Into a Blizzard
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December 12: Fuchs found the Eternal Blizzard five years ago and she's never set foot in it since. This is because it is a frigid, terribly unpleasant place. We have less sense and are departing for it as soon as possible. I jest, but only partly. As interested as I am in seeing the place and as much as I'm sure my companions will learn, this is still someplace even I'm reluctant to go--and I've been walking on the surface of the sun.

It's officially an independent expedition of scholars, ten in total—cryptozoologists and magicians. There's some vested interests, of course. et-Boz has made a "donation" but everyone really knows that they're hoping to find out the secrets of frostskull locomotion to build better leycraft. Legacy has also taken an interest in the Eternal Blizzard because they think they can use it as a shortcut to connect their sanctuaries in Antarctica and Japan. We'll see. I don't have high hopes.

We're bringing entirely analog and biological equipment to get around the electromagnetic interference. That's easy enough to handle, so long as you can think and your stuff isn't being ripped apart. The magical interference is another matter. There's several unrelated phenomena that can render thaumaturgy useless, and each of them reacts with other kinds of magic in unique ways, if at all. There's a few magical artifacts we're bringing with us that should give us a better idea of what's going on. Mostly by breaking.

The journey will be short. What's going to take the longest is the waiting. The Way to the Eternal Blizzard from Newfoundland only opens during particularly severe, lengthy blizzards, and while I can keep us from getting lost if the blizzard ends too soon, we'd still miss our window.

December 13: We're there. I can see the Last Tree in the distance.

It's really fucking cold. I will write more when the space heater starts working.

Later: Basecamp is established. Because the snow isn't stable enough to support a proper base camp, we've suspended the tents in the air. The place is rather cramped as a result, but we'll make do. Some of the scientists wanted to bring a leycraft, but it's a good thing we didn't--these currents would shake it like a leaf and tear it to shreds.

Some of the artifacts broke; some didn't. I don't understand the specifics of what the academics are going on about, but a lot of the anart pieces retained their properties. The equipment for the next expedition might be a lot more aesthetically interesting and color coordinated. Also, the temperature is slightly above freezing according to the liquid-in-glass thermometers, but for organic thermometers the displayed temperature decreases until the thermometer dies. Likewise, water doesn't freeze but I'm pretty sure our blood would be if we weren't covered up. At least basecamp provides shelter from the cold.

We've spotted a lot of the snow hares around, but they fled under the snow shortly after our arrival and haven't returned. No frostskulls yet. There are three kites in the sky. There's talk of trying to fly closer to them using a hot air balloon; Sarah asked me if I could just 'walk up there' and I had to explain it doesn't work that way so a balloon it is. I'm still not sure how they managed to fit the balloon in our supplies.

My own abilities are unaffected. I'm comfortable so long as I'm in motion. I'd been worried about that. It means I can find us a Way out if we need it.

December 14: This morning the kites hadn't moved from where they loomed over us. Setting up the balloon took a few hours, but by noon we were ready to fly. Getting up there was remarkably fast; only took a few minutes. I'd not known balloons could move that quickly.

Up close, the kites look a lot like squid. They've got big, streamlined bodies with rubbery pink skin and an array of tentacles and eyestalks on each end. They don't have visible mouths. There is a stiff, thin membrane encircling their bodies—from below it makes them look fatter than they are. Current hypothesis is that it's involved in gathering energy somehow, but no one knows how.

We stayed up there for half an hour, tethered by rope so we wouldn't drift too far. The creature's tentacles drift in the wind, but even when we were in front of their eyestalks they seemed to pay us no mind. They didn't move, aside from their tentacles, and they seemed to take no note of each other either. No one has any good ideas on why they're gathered together. Some of us thought maybe they came together to mate, but if so that's the most boring courting ritual I've ever seen.

The Last Tree still stretches to the heavens. We were above the worst of the storm, but we couldn't see the end.

December 15: This world is… productive, more productive than it should be. Snow-covered tundras have less abundant life than the Eternal Blizzard and those have more producers—and are only covered with snow for part of the year. Here, there's no plant life visible aside from the Last Tree and there's no marks on it. The snow hares aren't eating it. Can the snow hares extract energy from the blizzard? It's possible, but I doubt it and so do the scholars. They have digestive and excretory systems so they're taking in mass from some source. I suppose it could be for drinking. I'm told they discovered that the snow isn't entirely solidified magic. Most of it is, but there's enough water to keep the biosphere going around. It freezes when it's in the upper atmosphere, they think, and melts shortly after falling. I did find some snow hare carcasses and managed to catch a frostskull, so we might have some answers on what's going on with them soon. The live snow hares are back, too. We've drawn quite the crowd; maybe it's because the frostskulls seem to be avoiding us?

There's no day-night cycle, or at least if there is it's so long that we haven't been able to detect even the slightest dimming. Light comes from the entire sky. There's no sun. Remote viewing of the past fails. I've been in plenty of places like this, but there's still something slightly off about it. I can't tell what, though.

Also, we're getting equipment failures. The heaters aren't working as well as they should be. I don't care what the read-outs say; it's getting noticeably colder inside here.

December 16: I'm an idiot. It's not equipment failures; it's the snow hares. It's colder for organic matter inside the section of base camp where the carcasses are, and colder around the edges where the snow hares are clustered. Maybe that's just what they do, or maybe that's a way they get energy—but the fact that they're all gathering below the camp suggests the latter. The frostskulls showed up, but they're still not fleeing the area even though they're easy targets.

We shouldn't linger. Maybe another group can learn the secrets of this place, but we can't. I'm opening a Way as soon as the more delicate equipment is packed away.

December 17: Getting out was not a simple affair.

With the wind whipping around us and the cold leaching into our bones, I tried to blaze a Way the same way we'd come in, going from blizzard to blizzard. I could tell as soon as we started walking that the Ways between worlds were being twisted and looped back around themselves. For the first time I can remember, I could not tell which way was which. I cannot tell how long we were walking, but by the time we found ourselves facing basecamp again the others were nearly dead on their feet.

I nearly despaired then. But when I saw the Last Tree through the blizzard, I felt like my feet were on firmer ground. It was like life seeped back into my soul. I started to lead the others forwards, and as we trudged onwards I could see the Last Tree turning green again, and growing more branches. The others were invigorated too. Maybe it was just the prospect of getting out, or maybe it was the nature of the Tree; I don't know. After only a few minutes, the Last Tree started to shorten, and other trees started to appear around it. Finally, we broke through the blizzard and found ourselves in a pine forest.

My advice? Don't go to the Eternal Blizzard. But if you do, the Last Tree will guide you home.

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