He bounded down the stairs to the great hall, nodded to Gerde, and grabbed his coat. He felt her eyes on his back as he went out. The courtyard was slick with ice. He slid past the glazed lion's heads, nearly fell, and cursed the Bavarian climate. It seemed to him that the cold had frozen his life the way it had frozen the land. But winters have to end, he thought, even here.
He avoided the village, tired of feeling their eyes upon his as Gerde's always were. You're supposed to be a Ritter, a Schattenjäger? Who are you to be so honored, and why don't you do something? He walked instead along the side of the castle coming to an overlook where a sheer drop prefaced the Alps, their peaks marching away in the dark like snow-covered legions, the moonlight setting them aglow. He sat on a rock, wrapped his arms around himself, teeth chattering uncontrollably.
When the time is right, when you are needed, you'll know. He heard Grace's voice so clearly in his head, he nearly turned around and looked. If he could only believe that. If he knew that the magic would come back, that life would burn again with purpose, it wouldn't be so hard to wait.
He stared up at the moon. It was full and fat, suspended in the sky like a pendulum on an invisible chain.
"Fall," he whispered. From the distant peaks a voice rose, as if in answer. It was the eerie echo of a lone wolf's howl.
This work originally appeared in Sierra's InterAction - Spring 1995
"Pause" posted here with the kind permission of the author.