Nyui wiped his eyes but the white haze didn't go away. He'd been a fool to
attempt a hunt this deep in winter. But his people were starving. If he
didn't get food to them in the next week the elderly would be the first to
give up their food in the hopes of having the younger ones survive. But
even with that sacrifice they would not have enough to last until the
weather turned mild enough to hunt.
Nyui, considered an adult at 16 but in truth far from being as strong as
he'd need to be, started walking again, trusting his sense of direction to
lead him south toward the treeline. South was a dangerous direction but
the trees would provide shelter and it was where most of the animals would
have headed anyway.
It was unusual for winter to have lasted this long. People had been saying
that the shadow of the dragon must be near. Nyui had never seen the bad
omen in his entire life. Maybe he was
disrespectful when he thought that this year the weather was just
particularly bad. Even the waters had turned frigid, chasing away the fish
to warmer regions. If fish and animals could survive in the south,
wouldn't they be able to live there too? How many generations had grown up
and died listening to the stories of the great disaster? Was the danger
that had chased the IceLanders north still around?
Thinking about all that wouldn't help him, but it kept his mind away from
the cold that was threatening to overtake him. Nyui was on the brink of
collapse. But luckily his sense of direction hadn't failed him. A tree
materialised before him. Gnarled and hardly bigger than him, but it was a
change from the constant white that had been his surroundings for the past
Nyui grabbed the trunk of the tree and pulled himself toward it, sighing
in relief when he saw many more trees behind it. Now he just needed to
find food. Enough of it to take back. Would he even be able to take aim in
his current situation? He felt surprisingly feeble. But then the hunters
usually went out in groups of three to five. Maybe that's why his
grandmother had looked at him as if he'd gone mad.
Careful not to cry, Nyui erased the thought of his grandmother, his mother
really, who'd raised him after his own mother had died. She was already 48
and would be among those who'd give up their lives. Maybe that was why
she'd led him go. Maybe she wanted to live. Or maybe she'd known he
wouldn't be able to live with himself if he led her die.
With the power of despair, Nyui got up and looked around. If he could just
go a bit further, take a few more steps, maybe he'd get lucky and find
Munching on the thin root he'd stumbled over, Nyui doggedly kept walking.
The snow had led up and his extremities were starting to ache as if
thousands of tiny needles were being stabbed into them. But that at least
meant his hands and feet were alive.
Everything seemed to hurt. Nyui wouldn't be able to go much longer. Making
a shelter and building a fire might be in his best interests now that he'd
had some food, even if it was far from enough.
Nyui spotted a clearing and decided that if the ground was flat, he could
probably risk building a fire there. If he could gather enough dry wood in
these snowy conditions. But before finding firewood proved to be a
problem, his tired eyes picked up movement.
Prey! his mind shouted, Meat! his stomach grumbled, Danger!
his nerves charged. Nyui suddenly felt wide awake. His senses intensified
and he was able to spot fur and feathers, both so white that they hardly
contrasted against the snow. When a head turned and blue-grey eyes
made contact with his, Nyui didn't know what to do.
Suddenly someone was there with him. A calm and soothing, definitely
female presence engulfed him in a warmth he missed dearly but hadn't
realised he'd yearned for.
"You are hungry." a voice said and Nyui had the distinct
impression that it came from the animal in front of him as it lips had
moved in time with the sounds. His mind struggled to put a name to the
animal but came up blank. There were antlers, but also wings. A furry tail
that seemed to belong to a wolf more than a deer. And teeth that seemed to
belie the soft nature of the presence in his mind.
"I'm all and neither." Avarelle answered his thoughts, "I'm
Avarelle. And I am a reindeer dragon."
Nyui's heart skipped a beat as he heard the word dragon.
"Don't be frightened. I mean you no harm. I certainly can't cast a
shadow as big as the one you've heard about."
Calmed by Avarelle, some logic returned to Nyui and he had to agree that
Avarelle was indeed far from big enough to throw a world into turmoil.
Besides, she cast a warmth around her that helped relax him and seemed to
have a good effect on the trees and plants around her.
"I can't do much though." she admitted, "I can only heat a
"Will you help me?" Nyui asked.
"We are as one now since you found me. I could not abandon you if I
Avarelle (f) (as a baby)
Size: 6'2" tall
radius 10 feet)
Parents: Jinggowe and Kaspar's clutch
Avarelle had promised to help him hunt. After that first night in the
forest, with enough vegetables and roots to fill his belly and warmth to
mend his chilled body, Nyui had slept in the warm embrace of his dragon.
His dragon. Those words still seemed so strange. Avarelle had told
him most dragons weren't to be feared but years of stories, even if he'd
not believed in them, had shaped his view.
"Trust me." Avarelle repeated and Nyui felt that oddly he did.
"I don't know if my people will welcome us." he said.
"They will if we bring food and help." Avarelle promised.
"What help?" Nyui asked.
"I've asked others to come. To help explain. They will come and they
Nyui couldn't help but believe his bond's words. And strange but true, he
could feel those others getting closer. People, like him, and dragons, a
bit different from Avarelle, but similar. It wouldn't take long for them
"Until they come, we hunt." Avarelle said.
Continued in part
4 of IceLandic Kids
Avarelle comes from Darkling