by Mark P. Kolba
Copyright 2013 Mark P. Kolba
All Rights Reserved
The snow blew at him in horizontal waves, sharp and biting like volleys of arrows that stung his squinting eyes and battered the sliver of exposed skin between them. The wind twisted and tore against the balaclava covering the rest of his face in a desperate attempt to lay his flesh bare to the snow. Lleyyanir clutched the fabric tightly to hold it in place and leaned into the swirling white wall ahead of him. He had to keep moving. But he knew that his progress had slowed—now a mere two miles an hour at best. And that meant he was in trouble.
Ever since he’d begun the crossing through Terrimore Pass, the storm had intensified, driven on as if by some supernatural fury. He’d thought he could save a day by traveling through the pass and skirting the Helnor Flatlands to the west. Gwennin had made it clear that haste was critical. “Waste not a moment,” he’d said as he handed Lleyyanir the silver messenger bag that contained the secret missive he was to deliver. “Take this to the warden of Porytim with all haste. You cannot underestimate the importance of this letter; if you tarry it shall bring ruin. Thousands of lives depend on you. I am trusting you with this charge, Lleyyanir, you above a dozen of your brethren.”
Those words had stoked his pride like a festal bonfire. It didn’t matter to him that Porytim was harried by barbarian armies and that the north march was lordless after the disappearance of Lord Florin of Aranam. It didn’t matter that he faced danger and death to travel there. No, all that mattered was that he was Gwennin’s chosen messenger—he, of all people, he who had been shamed not five years before on a similar errand. It was a chance for redemption. As he took the silver messenger bag in his hands, he vowed that he would be in Porytim by the end of the week.