Fanfic: A Cypress in Winter – Chapter 1 (Ice Fantasy - 幻城)
For those who have watched Ice Fantasy, this story is based on the TV series but not intended to faithfully follow all of the original plot details. Also, Ice Fantasy Destiny has or will not occur in this alternate storyline.
For those who haven’t watched Ice Fantasy, you can still read this fanfic and will likely understand it as it is largely an original story.
Forwardwritten by UnicornSlippers
Following the events of Ice Fantasy, the newly crowned ruler of the Ice Tribe, Ying Kong Shi, and his Dream Master, Xing Jiu, have set out to find the Blood Red Lotus and use it to alter their timeline and save Shi’s brother, Ka Suo. They have traveled for over ten years in search of any information on the location of the ancient artifact but have come up empty handed. Currently located in a remote and desolate area of the mortal world, they are far removed from the politics of Ice and Fire Tribe.
After the death of the Flame King and his daughter, Yan Da, a Fire General named Mao Jiang has taken over leadership of Fire Tribe. Intelligent and ambitious, Mao Jiang knows that another immediate open conflict with Ice Tribe will annihilate what is left of his people, but he is hungry for power and wants to solidify his position as ruler of Fire Tribe. He has unearthed the key to a gate between his world and another, where a tribe of immortals lives called the Earth Tribe. Earth Tribe are the stewards of a peaceful world, rich in land and magic, and completely unaware of the threat of Fire Tribe and their enigmatic new leader. Mao Jing sets his sights to the subjugation of this new world, and with his power consolidated under the banners of Fire and Earth, he can pivot once again towards Ice Tribe for a final, decisive battle.
Fire Tribe’s army has invaded and seized control of Earth Tribe’s seat of power, a city called Sanctuary. Although Mao Jiang has slaughtered or enslaved many of Earth Tribe’s citizens, the royal household and guard have escaped, and are being driven back through the gate between realms and into Ice Tribe territory. Our story begins with Song Bai, the third daughter of the Earth Tribe King, fleeing with her family and the royal guard away from Sanctuary and towards the gate between worlds.
Chapter 1Great columns of greasy smoke rose above the tree line, obscuring the fading light of the sun as dusk approached. The acrid scent of fire and ash was heavy in the air, causing Song Bai to cough violently into the sleeve of her gown. Fire Tribe had unsealed the gate between the realms weeks ago. The invasion was swift and unexpected, and Earth Tribe had been driven to their knees in a matter of days. She flushed with anger as she thought of the heavy price that her father’s surrender had cost her people.
Being alarmed for the safety of his wife and daughters as they fled the burning remains of Sanctuary, Song Bai’s father had commanded one of the royal guard captains, Xun Ru, to shadow her and her sisters closely during their frantic flight towards the gate between worlds. Xun Ru was a favorite of her father because he often performed personal odd jobs for the King without asking for extra compensation. He was a boorish brute, having careless manners and an evident lack of respect for all authority other than for the King. Her father found this amusing. Song Bai despised Xun Ru.
They slowed their desperate pace as they left the outskirts of Sanctuary behind, slipping into the forest quietly to avoid the notice of Fire Tribe soldiers patrolling the area. As they rode, Song Bai eased her mount back slightly so that she could study her travel partner without drawing his attention. He was tall and muscular. Aquiline features were framed by dark, closely cropped hair. He had a strong jawline, angular nose, and deep emerald eyes surrounded by long lashes. Her heartbeat quickened as she studied him and she felt a familiar warmth bloom in her chest.
Xun Ru suddenly turned and gave her a mocking smile. He was aware that she had been watching him and he wanted her to know. Her bright jade eyes flashed with fury and she spurred her horse forward, ignoring him and pressing ahead to join her sisters.
They rode in silence for several minutes, Song Bai fuming. Her anger was magnified by the terror and confusion following Earth Tribe’s defeat at Sanctuary. She was furious at Xun Ru for being so blatantly arrogant, and also at her own traitorous suffusion of desire whenever he was in her presence. Xun Ru followed close behind, chuckling to himself over her obvious interest in him, but oblivious to her incensed mood.
Her dark musings were suddenly interrupted by the faint sound of beating drums. Song Bai strained forward, petrified that they had been discovered and Fire Tribe was closing in to cut off their escape. Beneath the sound of the rhythmic pounding, she could just make out the faint tones of feminine chanting.
They cautiously continued forward, nearing a steep hill. Shafts of golden light shone through the trees as the sun made its final descent below the clouds, bathing the surrounding forest in crimson and gold. The light cast from the setting sun and the thick tapestry of smoke suspended in the air flung dancing shadows on the trees. The chanting stopped, and the dense forest on either side suddenly lay damp and quiet.
Song Bai breathed in the moist air, laden with the heavy scents of the living forest. She felt the magic rising up inside of her, ready to defend if called upon. As they crested the summit, they found a massive ring of stones. The rocks gleamed with the ambient light of the gate that had been opened between the worlds by Mao Jiang. As the breach blazed before them, darkness and the inner life of the forest closed in behind. The full moon rose in a wind tattered veil of silvery clouds and Song Bai saw a woman appear in the luminous glow through the gateway. She was very old, with tangled, shimmering white hair and startling blue eyes the color of cobalt. She was standing in a forest blanketed with huge drifts of powdery, white snow. She lifted her eyes to meet Song Bai’s gaze and a flash of recognition momentarily smoothed the deep wrinkles in her cheeks. She smiled and nodded once, beckoning them forward to cross the threshold and join her on the other side.