“Surely, if this continues, even the trees will leave us.”
Granmarm Hovva’s voice was frail wind over split reeds. Utha sighed. She was a grown woman and didn’t give any credence to the old legends of traveling wood. It was one thing to believe in the spirit world and to worship god as intended. It was quite another to think that the trees would pull root free from ice locked earth and scurry away in the night. The ground was like stone, buried in snow enough to shame the motherland.
“The trees are too cold to go anywhere, Granmarm.” She reassured. She helped her into her bed and pulled the furs up over her.
Granmarm was old. Old enough that her head usually shook with a tremble, but he knew her well enough to know when it was intentional. “I don’t know why we stay. The land’s not right. It’s not right.”
“The winter is harder than we expected but it will get better. I’m taking the light now, Granmarm. You rest. Don’t worry about the trees.”
She muttered something indecipherable as Utha left with the oil lamp.
“Is she settled?” Asked Eddar. He was sitting by the cooling fireplace, chipping arrowheads. With the harsh winter, many of Eddar’s normal carpentry tasks were impossible. He’d taken to fletching arrows for Utha’s hunt in the time he had. She was glad for it. While Utha had always been better at shooting them, Eddar was more deft at the crafting. She smiled at the size of the pile. It showed that he had faith in her ability and hadn’t given up hope yet.
“She has such trouble getting around these days.” Utha shrugged it off.
“Would that I live long enough and have someone at hand when I’m as aged.” She snuffed the oil lamp and set it onto the table. She crossed the cabin to the door and picked up her boots.
“Thom and the others were planning to meet tonight. To talk about the trouble with game. I’m off to join them for it.” She sat down on a stool and started yanking on her footwear. He nodded.
“Their talk would be as fruitless as their hunting without you.”
She did not join him in criticism. “They do what they can. It is hard.”
His hands made clacking noises on the stones as they worked. “Good you’re going though. Is that all they plan to discuss?”
“I hope. We’ve not enough folk for a Waiving. While there are many mouths to feed, there’s also few hands to spare come spring.” She stood and put on her coat and hat.
Eddar got up, setting his stones and flint aside. Utha held her hands out and he helped pull her mittens on, thick wool things with a pair of pentagrams stitched in yellow onto the back.
“It won’t matter if we start loosing people before spring. Less hands are less hands. Better to spend it in a Waiving than lost to starvation.” His tone indicated that he, at least, had made up his mind about what needed doing. Utha was not so certain.
“I’m sure it will all be considered as needed.”
He nodded gravely and opened the door for her. Utha went out into the blistering cold.
A displaced cult out on the frontier, a long blizzard threatens starvation, and old gods from another age. Find the whole twenty four pages of this strange horror story on my Patreon!