Chapter 1

-1-

Thwack!

 

Nora knelt over the cave, chopping ice from its walls in an effort to make it a holding space to hold the reed that grew on the prairie. That was the main food in the Snow Mountains, and that was where she lived. Nora was one of a small group of people who had lived outside in the snow, curling up together at night to keep warm. Nora and her sister Peto were the only ones left who lived in that particular area, on the north side of Mt. Yinin. Where was Peto anyway? Nora stood up to look. Peto was 5 years younger than 11-year-old Nora and smart for a 6-year-old, but Nora couldn’t help mothering her. Suddenly Nora heard a Thwak! sound coming from the Irka’s fort. She froze. The irkas were Nora’s sworn enemies, though what they could be doing, Nora didn’t know. In her dreams that night, she found the answer.

Her memories visited her. She was covered in warmth, it enfolded her, nearly smothering her, and yet she was not afraid. A lock of hair brushed her cheek, and a voice, a voice familiar in the memory but unknown to Nora, whispered: you are Nora of the snow hills. You are somebody. Don’t let anyone take that away from you. Ever. Then her mind carried her back into memories she couldn’t visit in the waking hours. A man was being led away. Someone protectively shoving her behind their back, and that same body shuddering from being struck with sticks some men were carrying. Then she was guided away, and cold, cold like she had never felt, was pressing on her, and then closing her eyes with snow. The mysterious voice whispered: we’ll rest here, my darling. Curl up by your sister. Keep Peto warm. It was then that Nora woke, shivering. Spears, she thought they’re making spears. Thwack! went the sound from the fort. Nora curled up and went back to sleep.

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