Frost that covers the entire land requires a lot of water. When the Cult of Cold tapped the source of all waters, rime and hoarfrost coated everything. Temperatures dropped, and snow fell day and night. Another string slipped from its knot.
There was a place where the water seeped from the ground as a constant flood. The barrier between different worlds was thin, and the water flowed through. The Lord of the Land found this place and poured his cold magic into turning all the water into frost, ice, and snow. Grey clouds and fog covered the land, depositing a permanent white covering.
But knots had been undone, and a breach opened into a realm full of fire. A consuming army of fire flew forward to melt the ice and warm the cold. The Lord of the Land road to meet the firebirds in battle with his frost-filled forces.
I could see the firebirds' light in the distance. Their heat didn't just melt the ice and snow. They evaporated it. The Cult of Cold warlocks, on their elemental mounts, knocked the firebirds from the sky.
I approached as fast as I could. I hoped the firebirds could stand as a fortress against the Cult of Cold. But, through the thick mist, there was no light. They were shadows barely holding on to their foothold.
The Fire Bird
Toward the far side of the battle, I could see the embers of one firebird injured, no longer able to reach the fight. I ran to its aid. It recoiled at my approach. I tried to reassure it that I was a friend.
The firebird's long tail flickered and burned twenty feet behind it. Its eyes glowed white, no pupils or irises visible. Roiling heat escaped from its wings and feathers. What a magnificent creature! The snow melted five feet around it, making the ground soft.
The sounds of crackling ice and battle got closer. We had to move soon. The firebird's wings' vibrant reds, whites, and oranges receded. It shifted its form. Then the molten wings became metal armor hanging on its shoulders. The vortex of feathers and tail that held it aloft twisted into two legs. Its head changed to look like mine. It formed a sword that gleamed with its own light.
They intended to fight. I tried to pull it away. The metal was hot, but I could touch it. I could see injuries- imperfections in their form. They collapsed to the ground. I told them, "I will help! Stay put!"
As fast as my legs could hop, I raced back around the edge of the battlefield. To the Troikas in the rear behind the Cult of Cold. The three stags attached to each sled stomped and pulled at their reins. I tested their response with a pull to the left, then a pull to the right.
When I released the brake and we took off through the trees.The sled bounced over a young pine and slammed into a spruce before I got control. Guiding the getaway vehicle to my new friend proved a difficult task.
The stags pulled the sled twenty feet after I put on the break. They submitted to the pull of the reins just ten feet from the firebird. It was able to claw and climb onto the back of the sled. I released the brake, and the stags resumed their stampede through the forest.
We came upon a cave that was too good to pass. The firebird hid deep in the furthest chamber. I returned to the Troika and drove it back the way we came for almost a mile. I stopped the team of stags. Then quietly released the brake and stepped down from the sled. A well-placed snowball sent them racing into the forest away from the cave.
I filled in the tracks to the cave and settled down with my new friend. It took several weeks for their strength to return. I gave them a name, Alli. Before long, it started doing sorties against outposts and checkpoints in the area. Always careful to avoid being tracked back to the cave.
The Lord of the Land and his forces pushed into the domain of fire but could not defeat them. A stalemate settled in at the breach. An army of frozen firebirds still stands on the battlefield on this side of the breach.
Common people started to come to the region to find the firebird. No one found the cave, but sometimes, they caught a glimpse of the firebird in the sky. Alli became a symbol of hope against the cold.