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White Solstice

Legends of the adventures
By: Raneth

White Solstice (The Keep)

< chill breeze blows into your room, making you shiver at your desk. Your candle flame jumps, threatening to go out, and you stabilize it with a small burst of fire magic. The nights have grown long, and the last thing you want is to be plunged into darkness on a cold night. The wind gusts again, a harsh whoosh that rattles the window and makes you want to curl up in your warm bed.
     
      But the wind isn't the only sound you hear. Voices drift in from outside. Peering through the frosty glass, you make out a group of people gathered around on the snowy lawn. The moon overhead casts milky light over everyone and illuminates more fluffy snow falling to the ground, adding to the heaps of powder already there. In the center of the group of people, a man in bundled robes is gesturing and speaking, but this far up you can't make out the words.
     
      You cast one longing glance at your soft bed, but curiosity compels you to join the others outside. The warm stone hallways of the Keep soon give way to the snow-covered grounds. Snow crunches under your boots and collects on your shoulders, and you sink down a few inches with each step on the lawn. Another rush of wind makes cold crystals sting your face.
     
      "...And so I think this will work," a familiar voice says as you get close to the throng. A few other students step aside to make room for you, and one girl's direwolf shoves its head beneath your hand for opportunistic scratches. "I mean, look at all this!" He spreads out his arms, motioning to the ground. It takes you a moment to realize what he means-the snow itself.
     
      "So what is your plan, Mr. Featherstone?" You glance over at the speaker, an older woman with an amberspice mouse on her shoulder. "Is this another one of your experiments?"
     
      "Well, yes," the man says. It takes you a moment to remember his name-Kaidan Featherstone, a recent graduate. "We've had the snowiest winter in years this year, and my plan would both help clear out the snow and let magis help me develop my newest location spell. Its harmless, and could be fun too."
     
      "What sort of spells will we use?" a younger boy asks. "How do we cast it?"
     
      "The plan is simple," Kaidan says, brushing snow off his shoulders. "I'll teach you the spell now. It takes a lot of energy, so you shouldn't overdo it, but when you feel ready you just try and cast it on the snow. It's a sort of..." he trails off, thinking for a moment. "...hybrid of transformation and location spells. You're trying to create a sort of...living snowman, I suppose. Or snowcreature. It will act like a kind of familiar, and if you can pull off the spell well enough, you can probably get it to find useful things for you!"
     
      A familiar made of snow? That sounds strange. But you're always open to trying new spells. You pay close attention to the incantations and hand movements Kaidan teaches you.
     
      "So now, whenever you're ready, give it a try and enchant some snow," Kaidan says. "Let's see what happens. Hopefully you can master it, and maybe find some neat things!"
You have no magic talent.
You cast the spell Kaidan taught you, infusing a pile of snow beneath your feet with magic. The snow beings to tremble and form into a familiar shape - a koi! It leaps into the air, wiggling, jolly and happy, and then swims through the humped snow as though it were swimming in the stream itself. It disappears for a few moments, then returns bearing something that glistens in the sun. It swims up to your feet and then dissolves, leaving behind some cookies.
     
     

White Solstice (The Keep)

The spell is tiring, and you don't have much energy left. You decide to try again tomorrow.
You cast the spell Kaidan taught you, infusing a pile of snow beneath your feet with magic. The snow clumps together, and all of a sudden an avrael leaps out, its bushy tail frosted with snow crystals and its wings sending rainbows across the snow as light is fractured through the gossamer-thin ice they're made of. It dances around in place for a moment, and you're struck by how realistic it looks.
     
      It rears up on his hind legs, nose twitching, and then begins to dig in the snow as if looking for an acorn. Soon enough, it pops back and holds up a beautiful token. When you take it, it sniffs the air one more time before becoming a motionless clump of snow.
     
     

White Solstice (The Keep)

The spell is tiring, and you don't have much energy left. You decide to try again tomorrow.
You cast the spell Kaidan taught you, infusing a pile of snow beneath your feet with magic. This time the snow erupts in front of you, and a gorgeous puvia leaps from the flurries. It flies around you, twisting in midair, before looking over the grounds of the keep. Its wings flap, but you don’t think they're what's keeping it aloft. It begins to fly away from the Keep, down toward the village nearby. Its pace is slow, and you follow it at walk, curious as to what it will bring you this time.
     
      It leads you toward a group of students who are enjoying a plate of cookies-or more accurately, feeding some cookies to their creatures. You spot a direcore, a few crystalwings, and even another puvia. One student waves you over, offering a cookie to the snow puvia. It opens its mouth, but poofs into a cloud of snow before taking it.
     
      You take it instead, trying not to laugh at the other student's shocked expression and the snow all over his hair and clothes.
     
     

White Solstice (The Keep)

The spell is tiring, and you don't have much energy left. You decide to try again tomorrow.
You cast the spell Kaidan taught you, infusing a pile of snow beneath your feet with magic. The snow forms quickly into a sylvan otter, and its hard to tell the difference between it and a real sylvan otter in its winter coat. It darts here and there, then begins to dash toward the stream.
     
      You run to keep up, grateful that other students practicing this spell have lessened the depth of the snowdrifts you have to push through. The otter checks over its shoulder to make sure you’re following, and then dives into the stream.
     
      You expect it to dissolve, but instead it re-emerges with a beautiful token, which it presents you with. Only after exiting the stream, water freezing to its snowy body, does it dissolve into a pile of wet snow.
     
     

White Solstice (The Keep)

The spell is tiring, and you don't have much energy left. You decide to try again tomorrow.
You cast the spell Kaidan taught you, infusing a pile of snow beneath your feet with magic. The snow re-forms, but instead of staying in one shape, it circles between the different varieties of hydra. It can't pull them all off perfectly, since the fire hydra can't make flames nor can the lightning hydra generate electricity, but the sight is still beautiful, if strange.
     
      This time it takes to the sky, flying toward one of the spiraling towers of the Keep. You begin to worry that it might bother Master Belmos, or even Thane, but instead it veers around it and then dives toward the ground.
     
      Toward a cart towed by two unsuspecting minicorns and their driver. You clench your teeth.
     
      The shifting hydras-snow creature opens its mouth, and you expect the minicorns to buck or rear in fear. Instead they look up placidly, and instead of crashing into the cart the hydra explodes into snow, covering them and the cart. Your hurry over to a very confused, snow-covered driver.
     
      "That wasn't...a real creature, was it?" she asked, looking back at the sky. "I certainly wouldn't want to see something like that come back again some day."
     
      "No, just...a magical experiment," you say.
     
      "Well enough. I'm just going to deliver these cookies to Remy's. If you help out, you can take one or two if you want."
     
      You nod. That certainly wasn't how you expected it to go.
     
     

White Solstice (The Keep)

The spell is tiring, and you don't have much energy left. You decide to try again tomorrow.
You cast the spell Kaidan taught you, infusing a pile of snow beneath your feet with magic. Nothing happens.
     
      Did you mess it up? After so many days of practice?
     
      Then you hear a thump. Thump. Thumpity-thump thump.
     
      A Lakiran Platypus, made completely of snow, bursts from the pile. It hits the ground with its tail, then crawls a few more feet over. Then it hits the ground again.
     
      You follow it, and its slow going, the snow-platypus hitting the ground every few feet. But soon enough, one might swing of tail does two things at once - makes it dissolve, and sends a small item spinning into the air.
     
     

White Solstice (The Keep)

The spell is tiring, and you don't have much energy left. You decide to try again tomorrow.
You cast the spell Kaidan taught you, infusing a pile of snow beneath your feet with magic. The snow begins to wiggle and weave, circling until you realize that it has become the segemented, many-legged form of a nightcrawler, big and alive as can be. It takes no notice of you, immediately setting off toward the Keep. People who see it on the lawn jump away in surprise at the form of the enormous snow nightcrawler. When it crawls onto the stone, heading inside, you frown. It will certainly melt before it comes back.
     
      Its only later when you've almost gotten back to your room that Kaidan finds you, his skin slightly pale. He holds out a breeding potion, giving you a wan smile when you take it. "I traced your magic signature back here after your little creation went through my potion stash," he said. "It melted away on the way back, but I think it was trying to give you this after nearly giving me a heart attack in my office."
     
      You frown, but he just laughs. "Don't worry, no hard feelings - The Keep grounds are almost clean of snow now anyway. The spell likely won't work much longer."
     
     

White Solstice (The Keep)

The spell is tiring, and you don't have much energy left. You decide to try again tomorrow.
The grounds are nearly clean, and the spell is hard to cast. But with extra focus, you cast the spell Kaidan taught you, infusing a small pile of snow beneath your feet with magic.
     
      The snow begins to shake, and suddenly a fluffy Nikollus emerges from the snow. It wags it tail, and barks soundlessly at you, blowing cold air and ice. You can't help but smile, even as the frantic wagging of its tail sprays you with snow crystals.
     
      It digs into the snow, then emerges with the present that you know typically contain Nikolli hatchlings, this one tiny and pale and cold. You take it, the Nikollus wagging its tail gleefully.
     
      But when you open it, there's nothing inside.
     
      The snow-Nikollus tilts its head at your expression, its tail slowing. Leaning forward, it sniffs the empty present, which then poofs into a cloud of snow in your hands. The Nikollus wags its tail again, then turns and looks at you over its shoulder. Another soundless bark sends a rush of cold over your skin. It takes a few steps forward, then barks again.
     
      "You want me to follow you?" you ask. As soon as you say it, the Nikollus leaps and does a tiny trot in place, puppyish in its exuberance. Then it takes off, darting over the hills of snow. You run after it.
     
      The Nikollus is fast, but it makes sure you can keep up as it runs. It doesn't sink into the remaining slushy snow that remains after days of casting the spell, seemingly taking up more from the grounds as it runs, making your path easy. Soon you run past the Keep, toward the forests just outside of it, where the snow is thicker and not even the magic can clear the path. Your pace slows, but so does the Nikollus, sniffing clumps of snow heaped around tree trunks and digging into giant piles of snow that turn out to be buried bushes. It's clear it's looking for something.
     
      You hope it will be another cookie or two, but you can't imagine why they would be so far out here. The Nikollus keeps digging, though, this time at another dome of snow. Then it turns to you, its tail wagging, and barks again.
     
      You get closer, peering at the pawprints the snow-creature created, which have dug a small tunnel through the snow into a bush. The Nikollus brushes against you, a shock of cold, and then changes shape one last time into a small present.
     
      But when you look closer, the present isn't made of snow at all. Close to it you also find other small presents filled with treats and trinkets.