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#the winter court

Your caution and care for others is laudable, but you can rest easy on this count. The Elsewhere U campus is ruled by the Autumn and Spring courts, by virtue of the ebb and flow of semesters; you have to wander quite far into the Elsewhere to reach anywhere the Winter Court holds power. So enjoy winter to the fullest; you won’t bring trouble upon yourself.

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[Poster stuck to the dining hall bulletin board with a copper nail. Below the writing is a grainy greyscale photo of a snowy pine forest. The bottom of the poster is cut into tabs, each one of which bears the words ‘I SO SWEAR’ and instructions on how to fold it into a simple origami bird.]

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I'd like in on this 'how would I fare' thing. Adores plants, coffee, magic, and cats. Loves to cook - will swap recipes with just about anyone and is a bit of a mom friend. Forever smells of mint and is known as 'Blue' due to my blue hair. Also writes but is admittedly a bit secretive about what exactly is written. Wants to know all of the things that I can learn about anything. Was an art major in college.

On the statue they will make of you, in the winterlands and a long time from your actual life, they will mark out your scars in silver on the marble, every one of them something overcome and healed. The lords and ladies of that court will leave gifts at its feet in your name, small bits of abalone and portraits painted on bone. Some of them will have known you as a friend. The tide will shift again and your name will fade from memory, but the weathered statue will stand still.

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They are coming. Wind howls before them, sweeping the last of the snow into a frenzy, a path of white upon which their footsteps leave prints. A thousand or more follow, each as different from each other as the night is from the day, but all of the Winter Court. There are goblins and ghouls, there are giants, evergreen dryads, fauns, satyrs, elfs, dwarfs, and many more. Silent they come, any sound they make is hidden in the wind as they move with a purpose.

At the head of this unearthly parade of beings rides the Queen herself. Upon a sleigh carved of ebony wood and pulled by seven pale unicorns. You see them first in the distance, like a river of drifting ghostly forms, strange lights flicker from among their ranks, adding to the otherworldly feel of their presence.

When the Queen’s sleigh reaches you, it stops.

You bow low, for you cannot think of doing anything else for the Queen of Winter in her icy beauty and impossible grace. She descends from her sleigh and comes to stand above you.

“Rise,” says she. It is barely a whisper, perhaps the wind, but you obey. Two attendants, dryads from evergreen trees, come to her and begin to unbraid her hair from the crown upon her head. The strange pale void-like white of her hair ripples as they undo each knot and weave. At last their task is done and the crown is free. The Queen lifts it from her head. It is a beautiful thing. A circlet of silver and adamant, adorned with the pale beauty of moonstones, and the dark gems of black opal, each glinting with a hidden myriad of colors beneath the black exterior. The Crown of Winter.

This she offers to you, and all the court watches and waits, their breath held. Even the wind is silent. You take it from her, not daring to refuse. She smiles then. It is the smallest thing, just the slightest upward movement of the corner of her mouth, but it is there. A tiny bit of warmth amidst the chill of Winter. And she turns to leave, returning to her sleigh, and the whole cavalcade moves onward. Once they pass, you feel as if you have but dreamed the whole thing, for nothing could have been that strange and wonderful. But in your hands you hold it, the Crown of Winter. It belongs to you now, use it well.

Winter…at long last…is ending.

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<div> —  Harry and Sarassa in Cold Days: The Dresden Files </div><span>Thwart?“ Sarassa said.<br> "Thwart,” I said. “To prevent someone from accomplishing something by means of visiting gratuitous violence upon his smarty person.”<br> “I’m pretty sure that isn’t the definition.</span>
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