Chapter 15 - Diary

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I swallow a lump in my throat when the cobblestone house comes to my view. It's in the same condition when I left it. Still moldy, reeking, cold and haunting but I need to do this. I need to find more about Winter Born. Guilt fills me as I start to walk towards the cottage and I think of Ethan.

It feels as if I'm betraying him by meeting this witch. I promised him not to think about the Winter Born anymore and now I'm breaking that. Then, again, if I am the Winter Born don't I have the right to know? Some of the ice and snow has melted last night on the Winter Festival, teaching us that Spring is on the horizon.

It's sad really, leaving Winter. Sure, it's always freezing and then you can't step outside without chattering your teeth but somehow Winter is my favorite season. The sight of snow falling gently to the ground has always been enchanting to me. I grit my teeth together as I make way to the wooden door of the cottage.

My heart takes a pace, not knowing what I would expect. Lifting a hand, I take in a breath and knock on the door several times, hard and loud. I don't want the witch springing out like last time. A raspy voice comes from inside the cottage, " Come in, child. There's no need to hit that poor door. "

I wonder if the witch knows it's me and if she doesn't know, will she attack me when I reveal myself. Shaking off the thoughts, I take in a breath as I push the door open to find the inside of the cottage has been lined with hundreds of candles. Magic, I thought.

With this much candles, I probably can see it from yards away but from the outside it gives out no glow, no sign indicating that anyone lives inside of the battered cottage. The light gives out a warm sight to the old woman sitting at the table as she snaps the book she was holding shut and turns to me with a small smile.

It is quiet for a moment. I stay at the door, staring at her for any sign of attacking but she shows none of it and instead I find gratitude in her eyes but also a hint of fear. The old woman lets out a loud sigh. " Well, I did say I wanted more guests, " she gestures the wooden chair in front of her. " Come, girl. Sit. "

I raise an eyebrow to her. " Is this a trick? "

She gets up and with a wave of her hand, the book she was reading goes flying to a shelf. " Now, why would the girl say that? "

I hold back a scoff. " The last time I came here, you said I was going to bring great death, " I say, trying my best to keep my tone steady.

" I said the Winter Born would bring great death. Not you. The girl is mistaken, " the grey-haired woman chuckles. The slight laugh doesn't sound sarcastic, it sounded genuine.

I return her smile, making sure it's not too big. I don't think I can trust her yet. I walk into the glowing cottage and to the chair the witch gestured. A wooden mug comes fleeing to my sight as soon as I sat down. A few drops of water meet my lap as the mug stops in the air and carefully place itself onto the table.

The old woman waves her hand and another identical mug comes flying to her. " Cider, dear? That's the last bit of cider in this house, " she mutters. She brings the mug to her dry lips and takes a sip. A small sigh comes out from her. " Doesn't matter, I suppose. Spring is already coming. "

I tentatively take the wooden mug and after looking into the water, tinted with orange for any sign of poison, I too drink it. It's surprisingly sweet. The witch smiles as she watches me drink the cider. I put down the mug, swallowing and letting out a heavy sigh.

"Witch, I want to know mo- " I start to talk.

" More about the Winter Born. I know. I know, " the witch sets down her mug and groans. " My name is not ' witch ', girl. It's Naerys, " she says.

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