Today’s Prompt comes from Day 2 of StoryADayMay, hosted by Julie Duffy at storyaday.org.
My heart throbs in my chest as I pull my robes tighter and climb up the steps of the palace, which have been lined with blue argyle-print denim to prevent slipping. Still, I don’t quite trust the ice underneath and take care with every step to maintain a grounded stance. Others around me ascend and descend much faster, sure of their footing after years of practice; will I be one of them someday?
Vincent told me on the way here that the Contorians’ most plentiful material on their planet was water and ice, but the full implications of that fact hadn’t hit me until I’d stepped off the ship to my first glance of the crystalline structures all about as far as I could see.
It is cold, but not unbearably so. It puts me in mind of stories I’ve heard of the ancient Inuit people on Old Earth– how they built domed snow structures to keep them warm in the harshest weather. With so many walls of ice about the city, I suppose it provides the same kind of shelter as any other solid material. And they don’t have to worry about the ice melting here, since the ambient temperature is rarely above freezing in this part of the world.
It takes me a while to notice, but as I take my place in the inner courtyard to await my host, it occurs to me that the people here stand much closer together as they converse, breathing the same foggy air. They speak in hushed tones, but the sound bounces off the frozen walls and travels to my ears from every direction. I turn as I sense the presence of a body to my left.
“Princess Aulora,” the woman greets me from inches away, putting down the scarf wrapped around her face to show me her warm smile. I suppose it’s meant to put me at ease, but I feel pinpricks all along my back and I shudder with nerves. “Welcome to Contor. Prince Niles and his entourage will be arriving any moment. I hope you are warm enough?” she concludes her formal greeting.
“Very warm, thank you.” I learned as many of Contor’s customs as I could before my arrival, and know this to be the proper response. Though the truth is, my toes are growing numb where I stand.
I already miss the eternal spring of my home world.