Dense skeins of silvery snow covers a range of low hills aglitter within bright, jocund moonlight, as if what is about to transpire has the means to bring a wilted Queen of the Night back into instant bloom.

Across the vast, icy tundra an eddy of wind brings tufts of snow wafting through the air in whorls of flaky lint, folding and tearing itself into non-existence against the gnarled trunk of a lone, dead tree that still manages to sway its naked limbs in retaliation against the cold, as if death has no influence against the strength of such discomfort.

Rising up from the edges of the soon-to-be battlefield, a dead forest holds within its company the enemy of my people, coils of steam and snow rising from its skeletal canopy as if expelling hot breath.

Apart from a low keening sound as traitorous wind brings emphasis to our objective, lamenting the cause of our prerogative, we wait in what is otherwise complete silence. Between the numerous legs of trees that house them, we strain to listen as our enemy listens. We patiently scour the inky black skies for the Sign, waiting, watching, our vigilant hearts set upon the cursed moon to deliver from its lunar shroud the sovereign of our fate.

Silence tests our patience as much as our bravery.

With an almost inaudible introductory hoot, its vermeil-edged silhouette stark against the argent glare beyond, its arrival finally rewards our patience by gliding down from the heavens in a graceful swoop before alighting on a low branch jutting out from the lone tree, its weight making the tender limb creak in hollow despair.

As it settles onto its precarious perch, its enormous wings creating hoary tendrils of dancing eidolons swaying in glacial frenzy, as one entity we all keep onto our drawn breath. As one entity, we fix our gaze upon the magnificent creature of the night, watching as it shakes its lithe neck to dispel unwanted snowflakes.

A single hoot escapes its beak and our ears ache with the sculling beat of our hearts.

The moment is upon us, its verdict to change the outcome of this meaningful battle.

All remains quiet as the Owl stares into unknown distances, ignoring our anticipatory breath upon its feathery cloak.

In a swift flick of its head, so fast it remained hidden underneath the blink of an eye, twin orbs of large, iridescent eyes suddenly burn upon my men and me, giving the enemy immediate incentive to discard their refuge and charge as if their lives depended on it.

Humbled by its worldly judgment, I bow before the Psychopomp and relinquish the fears I may have cradled deep inside, before my men and I charge with excited shout, as our enemy’s lives depended on it.



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