My jaw ached from the cold as I pushed through the snow, my legs threatening to give out from under me. My joints were so stiff that I felt them crackle and snap with every step forward. I wasn’t built for the cold and neither was my light attire. Tree branches slapped me, stinging and going numb time and time again against my face- the only thing that reassured me I was still alive. I didn’t even know where I was anymore. All I knew was that every step took me another step farther from home. I felt my horse’s breath against my neck. She was my only companion now. I let out a sigh and stopped searching for any sign of another living thing in the dense forest.
I deserve this, I reminded myself. I deserved this.
Part of me wanted to just lie down in the cold white flakes and never get back up. It looked so comforting at the moment--like a blanket of wonderful feathers. It wasn’t as though my body would know the difference as numb as I was. My will to keep living was decreasing. How long had it been since I had eaten? The last time, I believe, was on the edge of the sandy desert that led to the “greener” part of the world two days past. I shook my head getting the cool flakes out of my hair. I willed myself back into the saddle of my horse and wrapped my arms around her neck clinging limply to her chilled body.
“I’m sorry, Svia,” I whispered. “I’m sorry, girl.”
She stumbled on as I fell in and out of consciousness on her back. It wasn’t till morning that I became alert to the sound of a flute in the distance. I took her reins in my hand and willed her to the right of us. My whole body was shaking drastically trying to warm itself. I kept following the sound of the flute until my horse stumbled into a clearing and I saw before me a girl, not much older than myself, perched on a rock. Her hair was fire red and made me ache all over for warmth. Her skin was fair and her thin body was dressed in black breeches and a white shirt that made her stand out against the blank background. She looked up from her delicate fingers and cast her eyes on me.
“Papa!” she called. “Papa!”
I barely registered what she was saying as my world tilted.