NationStates Jolt Archive

Anéndar, Revised

26-11-2003, 02:49
I figure that since I posted the original here some time back, I should do the same with this revision. If you can't figure out who Jaena is, then you probably don't need to know.
Viole Of the First (

She shivered violently in the freezing cold, despite the difficult work presented by the half-meter of heavy snow. The squeak of that snow, compressed beneath her footfalls, competed only with the soft whisper of wind through the sheltering pines. Anéndar’s silver glow, penetrating the foliage in intermittent slashes, did little to lighten the night-dark forest.

A few lone snowflakes drifted down, shaken from the pine boughs by the wind. They glittered like crystalline fireflies, weaving between the scarce moonlight. They landed on her skin, tiny pricks of cold, or fell indistinguishably to the ground.

Her labored breath came in puffs of icy vapor, refracting Anéndar’s light into muted spectra. Her strange, blue-green eyes darted around the forest, impatiently taking in the beauties of night.

She entered a grove of trees whose branches let more of the silver-moon’s light filter to the forest floor. Against the backdrop of the sky, where Inïskar by the thousands shone steadily though the cold air, she could see curled up leaves, and the silvery bark.

Anéndar was full, and approaching its zenith. She smiled, and lay back in the snow, with her arms folded under her head. The scent of pine drifted lightly through the stand, carrying with it a fragment of a pleasant memory.

As she watched, flowers opened on the tips of several branches, above. The petals, like feathers made of ice crystals, reflected the moonlight into the sky, scattering the rest across the forest floor, glowing like candles with silver flame.

Then, just as Anéndar crept fully overhead, a thick cloud of particles formed over each flower, slowly carried away by the wind. She began to taste the faint, spicy scent of the particles, the seeds of the winter oak, as the flowers closed. The scent, along with the tiny seeds, would hang on the air for days, spreading over hundreds of kilometers.

She lay in the snow for a time, watching Anéndar through the branches, then climbed to her feet and continued her journey. The grove of oak merged quickly into thick pine.

Sliding down into a ravine, she stumbled onto a small stream, but fortunately what little water remained had frozen entirely with the coming of winter. She climbed more cautiously out the other side.

Anéndar’s light began to sift more frequently through the trees as she resumed her walk. Soon she found herself in an wide meadow, sloping downward toward a curving, dark ribbon far below. She flopped back into the snow, staring up at the familiar constellations.

An owl winged silently overhead, marked only by its shadow against the sky. She smiled at it, and burrowed into the snow. The howl of a wolf across the valley disturbed the silence. She closed her eyes, to listen without the distractions of sight. As a sorrowful reply echoed over the hillside, she felt her mind gently loosing its grip on consciousness, and abandoned herself to sleep.


She awoke after the dawning, the ecstatic chirping of a pair of blue jays welcoming her to the new day. She sat up, watching the birds hop through the snow, searching for their breakfast. The winter oak’s seeds impaired the reason of humans; she wondered if it were true of birds, as well. It made no sense for them to be sifting through hip-deep drifts.

A puff of laughter escaped her lips. The small birds stared at her with brief curiosity, but ignored her after she failed to produce anything edible.

Pushing to her feet, she shook snow from her tunic and stretched. The snowy meadow looked much the same as it had the night before, brighter for the early sunlight. A gust of wind stirred the icy powder, before calming again.

Düstalar hung only a few degrees above the horizon, in the direction she had come from the night before. She turned toward the river, and began a swift descent.

A few clouds drifted in from the west as she hurried down slope, bringing with them an increasing wind and a promise of more snow. Something shifted under her weight, and she stumbled. The slope was becoming increasingly rough as she neared the river. Large blocks of granite towered over her, rough-edged, suggesting she crossed the remains of a collapsed cliff. Unstable footing, made slippery by snow and ice, posed a serious danger to her health. She grinned, and pressed onward.

She managed to cross the broken rocks without incident, until her foot caught on something, sending her face-first into a drift. She arose after a moment, laughing cheerfully, to find a deer, approaching the river from the opposite bank, regarding her warily. She tamped her grin into a smooth line, and stared back.

The deer, its curiosity apparently satisfied, bent its neck to drink from the river. The waters reflected the sunlight in brilliant glints between deep-blue crests.

Meditating thoughtfully on the water, she grinned carelessly, and began to strip. She folded her light tunic and trousers neatly, and placed them on a stone. The cold wind caressed her bare skin, and she shivered with delight and cold.

She stood tall on the banks of the river, Düstalar’s light glistening off her naked body and turning her short, black hair into a blaze of flame. She backed a few paces from the bank, then ran forward and dived in, making a graceful arc over the waves.


The deer, startled, fled as the surface closed over the momentary hole made by fifty-five kilos of lithe young woman. The water was icy cold, but clear. Düstalar’s light shimmered on the river bottom, and on the scales of fish that scattered from her disruption.

She hung there, pushing on the water only enough to keep from floating to the surface. When her lungs seemed ready to collapse from the strain of holding her breath, she let herself drift upward.

The shimmering surface broke over her face, and she gasped a desperate breath, and another, then laughed. The deer had paused a safe distance into the forest, and now regarded her as if questioning her sanity. She merely grinned, and lay back on the surface of the water.

She let herself drift for a long moment, then pushed under with a splash. Swimming hard against the icy flow, she surfaced near where she had dived in.

She pulled herself out, and stood dripping in the snow. Water, streaming from her hair to trickle down her spine, froze before she gathered up her clothes and folded them over her arm.

She started downstream, humming to herself. As she walked, the river narrowed and quickened, the bank growing higher and more rocky. The faint sound of falling water became a roar, and she walk around a bend to see the river dropping away, replaced by thick clouds of frozen mist.

The edge, when she approached it, revealed twenty meters of falling water. The rocks closest the falls were coated with ice, too dangerous to attempt, so she followed the ridge away from the river. After only a short walk the slant of the cliff became less vertical, and she dared to scale it.

She lowered herself carefully to the cliff’s forested base, and followed the worn and broken wall of rock back to the falls. She stood on the bank for a moment, letting the frozen mist wash over her.

She started downstream, until she escaped the drifting clouds of ice. Tossing her clothes into a drift of snow, she waded out into the river. Lifting herself out of the rough current and onto a smooth stone, she pulled her legs against her chest. Resting her chin on her wrist, she watched the falls.

She appreciated the simple solitude of the wilderness, especially when shared with the familiar company of a loved one. Winter was her particular favorite. She delighted in the contrast between warm passion and the icy wind.

Düstalar’s rays slowly painted the falls gold, as it neared its zenith, as if some second, glowing liquid flowed after the clear water at a sluggish pace.

She slipped back into the water as Düstalar began sinking into the west. The current nearly swept her off her feet, but she caught herself and waded back to shore. She folded her clothes back over her arm, and started off into the woods.


Early evening found her on a rocky ridge far above the surrounding forest. The sky had slowly become overcast, and Düstalar’s golden light diffused to a pervasive grey. Solitary flakes of snow drifted past. The only sound was the faint wind, buffeting the stones.

She considered the snowflakes. They drifted on the wind, unable to control their destiny. Most fell to the forest below. Some drifted across the stones around her, sticking in the cracks. Only a few landed on her skin, melting quickly. She could sympathize with them. The winds of fate tossed her toward some unknown destiny.

Most lives flowed within the boundaries of their experience, the outline of their future plain to those who watched. In a free civilization, those limits were the shores of a lake. In a closed community, they were the banks of a narrow stream. A few drifted above, delicate like the snowflake, or fluid like the rain.

The crunch of footsteps on rock behind her caused her to turn, and she smiled at her fellow snowflake. “Jaena?”

“Viole,” the woman replied, with a wave of her gloved hand. She pulled her cloak tighter about her heavily-garbed form.

“What are you doing here?” Viole asked, motioning Jaena to sit beside her.

“Looking for someone to share my company.”

Viole looked out over the forest. The snowfall was becoming heavier, as the sky darkened. “You found me, dear snowflake.”

Jaena took the name as an innocent compliment, unaware of the concept behind it. Viole considered this for a moment, but decided against explaining her thoughts, letting the silence extend peacefully into the gathering night.

Viole leaned back into the woman’s embrace and sighed, glad to be sharing the beautiful scene. “I love you,” she whispered, tilting her head back expectantly.

“And I you,” Jaena replied, and bent to kiss Viole lightly. “You are so wonderfully strange,” she said. “So unaffected by this world. As if you don’t entirely belong to it, and yet you concern yourself so much with our troubles.”

“Lives——and deaths——don’t add as integers, you know,” Viole said thoughtfully.

“So you’ve said.”

“How would I wash the blood from my hands, if I didn’t try to stop the violence?”

“Blood?” asked Jaena. She took Viole’s hand, and raised it to her lips. “I think you take too much responsibility on yourself. However lives may add, you are not infinite.”

“Wise words, love.” The last grey glow of daylight faded from the sky, leaving them in darkness. Only the shadowy outlines of the thick snowfall disturbed the night. “And true, perhaps.”

“You cannot both walk alongside the world, and be part of it.”

A break in the clouds showered them with silver moonlight. Viole pushed herself up, to meet Jaena’s sharp blue eyes. “I don’t mind,” she whispered, helplessly, “So long as you are walking with me.”