Warlocks – Short Story 3 – Snow Show

Snow Show

The wind howled down the pass, parting around the bubble of warm air that Vas Abbandha’s weave of Jitadi kept around him.

Damn fool jewel smith, Vas grumbled in his thoughts, careful not to let them wander too far from concentrating on the Jitadi he was using. Fool enough to steal the necklace and leave two major families at war with each other over it. But why’d he have to come this way at this time of the year? This pass isn’t usable in the winter.

Vas considered dropping the bubble of warm air by switching to a time acceleration Jitadi to speed his movement, but his mastery of the that Jitadi was mostly for enhancing his reactions in melee combat, not for cross country travel. In good weather, this pass took two days to cross. Accelerated, a day, but the bitter cold wind and below freezing temperatures would possibly serious cause some harm.

He didn’t have time to wait. The feuding families had both tried to find the jewel smith first before hiring him, giving the jewel smith a three day head start on him. A head start plus no one knew where he was going except through the mountain pass, which is why the families had finally agreed to hiring a Warlock.

Between Vas’s pushing himself and his quarry’s growing confidence of his escape, Vas finally closed the gap. His quarry was only a half day ahead. Teleporting and circumventing the pass would have been nice, but Vas had no way to clearly target the site on the other side. No clear knowledge of his destination meant a attempting to teleport was extremely dangerous. He’s close and now time for old-fashion walking.

The wind grew stronger and louder, nearly making a solid wall of the blown snow.

Not wind, Vas realized with a tightness in his chest. A rumbling, above him to his right permeated the air. Far above he could see it starting, the wavy shiver through the snow piled higher up on the mountain to his right. It stretched ahead of him and back behind him. There was no mistaking it. Avalanche!

The rumble grew defeaning and the wavy wall of whiteness seems to accelerate as well. How far ahead the caravansary was, Vas didn’t know, but he knew he could not out-run the avalanche. He spotted something up ahead.

A brownish column rose just ahead on his right; not the hoped for widening of the pass, but an outcrop of the sandstone mountains rising on either side of him.

Would it work?

Vas quickly struggled through the ankle deep snow to stop with the rocky column between him and the collapsing wall of crushing white death. Crouching into a low stance and quickly weaving Jitadi, he whiped snow up from the floor of the pass to create ice walls anchored on the sandstone column, arching them over his head and round in front and in back of him.

As the avalanche smashed into his ice fort, cracks spanned along the crystal wall and roof he’d built, but it held. The additional force field he used to support the ice wall helped ensure he was not submerged. Few Warlocks could employ multiple Jitadi at the same time, but Vas was considered by many to be exceptionally skilled.

As the rumbling sound faded, in his little dome of ice, Vas sat in darkness, listening. Far away, he could still faintly hear the wind. He knew that he was facing the correct direction, but how much snow was above and before him? There was air in here for now, so he had time to think. Not much time, however. The air will run out. I need to think of how to get past all of this snow.

Within moments he began forcing down his concentration deep into the earth to find the heat he would need. Carefully he weaved a small flame Jitadi that opened a narrow archway diagonally above in the ice wall. Concentrating, he used the free floating flame to melt the snow to both create a tunnel and solidify it into more ice. The ice walled tunnel began to move upwards. He began to slowly inch forward in a crawl.

Crouching into his stance, he continuously called on Jitadi. Metering out just enough flame to make progress against the mountain of snow, but not enough to burn himself out. The further he crawled away from the ground, the more difficult it became to call on the flame Jitadi. Laboriously, Vas slowly created a worm-hole away from the base of the avalanche mountain. Its a good think I am not claustaphobic.

Vas felt it in his being the weight of a mountain fall away as the first natual light broke through the snow near the top of his ice tunnel. Vas applied a gentle push with a force shield. The snow fell away, opening the ice tunnel into fresh air and revealing the distant image of brown stone caravansary walls. He took a deep breath of the cold yet exhilirating air.

As he trudged across the snow, he saw that the caravansary had been badly hit by the avalanche. The walls were pushed over and the main building had been collapsed as if a giant fist had smashed into its wall. Vas caught the shape of a body within the building. Could it be?!

Vas climbed over the stone walls and looked inside the building. It was not possible to enter but it was not necessary. The broken body of the jewel thief was near the back of the building but with the walls being smashed apart, he really had no chance.

He might have survived if he was with me. Vas thought wirly, as he reached down and found the stolen neclace tucked away safely in the thief’s overcoat.