I awoke with a start and sat bolt upright in bed. I took a deep breath and broke into a smile. It had come at last! I dashed up the stairs to the window and whooped as I saw the snow beginning to fall!
Laughing I darted out the door and began to dance among the flakes. Winter had come at last! Smiling like a fool I ran around the back of the house and up the hill behind it to a bit of clearing. Some of the trees had been encased in snow and almost glowed in the moonlight.
I stood in the clearing, my feet deep in the snow now. I looked about me, breathing in deeply and exhaling, watching the mist from my breath emanate from my mouth. I laughed and fell back to make a snow angel. My arms and legs fluttered as I gazed up into the night sky.
I stopped and just lay there a moment, breathless, the flakes falling over me, and I smiled. Yes it would be sweeter with someone else here to share it with, but it was enough that the snow had come again, and the world would be washed clean.
A shiver ran through me and I realized that my gown had been soaked through. My nose and toes where freezing. Only I would run out into the snow barefoot and without a coat! I jumped up shivering and ran back to the house.
Once inside I grabbed a mug of hot chocolate and drank it down as I stripped out of my wet clothing. I slipped on a warm hooded robe and sat in front of the fire, watching the crystalline flakes falling outside the window. I leaned back on the couch, feeling warm and cozy. This is what home was. This is the way it should feel. I had made the right decision to move.
The sun was rising and I couldn’t wait to get outside, to explore the ‘new’ landscape around the house. I wanted to find snowmen, throw snowballs, and best of all, pay a visit to Frost Haven!!! It was my favorite place in the winter. Frost Haven was the town of snowmen near Mount Ingot. I stood and stretched, wiggling my toes in the carpet to see if they had feeling again.
I smiled. They did. I rinsed the mug and headed downstairs to kit myself out for the run across the mountain. As I dressed and filled my pack, I plotted out the route in my head. I would go by way of Linvak Tukal. I recalled that there was a portal to Linvak in Yaraq. I dug through my pack dumping empty flasks and bread crumbs onto the floor.
I pulled a piece of sinew, a melted chocolate bar, some cheese hard enough to kill someone with, and one bunny slipper and added them to the growing pile about my feet. I looked at it and shook my head. No WONDER I could never find what I was looking for when I needed it! I moved the pack and knocked over the flasks, sending them clattering over the floor and swore to myself I would clean out my pack when I returned.
At last my hand clenched around the small bag of portal gems and I yanked them free of the debris still in my pack. I took them out one by one searching for the right one. AH HA! I had one for Yaraq! I smiled, put the bag back in my pack and stood up walking to the chest in the corner. I found some deadly fire arrows and put them in my pack before picking up my bow.
I climbed the stairs and took a deep breath of the chill air coming into the cottage as I opened the door. It smelled sweet and fresh. I was encased in my armor, and warm from the raiment I donned beneath it. I pulled on my bowman’s gauntlets and gripping my portal gem stepped out into the cold air. The sun was up now, and travel would be safer. I turned the gem in my hand and felt it begin to dissolve as the portal opened before me.
I stepped into the whirling light and felt my stomach do it’s usual gymnastics as I spun towards Yaraq. I landed with a thud and headed up the center of town to the Linvak Tukal portal. I had always had a soft spot for the mountain fortress inhabited by Lugians, and felt a wonderful anticipation at seeing them again.
I passed through the portal and greeted Captain Krank before heading around the corner of the courtyard to the portal that led outside the fortress walls. As I stepped into the portal I could hear Lord Kresovus’ anguished screams for his beloved Balor. Balor, his pet Mattekar had been kidnapped, and as yet had not been returned. It still broke my heart to here his cries.
Once outside the walls I took a bearing and headed north. There weren’t many creatures in the way, and those that were there didn’t hurt me much. It wasn’t a long run and I was soon standing on the side of Mount Ingot and headed down to the ridge that overlooked Frost Haven. I could feel a warm cheer come over me as I stopped on the ridge and gazed down at the festive town.[CENTER] [TABLE border=”1″] [TR]
As always Sam, the guard was standing watch, and I could see the two snow boys, Nip and Numb, playing in the square. I ran down the hill and into town, greeting Sam and heading to see the Mayor first. I entered his igloo and said hello.
“Hello Mayor!”[CENTER] [TABLE border=”1″] [TR]
“Hello there, hello there! I’m Mayor of Frost Haven. Welcome to our humble little town. Normally it isn’t this quiet, but we’ve been having a bit of a problem.”
“I’m sorry to hear that Mayor, what’s the trouble?” I asked with a frown.
“Have you seen that mountain peak to the North? That’s Mount Ingot, a homicidal Magma Golem named Scold lives up there. Every few weeks he emerges from his cave and marches down the mountain to stomp all over our town. Oh the snowmanity, oh it’s awful!”
I nodded, having heard this tale of woe before. The Mayor was known for his poor memory of humans, and was therefore always repeating himself to visitors, even those that returned again and again.
The Mayor went on with his tale of woe.
“On top of all that, there’s an Abominable Snowman tromping around the mountains and he doesn’t like us non-abominable types. Oh! You have to help us. He must be stopped. If you don’t help us I’m afraid we may be doomed. Doomed! Doomed!
I thought about this for a moment. I knew that I was no match for an Abominable Snowman alone. The Mayor could see I was thinking it through and leaned forward a bit.
“Umm, I’m sure I could dip into the slush fund for a reward if you stop him.”
“I’ll consider your offer Mayor. Thank you.” I bowed and turned to head out into the town center. It was a sticky situation. As I started across the square I heard Nip let out a shout.
“Olly olly frost come free!”
I looked around and spied him behind an igloo. He was playing hide and seek with Numb. Numb, as it turns out, was behind me and gave me a fright as he spoke suddenly.
“You want to see a trick?”
I smiled and nodded as I replied, “Sure, let’s see it.”
“Ok, close your eyes.”
I did so and waited. I felt a freezing piece of snow slide down my back and jumped into the air with a screech!
“Ahahahahaha! I so got you! Aahhahahahaha! That was great!”
I was about to yell at him about manners and respecting his elders, when I began to laugh. He had got me, I had said I wanted to play. I just shook my head laughing and headed off to see the Chef, Pleist. I walked into his igloo and admired the snow pies on the table.
“Greetings Chef Pleist. How goes the pie making?”
“I only use the freshest snows and ice in my cooking. If you can’t make it fresh don’t make it.”
We talked for a little bit and I headed back into the square.
I heard some mumbling and walked to the edge of the square to see Nip hunched over. Near him was a puddle on the snow. It was the remains of a melting snowman.[CENTER] [TABLE border=”1″] [TR]
Nip looked up and saw me. He looked at the puddle and muttered, “Someday I’ll be bigger than Scold and then he’ll see.” Nip grabbed some snow and patted himself down with it, trying to make himself bigger.
“He’ll see, I’ll get him back for what he did to Frank.”
Nip turned away from me as an icicle began to form under one of his coal eyes. I patted his back and walked to Emma’s igloo.
“Hello dear! I’m quite busy, but I love guests — so just sit anywhere you like and we can have some tea and a nice chat.”
I smiled and sat down looking forward to the hot tea. I could hear Robert, the town gardener, muttering about another weed in his garden and laughed. He was the only Snowman I knew that could make things grow in the snow. Just as I was about to take a cup of tea from Emma’s hands, I heard a commotion outside. I stood up and excused myself to go see what it was.
Numb was yelling and I walked across the frozen ground quickly. I got close enough to hear him say, “Wait, that only counts on ones!” The next thing I knew I was being attacked! I turned to see where the strike was coming from and saw a mob of snowmen coming at me across the square, a big snowman in the back. I knew I didn’t stand a chance and began to run. I didn’t get far.
A bright light swirled in my head and I felt myself falling. The next thing I knew I was at my lifestone, trying to catch my breath. My back ached where the spell hit me. Well, I died quickly. I frowned and checked to see what I had lost. Nothing I couldn’t do without, thankfully. I hadn’t buffed since I didn’t expect to meet trouble in Frost Haven. I wouldn’t make that mistake again.
I pulled out a portal gem for Holtburg and stepped in. I would need help getting a buff now, I had vitea from my death. I ran to the far side of the bar to see the people that were held in a magical suspension to cast protecting spells on those wishing to use them. I chose one and stood before him, giving him my commands. He threw the magic protections on me and increased my abilities. I gave him a trade note for the help and took out my orb. I said the words to recall to the last portal I had been through, Linvak Tukal.
I quickly ran back to Frost Haven, skirting around the far side of the town, and creeping down behind the igloo belonging to the Mayor. There, across the square were the culprits.[CENTER] [TABLE border=”1″] [TR]
A gang of Angry Snowmen, and the leader of the pack, the Abominable Snowman. I edged along the back of the igloos, sneaking around the perimeter of the town. Sam, the guard had been knocked to pieces. The other townsfolk seemed to be trying to pretend the mob wasn’t there.
I hid behind one of the igloos for a moment trying to decide how I would proceed and double checked my pack. I was low on healing potions. I would need to go back home and grab some. I ran up Mount Ingot and stepped into Scold’s Lair. I would be tied to this portal now, so returning would be quick. I recalled home to grab some potions. It took some time to gather the supplies I thought I would need and then I headed back.
What I saw when I returned was quite different. The mob was scattered. The Angry Snowmen were here and there, and I did not see the Abominable at all. I crept around the edge of town again, trying to locate him. At last I saw him behind the igloos near Roberts corpse. I had to creep closer to see what was happening. Then I saw it, two warriors attacking the giant snowman!
I looked at my position and realized that I would be safe from here as long as I didn’t attack the Snowmen. I quickly checked the two fighting with the man of snow, and saw that one had been injured. From here, I could at least heal them as they fought. I pulled out my Healer’s Heart and began casting magic at the warriors, healing and restoring their energy.
The two warriors were named Inderiel and Hel. Inderiel told me, “Thank you” as I cast a healing spell on her again. I smiled and moved closer to the fray, and heard Robert say, “Oh, another weed.” Robert was just on the other side of the igloo where the fighting was carrying on, and he was doing his best to ignore it all. I frowned at his choice to ignore the battle over his town and turned my attention to the warriors again.
I threw a spell on Hel and heard her shout, “Drop your fellow and I’ll recruit you.” I nodded and dropped the fellowship I was with as Hel brought me into theirs. I was able to watch them closer now, and stay on top of their needs for health and stamina. I decided to try and land a vulnerability spell on the Abominable. I still had too much vitea to land with a VI, and the Snowman just brushed aside my level IVs. I frowned and returned to healing.
I watched Inderiel swing again and again, the blows striking the snowman and nicking off bits that sprayed over her and Hel. Hel was firing quarrels at point blank range and they seemed to pass right through with little damage to the snowman. I decided to see if my puny skills as an archer would be of any help at all, and drew my bow forth. I ran to stand on the side of the hill near the fight and began firing, shocked to see that I could even hit the snowman!
Before I knew what had happened, the Snowman was suddenly trying to climb the hillside after me and reigning blows on my feet and legs! The Snowman zigged back and forth, flitting between me and the others, waving his stick arms about wildly. Inderiel was sliding back and forth on the ice trying to get a hit in on him.
“Hey! Come back here monster!!” She swung quickly, but the Snowman had moved behind her.
“Are you… hiding… back there?” She turned and reigned blows on the molded fluff. I started laughing and took out my orb once more.
“Hahaha, I don’t think he liked me hitting him. Sorry,” I said with a grin. I returned to healing the others and the Snowman returned to his place by the igloo. In the distance I heard the Mayor shout, “Keep a cool head that’s the thing to do.” It struck me as funny and I began laughing. Inderiel took the advice to heart evidently for she began to dance around the Snowman!
“Look at me, I’m dancing crazy!” I laughed again, unable to hold it in.
“I want his carrot nose, just can’t quite reach that high” Inderiel added as she took up fighting again, jumping up to try and make a grab at the orange object.
I healed Hel again and sighed to myself. This was taking a long time, and I couldn’t help but think that if I was stronger, I could be of more help.
“Sorry I’m not much more help.”
“Not at all, this is fun.” Inderiel smiled. “Been awhile.”
“I agree” I added with a grin. “I died here when they first showed up.” Inderiel nodded.
“This critter has killed me a time or two also.”
“Keep a cool head that’s the thing to do,” the Mayor chimed in.
“It’s the Fire Golems I don’t like,” Hel said ignoring the Mayor’s advice.
Once Imped those golems go down perty fast. But this guy… is another sword edge.” Inderiel swung and struck a hard blow with her final word, her and Hel striking as one and wounding the Snowman. I quickly healed the pair and restored their stamina.
“Good timing” Inderiel said with a smile.
“Thanks” Hel added.
“I’m so fizzy with this vitea I can’t get anything to go on him,” I explained as I looked around for a better location.
“Don’t panic, that’s the thing to do, don’t panic,” the Mayor’s lament echoed in my head again.
I noticed that one of the igloos was close enough to the fight that I may be able to land a few arrows and still be same from the arms of the Abominable, so I ran around the scuffling figures and over to the frozen home. It took me a few tries, but I managed to scramble my way up to the top, and topped off the health and stamina of the fighting warriors. Inderiel was dancing to the side and shouting at the Snowman.[CENTER] [TABLE border=”1″] [TR]
“Can’t catch this one! Chilly Monsterpants!”
We laughed and Inderiel gave us the latest numbers on the fight.
We had been fighting this creature for well over 40 minutes and it was still holding up under the fray.
“I only have an hour and 7 minutes on my buffs,” Hel said with a laugh. “Would it work better if I got Tyyr with a fire unarmed weapon?”
“Ahh yess, i can hear it now… sounding just like a manic out-of-control snow blower.”
I laughed and Hel faded out suddenly. Now it was just Inderiel and myself. I changed from strictly healing to helping with the little damage my arrows did.
“Pokepokepoke,” Inderiel chided as she poked at the Snowman with her sword.
“Man that’s got to be irritating.” She said with a chuckle. I laughed and added a few, irritations myself.
“I seem to be shooting him in the bum, like a constant itch.” I grinned.
“It says something for my swing though. Ugh, a repetitive swinging leads to tennis elbow, you know?” Inderiel lamented as she swung again, striking the snowman in the torso.
“Oh, another weed.” Robert the snowman could be heard whining on the other side of the igloo as we fought on.
The Snowman turned and shot magic at me and I had to snatch up my orb again quick and heal myself, adding to the health of Inderiel as well.
“Good perch you got there,” Inderiel nodded.
“Yes, but doesn’t do much against magic.”
She nodded and agreed, “True.”
“I’m still a lightweight,” I added with a chuckle as Inderiel called out, “64%! We’re wearing him down!” I laughed at the exuberance and we carried on as Robert muttered just out of eyesight, “Oh, Another weed.”
We fought on, arms and legs growing weary, and Asheron knows we needed more deodorant! Phew! I was glad to be upwind. Fortunately, Nanna showed up to help. Inderiel rejoiced.
“It’s the bookends returneth! Yeehaw!” I looked at them and laughed. She paused to look at me.
“Don’t we look it though?”
“Oh, Another weed.”
I burst into laughter and nodded to Inderiel in agreement.
I couldn’t help but mutter, “If Robert weren’t such a wuss he’d be over here with the weed killer squirting down this guy!” I laughed and grabbed my orb again. Inderiel agreed and we all chuckled. But Inderiel came to Roberts defense.
“He’s trying to get ready for the carrot-stompin’ Scoldites.”
We fought on, Inderiel and Nanna discussing the best weapons to use. They ended up fighting with Royal weapons since there was a chance of them casting a magic vulnerability spell adding to the damage. We soon had an addition to the fellowship, Lone Wolf Mc`Quade. The added force of his crossbow really made a difference and the Abominable began to grow weary at last.
“60%!” Inderiel called out, giving us all an extra boost of energy. Everyone put an added effort into it and soon bits of ice were flying everywhere.
“He’s attacking the snow fort… wonder why,” Inderiel said looking at me with a grin.
“I’m beginning to be the pain in his neck,” I laughed shooting another arrow into the Snowman’s neck.
“I’d say so.” Inderiel swiveled and struck the creature again, and he turned to attack her once more. I quickly healed myself and the others.
“54% now! We’re getting there.” Inderiel began to sing, “Up on the housetop, there Snowimp spells, nasty monster to… to… well…” I laughed.
“A new hit!”
Suddenly, things changed and we all began to hit much harder.
“46%,” went up the cry.
“What happened?” Nanna asked.
“Debuffs probably,” Lone Wolf surmised.
“What debuffs? This is great,” Nanna chimed as she swung her mace again. Elation spread through our little group.
“I’m hitting 200+ consistently now,” Lone Wolf exclaimed.
“Hitting 700+ right now,” Nanna added.
“Hey, no fair, your hittin harder’n me,” Inderiel complained with a smile.
Nanna brought us back to the point of this fisticuffs. “When he dies, everyone grab a present fast. Then we need to kill the next monster.[CENTER] [TABLE border=”1″] [TR]
“4%!” Inderiel shouted to us all, and we prepared to loot the corpse of the Abominable at last.
The Abominable Snowman fell with a blast of slush flying around us and we all scrambled to loot the body. I snatched up a package encased in ice, my arms feeling like raw noodles. Suddenly there was a loud clang in my ear.
Bong! Bong! Frost Haven’s Mayor sounds the alarm again. All the fighting has drawn Scold down from his mountain lair. Prepare for the battle everyone!”
I turned in time to see Scold stomping towards me. I was in trouble now, I only had fire arrows with me. I quickly jumped back up on the igloo and drew forth my orb again, this time hurling magic vulnerability spells at Scold. He resisted and threw taunts at me for my trouble.
“Oho! Where did you learn to cast that? I cast bigger spells in my sleep!”
I gritted my teeth against the insult and hurled the spell again to his sniggers.
“I’m guessing those sniveling little snow drifts sent you. You should have stayed out of this. Now you get to see what it feels like to be melted!”
I threw the spell thrice more, “Cruath Quasith, Cruath Quasith, Cruath Quasith.”
“First I’m gonna stomp all of you squelchy things and then I’m gonna destroy this annoying little town!”
It was no good, I couldn’t land one. I quickly healed the others and watched Scold split into pieces, each piece forming a miniature of the original and coming to life to attack the fighters. It looked like chaos!
“Fight the same one!” Nanna called from the crowd. They all quickly formed a tight circle about one of the mini Scolds and began bashing and stabbing it. The Lump yelled at those wounding it.
“Burn ’em!” Yelled the Lump as it fell. The other lumps closed ranks around the fighters, yelling and jeering at them.
“Filet their souls!”[CENTER] [TABLE border=”1″] [TR]
“Toast ’em!” The Lumps began to fall one after the other, until the last one crumpled with a moan, “No!!! I’ll be back!”
“The corpses will last a bit, everyone loot,” Inderiel directed us. I scampered off the igloo and looted one of the Lump corpses. I held up the hot bit of coal admiringly.
“Use the coal on the frozen present, and take it to the Mayor,” Nanna instructed us. I did so and watched the ice melt from the package. The steam dissipated revealing a wonderful present box.
“Oh nice!” I admired the box for a moment before heading to the Mayor, watching Inderiel come from the igloo laughing.
“Figures, another feast table!”
I walked into the Mayor’s lodging and showed him my present.
“It’s lovely! I wonder what’s inside?” The Mayor handed the present back to me and I began to open it.
“I got a pack snowman,” said Lone Wolf.
“I got a holiday hearth!” I laughed and set it in the snow to look at. It was lovely, but hard to see as the light was fading.
“Who wants a feast table?” Inderiel asked. I jumped at the chance and said I would take it, certain that Fiona would love to have one.
“Keep a cool head, that’s the thing to do,” the Mayor said and we all laughed. As the sun began to set, and folks began to leave, I took a look around me at the snowmen of Frost Haven, and smiled.
“I love this town.”
I said my good byes and recalled home.
Once inside I moved the old hearth and dinner table and set up the new ones. It was perfect. Food aplenty, and a lovely hearth with miniature festival lights upon the mantel.[CENTER] [TABLE border=”1″] [TR]
I walked to the window watching the snowflakes fall, and once again thought how good it was to be home.