By EM Malachi
The winds screamed as they raced past the tall mountain peak. Even protected from the worst of it by magic, the climber felt the numb of deep winter. Still, Drogeni continued her climb.
At the top, the mage dropped her pack and removed what she needed for the ritual. Drogeni opened a delicate silver locket and placed it on the snow. It was the work of a decade’s research and a year’s enchantment.
Standing tall against the howling winds, Drogeni began to sing. The anthem was filled with magic, inviting the winter itself to dance. The winds shifted, and the frost started to collect into swirling shapes: wing, tooth, and scale. As Drogeni continued her song, the enchantment bound the winter into the form of two dragons.
In the final verse, the dragons took their first breath in this world and let out a howling cry. The mountains were filled with notes of rapture as the pair joined the mage’s song.
When the song finished, Drogeni closed the locket, and the dragons vanished. The ice dragons lived inside the bespelled world of the locket, protected from the springs and summers to come.
Years passed, and Drogeni reached the end of her life. A man she cared for had gone off seeking immortality, but that wasn’t for her. One life was enough. Her family were her dragons, and they had been fruitful during the many winters since she first opened the locket.
Withdrawing from the world, the mage moved into a cottage at the base of a glacier, so the dragon brood could always be free. Each year brought more hatchlings.
While her magic kept them alive, the dragons returned the favor. They brought her venison from their hunts and kept her cottage safe from wolves. Drogeni would collect the blood spilled by the nipping games of the young dragons to make salves for her arthritic limbs. The dragons’ songs would sing the old mage to sleep.
Still, even cared for and loved, one day, Drogeni closed the Locket of Winter for the last time.
The present winter…
Each night, the thief dreamt of losing all his ill-gotten wealth. Sometimes, a great chasm would open to swallow his treasure horde. Other nights, he was running through the snow, arms filled with coins, jewelry, and magic weapons, only to have the wind snatch all of them away. Purlonio could not allow this to happen.
The thief had burgled a mage with a reputation for collecting powerful artifacts, hoping one of them could protect his treasure. Purlonio moved his stash to the frozen caves north of Wrong prison. It was far from the city’s bustle and avoided by people like him.
The thief decided to start with the smallest of the stolen baubles and work his way up. Picking up a silver locket, Purlonio waved it in the air. When nothing happened, the thief pried it open with a knife.
There came a great cold and terrifying roar from the locket, and the thief threw it across the cavern. Frost and snow billowed from the silver trinket, and Purlonio could see monstrous forms in the chaos. The terrified thief fled.
The locket was open, and the winter was free.