most talented twelve years old in the world and would only continue to excel in almost anything he tried. He just couldn't understand why he was supposed to be special.

As he performed his morning exercises, a series of kicks and blows which left him just a blur as he channelled all of his left over aggression into it. By the time he'd finished that morning he was breathing heavily and sweating. But he felt better and that was all that mattered. He grabbed his pack and put his over furs on making sure that they would not impede his movement and then set off toward his destination. Wolf Creek in the south.

As he made his way, he was blissfully able to forget the events of yesterday and focus on his travelling. He was able to move across the snowy land much swifter than any other traveller would have been able too. He knew these mountains better than perhaps anyone. Except his mother he mused, and perhaps his father he added mentally.

As he walked he took in all the details around him, the tracks from deer the leavings of a lone wolverine and twigs broken by various animals as they followed the easy trails down the mountain.

Before he knew it Snow found himself at a clearing which was dark. He looked up in surprise and noticed that it was almost fully night. It seemed he'd been so engrossed in his travelling that he hadn't noticed that he'd been walking all day. He dumped his pack by an old pine tree and pulled a bit of jerky out and began chewing. He hadn't eaten since midday yesterday but he was used to living this way. Sometimes he might go days between meals if game was scarce.

Cleaning a patch beneath the tree so that it was clear of snow he lay his travelling furs on it which had been tied to the bottom of his pack. He'd occasional seen other people hunting in the woods at the bottom of the mountain who tied their furs into a roll on the top of their pack, however they were usually very disappointed when the furs were wet when they came to sleep at night.

Snow performed his night-time stretches in a trance then shed his outer fur coat and his boots and then snuggled up into his fur roll to sleep.

Two mornings later Snow found himself at the top of wolf creek filled with dread. He had picked up his mothers trail the day before, (they always left one so they could find each other if they needed too.) and it had led him straight to the top of Wolf Creek. So named because it was the home of the wolf pack which had moved into the area a few years past.

Snow had seen glimpses of the wolves on several occasions when he was further down the mountains but he had always kept a respectful distance from them. Despite the bad press wolves receive they're extremely intelligent creatures and generally won't attack someone unless they encroach on their territory or threaten them.

And now Snow was now in the heart of the wolves hunting grounds and probably quite close to their pack den. What if they attacked him? Falling into his breathing exercises to relax himself Snow began his journey down the creek where his father had told him that he would find his mothers body.

He had only been walking for an hour when the wind changed directions and the gut-wrenching smell of decay reached him. Could that be his mothers body that smelt he wondered. No, that wasn't possible, two days in this temperature wasn't long enough for the decay process to begin so what could possibly be creating such a stink?

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