Having us stay in her room the vampiress, Joan, explained the situation. Thanks to her future sight abilities she was able to tell us the source of the continuous winter. Only being able to see fragments of the future she said it was located somewhere in the mountains we were headed for.
“Any more clues possibly?”, I asked, “Perhaps it is a Decay causing it?”
“I can definitely tell by the silhouette that it wasn’t a Decay.”, she said certain she was correct.
“So we are dealing with a human, demihuman, or a demon…this isn’t going to be an easy feat.”, I said laying back in bed.
Laying on my chest Joan asked why it wasn’t easy for me.
“What if the person was rejected by society, and this is their revenge on it?”, I asked, “I don’t need to remind everyone just how cruel people can be.”
“I agree that they can be cruel”, Crystal said, “However killing innocent people to satisfy their hatred isn’t the way to do it!”
The other three agreed that killing everyone wasn’t a solution to the problem. Switching gears I thought we should do some research about the mountains. Crystal and Joan were a bit confused as to why it mattered to me.
“Back on the other continent there were places that darkness gather in high quantities. What do you think might happen to someone in a weakened state if exposed to the darkness?”, I said.
“You think the person might be like General Thor?”, Amber asked me.
General Thor was powerful man, and Verwest’s teacher. Thor had led an army into combat two years before my arrival against the Decay. Thought to have perished in the battle no one looked for him. We ran into him during the evacuation of Flamoria on the our way across the border. His dying body had fallen into a cursed lagoon only to be given new life as a creature that couldn’t be considered human, demihuman, or demon. Attempting to slaughter the fleeing civilians I ended up having to kill him by smashing his head in.
“Exactly. We are close enough to the border that humans could have gotten this far, and assaulted a nonhuman just for the hell of it.”, I said.
“That does make sense. The mountains are known to contain vast amounts of precious ore.”, Joan said.
“By the way, I had a question for you?”, I asked rubbing my neck, “Did you make me immortal?”
“Haha, no I didn’t. Vampires aren’t immortal to begin with. We just have extremely long lives roughly five hundred to a thousand years depending on the vampire.”, she said, “For example, I am two hundred and five years old right now.”
“I see.”, I said with relief, “Do you happen to know how long Heroes live? I was hoping you might know.”
“You’d have to look it up. I wasn’t around the last time a Hero was summoned.”, she said, “The records in the capital should have that information. Did Atlas not explain that to you?”
“Well…there records were partially destroyed during the original invasion. The did trial and error testing to summon me, and a handful of others.”, I said.
“I understand. A lot of my families documents have also been lost.”, she said, “Anyways we can discuss things more tomorrow. You are quite the handful so I need some rest now.”
Beckoning the three others over we sank into the extremely comfortable bed together. Snuggling up with the four of them we fell asleep soundly. Waking up the next morning I checked in with the others back in Atlas to let them know our findings. After asking how Strella was holding up, and getting the thumbs up we left to speak with the local lord. According to Joan he happened to be quite a friendly man…except to humans. Sitting in his waiting area we only had just taken our seats when he arrived. Dressed in what I could only describe as old colonial clothing from my countries past he sat down in front of us at his desk. Looking at him head on only one race came to mind, Orc.
“Let’s just get this over with.”, he said eyeing me down, “The only reason I am having this conversation is because of your companions. Under normal circumstances I’d have you thrown out immediately.”
“Then me just say if you touch one of them I won’t hesitate to kill you on the spot.”, I said narrowing my eyes.
After staring each other down for several minutes Joan cut the tension by asking about the information we needed. Calling his maid in he asked her to fetch missing persons reports from the mountains starting four years, and further back. Nodding she returned a few minutes later with a small stack of papers. Leaving them on his desk she left the room.
“What in particular are you looking for?”, he asked.
“Someone that would have the skills to pull off a continuous winter, but not the mental capacity to do it.”, I said, “I have a feeling your neighboring country had a hand in this.”
“I see. You don’t have an issue blaming your own for this?”, he inquired.
“I am ninety percent sure they had a hand in the cause of this bitter cold. As for the Decay I think it just happen, and no one race is at fault except the Decay themselves.”, I stated.
Nodding he flipped through the papers shaking his head. To his knowledge none of these people in his list could pull it off. Handing me the papers I flipped through them stopping at a specific woman’s missing person’s report. Pulling it out of the stack I read her bio. Marianne was her name age twenty at the time of her disappearance. Standing six-foot tall, a few extra pounds, and a having a very defined body I continued reading about her. At age three her parents were executed by humans for practicing the dark arts. Fleeing her she presented herself as a witch though her smooth white skin made her story hard to believe. Showing great promise in druid magics she eventually became a powerful mage. Opening her heart to a young boy in her school she consented to a night with him only to have her body made into a plaything for many of her classmates. Scared from the incident she stopped attending school all together, and vanished till showing up for a few months near the mountains. Presumably she had been training in secret, but when officials approached her she vanished.
“You don’t think that she could do it?”. I asked.
“According to her professors the mental scarring they did to her more than likely made her unable to use magic.”, he said.
“I am sold that the cause is from her. She fits the bill like a glove, and has motive to want the three different groups dead.”, I said, “Are there any druid ruins in the mountains?”
“I doubt magic used for growing crops would have this much of an effect on our weather.”, he said skeptically.
“In my world druids supposedly learned how to control the weather through very powerful magic rituals. She had the time to explore this so she is more than capable of this.”, I said.
“Very well. If you want to explore there is an old druid temple high in the mountains, however it is suicidal to go there. The tops of the mountains are far worse than down here.”, he said, “The wind alone will strip the flesh from your bones.”
Looking at the four women beside me I suggested I do it alone.
“Are you insane!”, they snapped, “Even your magic resistance against Ice magic won’t safe you from death. If your going all of us are going!”
“Listen to me carefully. If I succeed in stopping the spell the backlash will be severe. I can’t say for certain that the mountains won’t give way.”, I said, “Druids in my world took advantage of this fact, and were said to level entire nations in a single night at the expense of their life, and dozens of others.”
“So what are you asking us to do?”, they asked.
“When the spell breaks it is a safe bet that the blast from the sudden temperature shift will cause severe flooding. The towns surround the range need to prepare for them to be safe. Hopefully I can find a way to slowly let things heat up.”, I said.
Grabbing me by my shirt the four of them glared at me. Telling me that the others had to agree with this plan as well I was dragged off much to the lords delight. Back in our room the debate began on whether I should be allowed to go. The four Heroines also knew the legends as well so they backed my claim about the dangers the surrounding areas would face. By the time things were drawing to a close the women were fiercely divided. Looking to me those against it asked why I had an interest going alone.
“I am sure you remember the people we found when we first arrive?”, I said to Amber and Almina.
Remembering the frozen corpses we found they couldn’t look me in the eyes.
“If I don’t do this more families will end up like that. If this was happening in Atlas I wouldn’t let you argue this out because I would be going regardless of your acceptance.”, I said pointing at my son, “Because I couldn’t bear the thought that my son would die a cold death. Now I am going to make sure that other families don’t have to suffer like I would have.”
None of the women could find fault in my words. Looking at the shared baby that they had come to love they understood that I was right. They may not agree with it, but they certainly couldn’t blame me as his father for trying to save him. With this running through their heads they gave me the green light. Setting out at first light I got a firm warning from all the women that I had better come. With fifteen pairs of fiery eyes glaring at me even I was scared shitless. Simply nodding I swore to return as soon as possible. Bolting out of the city gate I ran till evening when I reached the base of the mountain. Grinning ear to ear I put on my winter tactical gear that I made for conditions like this. camouflaged for the weather I continued my trek up the mountain. Staying in a small village for the night I ended up fighting several Ice Witches that ambushed the villagers in the early morning hours. Informing them of the impending danger they quickly made preparations to evacuate the area.
“Here is a map of the mountains. To get to where your going it will take you at least three days.”, he said, “You will pass through several villages on the way so please inform them of the dangers like you did us.”
“I will be sure to do so.”, I said with a bow.
Leaving the village behind it was an hour later that I got caught in the middle of a snow storm. In the white out that followed I couldn’t see more than a few inches from my faces. Being only human I couldn’t use smell to try, and find my way up the mountain. Feeling my way along a rock face I stumbled onto a cave which I immediately hunkered down in. Starting a small fire I put a barrier up to keep any monsters out, and took a nap to let me body warm up. Waking a few hours later after the wind had died down I left the cave continuing on the path. Just before nightfall I stumbled into the next village only to find the place completely destroyed. An avalanche must have come down the mountain because the entire village was buried under the snow. Knowing full will that without a wall, or strong shelter I’d be easy pickings in the dark. Gathering what wood was around I found a sheltered spot, and started a fire.