“This is where it broke out.”
Bender shaded his eyes from the glare and squinted at the black patch on the meandering snake of ice.
“Tis a mighty small one, then,” he noted.
Roman frowned. “That hole is bigger up close. And anyway, you should’ve seen the length of it.”
Bender shrugged and took a few steps closer, daring Roman to do the same. The ice crunched under their feet, a staccato to their accelerating heartbeat.
They would be punished for walking here. The Winter Gods had taken too many who strayed onto what masqueraded as solid ground but was in fact bog fairies lurking beneath frosted fronds. Even in summer these flats were dangerous, full of sinkholes and swampy ponds that sucked at your feet and then leeched out your blood. Children were outright forbidden from entering the bog.
Which made the space all the more alluring to boys who had to prove bravery and test the lore.
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