“Father! Father!” A girl, blonde pigtails flying behind her, burst into a small farmhouse on the outskirts of a small town on the outskirts of a small city on the outskirts of the nation Vithr.
“What is it?” Quin-Dava looked up from his third failed attempt at cooking something edible.
“The wind! The wind!” his twelve-year-old daughter squealed, her long, Vith ears twitching in nervousness.
“What about the wind, dear?” he asked, his blue eyes showing tiredness.
“It comes from the North,” she said matter-of-factly, playing with the aa on the front of her dress.
Dava’s bronzed complexion turned pale. “Are you sure Vir? Are you sure?” he demanded.
“Of course. I licked my finger like you taught me. It got cold on the North side.”
“No….” Dava closed his eyes, and his face creased for a moment, but he quickly regained his composure. “Stay inside Vir, I’ll go get Nit to look after you.”
“What about mommy?” The little girl looked up at her father with complete confidence in his abilities.
With a strong effort, he smiled down at his daughter and ruffled her hair. “Don’t you worry. I’ll bring mommy back. You wait here and be safe.”
She nodded and stood watching after him as he rushed out. Already the wind blew stronger, and it sent a chill down his spine like nothing else could. If he had been unsure about his daughter’s words before, this confirmed it. His son, who had been working in the fields, met him just outside the door, a deeply concerned look on the no-il’s young features.
“Take care of your sister, Nit. Keep the door barred, and don’t let anyone in. You know our password.”
His son nodded in mute understanding, and Dava saw his own terror reflected in the boy’s eyes.
“You are strong, Nit.” Dava squeezed his son’s shoulder. “You are now a no-a.”
Nit’s eyes widened. He was seventeen, and no one became a no-a until their twentieth year. But his father had just said—
“Go now, Nita. Protect your sister. I will bring your mother back. I will bring her back. I promise.”
Dava turned quickly and headed towards the barn, shielding his weathered face from the wind with his arm. Briefly, he glanced at the sky. What had previously been dawn was now black and threatening. Ominous clouds blotted out the sun and sky, and the very air felt oppressing. Turning away from the developing horror, the farmer continued walking against the wind.
Once inside the barn, he rushed to the end of the building where the two hyshum they owned snorted and reared. Their long, pointed ears were pinned tightly back in terror. Stamping and pawing the ground with their spiked hooves, they’d scored the packed earth in their fright.
Ignoring them for the moment, Dava grabbed his cythum — a scythe-like farmer’s sword — from its rack. He fumbled with the straps for a few seconds before properly securing the weapon around his waist. Then, grabbing a mount-chair, he entered the stall of Glamstra, his hyshum. A few minutes later, Dava pounded out of the stable and sped down the road his wife had so recently traveled.
He cursed himself for letting Mara go out on her own. He should have at least sent Nit along with her. That would have lent him some degree of comfort. Now his wife was probably stranded halfway between Rhyden and their house, which would place her— Dava did not even want to consider it.
The wind grew stronger as Dava rode, blowing straight into his face now. He gritted his teeth and urged Glamstra on. Snorting, the black hyshum lowered her head and galloped onward, partially due to Dava’s urging, but mostly because something in her basest of instincts was telling her to run, and to run fast.
Nobody knew exactly what the North wind brought, but as far as recorded history was concerned, it had always left death and destruction in its wake. It was said among the Enomatics that it blew only when man had changed destiny. Dava did not really understand the full purport of that, but he did know that he was doing his best to change his destiny. He simply could not lose Mara; he couldn’t.
She was everything to him. They had lived on neighboring farms when both were only children. Naturally they had spent countless hours together, exploring nature. He could still remember the first and last time he took her to the bogwood, where he’d meant to show her a daggerfrog. Instead a crocodid had bitten him in the arm and nearly killed her.
Without his bidding, Dava’s mind started recalling their happiest moments together. He remembered her joy when they’d finally had a second child, and how elated she’d been that it was a no-el after they’d had a no-il, Nit. Tradition among the Vith dictated that having both a no-il and a no-el was the best of fortune. He recalled his pride at their firstborn, who crawled earlier than any child he’d heard of. His mind traveled back further to their wedding, and he recalled how beautiful she had looked, smiling at him, waiting for him to tie the knot that symbolized their union.
“Cast it all to Sha,” he swore, watering at the corners of his eyes. “If I don’t get you back, Mara—”
He never had a chance to finish his sentence. Shadows moved on either side of him, and Glamstra, spooked, put on a sudden burst of speed. Dava ducked quickly against the hyshum’s neck, doing his best to avoid sweeping branches which reached out to cast him from his mount.
For a brief second, he looked over the head of his hyshum, seeking to see what was ahead. That was his undoing, as a stout branch of a Vethilwood tree struck him on the forehead and sent him flying back off Glamstra. She continued galloping off into the night without him.
Still seeing stars from the impact, Dava heard the hoof beats abruptly cease, and then he heard the hyshum screaming. It was a sound that chilled the deepest part of his soul, and he felt his inner fire flickering. Turning back, he stumbled, trying to flee whatever fate his mount had met.
The wind picked up, throwing Dava off balance as a flurry of leaves and other debris rushed pass him. He fell to the ground, the shock adding to his hazy vision. Instead of getting back on his feet, Dava crawled desperately, knowing that something in the blackness followed.
When eventually he could crawl no more, Dava reached for his cythum and drew it awkwardly. The darkness around him morphed and shaped itself into shifting shadows, which he swung his blade at wildly. They did not seem the least disturbed by his desperate antics.
Dava wanted to scream, but could not. The shadows tightened their circle, and his cythum turned to dust, carried away by the wind. In abject horror, he stared as the shadows morphed and shifted, never one shape, but instead all geometries simultaneously. They neither flew, nor walked, but moved, and as they closed in, Dava felt his fire being smothered, as if a great pressure was being applied on his soul. The next instant, he was dead.
Back in the house, Nita held his sister close while she trembled. He’d done his best to board up the windows after barricading the door, but the sheer fury of the wind forced its way through the smallest chinks and cracks, causing the light from the flameglobe to swirl threateningly.
Nita could see the wind draining the illumination from the flameglobe, and instinct told him he could not let the light out; or maybe it was just because he feared the dark. Regardless, the boy repositioned himself with his back towards the wind, trying to shield their light as best as he could.
A sudden gust of wind sent him flying, and the siblings landed in an awkward heap on the floor. Vir started bawling. Nita knew he had to help his sister, but the breath had been knocked out of him, and he did not have the strength to move.
Another gust of wind buffeted the house, and in an adjoining room, dishes crashed to the floor while cupboards toppled. Hanging ornaments went flying and smashed into the wall like so many arrow.
In the wake of that second blast, Nita knew he had to do something to protect his sister. Gathering his wits and strength, he rolled over her sobbing form, using his body as a shield. When the next blast hit, he closed his mind from the sensations of pain as wooden shutters splintered and broke, their pieces striking his exposed back.
Each buffet grew worse as more of the house fell to pieces. Despite his best efforts, the constant blows to his body and his inability to draw a full breath in the fast-moving air left Nita feeling drained, weak, and barely awake.
For half an hour he managed to battle the imposing darkness which wished to cloud his mind. But, as the wind continued to blow, and the buffets to his small frame refused to desist, Nita slowly began to drift. When the large piece of hardwood hit him on the head, he had already lost consciousness.
 An immature boy in Vith culture
 An adult in Vith culture
 A young girl in Vith culture