The nightmares came again, and more strongly than they had for months. That night’s familiar vision had Elsa trudging once again through the snows of Irrisen. She would climb and claw through one great snow drift after the other, but would never move. The gates of Whitethrone loomed behind her, and no matter how hard she pushed, she never could get more than a few dozen yards from where she had begun. And all the while, she felt colder…colder…
It was that man’s fault. Edan, he called himself. He was the first human contact she had had in weeks, arriving in the warm afternoon one summer day. Few sought Elsa out – after a would-be suitor left her hut covered in frostbite and rime several months back, the townspeople avoided her whenever possible. But this one opened up to her almost immediately. He was dressed simply and spoke plainly. But not five minutes after coming in and declining her cup of tea, he launched into what she imagined must have been a well-rehearsed speech.
He said he knew of the Winter Witches, of her family’s woes, and of her exile. He told her he had known her mother and that she was a good woman who did not deserve a fiery end. With wild eyes, he said he could help her get revenge for those that had wronged her. Come with me, he said, and we shall deliver the justice Whitethrone so richly deserves.
She couldn’t help but laugh. What would he have her do, walk up to the gates of the city and demand to face the Queen in a trial of combat? Call down fire and brimstone against their walls? It was a fool’s errand, and he was a fool for coming to her. His face showed no sign of disappointment or regret. He simply stood and bowed. He said he would be in town making preparations for a few more days and where to find him if she changed her mind. If not, he said he would give the Winter Witches Elsa’s regards.
As the door closed, old emotions came rushing back. Had she grown too weak and complacent in her time in the south? The rage and fury that had kept her alive in her journey southward had been dulled by the warmth and ease of life in Taldor. It wasn’t much of a life, but it was only a temporary arrangement, and noble bastards generally should consider themselves lucky if they don’t end up with their throat slit to clear up lines of succession. She looked to Myrin for any sort of guidance, but the hare had none.
The morning after her dream-filled slumber, she woke angry and exhausted. She sat with Myrin as she did every morning, cross-legged across from him, gazing into his eyes which mirrored hers. He had revealed bits and pieces of his mystery to her before, yet today he would seem no more than a housepet to any passerby. Elsa stood from her meditation more frustrated than ever, gathering her robes and placing Myrin in his basket. She threw open the door and walked down her well-worn path to town.