|More from SaeryenKatten||Romance/Adventure||PG||Positive|
|Fire, Song and a Snowstorm Chapter 6|
The path that Ket-Ket led Mihoshi and Elsi through started out like an ordinary snowy path through a forest until they came to a fork on the road.
On the left path, a dark blue fog covered almost everything. The trees were completely frozen, so much that the ice surrounding them looked blue. Jutting out of the trees and ground were many vicious icicles.
Elsi eyed the path warily, and a look of fear came onto Mihoshi's face. Her sister...had they taken her down there?
"Oh, you don't want to go that way," Ket-Ket said. "Come on, over here."
The older girls turned and saw Ket-Ket start down the other path, which they, with relief, also took.
The snow was falling gently on this path, and the trees, while still frozen, were visible through the ice. The sky was bright on this part of the forest, and Mihoshi gazed in awe at the smooth icy swirls jutting out from tree branches. Whoever had made them was an artist, she thought. They want this place to look friendly, she thought.
"Here we are!" Ket-Ket said with a smile.
Elsi and Mihoshi gazed ahead. Standing before them was a fortress made entirely of ice. It was layered like a cake, with octagonal floors atop each other and balconies on each roof excepting the highest, which was topped with a pagoda roof.
"Well, come in!" Ket-Ket said. "Your sister is probably waiting."
Mihoshi was the first to open the doors, which swung wide at the touch of her finger. She glanced back at Elsi, who stood still with a look of suspicion, and continued on.
Everything was made of ice. There were ice sculptures of potted plants, ice fountains with ice shaped like running water inside them, and decorations that resembled frozen raindrops connected by string hanging from the ceiling. Right in front of her was a grand staircase to the second floor.
She had barely taken all of its majesty in when a girl, who appeared to be made of ice like Ket-Ket, made her way down the staircase. The girl looked to be around her and Elsi's age, and she wore ruffles and pearls. Mihoshi noticed that she wore gloves like Ket-Ket, only hers looked like satin.
Elsi suddenly appeared, stepping up next to Mihoshi, as did Ket-Ket on her other side.
"Ket-Ket," the girl said in a somewhat serious voice. "Why have you brought them here?"
"My sister," Mihoshi interjected. "Ket-Ket says she was taken here."
The unknown girl descended the steps completely, looking Elsi and Mihoshi in the eye.
Then the serious look on her face melted into a smile.
"I am Aira," the girl said.
She turned to Mihoshi. "So your sister would be Leyka, yes?"
"Yes!" Mihoshi cried. "Oh, please can we see her?"
Aira turned toward the stairs.
"Of course. Come with me."
The second floor room was much like that of the first floor, but on the third and highest floor, it was different.
Several armchairs and rugs made of packed snow filled the place, and a fireplace made of ice stood on the corner, with an ice sculpture of a fire in it.
In one of the armchairs sat Leyka with a cup of tea.
"Mihoshi!" Leyka cried. "Elsi!"
Leyka jumped off of the snow chair and ran toward her sister, catching her in a hug.
Elsi turned to Aira.
"So," Elsi said, "you took her?!"
Aira's face fell.
"I did not take her," she said quietly. "I saved her."
"Do you think I'm going to believe that?!" Elsi snapped.
Aira stared Elsi down.
"I rescued that little girl," she said calmly. "If I hadn't, she would have been..."
Aira trailed off. It was clear she wanted to say something but didn't know quite how to put it.
"Would have been what?" Elsi demanded.
"If I told you, you would not believe me," Aira replied.
"Leyka," Mihoshi asked. "What did happen?"
"The snowman...the soldier, he picked me up and took me here," Leyka replied. "Then Aira came and turned him into snow and said I should stay here."
It sounded like a kidnapping to Elsi.
"Leyka, come on," Mihoshi said. "We're going home."
But as Mihoshi turned to the door, a wall of ice appeared before it, blocking it. Elsi, Mihoshi and Leyka quickly looked at Aira, whose gloved hand was outstretched toward the ice wall.
"You cannot leave!" Aira exclaimed. "None of you! Once you've been seen you are not safe, except with me!"
A flame erupted in Elsi's hand.
"I heard you earlier," she snarled. "I heard you call out to us as we fought your frozen soldiers."
"What?!" Aira gasped.
"You told Mihoshi and I that we couldn't keep fighting them," Elsi continued.
"I wasn't even there!"
Elsi's flame evaporated. She kept her eyes on Aira, but her gaze softened. "Then who was that?"
Aira's face fell.
"Someone with ice for a heart," she replied. "What I told you is true. If you try to get out of here those warriors will come after you again. I should know...
"I tried to escape the night before last, but my path was blocked. This part of the forest was sealed off to make sure I didn't try again."
For the collective works of the author, go here.