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It wasn’t the frozen draft that woke Kasidale from the light sleep that had drifted over her, clouding her mind to her harsh circumstances of the present. It was her dream, the dream that had continued to haunt her wounded mind ever since the betrayal, and not just any betrayal but the betrayal of two of her best friends. In the dream they were all together, laughing singing and dancing not a care in the world, just friends enjoying the pureness of their forged friendship. Then the dream would change, not to a horrible point but to the point where there were little pin pricks of pain in her mind and her heart. First it was the eldest two Noshell and Cadilest, grown up now and moving on to start their own lives but you would always see the two of them waving to you from a window on the north side of the house. Shastel was next, he would fade in and out at first then you would look out the window and see him and a young women with blonde hair and shining eyes standing together smiling happily. Though you wouldn’t worry that he was gone for good because whenever you looked out the window, although the scene would change, they would still be there smiling happily and waving to you from outside the window. Soon the same thing happened to the youngest, Vasseta. Pain pricks where everywhere now more dull then sharp but they were still there. Then the horrible part to the dream would come. In one unpredicted moment an angry gust of wind came and swept the imagines outside away the friends flailing helplessly in the black clouds that covered the once warm sky. Then the lights in the house would flicker and go dark, she would hear her friends screaming about her and she would fight desperately to grab them to keep them with her as the wind shattered the windows and the wind began to pull angrily at everything in the room.
That was generally were Kasidale awoke, panting, scared and quickly searching the small campsite, counting off the heads of each of her remaining friends to make sure none others had been stolen from her during the night. She sighed relieved to still see the three heads poking out of their thick wool sleeping bags, hidden from the wind in the crevices of rocks. She pushed herself up out of bed, no longer able to sleep, and pulled the dark purple cloak tighter around her shoulders as she sat up straight and looked at each of her friend’s faces. Lowie was the first to catch her attention. Lowie was a year older then her, with short cropped silky black hair and dark skin to match her dark brown eyes, all bringing her the looks of her oriental ancestry. She now was the oldest and had taken on a motherly role, watching each of them and making sure that they were holding up well physically and emotionally.
The next was Jhocob, one month younger then herself. Being a boy he kept his hair short with only one braid that went to his jaw bone, lanky and quick he made the entertainer of the group along with the hunter. Jhocob did his best to make everyone happy and try to remember the good old days and that one day they would all be back together.
The last was Marisa, a year younger than them all. She had a pale complexion which brought out her bright blue eyes, matching her near white blonde hair. She was probably the one most scared and scarred by what was happening to all of them. She was always the quiet one, the peace maker who had always tried to make everyone happy. Now she was doing her best to hold up but Kasidale wasn’t so sure how well she was really doing.
She smiled looking at each of them lost in their own, she hoped, pleasant dreams. The memories of larger sleep overs came unbidden into her mind. She let them linger remembering each face with a smile, and bright eyes before banishing the memories that threatened to pull her down into the depths of despair. She couldn’t do that now, not when the four of them were the only ones left. They needed her like she needed them and if she let herself be pulled into the sadness and hurt that she felt so strongly ripping her apart, she would be useless to them not to mention she would only pull them down with her. She reached up and whipped her face clean of the tears that had silently been coursing down her face.
A tall, thin figured woman walked through the gates of the city. She was tall with black hair that she kept pinned back in her hood, her ivory skin set off in the winter sun that was glowing off the snow. With pitch black eyes she watched the children run and play happily pulling each other into the snow, laughing and hugging. She smiled pulling scarlet red lips back to reveal white teeth. Those children would soon be right of age to steal away, to become her own.
“Come now all of you. The sun’s up and you should be too!” Kasidale said rolling each one of them out of the comfort of the blankets and into the damp cold of the cave that was currently their home. They mumbled incoherently and two of them started to move about rolling up their blankets and quickly changing from the night clothing and into the traveling clothes. The only one still rolled tightly in his blankets was Jhocob, his head now buried with the rest of him under the blanket, which wouldn’t do. Kasidale smiled to each of the girls and disappeared outside quickly returning with a small pile of snow in one hand.
Ignoring the scolding look of Lowie she moved to the back of Jhocob’s bed. She gently felt through the blanket up until she found about where his neck was, then keeping her hand close to the top of the blanket she slipped her other hand in pressing it up till she could see it moving under the blanket. She slowly moved the melting clump of snow until she was close to her other hand, which rested on top of the blanket marking the area his neck was in. With a war cry she hurriedly moved her covered hand and splatted the snow up against his neck then whipped around and jumped to the other side of the cave to avoid the flying arms and legs that were now quickly emerging from the covers.
Despite the angry words that were flying out of Jhocob’s mouth, she sat on the cave floor laughing while rubbing her hands together restoring the warmth in the red hand that had held her weapon. She didn’t miss the loud laughing of Marisa who was leaning up against the wall, and although Lowie had her face turned away she knew she was smiling and doing her best to hold back the laughter.
“One of these days Kasidale I am going to cut off your hands so you can’t pick up anything!” Jhocob yelled throwing his blankets into a pile and pouting a little.
“Yes, perhaps you will someday but not today! Anyway, I thought we should get an early start so that we can make it to Crystylane by noon. Did you want us to leave you so you could sleep longer?” Kasidale answered, not believing that they would have left him despite the fact they were looking forward to food they wouldn’t have to cook themselves and the promise of real feather beds.
Jhocob didn’t answer but instead turned his death glare to a still laughing Marisa. With the last few things packed away and with a final farewell to the cave that had sheltered them, they started down the glistening snow covered slop, toward the distant smoke rising from the little town of Crystylane.
The women extended her hands long fingers probing the people around her. Many stood still and gave her curious looks but continued walking through the cold snow. She closed her eyes and pictured each of the children in her mind, willing their souls to answer her call. The wind began to pick up and snow began to twirl together into small white tornados, the once gray calm clouds turned a dark black and lightning began to fall. Many villagers began screaming and running for the safety of their homes, but many of the children began to be picked up and swung through the air screaming for their mothers as they were swept away. Debris began to fly as houses were torn into mere pieces of bark, glass joined the mess as windows shattered and people were shown holding on tight to anything that their hands currently rested on.
Then as quickly as it had started, it all stopped. The wind died to an eerie still, the clouds returned to their original gray color and the snow began to fall quietly once more. The skies were left quiet, but as people began to emerge from hiding they found that some of the elder children had disappeared with the storm. Many people quickly recovered and hurried back into the debris gathering what supplies were left in the rubble, and made for the woods to hide away in the hunting cabins that were scattered about the mountain side. The once happy and beautiful town was now left as a war sight, deserted and lonely.
The four companions crested the hill, their laughter stopped and their faces turned pale. The wind blew through the town now destroyed and quite empty of any living thing. They made their way down the slope and into the town, calling for someone anyone. Their only replies were their echoes bouncing off the snow and walls of empty houses.
The four stood in the middle of the houses were undoubtedly were quite full that morning. The once still wind picked up in one great gust and then was still again.
“If you are looking for anyone in this place you will fail. They have all fled to the woods to live in fear.” A silky sweet voice said, making them all turn.
There stood a woman, dressed in black silk with her hood drawn back. She had ivory skin that glittered like the snow, shiny black hair with black eyes to match. No one spoke for quite some time.
“Well, usually people make introductions or at least humans do. Though sense I already know you, one of my names and the one I prefer, is Le Temps. I know each of you and I know your disappeared friends too.” She said knowing that the last phrase would catch their attention.
“How would you know us and them? We have never seen you before!” Kasidale said breaking the silence and taking a step forward.
“How silly you are. You have seen me every night in your dreams were I come and take away all your friends. You don’t need to worry now; you four are not to be split right now. Soon however the time will be right.” She said noticing how the anger seemed to boost in all of them.
“How dare you take them away? You have no right to decide when good byes come!” Marisa yelled stomping her foot.
“Dear girl, I have all the right in the world. I suppose the name you four poor souls would know me as best would be time.” And with a shrill laugh that rang of pure evil she spread her arms. The wind howled and with a loud crack of thunder, she was gone. The world returned to her still form, nothing moving including the four people standing in the snow.