Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)
TITLE: Blood, Lies, and the Altar of Ice
By J. C. Lamont
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But the bear had saved his life and told him it was no mere accident that he was here. Claiming to have summoned him, the bear told Jared that he alone could break the curse of incessant winter placed on the land by its evil ruler Frost, by entering Frost’s ice castle, and pouring the blood on the cornerstone in the center of the courtyard.
A soft melody floated up from the castle, beckoning him closer. As though in a trance, Jared reached the gate and crossed the courtyard, gazing at the exquisite ice sculptures of elves and woodland creatures.
“Welcome,” a voice said.
Startled, Jared looked up and saw Frost standing on the balcony above. His hand clamped down on the vial of blood in his pocket.
“Don’t be frightened,” Frost said. “I will not hurt you. I have waited a long time for an heir to come that I could leave my kingdom too. That is why I summoned you here.”
Jared shook his head. “You summoned me?”
Fingering the vial, he wondered who to believe. Why serve when he could rule instead? As an uncontrollable urge to give Frost the vile swept over him, he pulled it from his pocket and tried desperately to remember why he had brought it all this way.
It was then that Jared noticed the cornerstone, shaped like an altar, in the center of the courtyard. Carved in ice, it bore the inscription: The blood of the innocent shall set them free. With a jolt, he remembered why he was there.
Frost swooped down from the balcony. “Give me the vial!”
Torn between the two, Jared didn’t see Frost lunge until it was too late. Ripping the vial from his hands, Frost smashed it against a far wall. Steam rose from the blood and the ice beneath it began to melt. Frost blew and his frigid breath immediately crystallized the blood in ice.
Turning on Jared, Frost pulled an ice spike from thin air. “Fool!”
As Jared dashed from sculpture to sculpture, dodging the hurled spikes, he realized these were no mere ice sculptures, but frozen captives of Frost.
“Did you really think you could defeat me?” Frost laughed.
Jared’s mind raced. He should have believed the bear. And now he was going to die.
Leaping from behind a sculpture, Jared dove for the cornerstone. Frost’s dagger hit him in the chest just as he slammed on top of it. He felt the blood ooze and watched it trickle onto the ice as the cornerstone erupted into flames.
He could hear Frost’s shrieks of horror as the castle began melting and crashing down around them. For a moment, he thought he saw his father smile at him through the flames, but then the courtyard faded into darkness.
Jared opened his eyes. He was lying in bed back in his own world. A man stood over him, wearing the same robe and crown as the bear.
“I am the true King of SnowGlobe,” the man said. “When Frost first came, he convinced everyone that he could rule better than I. Since that is what my people wanted, I stepped down. At first, the winters simply became longer, but over time, there was only winter. The change was so gradual at first, no one noticed, and even then, many didn’t care. But alas, there were a few who saw Frost for who he was, and returned to me. But even they could not break the spell. Someone else had to come.”
Jared shook his head. Though he still didn’t completely understand, with the death of his father and no real home, there was only one thing he wanted. “Please, let me go back with you?”
“You belong here,” the King said, handing Jared his unbroken snow globe. “But, I will always be with you in Spirit.”
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