Ice Breather

Eira is alone. Everyone she loves has betrayed her and now she can't go back. Eira has nowhere to go and has nothing except a thousand slips of paper with her name written meticulously on every single piece, a necklace which possess a power she can't understand and her horse.
One wrong move, and she's dead.
Sometimes doing the right thing isn't always the easy thing.

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1. Chapter 1

I was finally breaking free, free of the chains, free of the holds that bound me to my duties. Free of endless meeting, of boredom and always doing as I was told. Free of running to stand still.

The cold autumn air whispered through the trees of the clearing. Summer was nearly over and as every daffodil died, I could feel my powers awakening. Bluebells that were being to grow in light of the upcoming autumn withered beneath the icy touch of my arrival, my happiness bursting from its boundaries. There was no stopping me now.

Dappled sunlight from filtered through the trees, casting shadows over everything, sunlight dotted here and there in patches. My horse, Juniper, craved to be in the dying sunlight but I, as the Chrystam Nephesh (roughly translating to the Ice Breather in English), shied away from it. My mother had always kept me in the sunlight and in any bright light she could find, hoping to burn away my unnatural gifts, but now was my time and I was making the ruled, though my mind kept turning back to the life I had before, the life I had after and my mother.

Seventeen broken promises, seventeen more lies. My mother had always told me that on my eighteenth birthday, I could regain control but I had always had an inkling that she was lying and I believed that with all my heart, now more than ever. After what she did, tempting fate and tempting darkness with it, I don’t know if I could ever forgive her. Not even if she could make it better and fix it. This was something she could never make up for, and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t forget it.

Thinking all of this, I could feel my tattoos tightening up my arms, winding higher and causing the tips of the dying to grass to coat in a thick frosted layer of ice.

Only I didn’t feel the cold.

We came onto the next clearing and as we arrived, I could hear all the birds squawking and chirping, their wings frantically flapping against the autumn breeze as they flew away, off to find somewhere else to settle. If only I could fly. I would have left the nest long ago.

A weeping willow stood tall and proud in one corner of the clearing, its fronds waving in the breeze I was creating. Something on it caught my eye as we cantered past, something shiny and beautiful and glinting in the spot of sunlight. I slowed Juniper to a trot and lead him over to the tree. There was nothing for me to tie him to but that was okay. I knew he would never leave me. Aunt Safa had proved that to me and I always believed her.

My Aunt Safa had told me many stories, none of them that her sister, my mother, had believed.

‘Silly stories. Don’t keep giving Isabella idea.’ She always sniffed in disapproval at my Aunt, at her choice of clothing, of lifestyle, of husband. They would never get on, forever clashing. It couldn’t ever be simple with my mother. It never is.

That was one of the many placed where my mother and I disagreed. I thought there was truth in Aunt Safa told me and I always looked up to her. I believed her stories. They held a certain mystery, the kind that we, as humans, can’t resist believing, even if every one of our instincts screams at us that it is not true. There was a magical touch that made me feel real and alive with a power that even I didn’t possess.

Aunt Safa had travelled the world and learnt many things, heard many stories and experienced some herself.  One of my favourites, forever engraved into my mind, was the story of the bonding between a horse and their master.

‘Nothing can compare. They will be your best friend, your saviour, your companion. They will do whatever they can to keep you smiling. Horses are one of the most intelligent animals and they know exactly how you feel and strive for the best.’

The secret was one that next to no people knew about. ‘Our little secret,’ my Aunt had told me, winking and slipping me an extra biscuit under the table that if my mother had found out about would have pitched a fir about.

When a horse is born, it tumbles out with one word on its tongue.  One small sound that if you hear, could connect you to your best friend for always. Once the word is said, repeat it back to the foal as its name and immediately, a connection is formed. The first word off of my foals’ tongue was Juniper and I did everything my Aunt told me to do and we will always distinctly know what the other is feeling and what it wants. That’s supposed to be what friendship is.

I slid off Junipers’ back now and walked over to the willow. The grass was dry and brittle underneath the ice. Hanging on the fronds and all over the tree, were strings of glass beads and colourful rags. As the sun dipped lower in the sky, the tree lit up as the light hit every bead. I stepped back, wondering at the beauty and the magic. I had never seen anything so magical and I wanted to stay and look at it all day. All too soon, the sun dipped lower and the beads seemed to shut off and lose their magic once again.

One string of beads was still alight with a fire that glowed blue through every shade of blue on every bead. It looked to be a necklace, made entirely from beads in every kind of blue you could imagine, from a blue as light as the sky on a light summers day to a blue almost as dark as the black of my mothers’ heart. I unhooked the necklace from the branch and slipped it over my head. It fit me perfectly, falling into the hollow of my throat as though it were made for me. Knowing what I do now, it probably was.

Even though I would never guess it, that moment altered everything my mother changed, maybe for the better, maybe for the worse. It was hard to say at the time, though I didn’t notice anything changing. My fate and the fate of the world sat in my palms, like a dead weight that I would carry around until I figured out. You see, I was never meant to find that tree, nor was I meant to see the necklace, let alone wear it. Someone or something lead me there and, in doing so, had altered the fates of everyone. Your fate rested in my hands. The world was changed for good.

As I was admiring my new necklace, Juniper wandered closer and began to sniff around the base of the tree. As he exhaled, a cloud of tiny strips of paper flew up around his nose, startling him. As I soothed him and fed him some of the dead grass, the paper floated down unnaturally slowly, settling on top of the ice as though they could defy gravity.

I bent down to pick up a piece of paper and a sharp icy pain flew up my arm and I dropped the paper with a cry of pain. Unwilling to pick up the paper again, I began to suck on my bottom lip, a trait of mine that told others when I was concentrating or anxious, in this case both. Curiosity finally got the better of me and I hesitantly bent down to pick up a slip of paper.

Ignoring the pain like sharp pains like needles pressing into my skin, I turned over the paper. I gasped and let go of it, letting it fall to the ground slowly as I stood in shock, and this time not from the pain. Once I regained control over my thoughts, I crouched down and rummaged through the crowds of paper, reading everything they had to say and ignoring the pain.

Isabella Ellie Susanna Cassida.

My name was on every single slip of paper.

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