"You're going to encounter the enemy wherever you go."
He heard the whisper in his ear, a hollow voice thrown off by the blistering ice swept up by the wind, tearing at his cheek in a methodical fashion. The bluff was a sea of white, a storm rippling through the clothing he wore, long coat flapping futilely against the gale. Not a human soul was in sight, nor were any animals lurking. Yes, whereas spring had come to the other regions of Fiore, the Glacial Flats remained the same, wreathed in its eternal winter. The temperature, well below freezing, was a welcome change on comparison to the weak-willed world around him. No matter how hard Leonidas tried to deny it, to put the past behind him, to shove it behind a corner and never think about it again, he was home.
"Da, what is that supposed to mean?"
A step forward, and then a jump, sliding down the ice as if it were completely natural to him, stopping firmly on the ground below. His gloved hands still lay in his pockets, conserving their warmth while it still hung to him. The most direct route to his destination was long, and unguarded by physical features that blocked out the rough weather. It was better that way, the cold made him feel more alive, and he knew no one would attempt to follow him through a plain of ice. A dead man walking, was what most would claim. Little did they know that he had taken the journey near countless times before, both alone and in the company of others. A distraction, some would call it, others would claim it a needless detour. There was no such thing, however, when paying one's respects.
"You'll understand someday, my son, and when you do, remember this: fear is the catalyst of it all. What you're afraid of, is what changes."
The pat on the head was tangible, Leonidas biting his lip to push it away, all of it away. The truth remained, however, as foretold by not one pause in his step, a bitter determination to reach his goal, unchangeable dedication not thwarted by insanity or even time itself. There were some things that mattered far more than what a clock could tell, as shown by his mere existence.
Life was colorless, or at least a range of whites, blues, and grays, but in no way was it dull. The flats were a reminder of that, despite its monotonous nature it could bite, steal, kill, all without even possessing a body. The winds and snow were its weapons, at the same time its defense system, the reason why the region was not conquered by humanity, instead them simply being a player in nature's elaborate game. If one looked close enough, they could see the remnants of failed settlements everywhere they walked, a frost-coated plank peeking out of the powdered floor, an unnatural bluff, formed from where a house was once perched. They had been transformed into the landscape itself, however, no longer serving their original intent.
Somewhere between the miles of concealed ruin lay a village, one not gradually abandoned upon hopes being crushed but torn asunder before any inhabitants could flee. It was not his destination, nor even a point along the way, for what was there to mark nothing? Only memories retained the truth, a broken, buried one at that. He wondered, though, despite the fact that Leonidas knew not enough distance had been traveled, although it was getting there, if he were stepping on the same land from so long ago. It was always a thought that crossed his mind, in the desolate lands where there wasn't much else to do than ponder reality and freeze to death.
Of course, the latter wasn't as much of a concern for him, the blonde had grown up in the area, after all, and although he was by no means immune to the cold there was a saying his mother always used to repeat, one that fitted quite well with the topic of staying warm. There's no such thing as being cold; there is such a thing as not being properly dressed, or at least something to that effect. Probably half of Fiore would argue with the statement, but out in the middle of nowhere it rang true. He wore a multitude of layers, the top coat being white, to blend in with the surroundings, a hood pulled over a hat which concealed the majority of his messy hair, although that was not the intent. A large eagle shrieked over head, but made no pause to descend upon him, instead after some larger, unseen prey. Alone, the world felt dead, no plants to trace life in which everything that moved only felt amplified, like a beacon in the great darkness. Vast, yet so conquerable at the same time, no scuttling distractions to throw him off, no sentiments or regard to consider.