“These walls have stood for centuries,” the young guard was saying, his eyes beaming with pride, “against our greatest enemies and the test of time itself.” He reached out and touched the light grey stone. “And as long as these walls stand firm, so will we - Dall will never fall. I promise you that, ma’am.”
Torielle nodded absently, letting out a quiet hum in response. She was barely listening to the guard as he escorted her around the castle grounds, explaining the history and significance of every pillar and courtyard; no, her attention was instead focussed on the frozen flecks falling from the sky, covering everything in a blanket of pure white. She walked slowly, contemplating the crunch under her boots, and looking over her shoulder more than once to marvel at the footprints they left behind. “What is this called?”
she asked softly, gloved hand outstretched and head tilted toward the sky. The thick scarf wrapped around her head and face was dotted by those same frozen flecks; she used her free hand to shift the scarf away, allowing the flecks to fall freely on her face. They stung her skin; she quickly replaced the scarf.
“What’s that? Oh, you mean the snow?” The guard glanced at her, confused by the question. “It’s, euh… snow, ma’am. It’s cold out, so it’s snowing.”
Snow it is, then. She crouched down and gathered some in her free hand. A thin smile crossed her hidden face, and a small chuckle escaped her. Within a moment she was back on her feet and following the confused guard again.
“Have you never seen snow before?”
Torielle only laughed in response.
The young guard had found her wandering around outside the castle not an hour before. Initially hostile at the strange foreigner carrying a bow, his disposition immediately shifted when she outstretched her right palm, put down the bow and, without making eye-contact, provided the letter that had summoned her here. Sorry to keep you waiting,
he’d said. We’ve been very busy today, I’m sure you understand. Here, let me show you around in the meantime…
While Torielle had little interest in the history of this place, it was fascinating to see the young man speak with excited patriotism about the castle and the surrounding area. Despite the momentary confusion about her question, he continued his tour without skipping a beat, taking her next to an empty courtyard used primarily for practicing archery. “I suppose I’ll be seeing a lot of you out here,” he joked.
Her mind was wandering again, this time wondering how cold it was that water was freezing as it fell from the sky. She considered asking again about it, but decided not to, figuring it would be impolite to interrupt a second time to ask about the same thing.
“Well, that’s the long-and-short of the outside,” her companion was saying. “I’m sure you’ll get a thorough tour of the inside as well… but I need to get back to work. Allow me to escort you back.”
Torielle glanced at him, received a bow from her quiver, and quickly shot at the nearest target. Bullseye. ”I follow you.”