Chapter 0:

New Day


Terra was by no means a hospitable land. But no human who lived there could say it was without its own rugged, brutal beauty. 

As the sun rose over the distant mountains, illuminating the icy land in various shades of color, Phos smiled to himself as he stretched in the morning sunlight, savoring the slight warmth it brought. The sounds of snow shrikes and other songbirds singing their chime-like songs announced that the weather would be fair today, possibly even pleasant. A rarity for Terra. 

“Ahh, the sun feels so nice...” 

Although his family’s tent was made of the thick, insulating pelts of tritans— shaggy, four eyed horned beasts that wandered Terra— it still could not completely keep the chill out of his bones at night. Night time was always the hardest. Rubbing his arms, he was snapped back to reality by a cheerful voice calling to him 

“G’morning, Phos!” 

Snow crunched under the small feet of Lilia, his younger sister. She was tugging along a small sled excitedly, her steel grey hair dusted with snow. It hummed with magic. 

“Morning, Lilia,” Phos replied with a yawn. “You’re up pretty early. What’s that sled for?” He patted her head, gently brushing the snow off of it. Her green eyes sparkled as she looked up at him. 

“You won’t believe this, big brother! Err, Okay, well maybe you will believe it...” she deflated a little mid sentence, but quickly recovered her enthusiasm, puffing back up. “The town got reports of tritan tracks being found! Tritans!” Lilia wriggled in excitement. 

Phos’s eyes widened at that. He drew his hands back to brush the snow off of his own hair— long and a much darker shade of sooty grey than his little sisters. Tritan tracks this close to town were uncommon; the large creatures were wary of humans, and rightfully so. They were a valuable source of meat, pelts, bone, and tritan byproducts used for a variety of purposes. A single beast could feed the entire town for a week, and the horns could be sold for a fair amount of silver coins.

“Tritans tracks? Are you sure?”

“Absolutely sure,” she declared. “It’s all everyone is talking about. Uncle said there will be a hunt this morning!” 

Lilia bounced on her feet. Phos sighed, trying to hide a smile. His sister was a ball of energy, warm and radiant. But did everything have to make her so excited? Honestly, it was a little draining keeping up with her first thing in the morning. 

“Uncle wasn’t here when I woke up... So that’s where he went?” Stepping around Lilia, he took the thick corded rope attached to the sled from her hands. It was heavier than it looked, and it wasn’t even loaded yet. No wonder she had been struggling with it. “I’ll help you out... I can’t believe you managed to pull this thing, though.” 

“I’m stronger than I look, you know.” She scoffed, feigning offense. “I drug it all the way here from the workshop, and... Ah! No way,” glancing up at the sun to check the time, she panicked.

 “I’ll lead the way! Hurry up, big brother. We’re gonna be late!” She took off, kicking up clouds of snow in her wake. It shimmered in the sunlight; first a light blue, the color of the morning sky, darkening to ultramarine, and then into shades of royal purple, the same shade as his own eyes. Phos could hear the magic thrumming within it, displeased at the disturbance. Apparently it didn’t like being shaken around in the morning, either. 

Phos tossed the rope over his shoulder and took off after her, sled in tow. He couldn’t help but smile again as he raced behind his sister, who stopped every few meters to wave encouragement. 

So much for a relaxing morning.