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Chapter XVI: LADY OF WINTER

 

                A sweet aroma filled the air around Adam, former prince of the central city of Eternos. He felt coziness, rest, tranquility, for the first time in many days. He was wrapped in some sort of fur, soft as silk yet warm as a heavy blanket. The young man opened his eyes.

                He was almost dazzled by the intense shining all around him. All the room he was in – walls, floor, ceiling, pillars and decorations – were made of ice-like crystal. He rubbed his eyes, trying to grasp a clear view of the environment. It was the most beautiful man-made scenery he had ever seen.

                He was lying in a large, round bed, and covered with a white fur blanket. He rose slowly, still gazing in amazement his surroundings. Outside the protection of the soft furs, the temperature was extremely cold, contrasting with the warmth of the bed he was in. The warrior sat by the bed’s edge, and then realized he was completely naked and disarmed. His battle axe, shield, and the power sword, none of them was in sight. Neither of his clothing as well. He couldn’t remember what had happened or how did he end up here. And there was no sign of Krygar, too.

                 This was too odd a situation. What could he do? Run around naked looking for answers? Cover himself in the huge blanket which would make it almost impossible to move? Or simply wait for the one who took him there in the first place? If the person who had placed him in that bed wanted to harm him, that would have already been done.

                He was pondering his current situation when the large, mirror door which was the single apparent entrance to the room was opened. Through it entered two young men, one carrying a spear and another holding a pack of clothes. “Bright dawn, stranger.”, said the man with the spear. “I hope you have rested comfortably.”

                “Where am I?” – Adam asked.

                “We caught you unconscious outside in the snow fields. You wouldn’t be alive by now if you weren’t lucky enough for us to find you. Our lord permitted you into the palace and demanded that our best chamber was prepared for you. We seldom see outsiders around here, but even though you were armed as a warrior, we welcome our visitors as best as possible if they pose no threat on our kingdom.”

                “Where are my weapons? And Krygar? The tiger that was with me?”

                “Ah, the tiger. We brought him in as well, but locked him in a cell for security purposes. But do not fear, we inflicted him no harm. As for your weapons, they are kept safe. We will return them to you when you leave. No one other than the queen’s guards may carry weapons in here.”

                “The queen? You mean, Frosta?”

                The guards frowned. “Show more respect for your savior, warrior. That’s lady Frosta of the Ice Mountains to you.”

                “I’m… sorry. I meant no disrespect. It’s only… I’ve traveled here to ask for lady Frosta’s help.”

                “Well, you may ask her soon. Here are some clothes for you. Bath and dress yourself. We will pick you up in moments. The lady waits you. She wishes you to join her in her dawnmeal.”

                Adam though to ask them for the power sword, and to bring him to Krygar. But he chose not to. It was better that they did not know the truth about the sword, and defying them in their own house was not a good idea, especially considering that he needed their queen’s assistance. As long as the hospitality went, he would play by their rules without protest. Up to now, they had apparently saved his life and were just being cautious. He couldn’t, in any way, blame them for that.

                He went to a small pool in a corner of a room, a crystal hexagon dug into the floor filled with bubbling water. The water was cold, even though it was warmer than outside. He dove in and bathed himself in a vigorous way, then used a white towel left by the guards to dry himself up.

                The clothes they had given him were quite comfortable, and apparently, made specifically for him. The light brown leather pants and the light blue tunic both fitted him neatly. His boots were also there, cleaned up and polished. He looked at his reflection in the room’s entrance. “Not bad, Adam of Eternos… not bad at all!”

                It took but a few moments after he had dressed up before the two guards would enter the room once more to pick him up. They guided him through a maze of ice and crystal corridors until they arrived to a large gate. Each of the two guards placed himself in one of the gate’s sides and slowly, they pushed the immense doors open. “Enter.”, one said. “The queen awaits you.”

                Adam took a step into the room. It was a grand hall, all made of the same crystal that seemed to be the structure of all the ice palace, but this room was fully decorated with giant white furs, curtains of perfect shape made of the pelts of beasts unknown to the warrior. Strings of pearls ran across the room’s sideways, and the floor was paved with sapphires and topazes. On the ceiling, large candleless chandeliers were hung, holding sticks of crystal which glow illuminated the site.

                But despite the room’s garments were amazing, even to the former prince of the main kingdom of the known lands, the most astonishing sight within the chamber presented herself to the young man in a human form. He had heard little about this queen, even though her kingdom was affiliated with the accord. Nevertheless, no words would even come close to do her beauty justice. She just had to be the most beautiful woman Adam had ever seen.

                “Enter.” - a honeysweet yet firm voice commanded him. Sitting in one of the extremities of a large marble table placed in the center of the room was a young woman, probably but a few years older than Adam. She was clad in a short, sky-blue dress, its top encircled by a furry band just below her shoulders. A blue cape flowed down her back. In her hands, she wore elbow-length white gloves. And her face – a perfect sculpture of clear blue eyes and fleshy violet lips, of soft, beautiful lines. Her shoulder-length hair was also of a magnificent, sky-blue color.

                “B-bright dawn, queen of ice.”, Adam spoke nervously. “Your hospitality and invitation are a great honor to my humble self. I am at your service, lady.”

                “So I hope…”, she smiled. “It’s quite rare to have foreigners in our lands, but all those who come in peace are welcome. Especially… fine men such as you.”, she teased him.

                “You embarrass me, beautiful queen. I am but a warrior wandering in search for help.”

                “Help, you said? And what help does so mighty a warrior quests for?”, she replied, ringing a small silver bell. “Sit, our meals will be served soon.”

                Adam took the chair in the table’s end. “My companions are in a most terrible situation. I have met with the lord of dragons to ask for his aid. He forwarded me to your ice kingdom and yourself, your highness. I was told you were the only one able to undo the spell my friends are under.”

                “Is that so? Granamyr is starting to know me all too well… But tell me, which is that terrible spell your friends are under?”

                “A witch has turned them to ice statues. I was able to prevent them from melting, but if the spell is not undone soon, I fear my efforts will be worthless. I need your help.”

                Meanwhile, a servant entered the room carrying a tray with a couple of bowls and glasses above it. He placed a bowl, glass, spoon and napkin in front of Frosta, then the same to Adam. Frosta took a sip, the Adam followed. It was a very tasteful soup, but he could not reckon its taste.

                As soon as the servant left, Frosta continued the conversation. “So you were told I have the power to undo the witch’s spell?”

                “Yet, and I hope it to be true. You’re my last hope.”

                “You have not been deceived. I do know how to prepare the potion which undoes that freezing spell. But I must know who you really are first.”

                Adam thought for a second whether or not he should reveal his true story to the mysterious fascinating lady. All odds considering, though, he concluded the best option was to tell her the truth. “My name is Adam. I am the son of king Randor of Eternos.”

                “Son of Randor, uh? You don’t look much like a prince of Eternos.”

                “I have renounced my right to the throne, for I believed fate guarded something… different for me. I have traveled far in a journey to prove my worth – and succeeded. Therefore, I have been honored with the task of protecting the mystical fortress of mystery and power… the legendary castle Grayskull.”

                “A most fascinating story. But how did your friends ended up in that terrible situation?”

                We were attacked right outside the castle by the evil one now in hold of Snake Mountain. We fought them, and finally I got the upper hand and forced them to flee… but not before their witch cursed my allies.”

                “I see. So there’s a new hand behind Snake Mountain after all this time? I never thought someone would dare enter that dreadful fortress again. I’ve read much about that era. Is it the Veymous again?”

                “No, I don’t think there’s Veymous blood in there this time. The power head now – a demonical monster with a skull head – is far from the reptilian invaders from the past. A different evil breeds in the haunted mountain these days.”

                “I will give you help. Anyone who claims Snake Mountain cannot plan peaceful actions, and Eternos has been a good ally ever since the beginning of the accord, even though we haven’t gathered often. I’ve been to the central city only once, when I was still a child and king Miro ruled. But fear no more, I shall prepare the potion today.”

                After the dawnmeal with the queen of ice Adam was lead back to his chambers. He did no see her again during all the afternoon, but was taken on a trip to visit a great part of the palace. It was a very fascinating architecture used in it, and the young man’s noble origins still provided him a taste for such fine craftsmanship. He was also taken to see Krygar, who was well and fed, even though they would not allow the huge tiger out of his cell during their stay at the Ice Palace. It was after supper that he saw Frosta once more. The champion of Grayskull was already back at his host chambers when the door swung open. Without a word, the beautiful lady entered the room and shut the entrance behind her.

                “All is done.” - she said in a soft, whispering voice – “The potion is ready, and provisions have been prepared for your trek back to Grayskull. You may leave by tomorrow’s dawn, for I do not wish to delay your important mission.”

                “Thank you, honorable queen. I owe you the biggest of favors.”, Adam replied. The young man was sitting in his bed, and couldn’t hide his expression of amazement by the sight of the delighting, luring, beautiful young woman. In the room they had eaten dawnmeal he had only seen her sat, but now her magnificent well-shaped legs were revealed to his very eyes, from below her short, barely below her hips, dress, and all the way down towards her long fine boots from which the shape of her legs could easily be guessed.

                “I wish no favors in return, your gratitude is enough. And to know I’m aiding one who fights for freedom.”

                She sat in the bed just by him. “You must rest now, for tomorrow will be a harsh day for you, I’m afraid. These lands are quite hostile for travelers.”

                “Yes, I better do. I will never forget what you have done for me - and remember - if ever shall you need help, call me and I will come. You have been kindest among the kind to me.”

                “And I can be even kinder…” - she whispered softly in his ear. The young man stared at her eyes nervously. She was hard to resist, such charm, such beauty… “You mock me, sweet lady? Please do not tempt me… I may not be able to resist your charms…”

                “Then don’t.”

                They gazed deeply in each other’s eyes, their faces getting ever closer. Their breathing was getting ever more intense, to the point of gasping. They hugged, and their lips met. Hers was the sweetest of kisses, and Adam went mad with lust and desire. His hands slipped towards her chest, unveiling her beautiful breast, touching delicately her soft skin, then kissing her. She moaned in pleasure. The two laid down on the bed, and allowed love to come forth.

 

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