When the wounded awoke, the land was covered in shards of ice. They slowly climbed, scooted, and hobbled from underneath the cart. They peered at the cart’s wooden planks, now dented and nearly torn apart from the cold maelstrom.
There were soft howls of pain as several soldiers lost their balance in the vertigo-inducing ice and fell onto their already swollen bodies. Others held back their lips as they scraped their exposed skin on loose jagged pieces of snow.
They counted among themselves as they slowly tended to their wounds. You here? one wounded would shout to another. Yeah, the other would reply. What about? and they called off each other’s names until it became clear that all had survived.
“Thanks,” one of the wounded said, quickly, and under their breath. The one least wounded, the one most able to save the oxen and the one who had tried to do so, looked up from the ground.
“Yeah, thanks,” said a few more. They remembered their strength and confidence as they leaned on each other for stability.
The least wounded did not respond. He only asked himself a simple question: if he had not acted, who else would have been able to do so? After all, wasn’t he the least wounded?
One of the soldiers who had fashioned a broken club into a crutch had shuffled to where the beasts of burden stood. The group of wounded all turned their heads and held their breath. Suddenly, the beasts snorted.
The crutched soldier pulled off the covering cloaks and the animals shook off their cold. Both oxen had survived.
“Only a few scratches!” the one leaning on the crutch shouted.
The cheer was quiet, as if it were not wanting to tempt the fates with an easily shattered optimism.
Still, there was a cheer, for the wounded knew one thing was true. They had survived. They had survived at least one more battle, at least one more perilous journey, and now they could complete their mission. They could warn the others.
It was their determination that somehow formed pieces of a far away mystical key. It floated in ether toward an ancient locked box that, upon reaching it, unlocked it and opened it.
When that box first opened in the ages long before, even before the time when Humans first battled with the Titans, evils were turned loose from inside the box and wickedness and villainy was released into the realm. While the Gods had sheltered humanity from those evils by locking them in that mystical chest, humanity’s thirst for power continually reopened that box, and released those evils into their being.
Where there once was peace in the realms, there was now disagreement, discord, and war. It had become a forlorn time.
Yet, it was the resolve of the wounded, their determination to survive together, that inspired to life that forgotten little etherial creature that had been left in that box alone. It had fallen dormant, left behind by its evil siblings, and was abandoned in the box by disbelief.
This essence long lost, this mythology nearly abandoned, was known to the mortals who could recall it by a simple name: Hope.
Hope, that tiny fairy creature, outstretched a luminescent tether visible only to the gods. The lasso latched onto the hearts of the wounded and pulled them up with gentle tugs of breath and warmth. The survivors were immediately aware of what had found them, and perhaps, what they had found: a chance.
Their journey began once-more. The wounded knew what they had to do.
The sound of a steel blade carving against a hard substance echoed through the cavernous corridors and reverberated around the reflective silver and blue stalactites that hung from the highest reaches of the hollowed mountain peak.
The circular blade, crafted by the brother of the highest god for this singular purpose, frantically carved at a block of magical ice. A long shadow appeared.
The circular blade stopped and hovered above the ice block, rocking in mid air. The part of the ice mass that was now missing, haven fallen into a shaven heap beneath it, suddenly shimmered in the air, as if tiny rapids of water were falling from the wrong directions.
The ice began to reappear. The massive block was made whole again, and as the long shadow moved closer, the circular blade began shaving once more.
This time, he thought, it would be finished, and peace would be restored. The shadow reached to the shape of its head and removed a crown that appeared to be blowing through the silvery hair it now revealed. As the shadow placed the crown that mimicked the howls of the North wind onto a table of ice, his figure became visible from out of the shadow.
The massive figure stepped forward into the icy chamber with a stride of might. The halls rumbled. The giant stood, but noticed on his cheek, gently falling, slowly tracing a path of ice down toward his lip: a tear.
The tear hit his wild beard. There it froze.
The mighty Snow Maker remembered.
It was the golden god, the eagle god, the king of the gods, that had first granted the Snow Maker a realm of his own.
It was in this kingdom, divided by the mountain of Trace from the other realms, where the mortals there took the name of their new deity: the Boreas.
The terms were simple. He would be declared ruler of the northern-winds and then obligated to command the seasons in all the mortal realms.
The Boreas, the people of his own realm, it was agreed, would live separately, beyond the northern wind, beyond the mountain Trace.
That was his kingdom, and he decided to leave it free from the other directional winds that plagued the rest of the world. Left free from the stresses of the changing weather, the Snow Maker’s worshipers lived in peace.
The other gods marveled at the prosperity of these mortals. These mortals, however, became too prosperous.
Forgetting their patron deity, their gratefulness turned to greed. Without the challenges of the changing weather, the mortals invented challenges of their own.
Soon, aspiration became indignation. Cooperation became resentment. It was not long before the people known as the Boreas were at war.
The other gods mocked and jeered the Snow Marker’s failed efforts for perfection. Storming back from the ridicule of the highest peak of Olympus, his anger broiled through his shadowy cloak and melted drops of ice hanging near him.
His beard and wild hair ruffled and swayed violently in an unseen wind. Several more ice crystals had appeared on his face, frozen with numb anger. He walked over to where his carving blade hovered and he looked at the pile of shining shards that was forming near the block of carving ice. Soon the pile would grow to fill the hall, and the furry of the North winds would be released. The snow maker would have his revenge.
Suddenly, he noticed something.