Chapter 2

At first, it hadn't really been that cold. They are Elves, strong and hardy, not prone to either sweat or shivers.

But that was at first. It wasn't sudden - the cold that crept up on them like a thief. No, it was slow and grappling, latching as innocently as possible onto their feet despite their fur boots. It was a new sensation, odd and tingling, not quite painful at the time.

Then it began to become more bold as no precautions were taken against it, and crept up their legs, slowly, meticulously, leaving not one little space untouched. It slithered into their very bones, leaving them feeling dense and heavy. When its first fingers curled around his hips, Faelon forced himself to go on and not sit down, rightly guessing that he would probably never get up again.

The more they walked, the more the cold stubbornly clung to them, grappling their waists and leeching into their arms in a freezing embrace, slowly crushing their lungs as it tightened further and further. When it reached their heads, it squeezed like a vice, leaving them aching and numb. Their lips turned pale blue, kissed by the cold, and their eyes rendered glassy and dull.

It wasn't until later, however, that Faelon saw the true danger of the cold. It started in his already-weakened brother. Camaendir was huddled in a ragged fur, his breath puffs of billowing white, reminding them painfully of the sails of the ships that they had been denied. His breath was more strained than it should be, and his eyes unusually closed against the biting cold.

"Faelon?" the mumble had left cracked lips, making the thin film of ice on his lips break and leave painful, ragged edges.

"Yes?" his reply had been dull and miserable, hunched in his own fur bundle.

"I cannot see as far as I used to," Camaendir managed to say quietly, and Faelon had stared in consternation. "They are numb..."

And then Faelon had realized the true danger. He was not the only one, and soon Elves were hunting viciously in their desperation for furs to cover their blackening and freezing and cracking fingers and toes and other delicate parts of anatomy. The cold had shown them it's true purpose: to eat them alive, slowly and agonizingly.

Faelon's fingertips and ear tips and the end of his nose had been the first to suffer, until the continual application of heated furs had thawed them enough to become red and painful, but saved from being lost forever.

It didn't end, though. Some lost use of fingers and even entire limbs, while others were bound to limp from half-frozen legs that refused to thaw. Then came the eyes. It was the snow that did it, the little, seemingly innocent pieces of falling white that would stick on their eyelashes and blow into their eyes. They were shards of ice, slowly piercing and weakening the eyes until burst blood vessels showed and dark shadows gathered thickly under their lids.

By the time a solution of veils had been concocted, his brother had lost sight in his left eye.

Faelon sat in his mound of furs and rocked back and forth in acute misery, trying to warm himself, comfort himself, and keep from crying all at the same time. No one wanted to cry, for fear that the tears would immediately freeze and damage their eyes and skin even more, but at the same time they desperately longed to cry, to pour out their misery freely in the natural reaction. But nothing was ever fair, not anymore, so they trudged on.

Elves dropped in front of their comrades, dead. Others began to wheeze from shards of ice that made their way down in their lungs and froze, suffocating them from the inside. Others began to cough up blood from the cold air that went down their throats and froze the dampness inside, forcing coughs to break the ice that tore at their innards.

Prince Turucáno stubbornly refused to give up, and soon, to conserve lives, he had ordered his people to divide into twelve houses and set lords over them. Faelon and Camaendir were set under the house of Róg, who took all of the orphaned children under his care.

Things improved as much as they could, the casualties dropping drastically as camps were made, rations were created, designated fire areas were set, and hunters were appointed.

They were far from the end, and yet people stirred up their comments of hope again.

Faelon refused to give up his firm conviction that they were mad.

... I fail at this. T^T I'm sorry. I just can't seem to manage to capture what I really think about the Helcaraxë, the horror, the madness, the slow psychological and physical torture... Be patient with me please, I think I'm getting there though...