You look into the sky and see snowflakes falling tenderly down. They take their place in the snow banks and melt into them. No longer unique, the snowflake sacrifices its own beauty for the beauty of a snow-blanketed world.
But in the world of The South Pole, they are not just snowflakes that fall. And they are not called snowflakes.
In The South Pole, each falling bit of snow is a soul, and they are called the Windriders. It is the job of these wind-riding souls to make our world beautiful, and to kiss the cheeks and noses of the humans on the ground.
Up in the sky, from where the Windriders fall, is the land of Îz. There, the King of Îz chooses the most beautiful souls who will journey to Earth. The King must be selfless, as must the Windriders, because once you have gone to Earth, never again will you be allowed to return to the magical land of Îz. A Windrider cannot be forced to leave Îz, he must leave of his own accord.
No one knows why this is so. It’s claimed that the Faeries of Earth bade it be this way. This clause was not discussed often, because a Windrider had never refused to journey to Earth.
One day, the Queen of Îz had a son. He was the most beautiful Windrider known to the land of Îz. He had hair whiter than snow and eyes the color of ice. The designs of his soul were more intricate, more entrancing, and more delicate than anyone had ever seen.
The King of Îz knew that, when his son was old enough, it would be the young Windrider’s honor to take his beauty down to Earth.
The King and Queen of Îz named their son Honor, and looked forward to the day when he would take his place among the Windriders on Earth.
Young Honor grew quickly. He loved to run and play in the Îz palace. However, it wasn’t long until Honor’s parents noticed something that disturbed them. Honor did not practice his wind-riding as the other young children did. He never spoke of the day when he would take his place on Earth as a snowflake.
As Honor continued to mature, the King and Queen noticed with increasing alarm that Honor grew sullen when his destiny as a snowflake was mentioned, or even when Earth was mentioned. He would quickly change the subject, or leave the room.
It was customary for a Windrider to depart Îz at the age of fourteen. On their thirteenth birthday, they would be allowed to choose where on Earth they would fall. This day came for Honor and, as he licked his birthday icicle, his mother asked him, before all of the birthday attendees,
“Honor, only one more year until you journey to Earth! Now you’re old enough to decide: where would you like to fall?”
The room held its breath, wondering what part of Earth would be lucky enough to see Honor.
“I’m not going to fall,” Honor said.
The entire room gasped as one. His mother went red (being a snowflake, it was impossible to go white). “What do you mean?”
“I mean,” he said, his tone belligerent, “I’m not going to fall. I know what you all think. I’m the most beautiful Windrider to have ever been born. Why should I give that up, all of this up, to be part of a dumpy old snow bank?”
“Dumpy?” the Queen cried. “Your sisters and brothers and cousins gave up their uniqueness to make those snow banks!”
“And soon they’ll all melt and be dead,” Honor retorted.
Several Windriders had to leave the room. The dreaded melting was never spoken of. To contemplate death after the ultimate sacrifice was too much.
“Watch your tongue!” the King ordered.
“No!” Honor shot back. “I’m not going to die for humans! It’s not my fault their souls are trapped in their smelly old bodies! I won’t die for them! I won’t!”
The King’s tone grew harsh. “It is our job to bring happiness to the humans, and to rejuvenate the earth. You have no idea what it means to sacrifice yourself for others.”
“And I never mean to learn,” Honor said angrily.
A great sadness filled the King’s eyes. “You disappoint me, Honor.”
I don’t care!” Honor flung his icicle across the room and it shattered. “I don’t care about any of you! You’re all stupid! I won’t die for those humans! They don’t even deserve to live!”
And with that, he stormed out of the room and ran away as fast as his legs could take him. He had never felt so alone. The truth was that he was frightened. What did it mean, to journey down to Earth? To never return to his parents and the home he loved? The humans were ugly, clumsy beings. They were hideous. They had no patterns, no wind-riding skills, no uniqueness. They were useless. Why should he melt for them?
Suddenly, someone blocked his way. He looked up, an angry retort on his lips, but the words never made it into the air.
A woman stood there. Her hair was raven black and cascaded down her back. Her eyes were bright blue. She towered above him, human in appearance, but with hundreds of intricate designs on her pale skin that looked like the designs of a snowflake.
“Who are you?” Honor gasped.
“My name is Aria. I am a Faerie of Earth.” Aria looked down at him. A strange look was in her eyes. It was a moment before Honor realized it was disgust.
“Let me pass,” Honor began.
Her voice was harsh and gave him pause. He gave her a closer look, taking in her intricate gown. It was blue and green with bits of white. It reminded Honor of the colors of a globe he had once glimpsed on Earth.
“You think humans are hideous and clumsy, that you are so much better than them,” Aria said. “Who are you to say who deserves to live or die?”
“Humans endure greater hardships than you could ever imagine,” Aria spat. “Their hearts break. Their souls are lost. They experience love that is not reciprocated. Their bodies break down and their memories fade into nothing. How dare you belittle them?”
Honor was growing frightened. “Please–”
“Honor.” Aria scoffed. “You don’t understand the meaning of the word. Do you understand love? Do you understand sacrifice? No! You are the worthless one!”
“You can’t speak to me that way!” Honor cried. “I am a Prince of Îz!”
“No.” Aria suddenly became very calm. Her skin began to glow, the designs there illuminant like veins of silver. “You do not deserve this place. You do not deserve your name.”
Honor began to back away. “Leave me alone, you witch!”
“Witch!” Aria nearly screamed. “I will show you witchery, boy! I will show you pain! I will show you loss! You will suffer as the humans do!”
Aria could not be stopped. “You will wander the Earth in search of love! You will wander the Earth in search of peace! You will wander the Earth in search of your true name, for with this spell I take Honor from you!”
A horrible fear gripped Honor from head to toe. He turned to run but couldn’t move. He was trapped within the Earth Faerie’s grasp.
“Terra luminous escruta! Write a tale of death and woe! Lovus mara tarumna! To Earth and heartbreak, go!”
Honor cried out. Pain lashed through his body. Wind rushed around him, blocking the palace and the Earth Faerie from view.
“Until you learn honor, love, and sacrifice!” Aria cried. “Until you are ready to love the humans as you should! Until you are ready to be a true Windrider! To Earth… and human form!”
And so, with a last cry of anguish, Honor was flung to Earth; stripped of his rank, his name, and his soul trapped inside a human body. It is said that the stubborn boy, determined to return home, soon learned honor, and sacrifice. And yet he remains on Earth, struggling to understand love and what it means to be human, so he can take his place as a true Windrider.
And that is the tale upon which my short story, Snow, is based. Yeah, yeah, I know. That was just an excuse for a long post when I really didn’t want to write anything. Give a girl a break! It’s Sunday ^.^