Rafe snorted. That myth.

“Don’t be crass!” Greta shot back. “This monster is the very reason for the Order’s existence. Without her cataclysmic past, there is no Flawed Snowflake. And the world very well may be lost to darkness.”

The half-elf wanted to retort. Or, more likely, he wanted to sigh and continue on in silence. But even he could not pretend to be bored about this. It was the foundation of the very Order that he believed in.

The Order of the Flawed Snowflake. The greatest collaboration of intellectuals the modern world had ever seen. Scientists, mages, engineers, scholars, even politicians. Those of merit and worth paid some measure of success to the Order and its continued efforts toward life’s progress, renewal, and defense.

Its acolytes ranged from those who studied the depths of magic and science, to those who sought to defend all life like Rafe Cauley, regardless of race, nationality or creed. If one was mortal, and in need of aid, the Order was there to help in some way, shape or form.

These tenets were what Rafe believed in. Despite his gruff personality, and stubborn refusal to accept anything from scholars, he did believe in the Order. It allowed him to help everyone, and train for a world beyond borders and petty differences.

The Order was old. Centuries, even millennia had passed and the Order survived. But it started because of this myth. A death goddess of vengeance that had almost broken the world. She had raged against gods and mortals alike, seemingly invulnerable by all efforts to quell her power.

Finally, she was captured. Trapped by the combined efforts of all living creatures, and condemned to an eternity of imprisonment. The Order of the Flawed Snowflake arose, both to strengthen the resolve of those who shuffle along the mortal coil, and to defend against the ever-present danger that the Scourge would pose if she rose again.

That was what Greta and Rafe were tasked with. Every century, the Order sent two of its acolytes to the prison. Its existence and location were shrouded in mystery, known only to select members for the protection of secrecy. For Greta, this was a Big Deal, something truly important that could only mean new and wondrous tidings for her life in the Order. For Rafe, it was another hassle, but at least it was another part of his life he didn’t have to talk about.

“We are going to witness one of the founding secrets of the Order!” Greta squealed. “The tomb of the Scourge is shrouded in so much mystery, they could not even give us an actual location!”

“Lazy bums,” Rafe agreed.

“Lazy!” Greta put her hands on her hips. “The Order has given us a tantamount mission! Just think what would happen if we were not there to check on the prison, and the Scourge were freed?”

Rafe shrugged, and suppressed a scowl at the misuse of “tantamount.” If the Scourge escaped, they’d probably all die and the world would be consumed by ten thousand years of darkness, lorded over by the most vile thing that had been birthed by this world’s anger and vengeance. Or they’d deal.

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

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