Cold and weariness were Evolette’s first sensations and darkness. The sounds of scurrying or digging came to her, muffled by the snow. Her arm was above her head, and though the fingers were numb, she could feel someone trying to tug on her arm. They failed to drag her from the snow, and continued to dig again. Snow was cleared from around her face and Evolette gasped the frigid mountain air, coming fully conscious.
“You’re all right!” Thjoohildr exclaimed happily and for a moment tried to hug Evolette, even though only she had one arm free and her shoulders above the snow. Evolette was going to have to accept that Thjoohildr was a hugger. Enhatwor displays of friendship were usually head butts or shoulder punching. The women folk were less violent, a shoulder squeeze, or the offer to braid the other’s hair. They did not hug.
With Thjoohildr’s help, they were able to free her from the snow. The avalanche had carried them the rest of the way down the cliff and were now in the shadow of Kaldavia’s stone walls. Evolette looked around, and shook her head. The Enhatwor horse, was standing next to the walls, looking well, head down, nibbling on the scrubby grass that was determined to grow even if it was winter. Evolette checked herself, she was no more worse for wear than before the avalanche.
“Your arm is broken,” Evolette stated and Thjoohildr seemed to notice the crooked appearance of her right arm. It was as if seeing the injury suddenly brought upon the pain that she should’ve already experienced. Tears of pain welled up in her eyes. “Here, this will hurt.” Evolette took Thjoohildr’s arm and jerked it. There was a click as the bone snapped into place. Thjoohildr screamed like a banshee. Evolette clamped a hand quickly over her mouth, they did not need to start another avalanche. Once Thjoohildr was done screaming, Evolette released the girl, and using one of the near empty sacks they had packed in Locarth, she fashioned a sling for the girl’s arm. Evolette did not need much reminding, everytime she looked at the small girl, that she was seiðr and not a battlemaiden.
Evolette caught and mounted the white horse, before offering her hand to help Thjoohildr onto the horse behind her. She had tried to teach the girl to hang onto the cantle of the saddle, but Thjoohildr, a hugger, insisted on putting her arms, now arm, around Evolette’s waist.
They rode around the city, towards the front gates. Evolette was surprised. The gates were closed. Evolette dismounted, swinging her long leg over the horse’s head so as not to need to dismount Thjoohildr. The gated were wooden, and unimpressive, designed to keep out creatures rather than invaders. Still, during the day the gates would’ve been open. Not knowing what else to do, Evolette knocked on them. A slider in the gate opened to show only a pair of brown eyes and black bushy brows over them.
“State your business,” a voice to go with the eyes said behind the gates. The eyes traveled down Evolette’s figure and then back up. They widened slightly as if in surprise.
“We come from-“
“The North, yes, obviously, how did you get into the valley, barbarian?” the voice behind the gate cut her off.
“Down the cliff, we followed the goat path,” Evolette had no reason to lie to this man.
“Goat path? Where is it?”
“It is gone, the avalanche covered it. It will appear with spring,” Evolette explained to him. The eyes seemed to lose something, a light of hope perhaps had dimmed from them. “Let us in.”
“May as well,” the voice acquiesced and the slider closed, before the sound of clanking chains as the gates opened.