The Slaying Of Winter

by Vera Nazarian

(an excerpt)


Here, there was only the cold. Iliss never knew there could be so much cold in one place at one time. Everything, the sparse craggy trees black against the white land, the steel sky, the gray sun low on the horizon, all was raw cold, a tomb of diamond ice. Around her the land dipped and fell and rose again, as hills of snow -- dull, mysterious with shadows, then suddenly sparkling in the sun -- rose to meet her.

If there is anything to this burial ground, Iliss thought, it is not for my people. But now it is a fitting place for me.

The cold stung her face, clawed at her eyes, hungering at the edges of her bitten eyelids. She had cultivated no weapon against it.

Where was she going?

She had been told to follow the faint trail in the snow, using various visual landmarks and the sun as her guide. Back at the shelter, the trader's eyes had acquired a focus when he saw the fine heavy coins she offered. She knew their only value had been as a metal, to be melted down later and wrought into a blade maybe, or a wash basin. Metal was rare here in the North.

And again she wondered at herself, why bother? What purpose did it serve, her coming here into the deathly lands, her hopeless quest? Indeed, in a subtle way, her mind was not her own.

For Iliss remembered no tale, in all of ancient lore, of anyone who had successfully killed a God.

Such was her intent.


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