"Hey kid, go home before you get yourself killed!" A man yelled over the howling wind. Liksuk huddled against one of the city's numerous courtyard heaters, one arm held aloft clutching a newspaper in his heavily mittened hand while a few more were tucked under his other arm.
Liksuk grimaced as the wind whipped into his face. Cold and biting. He licked his lips as he shook his head then motioned for the man to buy a newspaper. The man continued to walk, ignoring Liksuk's offer and faded into the mounting fury. Liksuk knew he couldn't leave. Two weeks ago his ma told him and his siblings that their Pa went missing in the mines. He didn't want to believe it, of course, but he started to think about it. Mining for gold in the Dennaakde mountains was hard and brutal. When his Pa would visit a few times out of the year, he would explain to them the back-breaking work he would do to try and search for the elusive mineral that could lift the family out of poverty and into a comfortable life.
He heard from other newsboys earlier that day that a blizzard was headed their way. Now it appeared that it was almost upon the city as the wind gusted down the roads and swirled into the large courtyard. The heater surrounding him on the small platform let out sputtering puffs of smoke and steam as the fire beneath the platform heated the radiators. Ice was creeping across the surface. Liksuk leaned against one side, feeling the heat dwindling.
He was determined to stay out there until he sold every last newspaper. He wasn't going to let his family down.
A group of women heavily wrapped in skins and flapping dresses briskly walked past. Liksuk called out to them, motioning towards the newspaper in his hand that threatened to get yanked from his fingers. One of them looked up and at the paper. She took a few steps back as if shocked, then continued forward in her small group. Liksuk let out a sigh, his breath coming out in a puff of white.
As if with a great heave, the heater beneath his feet went cold. The radiators in moments were beginning to ice over. Liksuk felt his throat tighten. That was his only source of heat. He felt his feet and fingers begin to feel the chill. His mother didn't have enough funds to supply him with the best furs and wool. He raised his newspaper high and began to yell trying to get anyone to purchase the newspaper.
Fewer and fewer people and creatures were about. Most ignored him as they sought shelter, others yelled at him but their words were snatched away by the howling wind. Liksuk lost the battle of holding his newspaper as it was ripped from his fingers and fluttered away. Liksuk watched it vanish down the street. Maybe he was being a fool.
In the swirling currents of snow, a figure appeared astride a mighty Inmunnet horse. He was covered in Shvlakas. The small creatures scurried all over the imposing figure. Liksuk quickly picked up another newspaper as the man quietly approached. He peered at Liksuk through thick layers of wool and snow. After a moment, he lifted up the newspaper that escaped Liksuk as he moved closer until he was right next to him, heat emanated from the shaggy horse.
"I would like to purchase one." the man stated, withdrawing a coin from a hidden pouch and slipping it into Liksuk's covered hand. Liksuk swallowed, then thanked him, tucking it into a pocket. After the man straightened he seemed to say something to the furry white creatures that perched all over him. As one they suddenly leaped upon Liksuk and began settling on his shoulders, feet, and head. He felt their heat soak into him, warming him. It gave him a wealth of new strength.
The man moved his mount to the side as more men appeared riding similar horses. Liksuk realized they were Glikatamis, men, and women of the deep wilds who upheld justice in places where few roamed. Liksuk watched in awe as they filed past, each one asking for a newspaper which they quickly stuffed into their bulging fur coats.
The snow started to pelt Liksuk making it difficult to see as it stung at his eyes and cheeks. He handed his last newspaper to a large man then watched the legendary Glikatamis vanish into the storm except for the first one who still had his mount standing next to the platform. He looked at Liksuk then extended a hand yelling, "I'll take you home. I have one more errand to run."
Liksuk stared at him a moment. It wasn't every day a Glikatamis offered a ride to a simple newsboy. He quickly approached then let the man help him onto his horse as the little Shvlaka scrambled onto the man's massive shoulders and head.
It took them a while to find Liksuk's house as the storm made it nearly impossible for them to see. Thankfully Liksuk was warm and safe. When they finally found Liksuk's home which was more of a hovel they both dismounted.
"Thank you." Liksuk grinned, his ice-crusted scarf brushed up against his chin. The man blinked slowly then gently lifted one of the Shvlaka off his shoulder and placed it into Liksuk's hands saying, "he's a good Shvlaka, he will keep you company and give you warmth." He took a step back. Liksuk thanked him then turned and opened the door.
"wait. Do you know anyone by the name of Minsly Kitika?"
Liksuk knew immediately.
"That's my ma!"
"This is for her." The Glikatamis stated slipping a piece of paper from another secret place in his coat and handed it to Liksuk. He looked down at it flipping it over. The bold handwriting said one name, a name that caused his heart to leap for joy.
"It's from my Pa!"