Mary stared out the window of Tucker’s Dodge Aspen. The trees went by in a lazy fashion as the car sped along, but the brown of the leaves upon the nearly bare wood was depressing in and of itself. The seasons had turned toward winter, and winter was nothing but a downer.
“In Summer whan the forests growe,
And rayn falls round the countryside,
The elder gods of heath and snowe
Doon come upon the countryfolk.”
“Yeah, but I liked the last one,” said Minnie. “I’ve seen it twice.”
Minnie was Mary’s friend from when they had attended high school. The young woman was currently seated on Helen’s left, while Mary sat on Helen’s right. All three of them were stuffed in the backseat like sardines, but that was okay, because this was their vacation, so a little discomfort was worth it.
“It was stupid,” said Tucker. “They had those dancing teddy bears at the end. The Empire Strikes Back was better.”
This vacation had been Tucker’s idea. No one else had thought to use their Thanksgiving break for a road trip, and it beat having to deal with family. All five of them had lied, of course. Their families had heard different excuses from each of them, but their little ploy had worked, and that was all that mattered.
“Well, I’m not watching it,” said Helen. “It’s been playing since May…since May, guys…I didn’t want to watch it then, and I don’t want to watch it now.”
Helen was Mary’s friend from college. Tucker and Earnest were friends from college, too, but Tucker was more Earnest’s friend, and Earnest was Helen’s friend, so this whole trip was more of a collection of acquaintances rather than…well…a group of friends.
“There are some great scenes in it, though,” said Earnest. “The battle at the end with the Death Star is so much better than the one in the original. Seeing it on the big screen will just…It will just blow your mind.”
“I know,” smiled Minnie. “It was awesome. I really liked the first one too, though.”
Mary didn’t particularly care for Return of the Jedi. She hadn’t even seen the original Star Wars.
Not that any of this mattered at the moment. She suspected they were lost, though Tucker would never admit it. A strange fog had picked up around the forested scenery passing outside her window, and this was concerning to her, if only because it was out of place.
“Do you know where you’re going, Tuck?” she asked out of slight concern.
“What?” asked Tucker. “Oh…uhhh…yeah…I think so…”
“Wait, what?” asked Helen. “You think so? What in the hell kind of answer is ‘I think so’? Do you know where we’re going or not?”
“Yeah, yeah,” nodded Tucker. “We’re in Missouri, right? That’s all we really need to know.”
“Uhhh…I think we need to know a little more than that, Tuck,” said Earnest.
The young man pushed up his glasses and shot Tucker a concerned look.
“It’s cool,” said Tucker quickly. “We passed a sign a few miles back. There’s a little town up ahead. We’ll just stop there and ask for directions. No big deal.”
“A man ask for directions?” asked Helen. “It’s the end of the world.”
Minnie burst out laughing at Helen’s little dig. Helen joined her in that laughter, and Mary followed suit.
“Yeah, yeah,” nodded Tucker with a smirk. “Laugh it up, you harpies.”
“Harpies?” asked Helen in facetious anger. “You’ve got a gearhead and a nerd who’ve managed to get three babes to come with them on a road trip, and you insult them?”
“Well, you are hot, Helen baby,” smiled Tucker. “You know, if there’s a hotel in town…”
“Dream on, Tuck,” smiled Helen in return.
“Hey, I’ve got two other babes in the back,” shrugged Tucker. “You’ve got that thick, curly, black Italian hair, and that’s hot, but Minnie’s a natural blonde, and Mary’s got that cute, short red hair…It’s not like I only need you.”
“Oooooooo…” taunted Minnie, but Helen ignored her.
“I don’t know about Minnie, but poor Mary, here, is a virgin,” warned Helen. “You keep your paws off her.”
“Helen…” sighed Mary.
She had not wanted the world to know that, especially if that world included someone like Tucker.
“Fine,” shrugged Tucker. “Minnie can accompany me, then. That leaves you with your virgin friend.”
“Yeah, well there’s always Ernie,” said Helen. “He’s a good boy…I like good boys. They always wear those tighty-whities that show off their bulge.”
Tucker snorted out a laugh, and Helen joined in with him.
“Guys…” warned Earnest in uncomfortable reply.
“Yeah, no kidding,” said Minnie unhappily. “Come on…We’re not pieces of meat or anything. What’s wrong with you two?”
“Yeah, yeah,” scoffed Tucker. “We’ll behave for n—Hey…Look up ahead.”
Mary pressed her face against the cold glass of her window to study the large wooden sign that appeared like a ghost out of the nascent fog around them. The thick wood of the sign was emblazoned with the burnt etchings of the name “Seasons.”
“Seasons?” she asked. “That’s a town?”
“Eh, whatever,” replied Tucker. “We’ll just slide in, fill up, and be on our way.”
“Nah, nah,” said Helen. “We can look for a motel or a hotel here. Maybe this is one of those quaint little villages with an inn. Whatever the case, I’m tired of driving…riding…whatever. I’m tired of being in this car.”
“You want a vacation in a little dump water in the middle of Missouri?” asked Tucker. “Seriously?”
“Weren’t you the one asking if there was a hotel?” asked Helen. “You’re telling me you don’t want to stop at a hotel for me?”
“Yeah, but…” drawled off Tucker as realization visibly dawned upon his face.
He grinned into the rearview mirror and nodded his head twice.
“Your wish is my command, princess!” he said excitedly.
“Princess?” asked Minnie. “It sounds like you want a cookie.”
“A cookie’s not what he wants,” smirked Helen.
“The seasons fair, the seasons four,
A day of choosyng yn their midst,
Whan Autumn turns to crisped snow,
The peoples give to royals eald,
The kyngs and queens of seasons four.”
Tucker’s Dodge Aspen rolled into the little town of Seasons.
Mary peered out the window on the passenger side, but something felt off, not right. There were shops and houses here and there, but they all looked different in style and make from anything else she’d encountered in this state. There were cottages of stone walls and thatched roofs coupled by larger buildings of slate block, something old-fashioned and foreign that did not represent the Midwest houses that normally dotted the landscape out here.
“This looks like a nice little town,” said Minnie. “I wouldn’t mind vacationing here.”
“I don’t know,” said Earnest in a cautious voice. “The architecture here suggests a throwback to the Middle Ages, but that’s impossible…unless this is one of those historical towns…”
“Well, throwback is definitely what this is,” said Tucker. “Let’s find a gas station or something. This place is giving me the willies already, and we haven’t even stopped anywhere yet.”
“Yeah…” said Helen quietly. “There’s something in the air here…I don’t like it.”
“Where are all the cars?” asked Mary.
“Outside the world doon they live,
Yn oother realm twixt mortal and fay,
Outside the cares of oother men,
The peoples to the seasons give.”
The townsfolk emerged from closed doors a moment later, at least a hundred of them, and Tucker had to slow the car due to the sheer presence of their pressing swarm. These people were dressed in clothing long out of date, long, long out of date, and Mary had to blink twice just to take in the sheer ridiculousness of it.
“This is definitely one of those historical towns,” said Earnest. “Their clothing dates back to the fifteenth century. I mean, this is something you would see out of the Middle Ages. I knew I was right. Maybe we shouldn’t be driving through here, though…”
“Well, you can tell them to get out of the road, then,” said Tucker. “I can’t drive five miles-per-hour like this…We’ll just pass through. Tell ‘em we’re just passing through, Ernie. If they want us out of here, I can’t do it like this.”
Earnest rolled down his window, but Mary felt deep down that this was not a good idea. She had a sixth sense about these things, but she did not say anything, not because she didn’t want to, but because she was shocked by the sheer antiquity of this town’s people.
“A boon ys given on anoynted day,
Whan elder gods lead gift astray,
So peoples braced for chill and snow,
Doon carry out the bidden offer,
Thus fillyng the empty village coffer.”
A knife flashed into view as Earnest leaned slightly from the window in order to say something, but Mary could not warn him in time. A large man, a portly man in Medieval garb, trotted forward alongside the vehicle, and in his right hand was a dagger, a steel weapon honed to deadly sharpness upon its double edges.
The crowd swarmed the Dodge Aspen as Tucker was forced to hit the brakes, but all hell broke loose after that. There wasn’t even any time to scream.
“The Oak Kyng ys chosen first,
As his reign shal swiftly ende,
And yn that endyng trees lay bare,
As Summer ys banished and Autumn wanes.”
The dagger flashed forward and cut loose the seatbelt that held in Earnest. The poor young man could only shout in protest as he was pulled through the open window by several rough hands after that.
Mary wanted to scream, to shout, to say anything at all, but fear had overtaken her, enough fear to freeze her in place, more than enough fear to keep her from doing anything. No, it was Helen and Minnie that screeched in her place, both young women shrieking to beat the band, though Mary could not blame them.
“HEY!” shouted Tucker.
He slammed the car in park and reached over to grab Earnest’s heel, but he could not hold onto him. Earnest was pulled through the window and into that raving mob, and Mary watched in growing horror as the young man’s clothes were roughly stripped from him, all of his clothes, even his glasses, every last article of clothing ripped from him until he was buck naked, shivering in the cold.
Mary did not want that to happen to her.
“Enters nowe the Holly Kyng,
Whose harsh reign ys known full wel,
Wor yn his hand a hammer ryngs,
The soundyng of the wynter byll.”
Earnest’s door was pulled open, and these hostile strangers entered the car. Three of them tried to pile in at once, large, hairy men with full beards and mustaches, and Tucker tried to fight them off, but they pressed him down to where his struggling was futile. Tucker’s door was opened from the inside, and then he was pulled out of the car in shouting, angry protest.
Tucker’s clothes were stripped from him until he, too, was naked, and as for Earnest…Mary couldn’t even see Earnest anymore. The sea of hostile strangers about the Aspen was too thick, coating everything like a tidal wash of browns and whites.
Mary watched in both shock and horror as her two female compatriots shrieked and screamed in terror. She could see tears forming in Helen’s dark eyes, because whatever was happening, it was not something any of them had expected. This was supposed to be their vacation, but…no one actually knew where they were. None of their family members held a speck of a clue that they had even left the campus.
“The Rose Queen ys the byloved oon,
Worshipped for hire fair and grace,
For she coaxes the maiden to call and syng,
Makes wild byasts doon what they must yn spryng.”
These mad, crazed people piled into the back, and Mary was finally able to find her voice. She shouted in protest, shrieking like the other two, but Minnie’s door was pried open first, and the young woman was pulled out into the tidal throng, disappearing into it as her clothes were stripped from her as well.
Mary could not imagine what that was like for her friend, but she knew she was about to suffer the same fate, so it mattered little. She was terrified, and as much as she wanted to feel sympathy for her companions, as much as she wanted to scream at these people for what they had just done to Minnie, she could only scream for herself.
“And thanne bycomes the Yvy Queen,
Whose reign ends with driftyng snow,
Side by side with hire oaken kyng,
She ys the ember of Autumn’s glowe.”
Helen’s seatbelt was cut, and then she was pulled through Minnie’s open doorway, screaming and crying, her hands reaching for Mary in some last-ditch attempt at salvation. It was heart-wrenching, really, but there was nothing Mary could do about it.
Mary ground her teeth as Helen was stripped of her clothing, the young woman disappearing like a pale phantom into the mob, just like Minnie. Mary had seen her friends naked now, something she had never really expected to see in her lifetime, and certainly not under these circumstances. It was really too much to bear.
Of course, she knew she was next. She was the only one left.
“And last the maiden ys brought to byar,
Hair of fire, loyns untouched, unsoiled by manly ways,
The envy of the elder kyngs,
Given fertile ground by the Rose Queen,
Given motherly ken by the Yvy Queen,
She ys the prize twixt Oak and Holly,
She ys the house from whiche seasons spryng.”
Mary did not resist as they opened her door and pulled her bodily from the car. She did not even cry out as they tore her clothes from her, though she did not enjoy her body being on full display for all of these strangers to see, nor did she enjoy that biting cold that accompanied a brisk early winter combined with full nudity.
Her arms and hands were forced behind her back as she was bound by thick ropes at the wrists, and she was pulled, jostled forward in a manhandled rush toward some awful destination that she could only imagine in her worst nightmares. There were no words for this horror show in her mind, no expression of thought that was comforting, descriptive, or otherwise.
She was herded toward a small wooden stage in what was probably the center of this little village, a stage where her friends awaited, each of her friends tied to a separate large wooden pole, those poles erected at the back of the stage, that stage pushed against these thick, sacrificial pillars that were once trees.
There were five of these poles in all, but only the center one was bare of any individual. Tucker was tied to the furthest left from the crowd’s view, then Helen on his own left, the center empty, then Earnest, and then Minnie last.
“What is this!” cried Mary, but with the shouting and excitement around her, those words were mere motes on the wind.
Her very naked friends each wore a wreath upon their heads. Tucker’s head held the red signature of holly berries entwined in his, Helen’s was made of ivy, Earnest’s of oak leaves, and poor Minnie’s was bedecked with roses, pink roses that were definitely out of season for this chilly time of year.
Mary did not know what any of this was about, but she had seen plenty of movies and TV shows about such things, so this did not bode well, not at all.
It took three large and burly men to force Mary up onto the stage. She spat and kicked and struggled, but they dragged her forward and bound her to the center pole against her will, binding her arms to that pole with practiced ease.
A large bearded man donned a wreath of yellow daisies upon her head, a wreath made from yet another species of flower that was vastly out of season. The wreath was coarse against her soft skin, scratching her slightly, the body of the circlet made from woven sticks of some sort.
“Let us go!” screeched Mary, though she knew such a command would only fall upon deaf ears.
She briefly turned her head from left to right, studying the terrified, horrified expressions upon her friend’s faces, the tears that flowed, but there was nothing to be done but wait, wait for whatever terrible thing was to happen next.
“In the bright flames, the spirits dance,
Such merriment they make.
They call forth the harbyngers of seasons’ ende,
The kyngs and queens of seasons’ ken,
The kyngs and queens of seasons spent.”
This mob of raving lunatics stepped forward with lit torches. Mary’s eyes widened in complete terror as they lowered those torches toward the bottom of the stage. She had not noticed any kindling under the stage while being led up here, but then again, she had not been in any position to notice such a thing.
The strong, acrid smell of woodsmoke filled her nostrils as the underneath that was the stage lit aflame.
A powerful and terrible sarcastic humor came upon her as she shivered, bare naked, in that cold chill of November wind, an invasive thought that entered the back of her mind and would not let go in its sadistic grip:
At least they would be warm.
The flames licked up around the stage as the insane townsfolk backed away from what was to become Mary and her friends’ funeral pyre. These crazed throwbacks watched through the rising smoke, their eyes madness, their hearts as blackened as the burning underneath of that sacrificial stage.
However, the worst was yet to come. The madness was not yet done with Mary, not yet done with any of them, as the roaring fire beneath them was only the beginning.
Four tails of bright-blue light sprang forth from beneath the stage to fly in vivid circles around them, four wisps of brilliant wytchfire that spun and circled before them, four great tongues of blue flame that bedazzled the crisp air and left behind floating spots in Mary’s vision.
“In spryng doon the wild creatures call,
Libidynous yn their lust,
To sewe the seeds of Summer,
Yn fertile ground they plant.
The Rose Queen grants hire kisses,
The bucks dance,
The does await their victors’ creed,
And the Rose Queen smiles,
Hire power oon of newe life,
Subtle but strong.”
Minnie screamed as one of the dancing wisps of bright-blue flame struck her in the chest, right between her small, innocuous breasts. The young blonde went up in a wreath of blue flame, the fires burning up around her like a lit, gas-soaked wick, and then Minnie stepped forward from the pole, the fires dying away, sputtering away as she walked toward Mary.
The young blonde was not burned, no, but one look upon her and Mary could tell that this thing was not Minnie anymore. Mary’s friend from high school looked vastly different, the young woman alien in both features and face, though she was still quite beautiful.
The young blonde’s face was slenderer, her ears long and pointed, but it was the eyes that both captivated and horrified Mary…They were two orbs of sickly pink, the pupils so small they were mere dots of black, and the combination of such a color with the sharp beauty of Minnie’s features caused Mary to shiver and shake from something other than the cold, and that was in spite of the heat emanating from the burning wood and the sting of pungent smoke around them.
This thing that had once been Minnie stepped forward and lightly kissed Mary upon the lips, though Mary was too stunned and horrified to even turn a cheek toward her in defiance. That kiss was electric, a spark of something that plunged deep within Mary, but it was also an atrocity, a gift from an abomination, something Mary did not want, nor need.
Oh, she could feel it in her, a toxic brew of fertility mixed with lust, a gross and out-of-place sensation for such a moment as this. Mary winced at the urgings of it, but her once-friend, Minnie, only smiled a row of perfect, ivory teeth and then turned to walk toward the edge of the stage, flashing her bare backside as if she had no decent care in the world.
The flames licked around the edge of the stage, but they grew no higher, and all the while the mob of insane townsfolk watched through the smoke as three spirits of bright-blue flame danced in the chill air, but those tongues of flame were about to be reduced to a mere couple, because yet another target had been chosen by the azure wisps.
“The Ivy Queen displays hire prowess,
For she ys the mother that teaches hire wisdom,
Passyng forth the Autumn’s bounty,
Grantyng yonge brides the gift of birth,
And swete milk to suckle from the teat.”
It was Helen’s turn to suffer the sapphire flame. She was struck in the chest as well, and then she was a living pyre of cobalt blue, a pillar of azure flame that parted to reveal her nude figure changed, just like Minnie.
The raven-haired young woman walked toward Mary and smiled, though her once flat teeth were now slightly sharper, her face slenderer, her chin pointed, her ears longer and pointed as well, but once again it was the eyes that chilled Mary to the bone.
Helen’s new eyes were an ivy green, an ivy green dotted with those tiny pupils, and once again, the person behind those eyes was no person at all; it was something alien that stared into Mary’s own naturally green eyes, something not of this world.
Helen reached forward with one long, pointed finger, a sharp white nail on the end of that slender digit, and she touched Mary’s forehead, right between Mary’s own green eyes.
Mary shook and shivered and cried out as that sharp nail drew blood, but her screeching was not from any pain but from the sudden, horrendous knowledge that was plunged into her. It was more of a feeling than anything else, an essence of the nature of life, all of it, from the hungry growth to the rotting decay, and this shook her, tore her down from the inside out…It was not a pleasant sensation.
“The Oak Kyng strides forward,
Al of Summer at his command,
And byaryng forth a wooden blade,
He summons the weapon to ope hand.
Of power does the Oak Kyng yield,
In Summer’s height and heat to wield,
But lavish does the daylight spend,
Markyng Wynter and the Oak Kyng’s ende.”
There was another flash of azure flame as Earnest went up next as a living pyre. He strode forth toward Mary, his eyes a forest green, unwholesome, his face an elven caricature of what it had once been. His brown hair was a wild and spiky mop, his long ears pointed to match the rest of his slender face, Shakespeare’s Puck born into strange reality.
His nude body was muscular now, his now bronze skin smooth and his frame a form of athleticism that belied his former state, and this stirred lust inside Mary, though she did not appreciate the betrayal of her own body. There was a certain alien quality about him that caused her blood to pound in her veins, but this feeling disgusted her to no end. She was a prisoner here, and whatever was going to happen, it was not going to be pleasant; it was not going to end well.
The young man turned and raised his right hand. A long blade of flame-tempered wood stretched forth from his open palm, tendrils of oak twigs wrapping around his slender right arm, oak leaves sprouting from those twigs, and he pointed that deadly weapon toward Mary, forcing her to wince in sudden fear. Mary did indeed feel a shaking fear at that moment, for she was sure that he was going to kill her, but he turned the blade toward a naked and terrified Tucker instead.
“The Holly Kyng ynvokes his own name,
His virgyn bride he comes to claim,
For angry ys he at the Oak Kyng’s slight,
As Wynter comes with Wynter’s myghte.
The Holly Kyng byars a shard of yce,
A sword for the barren neck to slice.
In jealousy he calls the Oak Kyng to stage
So that blades may syng and battles rage.”
The last of the blue tongues of fire struck Tucker in his bare chest, and the young man screamed as he went up in cobalt flames. He stepped forward from the flame after that, but his appearance was the most alien of them all and arguably the most terrifying.
He was a nightmare of light-blue skin and sharp, wicked features. His eyes were white like snow, and his pupils were tiny black dots barely visible from a distance. His black hair was spiky like Earnest’s, but that was where the similarities ended between the two young men. Tucker’s now blue nose was long and pointed, his teeth razor sharp points of ivory death, and he looked wholly evil, wholly disturbing in his open malignance.
He walked up to Mary and grinned at her, though she turned her head to the side out of fear. He reached up in response, turning her cheek to look back at him, and his touch was cold, as chill as any December grave. Nevertheless, there was power in his touch, something awful and terrible that had existed before men had ever walked the earth, and this stirred yet more lust in Mary, something equally as awful and as terrible as the thing that was currently touching her.
She did not like these new feelings that burned within her bare chest, alien feelings that had no place in her world.
Tucker stepped backwards and raised his right hand. A long blade of jagged ice formed from the light-blue palm of his right hand, a sharp and deadly, hideous weapon in sight and make. He pointed the jagged blade at Mary as if in claim, and then he leveled this awful weapon at Earnest.
Mary already knew what this was about…She held complete understanding now. She was the one they were going to fight over. She was the prize that had to be won.
“The two kyngs duel,
Their prize the last of ynnocence,
But al thyngs ende,
And so must Summer
So that Wynter may bygyn.”
The two young men, now something else, were upon each other in an instant, their strange and deadly blades flashing, but it was over far too quickly.
Earnest beat down upon Tucker’s blade with his own, and Tucker dropped to his knees, but the young man with light-blue skin sliced Earnest across the right leg just below the knee, and as the bronze-skinned boy fell to his right knee, Tucker took advantage of that momentary opening. He stood and sliced across Earnest’s exposed neck in a rush of fury, and the college boy’s head flew from his bronze shoulders to roll across the wooden planks of the burning stage.
Blood erupted in a fountain from the neck stump as Earnest’s finely-honed, bronze, headless body collapsed to the stage.
Mary was horrified, but not as horrified as she was a second later.
Earnest’s severed head rolled to the bare feet of Helen, and the nude young woman picked up the head and held it as if waiting for something. Earnest’s bloody, headless body then arose from its prone position, walked over to Helen, and took the head from her.
A doorway of light appeared offstage, a portal of brilliance that coalesced into cogent existence without rhyme or reason, and the mad crowd watching parted to make room for it. Mary could sense that this doorway led elsewhere, somewhere far and away from the cares of the real world, somewhere she had no desire to visit, that no mortal should ever visit, much less stay.
Earnest, still holding his own bloody head in his hands, walked offstage toward the doorway. He took Helen’s arm in his, Helen on his left, the young man still cradling his own severed head in his right arm, and the couple entered the portal of light, vanishing forever as far as Mary knew.
Minnie, Mary’s longtime friend from high school, turned toward Mary one last time and blew her a strange, sultry kiss. The young blonde then sauntered offstage, swaying her bare bottom back and forth in an almost insulting manner, sauntering off until she entered the portal, disappearing altogether after that.
“The Holly Kyng returns to his land of yce and snowe,
His prize he carries yn his frozen hands,
For yn his castle shal they consummate their bond,
And from this marriage, Wynter ys born.”
Tucker’s icy sword shattered and blew apart in a flurry of frozen, blood-smeared crystals as he walked up to Mary. He pulled her rope bonds apart as if they were made of dandelion wisps, and then she was swept up in his cold embrace, their nude bodies pressed together as he held her close to his bare, light-blue chest, though she was the only one giving off any heat.
His manhood was already excited, a clear indication of what was coming next, though Mary was not looking forward to it.
She was bodily carried off the stage as the entirety of the village of Seasons cheered and roared over Tucker’s bloody victory.
Mary shivered as the inevitable truth reached her terror-stricken brain, filling her with a cosmic knowledge of unwanted understanding. This was what it meant to be Persephone dragged down to the underworld by the sullen god, Hades, to be a bride to a chill corpse of an alien thing.
Tucker carried her through the shining portal of light, and Mary could feel the absolute arctic air pouring through it, flowing over her, chilling her to the bone, though she did not freeze. It was a slow torture of cold that sank into her, but she would not die from it, not ever, and she knew this, even as the light surrounding them blinded her from everywhere at once.
She clutched Tucker tightly to her as his blue feet crunched through crisp snow, their destination a lonely spire of black in the barren distance, that stone spire a singular castle of frigid remorse in a wasteland of frozen hell, a hell consisting of little more than ice and snow gleaming against a clear sky enshrining a bright yellow sun.
Her body turned on her as her newfound desire awakened, her breath a rigid steam that concentrated into crystals before her frost-laden face. She panted in anticipation of what was to come, a terrible mixture of both panic and lust, though this toxic brew was most certainly unwanted.
She was a bride now, married through a ceremony crafted in Hell, though she was not blushing, and only one thought crept across her ice-locked mind at it all, at the sheer insanity of it. That thought was one of helplessness, a helplessness born of things far beyond her control, and even more so, far beyond her mortal understanding:
Oh, yes…Wynter awaited.
Wynter Copyright © 2022 Matthew L. Marlott