Alaesa walked the ice each day, though it brought tears to her eyes. Silverbow walked beside her. It was what he did, cared for her. Through everything. Through the ages of mankind. Century after endless century.
His heart ached to see her cry, though he knew there was nothing to be done. The humans had become such a cold people. Such an uncaring people.
“Perhaps,” he let the back of his hand brush hers, “they will someday learn.”
Alaesa paused in her walk on the ice, and slowly shook her head. “Some of them, perhaps. But as a whole. They are doomed.”
Silverbow watched the crystal tear fall from her eye as it drew a line down her cheek. He did not cry. Not when she needed him to carry her. Not when she needed him to care for her.
“They have doomed themselves.” She stared at her feet, on the ice. “So, I walk the lake. To find what hearts I can. To set them free.”
He said nothing. There was nothing to say. There was only the walk with her. On the ice. Searching for the frozen hearts of the lost. Those who cared, who felt, who cried, until the human world crushed them, wounded them, and cast them aside, so they wound up here.
In the lake.
“If you find them, we will care for them.” He tried to smile, for her. He knew he failed. But she smiled at him anyway.
“Would that we didn’t have to, my love.” She grasped his hand, and her smile reminded him once more, he could bear anything, carry any weight, with her by his side.
Together, they walked the lake. Alaesa always studying the ice, searching for a glint of something Silverbow knew he could never see. “Sometimes, I wonder if your gift from life is a burden, or a blessing.”
Alaesa laughed, music to his ears. “Aren’t all blessings burdens, my love?” She knew it was true. Their people knew it from eons of existence, eons of growth, and learning.
“Indeed…” He said nothing more.
They walked, patiently, back and forth, along the frozen surface, while she searched. The sun rose to its zenith, then settled to the horizon. As it touched the tree line, Alaesa stopped, and pointed, “There!”
She lead him to a blank, frozen space on the ice, no more than one hundred steps from the shore. Though she knew no words were needed, she spoke them anyway, “Stand beside me, please. To keep me warm. So my own heart does not freeze.”
As she knelt on the ice, Silverbow placed his hands on her shoulders, and willed every ounce of warmth from his heart, his soul, to her own. She placed her hands on the ice, and began to cry from the cold as it bit into her hands, and then into her arms.
The ice melted. Slowly at first, then rapidly, a pool of liquid water formed on the lake. Silverbow felt the cold flowing from Alaesa. He willed himself to be warmer. To fight the cold with the warmth of his life, the strength of his heart, the love he felt for her.
It was enough. It was always enough.He watched as a glint of red appeared in the ice at the bottom of the water. He held her shoulders, and poured his heat into her, as she reached through the water, to the ice, and began to melt the red glint free.
The coldest winter he had ever known as nothing compared to this. The deepest snow, the fiercest wind. All paled next to this cold. The cold of a frozen world. A people who had lost their way. Whose hearts had turned colder than any ice, and harder than any stone.
That’s what Alaesa thawed. That’s what she melted. To reach one glint of red. Freed from the ice, it floated to the surface of the water. There, she reached for it, lifted it, freed it from the cold.
The heart and soul of a human. One who could not live in their world any more. She held it to her own heart, to warm it, thaw it, let it know it was safe, and could feel, and breathe, and care once more.
Silverbow helped her stand, and together they walked from the lake, to Sherarta, their home. Where the freed human would join others of his kind. Where the elves would heal the wounds of another once again. Where perhaps, someday. The remnants of the human race would be able to return to their home, with all they had learned, and start their world anew.
It was Alaesa’s hope. Her dream.
This Silverbow knew. As he knew he would do all he could to help her dream come true.
This is written for Week 42 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. If not for a killer headache, I would have written this last night, and not been a day late. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Never felt the need to write a second entry before. But this week, with that picture, I had more than one story to set free. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.