Obsidian Trilogy

-- Illustrated fantasy novel --
Updates thrice a week

Chapter 13. Snow through open windows

Chapter 13. Snow through open windows

 


There are so many things that can wake you up: a blast of thunder hurting your ears, a ray of sunlight touching your eyes, a nightmare, a knock at the door, a kiss, an alarm… but sometimes it’s just a heavy cat who has been sleeping on your legs for so long they’ve gone numb.

That was why Kangassk woke up on his first morning in the Grey Tower. The cat was a big, bulky tom, grey with white stripes. When the human trying to revive his stiff legs disturbed the cat's morning slumber, their eyes met for a second, then the cat made a loud purring sound and graciously tiptoed to Kan, demanding attention.

Every Kuldaganian respects cats. Cats protect their homes from sand snakes and make great pets. Kangassk even owed his life to one of them: a nameless dusty stray who had snatched a snake that had nearly bitten him when he was little.

It was nice to learn that this tower had its own little guardian. Kangassk was happy to give the grey tom all the scritches he wanted.

 

“You’re a good kitty…”

“Mrrrrooom.”

“And rather talkative, aren’t you?”

“Mrrm-mrrm-mrrau!”

“Hey, what’s this?”

 

The cat’s left cheek was singed. The whiskers there, once long and beautiful, had become twisted springs and ugly stubs. As Kan’s fingers touched the burned fur, the cat gave him a guilty look and started to purr even louder as if to distract the human from the shameful sight.

Meanwhile, Kangassk’s stiff legs began to tingle. He did his best not to move them now.

 

“Looks like you’ve got into some trouble, my little friend, or I don’t know you cats!”

 

Kangassk looked the tom in the eyes. No animal can endure a human gaze for a long time but in this case, the animal was intelligent enough to feel guilty for what it did, so it promptly turned away, with a sniff.

 

It wasn’t just any old cat, it was the Grey Inquisitor’s cat clad in grey, so as soon as he felt his pride attacked by the insightful guest, he stopped the purring and left the room.

 

“Proudling!” said Kangassk with a smile and looked around. “Hmm… I wonder where my dragon is…” The smile faded. Suddenly, Kan had no doubts as to who had singed the cat’s whiskers...

 

Trying to find the dragonlighter, Kangassk turned upside down everything in the room, even his backpack. The creature was small and, if injured, could crawl into some little crevice or pocket to hide. The longer Kan searched, the more worried he became. The saddest thing was that he couldn’t even call the dragon by the name for he hadn’t bothered to give him one.

“Who would’ve thought I’d miss him so much! I hope the poor thing is alive...” Kan said to himself. “I guess I should ask Orion about him. A keeper of the Tower sure would’ve noticed a nasty-fire-breathing, furniture-burning little beast.”

Kan fished a fresh shirt out of his backpack and put it on. While struggling with the tiny button on the collar, he noticed a tapestry under the ceiling. It shone softly in the semidarkness of the early morning. Above a dark landscape, indistinguishable in the absence of bright light, there was a slender silver dragon, so unlike the yellow monsters Kangassk knew.

Kan walked to the window and opened the heavy curtains. The sunlight filled the guest room, quenching the silver glow but revealing the wonderful landscape on the dragon tapestry. There was a city unlike anything in Omnis, a city of immense towers made of glass and steel, with a maze of busy roads at their feet.

The landscape behind the window was strikingly beautiful as well. Coloured by the rising sun, the snow was red at the horizon and deep purple by the Tower. From the breathtaking height of the window, the endless snowy blanket laid over the northern permafrost resembled the salt dunes of the dead sea from Kan’s dream. Even better, the snow sparkled!

With the beauty of the North still burning before his mind’s eye, Kan turned his back to the window and made himself concentrate on his dragon quest again. The search led him downstairs, past dozens of closed doors, to the only door that was open at the time. It led to a lofty, oval-shaped hall. Kangassk’s breath turned into white vapour when he stepped inside; with all the hall’s windows wide open, it was as cold there as outdoors.

 

“Where snow from northern mountains cold / Through open windows swirled…” Vlada’s lullaby echoed in Kangassk’s mind again.

 

“Look who’s here!” Orion’s cheerful voice greeted him, followed by a choir of echoes. “Good morning, Kangassk!”

 

Orion the star child was dressed in warm woollen clothes and wore a fluffy scarf around his neck. He remained barefoot, though; his large, furry feet stepped softly on the marble floor.

“Good morning…” The biting cold of the hall made Kangassk shiver. In a desperate attempt to save the last remnants of his warmth, he wrapped his arms around himself and lifted his shoulders to hide his neck from the wind. It didn’t help much.

“That won’t do,” Orion shook his head reproachfully. “You could catch a cold. Here…”

 

In a blink of an eye, a thick turtleneck sweater appeared above Kan's worn olive shirt. The sweater was so warm that he could easily imagine it having spent some time in a well-heated room.

 

“Sometimes, Sereg gets the idea that cold suits his mood,” Orion explained with a good-natured laugh, “then all the windows in the big halls open as if by magic and we have snowdrifts on the parquet.”

“Thanks for the sweater…” said Kangassk. “I wanted to ask you something, Orion. Have you seen my dragon? It’s a small thing, just about the size of my hand.”

“Ah, yes, the dragon…” Orion frowned and gestured Kan to follow him.


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Random stuff: I wrote "Cold Obsidian" when I was 20. Translating it into English has been my dream since.
Random stuff: "Obsidian Trilogy" is the reason I decided to learn to draw. I was too poor to pay an artist but wanted my novels to have beautiful covers.
Random stuff: The biggest obstacle in translating my novels into English was poetry. The poems included in my stories couldn't be removed and I couldn't translate them. Without Alan Jackson' help, there wouldn't be the translation of OT. (English poetry is still a mystery to me).
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Random stuff: Obsidian Trilogy is currently my side project. My main progect is Gifts of wandering ice (a sci-fi webcomic 750+ pages long)
Random stuff: I didn't simply translate the novel into English, I rewrote and added a lot to make the story better. Can't help feeling proud.
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Random stuff: Every story begins with a spark: a small idea in the author's imagination. For "Cold Obsidian" it was a dream where a warrior woman was shopping for weapons and chose one made by an apprentice, not a master.
Random stuff: I wrote "Cold Obsidian" when I was 20 and rewrote it while I was translating it into English at the age of 36. Why rewrite it at all? Because there were too many scenes that made me exclaim: oh my! What was I thinking! It doesn't make sense at all! Scratch it!
Random stuff: The name Kangassk was inspired by Kangaxx. If you played Baldur's Gate 2, you've sure met that guy.
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1st May 2021, 7:49 PM in Book 1. COLD OBSIDIAN

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Author Notes:
Mild
edit delete
Mild
Vlada's lullaby was not just a fantasy after all, it had very real, ancient roots.
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