The chain encircling his neck drags the little one bodily down into the snow.
Tumbling end over end, cold air pushes out warm breath until it catches and
sticks, uncomfortably lodged in the throat. Picked up and brushed off he
fumbles, searching for the solid, familiar burden.
The burden, seeing an opening, has gracefully arced through the air and lies,
sparkling and precious, at another's feet.
The sharp air cuts through bone, sinew and resolve. Sixteen eyes watch warily,
and two hands surreptitiously slide around a worn and familiar hilt, waiting.
Fingers, searching for a simple answer, tug chain and link out of the snow, the
golden millstone light as air; dense with power.
A city trembles as that selfsame resolve crumbles around the edges; the White
Tree withers with the sapling's stunting. A heart, too long grieving for a death
that has yet to happen, finds solace in the words that bubble up from a new and
The beloved burden whispers of honour and love; a love to fill the hollow breast
and push out all doubt. A bond that surmounts the sweet taste of battle, that
pours itself into every crevice, drowning dutiful, brotherly, familial and elusive
romantic love in swelling patriotism.
Eight minds wonder while one fights against passion, pain, instinct, self-doubt
and false promises. Until, soft as powder, deadly and inevitable as an
avalanche, a voice slices through the silence: "It is a strange fate that we suffer
so much fear and doubt over so small a thing... such a little thing."
Passion, loosed and free, slides inexorably over what would have been a myriad