Disclaimer: I don't own Yona of the Dawn!
A/N: Takes place after the last episode of the anime. This will probably eventually include manga spoilers of some kind, but I'm not sure yet. Chapter POVs will probably shift back and forth between Shin-Ah and Lien.
Calls You Home
The blizzard whipped snow and ice across the mountain pass, threatening to send the two hikers skidding off the side of the cliff. If their shoes hadn't been equipped with spikes and if they hadn't been used to such tough travel, they would've certainly been dead by that point.
The winter weather was being awfully wicked.
Lien dug her boots into the ground to get a firmer stance, one hand clinging to a bit of rock on the mountainside. This storm had come from nowhere. Nothing in the sky that morning had warned either her or Kyung that a blizzard was on the move, so they had thought it would be safe to go hunting and gathering on the mountainside.
The two of them were a part of the Swift Song Caravan, a trading and theatrical clan that traveled all over the continent to sell goods and perform for various nobles and villages. The caravan's winter lodgings were not far away, but it was difficult to see in the whiteout.
Bits of ice sliced at any bit of skin that was exposed, making her wish she had a full mask and not just her hood and scarf. Kyung was moving forward, so she followed in his larger footsteps, letting him help make a way for her while she pointed him in the right direction.
They made it to an outcropping of rocks that briefly shielded them from the wind, and they crouched down behind the shelter, huddling together. Kyung slung an arm around Lien's shoulder and rubbed her arm up and down.
"You okay?" he asked, dark eyes glimmering over his scarf.
She nodded. Lien rubbed her hands together and then pulled her own scarf down before wrapping her gloved hands around his. She took a deep breath of pure frozen air and focused on her fingers. Slowly they began to warm up, being fed by that mysterious fire that dwelled deep inside her. The heat seeped into her gloves and then Kyung's fingers.
He sighed and then shook his head at her, pulling his hands away. "Don't tire yourself, Lien. I'm not carrying you."
"I wouldn't ask you too," she said, pulling her scarf up over her face again. "Besides, little things like that aren't exhausting anymore. Not they used to be."
"Still, I don't want you to wear yourself out," Kyung scolded.
Lien smiled a little, her eyes crinkling over the top of her scarf. "Worrywart of a brother."
"Someone here has to stay sensible and keep their head out of the clouds." He rubbed his own arms and then stood up, offering her a hand at the same time.
Lien let him pull her to her feet so they could keep going, knowing that stopping for too long was a terrible idea. Pausing in the middle of a storm like this was a good way to lure yourself into a false sense of warmth that lulled you into a slow, gentle frozen death. She had seen a couple members of their caravan die that way when she was young, and she had no intentions of going out like that herself.
They continued hiking along the pass, Lien staying right behind Kyung. She knew it was the middle of the afternoon, but the blizzard was so thick it had darkened the sky. It looked closer to sunset than midday. If it kept up like this, anybody stuck out on the path and away from shelter tonight was going to freeze to death. They had to get back to the winter quarters before it got too much colder, since there were only shallow caves between their current location and the lodgings.
The caravan chose to pass the winter here in these mountains because they used the cold months to prepare new dramas and dances to show on the road and inventoried their trading supply. The council of elders also decided where the caravan would go during the next year, and a map was made of their route. It was a little different every year, though they often traveled to certain towns and capitals each year. Lien had a few favorites, such as Fuuga in the Wind Tribe's territory and Xing-Xan in the Khai Empire, but she liked traveling in general.
Lien was thinking about the hearth fire and a hot, hearty stew for dinner when Kyung stopped in front of her, causing her to bump into his back. "What?" she asked, peeking around him.
He flung out an arm to stop her. "Wait."
A chill that had nothing to do with the weather spread down her spine. "What's wrong? Kyung…" she said as she pushed past his arm, glancing up at him before looking around.
A person was standing in the middle of the path. Or at least she was pretty sure it was a person. Tall and slender, he was dressed all in blue and he had a horned half mask on, covering the top half of his face. Long fur spilled from the mask down his back, and the wind caught at the strands and played with it. One of his hands was resting on the sword he wore. He looked like a snow monster from some kind of ancient legend, ready to challenge them to either a fight to the death or a game of wits.
Lien, however, wasn't very afraid of other monsters. Not when she was a beast herself.
"Hello?" she said as she pushed past Kyung's arm, taking a step toward the stranger. Kyung reached out and grabbed her wrist, keeping her from going any farther. Paranoid brother. "Are you all right?"
The man simply stared for a long moment, taking enough time that Lien thought he hadn't heard her. She pulled her arm out of Kyung's grasp and took a couple more steps toward the stranger.
"It's not safe to be out here on the mountain right now," Lien said louder, as if the man couldn't tell that being out in a blizzard was dangerous.
"We need shelter," he finally said, "Can you…help us?"
Lien smiled even though he wouldn't be able to see the expression beyond her thick scarf. "Of course." Though she didn't know who he meant by 'we,' the Swift Song Caravan didn't turn away people in need.