Saturday, 21 December 2013

Ultimate Winter Writing Challenge

I know I've been silent for a while, but this time I have a really good excuse.
I'm participating in The Ultimate Winter Writing Challenge, it's part of the Winter Wonderland Blog Party over at A Cowgirl And A Dream and Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens. The challenge is to write and post a winter story containing an ice princess, a snow fairy, a wizard and a prince. I only discovered it 2 weeks ago, so most of my spare time has been spend writing it, and now it is finally finished. I can't remember when was the last time I actually finished a story I started writing. But enough about me - on to the story...

The Frozen Kingdom

Princess Blanche of Glacia was as cold on the outside as the eternal winter surrounding her. Due to her pale skin, platinum blonde hair and icy blue eyes she had always been known as The Ice Princess through the entire kingdom. No one knew, that behind those expressionless blue eyes burned a bright flame of compassion for her subjects, fed even more as her knowledge of their circumstances grew.
She knew, that they were always in need of food, due to the inhospitable temperatures that made growing any sort of corn impossible. She also knew, that they were fully dependent on the Great Sorcerer providing them food, and that he therefore owned almost all the lands in the entire kingdom and had the people slaving away for him. Sometimes she did wonder, why they were in need of such kinds of food that could never be found naturally, but had to be made through magic, and even more did she wonder, how the sorcerer knew how to make the food. But such thoughts did nothing but give her a headache, and so they were quickly discarded again.

During her childhood Blanche had always been used to solitude. Her parents had died when she was very young, and though raised by the finest tutors the kingdom could find, she had always felt the distance between herself and them, and thus she grew up a very lonely child.
Luckily it had all changed a few years ago, when a new tutor arrived. She was entirely different from anyone else Blanche had known. She was called the Snow Fairy, and besides having the ability to transform any snow or ice into a work of art, she was also very wise and considered an expert of the ancient history of Glacia, something that most people knew nothing about. Under her tutelage Blanche blossomed and became a self-confident and adventurous young lady, always yearning to know more of her surroundings and especially her ancestry. 
A thing that continuously puzzled her, was that, there were extensive records of Glacia’s history back until a certain point, and then suddenly nothing. Curious as she was, she often asked the fairy of the reason why that was, but was usually dismissed and told that it probably had been lost at some point. 

Shortly after Blanche had turned 18, the fairy started telling her some of the old legends that had been passed on from generation to generation, but had mostly been forgotten by now. One of them in particular held a strange fascination for her, and she often asked the fairy to tell it. Luckily the fairy was very compliant on that subject. And this day where the story starts, was no exception.
“Are you sure this is the one, you want to hear? I think you can tell it better than me by now”, the fairy said with amusement.
“Yes, I’m sure. Please tell me about the glacier again”, Blanche replied. 
“Very well. The glacier, which has given Glacia its name, is surrounding our world, and protecting it from the fierce and roaring chaos that exists in the big nothingness outside. We know, there are many caves hidden inside the glacier. The Great Sorcerer lives in an entire cave system on the east wall. But there are many caves completely unknown to us, and no one dares to explore them from fear of being lost, and never finding their way out again, for the passages go on forever, as far as we know. However, it is said, that the south wall is not as massive and thick as the others, and it is also said that many years ago, farther back than any of us know of, some very wise people lived in caves there, sheltered from the world. They used the caves to store all their knowledge, and they had hundreds of scrolls filled with history and science. But someday a big disaster occurred, and some of the caves collapsed, destroying many of the scrolls. Therefore they decided to move the rest to another secure place. But no one knows, where they hid it, and up to today it is assumed that they were lost.”
Blanche, as awestruck as the first time she heard the story, was silent for a little while before she asked: “And is that why, we don’t have any written sources from before that time?” 
“Yes, that is the general opinion”, the fairy answered indulgently, used to hearing the same questions.
“But what about the scrolls that were destroyed in the glacier? Are they still there?”
“I suppose so. But remember they were covered with tons of ice, so it would never be possible to recover them.”
“But what if.., oh never mind”, Blanche started, but then fell silent, as suddenly a completely new thought entered her mind. 
“Could I someday go and see some of the caves at the south wall?” she asked in a completely different tone of voice.
“I don’t see, why you should not. It is after all a good preparation for your royal duties to know every part of your kingdom. I will arrange for an escort in a few days, if that will please you”, the Snow Fairy said. 
“I will look forward to it”, Blanche said, a little absentminded, fully absorbed in her thoughts.

Blanche was up before daybreak the next day, so early that no one suspected it could indeed be the Ice Princess, who dressed in a long grey cloak snuck out to the stables, secretly saddled her horse and rode of alone. The thought that had occurred to her yesterday had only strengthened, when she thought it over many times during the night, and for her to prove it right, it was essential that she could explore the caves undisturbed.
 She didn’t know, why she had never thought of it before, when she heard the story, for now it was screaming at her every moment. It was a long shot she knew, but the possibility that some old scrolls could still be at the caves, maybe left behind or forgotten in the haste to move, gave her an urge to search for them. Who knew, she might uncover some long forgotten truth. But one thing she knew for certain: she could never go exploring so far as she wished, with an escort, thus the early morning ride. 

It took a few hours, before she arrived at the southern wall. She had once driven by it in her sleigh on a tour of the kingdom, but she had never been so close, and standing in front of the majestically rising wall of solid ice, she felt very small. She easily found the entrance to the caves; it was a rather big hole in the wall leading into an enormous cave with massive icicles hanging from the ceiling. At the far back wall she could make out another opening, possibly a tunnel. She walked into the cave and stood at the tunnel opening, contemplating a moment before venturing deeper into the glacier.
As the darkness grew around her, she lighted up a small torch, big enough to give some light, but not so big as to melt anything. She wandered along the tunnel, through some smaller caves, when the tunnel split up into several narrower passageways. Wizened by the many warnings of getting lost, she carefully marked the way, she had come from with coal, so she could find her way back again. She had no idea of how long she had been in the tunnels, but she kept walking, driven by the need to know if somewhere further down the line, was an abundance of lost knowledge from past times.
At one point something strange began to happen. It was almost, as if a source of light seeped into the tunnel from somewhere, and filled it with a faint and eerie glow. She was quite sure, she wasn’t at the top of the wall, but then what could it be? She slowly walked towards the light, and was passing through a small cave, when something suddenly caught her eye. In the corner was an oddly shaped heap that definitely wasn’t ice. As she looked closer, she found it was some kind of old and crumbling sack. She carefully kneeled down and tried to open it, but it almost dissolved upon her touching it. Through the tears in the materiel she could see an animal hide wrapped around something that looked suspiciously like a scroll. Eagerly she grabbed it and unwrapped it, trying not to destroy it in the process, and finally she held a scroll that must be several hundred years old judging by its worn out condition. She brought it closer to the torch, unrolled it slowly and started to read. At first it looked like it was just some listings of stock of food, but further down something that looked more like a historical account caught her eye.

“The winter has been stretching all over the spring and summer, and now all hope of saving the harvest is lost. Soon the stocked food will run out, and everyone will then be on the mercy of the sorcerer, as he is the only one with enough magic knowledge to create corn without summer. All must pay him what savings they have, and hope that the winter will end soon, but it is a feeble hope, as there is also only one with enough magic power to cause such a phenomena, and that is the same sorcerer that all now depend on.”

Frowning she stopped reading. It didn’t make much sense to her; mentions of “summer” and “spring” words she had never heard before, and the concept of actually growing corn was so foreign to her, that she was all confused by it. But one thing she could draw from it: there must have been a time, however far back, when it wasn’t winter in Glacia, and somehow the one to blame for the winter was the Great Sorcerer, another foreign concept to grasp. She had always been raised, to see him as their savior and protector, but this account drew a completely different picture. She let her eyes skim over the rest of the text, which again seemed to be records of wood, land, money and so on. But as she unrolled the scroll completely, a small piece of parchment fell out. 
“Cut off and doomed to eternal winter.      
 That is the fate bestowed by the great.  
  Hidden in his deepest chambers, an orb of frozen seasons.     
 Unbreakable, unless for a child of ice and a child of sun united.
The winter will never end until the seasons flow freely again.”

That was even more cryptic than the last text. It was written almost like some of those riddles, she liked to solve as a child, except she had a feeling that the content of this one, was of essential importance to Glacia. She would take it to the Snow Fairy, and maybe she could make more sense of it. 
Thus decided she started to roll up the scroll, when she heard a strange sound. She could have sworn it sounded like footsteps, but that was impossible, for the sound came from the lighter side of the tunnel. The only solution she could come up with, was that it was some wild animal lived in the cave, so she quickly blew out the torch and crouched in the darkest corner, hoping it wouldn’t notice her. She heard the steps come closer, and then she saw a silhouette in the opening of the cave. 
Strange, it stood on only 2 legs and looked most of all like a human, but that couldn’t be. The silhouette held something up, and suddenly a torch light illuminated, what turned out to be a human, more specific a young man probably around her own age. When he suddenly turned and saw her, they simultaneously shrieked and jumped back.
For a moment they just stood there looking at each other, then the man managed to find his voice and stutter: “Who…who are you?”
“Who am I?” she incredulously answered, “Who are you?”                                                            
 He seemed surprised by that retort, but after a moment of silence he said: “Very well, to show my goodwill I will tell you who I am, though I was the one who asked first. I am prince Edward of Alania.”        
“That is impossible, you must be lying. There is nothing but chaos outside Glacia, much less some kingdom I have never even heard of,” she said.                                                                                      
“Glacia?” he said, and continued after a moment’s hesitation, “I know we are inside a glacier, but I never knew, that people lived in here. And you still haven’t told me who you are.”                                       
“I am not talking of the glacier, no one lives in here. This is the southern border of the kingdom Glacia. And I am princess Blanche of Glacia”, she said with a bit more confidence.                           
 “You mean there is an entire kingdom hidden behind this glacier?” he said disbelievingly.                    
“Yes, of course”, she said impatiently, “Glacia is the only civilization around here, or so I thought at least.” She added with an afterthought.                                                                                             
“This sure is strange”, Edward said, “I was simply trying to explore the glacier, and then I find a whole new kingdom. Will you show me this Glacia?”                                                                         
“I’m not entirely sure if I should trust you, but this has been a day full of strange events, so why not? But then you must promise me to show me your kingdom afterwards. Just the thought of anything beyond this glacier is quite thrilling.”                                                                                                                  
“I promise.”
The deal thus sealed, they began the walk back through the tunnels. The trip was mostly silent, as Edward was awestruck by all the exquisite forms and patterns the ice made, and Blanche’s head was spinning with thoughts, her entire world turned upside down in merely a few hours. They easily found their way back, thanks to Blance’s coal markings, and soon reached the large cave with the entrance hole. Blanche walked determinedly towards, where she had tied her horse, but Edward stopped dead in his tracks and stared.                                                                                            
“Aren’t you coming?” Blanche called, when she noticed, he was lagging behind.                                    “What is this place? There’s snow everywhere”, he stated, dumbfounded.                                          
“Yes. Why wouldn’t there be snow?” She asked, frowning.                                                                   “But…it’s the middle of the summer.”                                                                                                “Summer? What is that? I saw it written on an ancient scroll, but had no idea what it meant”, she said, suddenly excited.                                                                                                                              
“Maybe you call it something else. Summer is the warmest of the seasons.”                                    “Seasons? You know what that is too?”                                                                              
“Yes. There are four seasons, where the weather changes from cold to warm, and then the other way. How is it even possible that you don’t know what seasons are? And why is the snow lying high here, when it’s the warmest summer for many years in my kingdom?” he asked, more and more confused.              
“It’s always this kind of weather in Glacia. Cold and snowy. I have never heard of those seasons that you talk about ”          
“So you say, it has never been anything but winter here?”                                                               
“Well, I’ve always thought so. But after finding these old documents, I’m not so sure anymore. According to them the winter is permanent due to a magic spell. That’s why I’m taking them to my tutor, she will know what they mean, especially the one formed as a riddle,” she explained.                    
“Wow”, he exclaimed, “That sounds like something taken right out of a fairytale. Would you mind if I come along, when you go to see her? I would love to see the old scrolls.”                                      
“Of course you can come. I did promise to show you the kingdom, didn’t I? But I hope you don’t mind sharing the horse, for it’s too long for walking”, she said.

Luckily he didn’t, and so they set off on the trip and reached the castle after a few hours. Blanche snuck them in through a backdoor and some secluded passageways, to avoid having to explain, why she was suddenly accompanied by some stranger, and they made it to the Snow Fairy’s chambers unseen. She was surprised, to say the least, by the appearance of the unexpected guests but bore it with great composure. 

“Before you say anything, let me explain what happened”, Blanche said pleadingly, and then told the whole story.
The fairy hardly seemed surprised, that Blanche had gone to the glacier alone, but listened with great interest, when told of the parchment and how she had met Edward. She took the parchment, offered to her by Blanche, read it over with great care and took a long time scrutinizing the content. 
“This is a very important document”, she said, when she finally looked up again, “It explains why we have eternal winter, and even more importantly, how we can make it end."
“But if it weren’t winter all the time, then what would it be like?” Blanche asked.                                  
“I’m sure the young man you brought back, can explain that better than I”, she answered.                        “Well”, he said, “when winter ends, it gets warmer and then flowers start to grow, and we grow corn and vegetables during the warmest period. And then when the cold comes back, the earth is resting.”                                                                                                                                                       “So if we had that warm period, we wouldn’t be dependent on the Great Sorcerer anymore”, Blanche realized.                                                                                                                            
“Exactly”, the fairy answered, “He is the center of the riddle. It says, he has created the eternal winter, and frozen the other seasons in an orb somehow, and hidden it in the caves where he lives. So in order to bring everything in order, you have to go to him.”                                                                                             “But he would never show me, where he kept it, when it is the foundation of the power he holds”, Blanche objected.                                                                                                                                             “That is true. But remember he doesn’t know, what you know. He is confident of his power, and if you flatter him, it is a possibility that he would show it to you, because he knows it is unbreakable.”           
“That is another thing. The parchment says that the orb is unbreakable, for anyone but a child of ice and a child of sun. If that is so, then what is the purpose of me going?” Blanche went on.                    
“Don’t worry about that, child”, the fairy reassured, “just go to the Sorcerer, and maybe you will find the answer on the way. I and your new friend will escort you there.”

Blanche still wasn’t convinced, but the fairy seemed so sure, that she went with the plan, and early the next morning they set of for the Sorcerers cave. They disguised Edward as a servant, so the party seemed quite inconspicuous – simply the princess and her tutor on an excursion. When they reached the cave, the fairy gave Blanche further instructions, on what she should do and say to the sorcerer, and stated that she herself would wait outside with Edward. So Blanche ventured inside on her own, not knowing at all what she should expect from this encounter. 

She waited inside for a moment, before the sorcerer came to meet her. She felt rather intimidated by his tall dark frame, and the black robe he wore did nothing to soften the impression. 
“Your highness”, he stated, “How can I be of service to you?”                                                                    Blanche felt all the irony in the question and the title, as they both knew, he was the one with the greater power. Nevertheless she answered: 
“Great Sorcerer, I have come to you on a matter of great importance to me, and ask a great favor of you. As you know I have been studying for many years; history, architecture, science and culture, but there is one subject that no one but you can teach me. And that is why I have come to you, to humbly ask if you would be willing to teach me about magic.”                                                                                     
The Sorcerer seemed a little taken aback by her request, but looked flattered nonetheless.                      “That is a big request”, he said in a smooth voice, “It is a very time consuming task, and requires great focus. You would have to pause your other studies, and only focus on what I teach you, and you would have to be completely obedient to me.”                                                                                                           
Blanche clearly sensed the sinister undertone in his voice, and nearly felt his dark satisfaction on having another human, and even a princess, completely at his command. But that meant, the plan was working. 
“I am willing to do whatever it may take”, she said humbly, “But I have one request, if you would indulge it. I am terribly curious to see the rooms where you conjure the food you provide for us. It must take such great power to be able to do it.”                                                         
“That is a small request, which I shall gladly grant you”, he said, “Come with me, and I will show you.”  

She followed him, anticipation rising, really hoping that by some coincidence, she would learn where he kept the frozen orb, and hoping even more she would recognize it when she saw it, for she had no idea what it looked like. But when they entered a grand cave, and her eye caught the object in the far end, she was no longer in doubt. What she saw, was a big round object with a glassy and transparent surface, floating in the air, and inside it thousands of colors swirled. She didn’t even notice, that the sorcerer continued walking; she just stopped and kept staring at it.        

The sorcerer soon noticed her fascination, and asked her, if she knew what is was, she was looking at. She shook her head wordlessly. 
“That is an orb of colors”, he explained, “If a sorcerer is powerful enough, it is possible to encase objects or even concepts, like colors, in an orb such as this. It is a very demanding task, however, and can only be done once in a lifetime.” 
“It is beautiful”, she said, “but it seems so fragile.”
“It does. But it is unbreakable. That is part of the accomplishment, when you make it.” 
Blanche didn’t say anymore. She knew that at least some of the explanation was a lie, but that the part about the impossibility to break the orb was true, so she slowly turned away when the sorcerer started walking again.

Suddenly she caught a flicker of movement in her line of vision, and almost before she registered that it was Edward, however impossible that seemed, he was right next to her in front of the orb. She vaguely heard the sorcerer’s exclamation of surprise on the unexpected arrival, but that was nothing next to his yell of anger when Edward in a swift motion held the orb in his hand.
“Quickly, take my hand”, he said, and she blindly complied. 
In that moment it was as if everything happened in slow-motion. She saw him raise the hand that held the orb and with all his might throw it against the rocky floor. And although she knew it was impossible, she saw the orb shatter into a million pieces on the impact, and a bright blinding flash of light emanated from it, illuminating the entire cave for a moment before dying out. She felt a tug on her hand and heard Edward yell: “Run”, as if from far away.
And then suddenly everything stood sharp again, and she saw the sorcerer furiously running towards them. She immediately came to her senses, and together they ran as fast as they could through the passageways. At first they heard the sorcerer behind them, but at some point he must have given up the chase, for he was nowhere in sight, when they finally ran panting out of the entrance and stopped in front of the Snow Fairy.

“What just happened in there?” Blanche managed to ask, between deep breaths. 
“We broke the orb”, Edward answered, addressing the fairy more than Blanche. 
“Well done”, the fairy said with a radiant smile, “You two have just ended the winter. Everyone will be eternally grateful to you.” 
“Ended the winter?” Blanche said, confused, “How is that even possible? And I thought you said the orb couldn’t be broken.” 
“It couldn’t”, the fairy said, “unless by a child of ice and a child of sun united. You Blanche are the child of ice, born and raised here where winter resides. And Edward is the child of sun, born in the world on the other side of the glacier, where sun and warmth resides.” 
“But…how did you know that? And why didn’t you tell me before?” 
“I know it, because I was the one who wrote the riddle down in the ancient times, when the sorcerer created the eternal winter.” 
“You were there? You knew all along?” 
“Yes, I hid the scrolls in the glacier, so they wouldn’t be destroyed. And I told you the story, hoping you would go look for them, as I was certain you would. And that you met Edward was the biggest stroke of luck that I have ever encountered. I couldn’t tell you the entire truth, for it was dangerous enough to go into the sorcerer as it was. And he would have known it, if you had tried to hide something from him, so when you had gone into the cave, I instructed Edward what to do, and you both did splendidly.”

After that explanation Blanche needed a few minutes, to get it all to make sense, but then a thought suddenly struck her. “What about the sorcerer now? If he is still that powerful he will undoubtedly come after us to hurt us now”, she said frantically.
“No he won’t”, the fairy said calmingly, “his power was channeled into that orb. As long as it was whole, he would be the most powerful in this kingdom, but now that it is broken, he has lost all the power he once had. You never have to worry about him again.” 

That calmed Blanche down again, and she took a moment to revel in all that had happened.
Before yesterday she hadn’t known of anything but winter, but now she could look forward to warm periods, and no more oppressing from the sorcerer. She already felt the sun shine brighter and warmer than ever before, and she couldn’t wait to see what everything would look like without snow. 
She turned to Edward; “All this would have been impossible without your help. I don’t know how I shall ever repay you.” 
“You can let me show you my kingdom, and start by believing me when I say it actually exists”, he said teasingly. 
“I will certainly do that”, she said, “I can’t wait to see what summer actually looks like.”

And so they all started their journey back to the castle, looking forward to many new adventures.

                                                                      THE END 

So...that was it. Did you like it?



  1. That wa awesome!! I so loved the riddles and the adventures!! Bravo!

  2. I loved your story!! Good job!

  3. Thanks a lot.. I'm glad you liked it

  4. have won the Winter Writing Challenge! Go to Anna's blog and my blog to read more about it! There's also a button I made for you to display on your blog. Congrats!!

  5. Super historie! Jeg har først lige læst den, og den er virkelig god! Meget fantasifuld og original. Godt gået! Og tillykke med prisen :)


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