One of my New Years resolutions is to give this story one more go at actually finishing…
Defiantly, the tree held tightly to its one remaining leaf. As gust upon gust of wind ripped through its branches declaring to the world that an early winter had arrived in this barren land, the leaf remained. Many others had fallen that day, but the last leaf obstinately held on. It was the last survivor in a seasonal battle that inevitably stripped the tree bare. Still, the leaf held on. The leaf held on until finally, it could do so no more. The north wind battered its breath against the lonely tree and when it managed to gain the upper hand, that leaf broke free.
Riding the current of this frigid wind, the leaf floated and fluttered far from its home. Now rising, now falling, the curly edged, brown, dying and decaying leaf painted a lively counterpoint to the bleak, barren landscape that was part and parcel of early September in the north country. Spinning in its dance, this leaf finally came to rest on an unused path a short distance to the east of the lonely tree from which it was launched. As it gently touched down, the leaf was immediately ground into nothing by a big black boot.
Gavril again pulled his hood tightly to his head. Another blast of wind struggled to throw it off while hurling daggers of cold at his nose and ears. He knew what he was in for when he agreed to seek the exiles out, but the knowing and the experience were two very different things. “This is ridiculous” he muttered to himself. “Nobody can possibly live here.” Removing his hand from deep inside its pocket he looked again at his Finder. Ever since he had left behind Trappers Point, he was beginning to doubt if Raval’s invention truly worked. Everybody at the Point tried to convince him that nobody lived this far north.
In defiance of those doubts, the Finder continued to point north. Gavril shook his head, shrugged his shoulders and tried again to tighten his cloak against the frigid cold. He passed by the huge tree and continued in a straight line towards the even more unnatural mist that marked the north end of nowhere. As he trudged onward another gust of wind unbalanced the heavy package on his shoulders. Reaching up to better settle the weight created an opening near his neck that sent icicles of pain down his chest. Gavril let out a painful cough and quickly tightened his hood. “If it is this bad now,” he thought, “what must it be like when deep winter truly sets in?”