Prince Graupel Greenland sat down at his desk, pouring over winter scrolls to calculate where the next Dash Path should begin and end. If the predictions were off, the humans of the states wouldn’t get six more weeks of winter. This year he was determined to freeze out Royal Blaze, the summer prince fairie. The two of them remained constantly at odds. It came with their positions as Dash Path Coordinators. Father thought he was too involved with planning winter dashes. That he should feel the shifts where Dashes should be, but Graupel felt his way was practical. More dependable, sure and true… if only Royal hadn’t anticipated each time where he planned to make his dashes and appeared early to do his summer dash. For the last five years.
Royal couldn't possibly have beat him, but he has, how?
A knock sounded at the door before Graupel’s oldest brother Sleet opened it.
Graupel waved him inside. "Lee, come in sit-sit. I just about have our next Dash planned out."
Sleet came in and eased his lanky frame into the chair. "Rau, father is insisting on you coming for dinner, once again."
Graupel popped his head up as his thick sleek eyebrows rose into his hairline. "Didn't he request that just last week?"
Sleet raised his gaze up to the ceiling as if asking to the icicles that hung there for guidance. Exhaling, he shot his stare back to his youngest sibling. “Last week you didn't show,” he answered dryly. "Possibly this time you should."
Graupel sent his oldest brother a glimpse of annoyance. “I had coffee with you this morning and I came to dinner the time before that.”
“No, you didn’t make it to dinner the time before that,” Sleet replied, a flicker of irritation and impatience reflected in his eyes. “You made it to the Dash, and even then you're in the back of the group calculating.”
Sleet saw Graupel’s shoulders tense as a harsh sigh escaped and his gaze met his own.
“Is it absolutely necessary that I be there tonight?” he wanted to know, gesturing to his work. “I have tons to do, especially if we require to know where our next Dash will be.”
Sleet got up and swung his arm around to the many papers that littered his brothers desk; his maps he had spread out along with a proctor, calculating spans, and charting, things that Graupel relied on to get his information. “Why are you still doing that? Dashes don't show up on maps and calculations. They come from the gut brother. The longer I see you in here, the more I realize- that for you to resort to such measures, your heart must be as azure as the ice below our feet.”
Graupel shot up from his chair pointing an accusing finger at his older brother. “You’re wrong! You know nothing about my heart.”
His brother's gaze narrowed as he tapped his fingers against his leg. “If your heart is not so blue, my brother, then show us that it’s not frozen to the truest form of blue ice. Feel it in your soul and let the Dash come from you. I believe Blaze has chosen to do the same.” He added the jab. “Hence the reason he has been on target and you have been wallowing in a tangent of self-pity.”
Graupel’s jaw clenched as he thought about what his brother had said. Was that how Blaze was able to do it? Was he resorting to sheer gut instinct to make his summer Dashes overcome his?
Looking to his older brother, Graupel gave a head nod. “I will be there tonight. Whatever advice father wants to give me, I will take it.”
Amused, his brother cocked his head to the side. “And what is your news on a snowflake? Father has his eyes set on finding you one.”
Shaking his head, Graupel sat back down in his chair and rubbed his forehead, distressed over the snowflake comment. A true love, one of a kind, snowflake. Or in other words, a mate. He briefly thought about Diamond, but then dismissed the thought.
A snowflake was more stressful to think about than resorting to his inner instincts for the Dash. He was barely two thousand years old. Still young. He had time enough to find one.
“You know,” Sleet started. “I had played with the idea about a mate.”
This made Graupel’s eyebrows raise. “Oh really?” he asked with a grin. “And who did you determine your snowflake was?”
Sleet's fingers danced along his thigh as he remarked with a smirk. “Diamond Dust caught my eye several times.”
“Diamond?” he replied, haltingly. “Colder's daughter? The one that consistently has her head stuck in a book? And never speaks? The one that goes to the iced coffee shop and regularly sits in the rear corner, Diamond? Her?”
Lee's smile broadened considerably as he gave an affirmative answer. “That's the one. Thought she was a looker, maybe even felt something, but…” he shrugged.
Graupel studied his brother. “You’re toying with me.” He relaxed back in his chair, resting his elbows on the armrests. “Yeah, she's beautiful, and we've known her forever, but as a snowflake?”
“Hey, it could’ve happened, but it didn't .”
“What drove you to decide she wasn't your snowflake?”
“That's when…” his jaw tightened realizing he had revealed too much. “That's not any of your damn business.”
A lone eyebrow rose. “Oh, really?” he said amused how the conversation had turned around. “I'm going to have to hear about this one.”
“No, you aren't.” Sleet pointed to his younger brother, not willing- if ever -to divulge how he realized she wasn’t his snowflake. “Be there at dinner or father has threatened to send you to a Mississippian summer.”
Graupel stilled, his amusement fading. “Surely not.”
Sleet didn’t say anything and Graupel knew that it wasn’t a tease. His shoulders slumped. “All right,” he plucked up his pencil and tapped it against his maps. “I'll be there tonight.”
In the sweet cold of winter a frozen lake could be a humans worst nightmare. For once you hear the frightening crackle beneath your feet, your heart stops. One wrong step, shift or a single breath could be fatal, causing the cracks to further its reach and separate, leaving the person dropping into the icy depths.
Much like jagged cracks in ice, rumors can spread just the same, causing destruction, leaving a purple heart to harden.
There were whispers in the Winter Realm. Whispers of the youngest prince sinking to the depths of a frozen heart. They were talking about him. And with that knowledge Graupel’s mood only worsened with each one that met his ears.
The young prince has lost his way.
He’s the reason the dash paths are off.
His purple heart has frozen over.
His soul… too hard.
Many whispers and today wasn't an exception.
That afternoon like he always did, Graupel spread his shimmery fairie wings out and flew through town ignoring the murmurs of doubt, hoping to get to the frozen coffee shop before Diamond did, that way he could sit in the corner and out of sight of the hyped up faerie that seemed to aggravate him. The way Sleet had talked about Diamond, drew in his curiosity. She didn't spread rumors, nor did she start them, but the damn girl always seemed to stir something in him. Whether it was lust or anger, he did his best to watch for her when he suspected her coming, but also stay out of her way. She was too young. Not even two thousand yet, like himself. His lips pressed. And Sleet was up to something.
Graupel made his way up to the snowflake platform outside the frozen coffee shop and landed on his feet. Straightening his shoulders, he opened the ornate iced door and walked into the coffee shop. Ignoring the fairies that sat in the common area, Graupel passed by them to the crystallized door on the far wall and lifted his blue tinged knuckles to knock three times until it slid open with a woosh. The friendly face of the hostess faerie greeted him.
She gave him a respectable nod. “My prince.” Then turned around and started off toward his regular table but this time, this time, something was different.
He paused in his steps as he watched his older brother Sleet and Diamond almost head to head, sitting across from each other.
Diamond was a beautiful girl, from her blonde silk hair down to her short dainty legs. Her wings glistened in a rainbow of colors as they caught the morning light. Her ear decorated with brass twists that wrapped around the upper earlobe.
Her head tilted back exposing her delicate neck that shimmered with a light touch of frost as a breathy laugh erupted from her lips at something his older brother had said.
His stomach twisted. With what, he wasn’t sure.
“Prince Graupel?” the hostess prompted, he but stayed standing in the middle of the tables and watched to see if they noticed. Neither turned their heads.
What was his brother up to?
Glancing to the hostess briefly, he gestured over to where the two of them sat. “I'll sit there for today.”
“As you wish.”
As he made his way over there, the two of them finally looked up. Diamonds eyes widened with surprise as his brothers held amusement. “Well, hello little brother. What brings you to our table?”
Graupel jerked out the stool at the end of the table and sat. “It’s not your table, Lee,” he muttered, jerking a chin to Diamond. “It’s hers.”
Sleet’s grinned widened, his mood quite the opposite from this morning. “Well I’m here, Rau.”
His older brother was lanky, all of them were, and had the classic shade of azure hair they had inherited from their mother. Sleet chose to keep it long and braided down his back, unlike Graupel’s own short classic side comb style he kept.
Graupel glared at his brother. “Now so am I.”
His oldest brother’s grin dimmed, the amusement fading. “That you are.”
Sleet spared a glance to Diamond who had been silent so far before taking a sip of his iced coffee.
Graupel turned her way.
Diamond’s head was down, a pale blue hand rested on the table holding the side of her cup. For a second he thought he had offended her by coming. “Diamond, I did not-”
Her cheeks bunched up and her head tilted back with another laugh. That’s when he noticed the open book in her lap. His mouth snapped closed.
Of course. When was she ever without one of those?
He turned his glower at Sleet, his wings stiffening at his back. “Has she been reading this whole time?”
His brother nodded. “Sadly, yes.”
“It’s because you want information that I am not willing to give.” Diamond finally spoke with amusement.
The two of us glanced toward her as she raised her cup up to hide the smirk she had as she took a sip. Her crystal eyes were twinkling.
Sleet leaned toward her once again. “Come now, my dear. Surely you wouldn’t keep such delicate information from the future winter fairie king?”
Graupel sat back and watched the play-by-play as Diamond sat her cup back down and picked up her book, ignoring his brother.
Sleet pulled back with a scowl. “You have become too desensitized from being brought up in the same castle as us Royals.” His brother whispered. “You need to know your place. And by the ice and snow, I will have that answer from you or you will deal with my father.”
Diamond glanced to Graupel before deliberately turning her slow stare to his brother. “I love the king. Of course I’ll find time to meet with him.”
Sleet was not amused and stood up in a huff.
Diamond tisked. “Come come now, my dear Prince Sleet. No need to seethe. We are friends and I keep my friends in very high regards. But family,” her eyes flitted up to his. “Tops you.”
His brother stood there unsure of his next move and that's when Graupel put his two cents in. “Know when you’ve been bested, Lee.”
Diamond nodded in agreement. “That's very good advice. I’d take it.”
Then he turned to look at her and said softly. “And know that timing is everything.” Her cup paused halfway to her mouth, that's when Graupel realized it was steaming. “Are you indulging in illegal activity of a hot beverage?”
Diamond blushed before she chugged the whole cup down. With the cup now empty, all evidence was gone, except for the paler skin on her cheeks due to the warrants of her beverage seeping into her bones. “No evidence.”
“But it could kill you.” Sleet drawled.
Graupel frowned at his brother.
“Not today,” she snapped back standing like his brother had then scooted around Graupel and left.
He shifted back to Sleet, “What the hell was that all about?”
His brother sat. “I’ll tell you later.”
At that point in time the barista waiter came over to the table. “Hello Prince Graupel. Your usual?”
“Yes, please.” he grunted.
She tapped her pen to the small note of paper in her hand with a bright smile. “Right! One, plain black iced coffee coming right up!” Then she turned away.
“No cream, brother?” Sleet taunted with a raised brow.
Graupel didn’t say anything. He was too busy wondering what was going on between his brother and Diamond.
Graupel showed up at dinner hungry as he made his way inside the palace walls. It wasn't that he didn't like eating dinner with his folks and family, it was the simple fact that there was so much work to be dealt with that he didn't have any time for anything else. And it constantly seemed that his beloved mother was on a warpath of matchmaking. All of his siblings seemed to stay out of her way as often as they could.
He remembered the younger years when things were simple. When the palace didn't look so soft he thought, taking in the white crystals that were forming at the tips of the castle towers. It had appeared less blue in the last few years and today it seemed to be drooping.
He wondered briefly if the palace was fine, but reasoned that here in the winter realm it was impossible for anything to melt. With that reassuring thought in mind, he made his way to the dining room to be greeted by his dear mother Blitz.
“By the moon and stars,” she stated dramatically as she opened up her arms and embraced him. “It’s my youngest. How long has it been?” she inquired, drawing away with mischief in her eyes. “Three hundred years? No,” she stated, answering herself. “That can't be correct. Perhaps a thousand.”
Graupel let out an amused snort. “Correct me if I'm wrong, Mother, but it can't be that long. A thousand years ago, I was practically a toddler then.”
“I believe we're still at that end,” she returned as she patted his arm. “Well, no matter. You’re here, so let's sit down and eat.”
He had merely been a few minutes late and all of his brothers and father were already sitting down. Inhaling slowly to get a grip, he took his usual place across from his twin Firn and greeted everyone.
“I'm glad you could make it son,” his father greeted. “Let's eat and then later we can talk.” It wasn’t a question. Graupel nodded, his mind going a mile a minute on what his father was wanting to discuss. The dinner he usually enjoyed settled heavy in his stomach. During supper, the soft conversation flowed around the table, but he remained quiet.
When he was through, Graupel dutifully followed his father out from the dining room and into his office, shutting the door behind him as his dad proceeded over to his Liquor Cabinet for a tumbler.
Son,” he began, holding out the tumbler with the auburn liquid inside. Graupel took it and waited, wondering what was on his father's mind. “I'm concerned about you. About how withdrawn you’ve become and this obsession over the Dashes. I believe you need some guidance.” He finished, filling his own tumbler.
“Guidance? I don't need guidance.” he argued, walking over to his desk and setting down his tumbler. “What I require is more time. More time to figure out the best course and where we should go and-”
His mouth snapped shut when his father put up a hand, stopping him in his tracks and explanation.
“Son, you do not need more time. You do not require more courses.” Frost took a sip of his amber liquor and set his glass on his desk beside his sons before shifting back to him. He clenched one of his hands into a fist and brought it up to his stomach. “You need to know it here.” Then he brought it to his chest. “And here.”
Graupel’s expression hardened and Frost noticed.
With tightening fists at his sides, he declared in a harsh tone. “I have father.”
Frost heart clenched with the fear that the blue ice might have already caught him. Sounds of a tortured soul.
“I have made every effort, and it appears to not work for me. It is simpler to do it with my calculations and measuring,” he insisted. “I can do Dashes. I have been doing them.” he gestured around the place. “We still have snow this season. It hasn’t changed. The only part that has changed is-”
His father interrupted him once more. “-is that Summer is taking over. I need you to be on top of things. I know you're trying son but it's not enough. Can't you see our walls our softening?”
“Just give me some more time. I know I can do this. Don't take this one thing away from me. The one thing that I can do.”
His father sighed. “One chance and this is what I require of you. I expect you to try, once more, to find the instinct that you need to be able to chart the Dashes. To reach inside your soul and let instinct take over which path that we must take to be in sync opposite with Summer- not against. Fall and Spring have even noticed our plight. Let's prove them wrong.”
Shoulders slumped and Graupel replied, “And what is it that you need me to do, father?”
“I need you to go to Glacier Temple and walk the many paths within the walls, as you have done as a child, and see if you can find yourself once again. Not this hard unforgiving and calculated man that you are today. Find your instinct and possibly…”
Graupel’s eyes narrowed. “And what?”
A ghost of a smile appeared on his father's face “And possibly something unexpected.”
“Is that all?” His dad gave a nod and his son spinned away storming out of his office. “Oh, and also take a Zen class.”
Frost sat down in his chair relieved and worried. A Zen class? He hoped he was doing the right thing and briefly wondered how his dear old friend Colder was doing with his own offspring.