When Winter Came
When winter came it smothered the town in a tsunami of ice. Darkness flooded into every corner and rain dampened every surface. It was cold, very cold. The townsfolk hadn’t seen the sun in well over a year now, and they longed for it more than anything. She herself had become as cold as the winter, as hard as ice and invisible like a ghost, but oh was she still near. Her majesty’s presence was unmistakably felt amongst the bitter frost and depressing days in the dark.
Of course, she could make it summer again at the drop of a hat, but it seemed unlikely anytime soon. The queen was mourning. Her only son, mauled to death by vulturous enemies, was the only thing she had. He was her only reason for the sun to shine and they took that away from her. The little boy was adored. He had a cute chubby face with a cheeky grin sewn onto it. He liked to play with other kids of the village, kick a football around a field and play hide and seek in the forest. He was the light of her life.
The village was a place only very few knew about, and even then, only the very willing would set out to find it. It was a treacherous journey through rugged mountains, bounding rapids in deep rivers, blinding blizzards, and nasty storms. The most dangerous part of the journey took you through Thunder Valley. A valley notorious for its deathly thunderstorms that could blast its pedestrians to death by a single strike of lightning. Once the survivors made it through, they would find themselves climbing over a small rocky mountain. Often scraping the barrel for the last of their energy as they grasped rubble and climbed the slope. Then finally, from the top they would see their future waiting on the other side. It was like a whole different world! A dreamy and almost unimaginable place would start to form before their eyes. Beautiful green lands, rich with vibrant forests stretched as far as the eyes could see. Sparkling blue ribbons of water threaded through and around the hills. If they squinted hard enough, the home where they had risked everything for, took shape. A township far from any trace of war, far from all the poverty and riots and pressures of careers and financial struggles. An economy that used kindness as currency. A town where peace painted the streets.
It was summer all the time, ruled by the undying majesty who protected the lands with her powerful magic, cloaking its land from the eyes of the unwelcome. She and her people lived in harmony for many years, inviting newcomers every now and then. Until one day, whispers of this secluded paradise reached the wrong ears. An abusive gang, notorious for their reckless use of dark magic got word of this paradise. They just had to witness it with their own eyes and take it for themselves. Understandably and like most common folk, they too were sick of the world and how mundane it had become. Even with their magical capabilities and lust for causing chaos, they craved more. They craved freedom. With their deadly dark magic, and being more powerful together, they were able to break the royal cloaking spell. Then snuck into the village, disguising themselves as clones of some of the residents.
The kidnapping of her son ignited a raging wolf inside of her. A battle took place and she performed more powerful magic than she had ever done before. Taking the fight out into the surrounding mountains, freezing the intruders to death one by one and until it was too late. She found herself face to face with her enemy’s leader, and her only son’s little body at his feet.
No one really knows how she killed him, or if she even did. He could still be locked up, suffering somewhere. What they did know is that they suffered from it; from the invasion and death of her son. When the winter skies fell that day, they never left. What was once a tranquil and serene paradise became much like the rest of the world, cold and bitter. Many wanted to leave but didn’t know how. They became afraid of the queen. Absurd ideas of what would follow if one stood out of line flooded the town like gossip. Some would say they heard she banished the family from the town or even threw them into a cell. One rumour suggested if anyone tried to escape, she would freeze them to death like she did with the enemies!
She had become colder than ever, and she was angry, but she would never harm her fellow citizens. However, not many saw the warmth in her anymore or remembered the compassion and relentless determination she once had. After all, she created this safe haven and chose to share it with those worthy. But ever since the winter came, people were too afraid to see beyond the cold white face and frozen hair.
Drowning in the dark, she had faded from society all together. She’d wonder if her people still lived there. If they were, did they mind the cold? She had retreated to her own royal quarters not long after the first snowstorm swept through and she remained isolated there ever since. The queen didn’t speak anymore - not a word since that day. The knots were so tightly wound in her stomach, some days she did not move from her bed. Her immortality felt pointless, and no longer powerful. Oh, how she wished she could have saved him. How she should have blessed him with her eternal gift sooner. Those bastards! The invaders took that opportunity away. Now he was gone, forever.
One morning after an exceptionally long amount of time, when her bones felt weak and her back ached from lying down, she sought deep for the strength to stand again. At first, she thought it was a scream coming from somewhere in her dream, but as she began to wake she realised it was not screaming, it was singing. Soft chirps came from outside her window. A wave of warmth wrapped around her cold flesh; she could hardly remember the last time she woke up to nature’s symphony. Slowly making her way across the room, the birds sung louder like they were cheering her majesty on. When she reached the window, she was able to see two beautiful plump red birds perched outside. Dancing around each other and chirping away like they were having a ball. Are they really smiling? The thought was so ridiculous it made her let out a shy laugh. The cheeky way the birds were looking at her with glorious bright eyes and happy dancing feet reminded her of her son. He was always so excited and giddy. Resting her hand on her chest, moving her attention beyond the colourful pair, she could see the dank dark hills that meet an angry looking sky. It was in that moment that she decided she wanted to see more birds and wake up to their voices instead of piercing silence. Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath in, she removed the winter cloak.
Slowly, golden rays lit up the horizon like the opening of a show. Clouds parted like curtains and the sky was painted ocean blue. Snow melted off the velvet green hills revealing a rainbow of flowers. Blooming in clusters as far as you could see. It was the most beautiful picture being painted. Summer had come at last.