Talvikki reached the top of a small icy hill. The frozen wasteland of Northern Calaval around her expanded in every direction as far as the eye could see. With growing unease she took off her heavy algaweave parka and raised her intricate Spirit Web toward the sky once again. Brilliant blaze of the arctic sun burned within the small boneglass bells sewn to the fabric of the ancient shamanistic tool. Studying the sparkling pattern of reflections she felt a cold knot inside her chest tighten. Again, the signs were all wrong.
A gust of wind grabbed swarms of sharp tiny ice shards and threw them against the bare skin of her arms and pricked her face. The winter air was crisp and clear. Almost too faint to notice, there was an unpleasant stench in the air. As she was trained to do, she began focusing her inner spirit toward this invading presence. This time it was closer…
Suddenly a flash of agony tore through her mind. She fell on her knees, gasping for air. A brief moment passed. Then the pain was gone – as abruptly as it had come. And as before, gone was also the fearful phantasm she had sensed just moments earlier. With the sensations dying off, she was left alone again. A tiny speck of waning life surrounded by the boundless coldness. Only a never-ceasing hum of freezing winds was with her now.
She was too tired to try again. The ancestors would not commune with her, not today. As she grabbed her coat from the show and turned to leave, she was certain something was right there behind her. Something in the plain sight yet hiding and unseeable.
Walking down from the hilltop she knew something was laughing at her.