The only way to escape the smoke was to live in the snow. The hunters had gathered around to watch when Ffenyi had made her home, pointing like they did, but they’d left her alone since.
Ffenyi listened to the wind in her cave of white. So much quieter. So much better.
The snow trapped her heat and kept her quite warm. The only scent was her own and the pure odor of snow. She still heard the din of the hunter’s pit nearby. She had ventured in with her husband when they’d first arrived. The hunters all pointed at her white hair. And other parts of her. With her husband’s blessing, she fled here to rest.
“Ffenyi, one sight of you is worth taking off my hat.”
She smiled as she heard her husband’s voice. “Djellian, I’m not worth the loss of your heat.”
He knelt at the entrance of her white cave. “Perhaps not, perhaps yes.”
Ffenyi sat up and they stared into one another’s eyes in silence.
Djellian broke away. “You were right. These hunters know nothing of the curse, though they wallow in it. And if a man does not know he is cursed, he has no interest in lifting it.”
“We continue on?”
“Yes. We will continue on to the Pits. I understand the smoke is far worse there.”
Ffenyi tried to smile. “I will find a way to survive the stench.” He hadn’t noticed their pointing, had he?
“Oh, my wife.” Djellian sat in silence and inspected her eyes again. “We can go home. We can send another pair to investigate these strangers. It does not have to be us.”
“Yes it does. For now, at least.” If they pointed at her, they would point at any other woman. It might as well be her. “When will Nick be ready to take us?”
“Tomorrow, if we wish it, and I see no reason to wait longer.”
Ffenyi nodded. “Then we continue. And we pray that someone in the Pits knows about the curse, and how to cure it.”
Djellian nodded. “Before we all die.”
Read more of the world of Snow and Smoke here.
Read the previous story, Shopping for Greenery, here.
Read the next story, Trespassing on Dying Songs, here.