The Birchwood Forest looked different during the summer.
There was still snow on the ground, and the air was still cold, but the trees were bare, and the snow glistened a bit more, right at the edge of melting, only to refreeze once it finally did.
“It’s always strange coming back here.” Zane mused as he exited the tree. “It feels like some long distant dream world. Like it shouldn’t really be real.”
“You’re sure you got everything you needed?” Pixal asked, climbing the last stair behind him.
“I just needed the falcon prints. Nothing else.” He lifted the rolled blueprints, exiting the treehouse, Pixal close behind him.
“It’s so quiet out here.” She smiled, stepping out into the snow.
“It wasn’t always. We used to have quite the treehorn problem.” Zane chuckled.
Pixal stopped in her tracks looking up at the trees. “I wish I could have been here for it.”
“For what?” Zane stopped, turning to look at her.
“Your true potential.” Her eyes met his again as she tried to visualize it.
“You didn’t miss much,” Zane chuckled.
Pixal stepped forward, taking his hands. “I don’t know about that.” They shared a warm smile, but the moment didn’t last long.
Pixal glanced down at the snow, a bit confused.
“What is it?” Zane asked.
Pixal stepped back, studying the snow beneath her feet. “My sensors are picking up a large object several feet beneath the snow.”
Zane’s eyes too, darted down to the snow. “What do you think it is?”
“I’m not sure, but it’s large and it’s metal.” Pixal fell to her knees, beginning to dig.
Zane reactively dropped down to join her, both of them shoveling away snow in order to reach the mystery. “It might just be some scrap my father left out,” Zane suggested.
Pixal ignored him, borrowing through the snow. “Or maybe not.” She stopped, leaning back.
A single hand peaked up from beneath the ice - the fingers pale and frozen, a large and familiar symbol imprinted onto the palm.
Zane’s hand slowly reached out to examine it, as if to make sure he really wasn’t in a dream world. His spirits sunk as his fingers ran across the indented skin.
“Father…” he sighed. “What else didn’t you tell me?”