Advent 2021 – December 2

December 2 – Jack Frost

Molly blinked, and she was back in the town square. Jade’s snowflake glimmered at the top of the tree, just like it had in the…memory? Molly shook her head. Maybe I was just caught up in the story.

You and me both, Schrodinger said, pressing against her leg as if he needed help standing. Did you see the feast too?

Yes. Molly looked around at the crowd, but if anyone else had shared the experience, she couldn’t tell. The faces turned to the dias were shining with happiness, clearly enjoying the scene. Maybe because we’re closer to Jade?

Maybe. He shrugged. Here comes Jack.

Indeed, as Jade stepped back, Jack Frost stepped forward to take her place. “While I did not come to the colony for that first Christmas, I did have the pleasure of several Christmases with Captain Carter, and for that, I am glad. The founder of the town was a great man, and his spirit lives on in all of you.” He held his hand up, and a red maple leaf shimmered into view, silver frost highlighting the delicate tracing of veins throughout it. “The year I remember best, the snows were late, so the harvests had continued long after they should have stopped. It was a good year for the Cove, but not for some of their neighbors…”

The crowd swam in front of Molly’s eyes again. When the mist cleared, she and Schrodinger (she could feel his warmth pressing into her leg) were still in the town square, but instead of snowbanks, the ground was packed dirt, swept clean by the brisk sea breeze that tugged at her hair. The tree was in front of them, the Snow Queen’s snowflake shining on the top. Behind her, Molly heard a familiar voice, and she turned around.

“Are you certain you want to allow them in, Captain?” Jack Frost leaned back against one of the rough-hewn tables, stretching his legs out before him. Rather than robes, he was dressed in dark green pants and vest, leaving his arms bare to the shoulder. His skin was not so much pale as it was grey, the faintest hint of bark peeling away from trees, and his long hair was reddish in the light of the setting sun. “After all, you hardly know them.”

“I know that they are hungry,” Captain Carter said. “That’s all I need to know. This town will never turn away those in need.”

“And if they betray you?” Jack plucked an autumn leaf as it flew by on the breeze. “If they try to take control of this town you’ve nurtured, once they see what you have?”

Captain Carter shrugged. “They have already seen it. If they want to fight, then we will defend ourselves. Hopefully it won’t come to that.”

Jack stood up. “I hope so too. I will let them know.” And he vanished in a swirl of leaves, leaving Captain Carter standing alone in the square.

Do you know who they are talking about? Schrodinger asked her.

Molly shook her head. Not a clue. This is obviously after the first Christmas, but still early. There were several other settlements that were nearby, and not all of them survived.

And then, in another swirl of leaves, Jack was back, with another man who looked slightly discomforted by their mode of transport. This newcomer was dressed, not in leather and wool like the Captain and Jack, but in a long robe of dark blue, and his white hair was intricately braided with a leather thong and beautiful glass beads. His dark, weathered face was kind, and once he regained his balance, he held out a huge hand to Captain Carter. “Greetings, Captain.”

“Greetings, Logan!” Captain Carter clasped the hand warmly. “How are you settling in?”

The other man’s eyes clouded. “It has not been an easy year,” he admitted, and Molly could feel the pain in his voice. “The crops did not do well, and I do not know if we will be able to carry all our people through the winter.”

“Would you reconsider my offer, then?” Captain Carter said. “Please? We have more than enough room, and if we pool our stores, no one needs to go hungry.”

“But who will guard our lands through the winter if we move to the Cove, James? We may survive the winter only to be homeless when the snow melts.”

“That too, we can help with,” Captain Carter said. “With the crops gathered, our young people will be looking for things to help keep them occupied. The hunting parties can make sure no one else moves into your land, and your people will be warm and safe here in the Cove.” He put his other hand on top of the hand he still held. “Please, Logan. This will be the best for both of us, and I will not have to worry about finding your stubborn corpse frozen to the ground.” He paused and added, “Maria would never forgive either of us.”

Logan looked sharply at him, and Captain Carter winked. The big man laughed. “That is true! And to be honest, I am more afraid of her than I am of the winter.”

“You should be,” Jack said dryly. “Your wife is a force of nature.”

Logan and Captain Carter both laughed at that, and Logan added his free hand to their handshake. “That she is,” Logan said. “I shall go now and let my people know what we have agreed. But before I do…” He released Captain Carter’s hands, and reached into his robe. He withdrew a dark red leaf that he broke in half and handed one piece to Captain Carter. “As a gift,” he said. “To bind our groups together. As long as both of these parts are kept safe, our people will be as one.” He turned to Jack. “Will you witness?”

“Gladly.” Jack came to stand next to them, and he reached out and touched the pieces. Each leaf became a whole leaf, threaded with silvery frost. “Now these leaves will never wilt,” Jack said. “Until and unless the compact is broken. Witnessed.”

“Witnessed,” Logan and Captain Carter said in unison. Logan put his leaf back into his coat, and Captain Carter tucked his leaf into the tree next to him.

“Now, I shall go and get my people together,” Logan said. He squinted at the sky. “There will be snow soon. If I hurry, we can be back here within a week.”

“Do you need help? Carts?” Captain Carter asked.

“I will let you know once I get back,” Logan said.  “But I shall walk,” he added, as Jack reached out to him. “It is not far. And I will not vomit all over my wife’s clean floor if I walk.” He strode out of the square, his robes billowing around his long legs.

Jack and Captain Carter watched in silence as Logan disappeared between houses, heading for the outskirts of the town. Once he was out of sight, Captain Carter looked at Jack. “You still think he will cause trouble?”

“Him? No.” Jack shook his head. “But Logan is not the only member of his group.” He shrugged. “But perhaps I am a cynic.”

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