Closing the journal she looked upon the Marshal once more. His skin was white, crusted with ice crystals. His hair was frozen and the sea breeze had been sufficient to break some of the strands, which lay glittering on the floor. Long stalactites of ice hung from his arms and cloak. His hand was on his sword, but he had not yet drawn it and now it was forever frozen into its scabbard.
Yes, she concluded, he had died in battle. She had no doubt it had been intention to take fight to whatever sorceror had wrought his end and this way his wife and children would receive extra coin from the Queen.
The air began to take on a peculiar chill. Swiftly, with a motion to her men to follow, Heorbast hurried from the chamber, not keen to share the Marshal’s fate.
Mortals forever seek to wield the powers of the secrets, but not all are easily mastered. So it proved with the unearthly blue flames occasionally found near openings to the fault realms. It was Kozakillion, an elder of Ronunskei, who first tamed them and it is by his name that they came to be known to those scholars who later studied this art.
In the Six Castles this secret is feared and avoided. There it is known as the icefire, a name which provides some warning of the danger it represents.
Unlike many of the secrets harnessed by mortals, the art of controlling the aura has never been known to more than a few and has never been taught. Those who know it well recognise it as profoundly alien to this world and never lose their wariness of it. Even as they use it as a tool they fear what might be unleashed if it fell into the wrong hands.
Although Kozakillion’s aura appears as a pale blue flame, it emits no heat. The secret draws in energy of every kind from anything it touches. The aura grows in strength as it absorbs more energy, which can have swift and terrifying consequences.
A brief touch of the aura will chill most inanimate objects to the temperature of a winter’s day. Anything living will suffer freezing pain. If contact persists it will cause frostbite, burns and then death.
When sufficiently fuelled, the aura begins to draw in sound and light, causing its surroundings to become darker and quieter. A strong enough aura can kill with a touch, cause snow to fall from the surrounding air and even shatter solid objects.
Although only rarely harnessed by mortals, the aura is frequently wielded by elementals, spirits and demons from the higher levels of the stairway. Correspondingly, such beings are less vulnerable to its effects and are no more afraid of small auras than a mortal would be of a candle flame.