Snowflakes drifted in the breeze, melting out of being when they caressed Emil’s flushed face. Birds cawed derisively overhead, circling the skies, which were grey and clouded, with a certain fog starting to form. Bitterly cold wind blew around him teasingly, lashing his cheeks with invisible whips. Sneezing copiously, shaking and breathing less than enough to satisfy, he wouldn’t be stumbling through the snowdrift at all if he didn’t need to return to Mathia Kohler. Sighing, brushing the white matter from his hair, he attempted to keep his mind on the bigger picture; trying to stay optimistic seemed essential to keeping going, not freezing solid in the snow and not contracting pneumonia. A little bit of shallow, watery sunlight peeked timidly out of its cloud curtains, trickling out and forming a small, pale pool of light in front of his feet, reflecting in his bright blue eyes as he watched it, its undulating surface slowly vanishing underneath his shadow as he walked past.
Emil Steilsson kicked up flurries of flakes as he strode determinedly through the snow; the chill crept through his boots, reminding him of exactly how long he had been trudging along like this, bringing his foul mood rushing back to him. For the first time, it occurred to him that this was probably Lukas’ sickening idea of a ‘joke’ – subconsciously tightening his grip on his shawl with his unfeeling, numb hands. Gently removing them from the fabric, he rubbed them together vigorously in a fruitless attempt to warm them, teeth chattering along with the rhythm, until, with a soft little sound, a white-blanketed bird landed on his right shoulder. A content little chirp came from the puffin’s beak as he shook the cold, crystalline white jewels from his silky black feathers, causing them to cascade serenely to the floor. Had Emil not been practically freezing to death in a blizzard, he might just have smiled.
Receiving no audible response from its owner, the puffin let out another melodic noise as if trying to gain attention from Emil, but the young Icelander found himself incapable of doing much but shaking, sneezing and moving on. But even moving on was steadily becoming more wearisome for him, and his muscles groaned, complaining about how laborious the task of walking was – they felt red, inflamed, and stabbing the Icelander with occasional (rather distressing – and quite depressing also) painful shocks up his legs. Eventually they pounded and throbbed with such intensity that he had to sit down in the slushy, discoloured matter on the ground. Mr Puffin chirped again, poking the Icelander’s face with his beak gently and in a concerned fashion.
He sighed gently, wondering if this was real or merely a figment of his own imagination; he definitely had one. Not as wild as Norway’s, but he often dreamed of frozen fjords and the like – this was more like a nightmare, so he doubted he’d be dreaming of any of that again any time soon. Swearing underneath his breath contemptuously, he told Lukas Bondevik precisely what he thought of him for sending him on this wild goose chase. He continued muttering as he thought he saw somebody in the distance, unsure whether his eyes were deceiving him, and he was, in fact, hallucinating because he was gripping at straws to prove that he wasn’t going to die out here, at least not alone. His train of thought was rather rudely interrupted by yet another fit of sneezing, causing him to feel even worse.
“Hallo?” His thickly accented voice was quickly cracking, but he hoped his measly attempt at a yell would reach the other silhouette a good few meters away. Turning, the figure proved to be evidently feminine, with brown-ish red coloured hair and a very pale tone to her skin, almost sparkling in the watered-down sunlight. This caused Emil to chuckle a little, reminding him of that really terrible movie Dane had made him watch about a week prior.
“Uh, hi?” Walking over to Emil, the girl stopped short in front of him with a smile on her face – whether that was genuine or out of politeness he didn’t know, but shrugged off the thought anyways, modestly looking at the floor with a light blush on his face and a whispered apology, which the girl brushed off almost immediately. She was looking at him still, he could feel it, and although it was him that had provoked this quite feeble attempt at socialisation, he was now thinking go away, go away, go away dryly in his mind; just far too polite to voice his mental words.
“Hallo,” he says quickly, thinking it very rude to leave a lady without a response, even if it was a duplication of his earlier words. “Mitt nafn er Emil. Hvað um þig?” In his haste to reply he forgot to translate to English, letting his Icelandic words flow naturally from his tongue without even thinking twice about it, looking up expectantly for her answer.
“Uh, sorry, I don’t speak Icelandic,” she says with a slight blush of embarrassment on her face and a slight nervous giggle. “I speak English fluently, though,” she says, stating the obvious, but her voice had a definite Norwegian twang to it. “And Norwegian…anyway, good to meet you, Emil…? I’m Brynja.” She shuffles her feet in the snow. “Er du fortapt?” she asked quickly. “Huset mitt ligger i nærheten av.”
“I’m just a bit lost, yeah.” Emil admits with a wan smile. “My friend, Lukas, sent me looking for something, probably so he could do things to De – Mathia,” He cuts himself off abruptly, causing the young redhead to tilt her head to the side, her hair falling across her face accompanied by an ecstatic chuckle at the novelty. “He can be mean-spirited at times,” he says to stall her while he desperately tries to save himself. “Mathia jokes about how she was almost called Demetria, so we often call her Demathia as a bit of a joke. Not the most flattering name, I know.”
“Demathia?” The girl exclaims, tossing her hair back over her shoulders, laughing excitedly now. “That’s totally genius – and the name doesn’t sound terrible either. Lady Demathia of Highgarden,” she muses with a little smile. “Or Demathia Underwood. Demathia McClaine. Demathia sounds great with almost any name…oh, sorry, you probably didn’t get those. I forget that not everyone’s into Game of Thrones, House of Cards and American Horror Story, so you kinda have to remind me.”
“Oh, okay. I’ll keep calling her it then,” Emil says, glad somebody was expressing the enthusiasm for him. “I’m glad it doesn’t sound terrible, Lukas just finds it irritating…” He trails off - gosh, this girl was hard to tolerate or converse with at all, period. Sighing, he waits for her to speak as she inevitably would, not entirely sure what to talk about.
“So, you’re lost huh? I’ve always thought it hard to get lost in good old Norge, but that’s probably because you’re an Icelander, and you’re used to a much more enclosed area than this.” Brynja - was that her name, she said? - shrugged. “Nah, you shouldn’t put too much stock in my opinion. I am just different, and a lot of people might think the opposite. Yeah, there are people like me, but you shouldn’t expect to meet too many of them - they’re rare in the first place, you know?”
“Wow, you sound complicated,” Emil, for once, voices his thoughts freely before he can stop himself. “Sorry,” he apologises as soon as he realises what he says, biting his tongue and blushing even further than he already had been. “I’m really sorry, he says, clutching Mr. Puffin between cupped hands in an attempt to warm him and the bird.
“Oh, I’m complicated alright. You’d never believe me if I told you about all of the things that make me complex. It’s pretty mindblowing and radical,” she says with a snarky smile. “I mean, it’s hardly a cult or anything darkly dramatic, but yeah...pretty mindblowing and radical,” she says with another giggle. “So, Emil - do you want to come back to mine to warm up? You look like you’ll become an ice block if you don’t.”
“Uh-” Emil considered politely declining and continuing on, but impulse told him the girl was right and he should probably go with her, or risk the possible freezing-into-icecube death that she had just suggested. Whether the involuntary shudder that came after was from cold or fear he didn’t know. “Yeah, okay, but only if you don’t mind the burden of my company.”
“It’s hardly a burden,” she replies with a grin. “I don’t get all that many visitors, living round these parts, so it’s actually quite a pleasure to be honest.” Her grin fades to a more gentle smile as she grasps his hand all of a sudden and tugs him through the snowfall and the fog.