The gods of Nevre: The Burning Ice – Before

Ana was looking forward to slipping out for the camping trip in the Frozen Forest. She started a rumor going around that anyone who was anyone would be going to the Frozen Forest the next weekend to have fun. It didn’t take long for the girls to start giggling about it and the boys quickly realized what fun meant.

The idea wasn’t just Ana’s, though. Elis had mentioned the idea of a camping trip with Ana and Alaia. Ana knew that he liked herself and Alaia and that Alaia liked her and Elis.

“For being the baker’s son you come up with some good ideas, but you know Alaia won’t go unless everyone else is going too.” Ana played with the hem of her skirt.

“That’s why I brought the idea to you, Ana. You’re much smarter than a baker’s son.” Elis pulled another loaf out of the oven and laid it on the cooling stones. “Besides, if I start spreading rumors like that people won’t believe me.”

“That’s cause you aren’t subtle enough. Leave it to me.”

“Thanks…you can stop with the insults now.”

“You know you like it.”

– – –

Ana took longer to sneak out than she had hoped. Her father must have caught wind of something because he was out on the back porch until well after dark. Either that or he had fallen asleep but Ana didn’t want to chance it. When he finally went inside she carefully snuck out.

She grabbed the torch from next to the back porch and didn’t light it until she was three houses down the street. Once she did light it she realized that it was the spark spitting torch. She cursed her bad luck and continued into the Frozen Forest.

The sparks coming off of the torch made it harder to find her way through the thick trees. The shadows were really confusing and she almost tripped a few times. She didn’t realize how close she was getting to the center of the forest. She was trying to see the light of the campfires to clue her in to where the camp was exactly, but as she was doing so she lost her footing.

As she tripped she tried to throw the torch away from herself, but it snagged on her dress. The torch flipped around and lit her dress on fire. Panicking, she jumped into the small pond at the center of the Frozen Forest.

The pond was known as the Lake of Ever Freezing. The stories said that the lake would keep anything that it touched frozen in a block of ice for fifty years. Nobody believed the stories anymore.

Ana surfaced almost as quickly as she had jumped in and looked around for the torch. It had gone out and she couldn’t find it. As her eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness she was able to see the faint glow of a campfire.

She started in the direction of the light, not realizing how numb she felt. By the time she reached the edge of the camp she felt the warmth of the light. It burned. As she started to feel the pain of the slight heat she also felt the strange sensation of ice forming over her skin. When she realized what was happening she hoped that the ice would block the heat. It didn’t.

When they parked her in front of Alaia’s father’s forge she felt every painful moment of the forge in action. She wasn’t able to move or communicate with Alaia who was there every moment. When she got glimpses of her face she saw concern always darkening her face.

Ana understood that nobody was trying to hurt her, but the pain was excruciating.

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