Cult of Cold

Written by George Sanders

Hunter Knots



Across the ridges, between the trees, branches whipped as they ran. Cloaks billowed in the breeze, and feet stomped through the snow. There was no care for discretion. They raced for the ruins of the library.

 

They had lost the trail no less than four times. Desperation appeared in their choices. They could not fail the Lord of the Land. When they picked up the trail of their quarry the fifth time, a likely destination dawned on them. The ruins of the library were the only landmark of significance in this part of the expanse.

 

A warm gust greeted them as they crested the ridge where the library used to stand. A 10-foot diameter circle of snow had melted by a twisted old tree. Green grass filled the ring. The knot felt the heat seeping out into the forest. No one dared step onto the grass.

 

The knot leader pulled out a shaped stone the size of his palm. Precious metals inlaid on the rock formed the face of an owl. He pressed on the 'eyes' and spoke into it.

 

 

Seers and Regulators



Seer's Office by iStockPhoto.com\

The seer let out a grunt and curse. The knot leader's description left no question in the sage's mind. The quarry opened a portal. A portal meant disruptions, ripples across the stillness of the land.

 

The knot leader described magical effects that blocked them at several points. He detailed their quarry's unnatural foresight of their pursuit. Then, he outlined the traps set up along the trail.

 

The cabbit had been far more resourceful than expected. It must have had help. Against such odds, the knot leader declared there was not much more they could have done.

 

The seer chose to begin an inquisition and send retrieval teams through the portal. The knot leader's deflection of blame did not go unnoticed. They would be the first team sent. Then regulators would start with acquaintances of the cabbit. After that, every village or cabin the cabbit interacted with would be evaluated.

 

One of the regulators would need to go with the hunter knot. Regulators were fast, ruthless, and would not compromise a report. The Lord of the Land required eyes on the other side of the portal.

 

 

Warlocks



Calling for an inquisition would get this issue off the seer's plate. He prepared a letter and then used an incantation to deliver it. His warlock handler needed to see he had acted quickly and decisively.

 

The warlock absorbed the delivered message while patrolling the deep forest. Her people had uncovered a massive plot! Traitors lurked everywhere. She could hardly contain her excitement over any reason to bring forth her fury but this was glorious.

 

Finally, a call to mobilize her forces! She summoned her mount, a giant stag. Swirls and eddies of cold jumped into the air around the Stag. She rode to a tower in the distance, alerting the Lord of the Land on her way.

 

 

Lord of the Land



Glain, a stepson in the noble house of Glarain, took the title Lord of the Land from the Queen. He promptly turned his forces against her. Unknown to her, he had already cemented his loyalty with another patron.

 

His reward for his devious subterfuge was control of the clouds and cold. With that power, he blocked Spring from his domain. As was his plan, the Cult of Cold rose from the frosty depths of the forest.

 

Deep in his capital, the Lord of the Land smiled. He knew all that happened in his domain. That cabbit was familiar to him. Long ago, it had made a deal to protect its friend, one of the Storytellers of the Royal Library of the Spring.

 

Glain pulled up the memory traded for that deal. It still held vibrant emotions. He bathed in its power, and that he had taken it, but concern germinated in a far corner of his mind.

 

I appreciate you reading my flash fiction article. This story explores the 2022 World Anvil Summer Camp theme of Expanse and what it is in that expanse. My flash fiction doubling as worldbuilding may be used as lore for ttrpg games or as content in other writing projects!

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Comments

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3 Aug, 2022 01:38

Love how evocative this is. It really puts me in the story with the characters. I can feel the cold and the desperation of the hunters.

Come see my Summer Camp 2022 articles! Read my "On the Shoulders of Giants" challenge article: Talinos.

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