The army descended into the snow swept canyon, their pace slowed by the icy pathways. A frigid wind swept down the jagged, rocky mountainsides and blinded them with stinging snow. Though usually boisterous and full of zeal, they made no sound as each soldier sought sanctuary in the confines of his mind.
Their leather boots and wool socks helped protect their toes from the snows, but their chainmail was so cold against their tunics that the cold had become a burning pain. Their fingers still gripped their spears, but they had long ago lost all feeling in their hands. Despite their discomfort, they marched forward uncomplaining. They would follow Him to hell and back.
He walked at the head of the column, flanked by aides and commanders and banner men. Though he did not know what dangers lay ahead, he would be the first to hazard them, and that was why his men loved him.
The bridge was the first hazard. It appeared as if from nowhere, a feat not hard to accomplish in a world of ashen grey and blinding white. He held his hand aloft and the column came to a stop. He proceeded forward to test the timbers. Though the bridge was icy and appeared rickety, he determined it would be safe to continue. As he made his way, he glanced at the roiling river to each side and was surprised to note that the waters only appeared turbulent.
They were frozen in place, a fact which was more amazing because these were not typical rapids. They reminded him more of crashing waves during a storm. They stood over the river, perpetually cresting and poised to break over the snowy banks. He would not want to be here when the waters thawed.
His army crossed the bridge without incident and continued along the narrow road. As they descended deeper into the valley, the snows piled higher and the going became more treacherous. He gazed up and down the rock walls of the canyon with eyes trained by decades of warfare. He could detect no threat, but something in the back of his mind was nagging at him.
His thoughts were interrupted as he came to a peculiar spot in the road. The road was flanked on both sides by the walls of turbulent ice, but in the middle where the road went the water ran freely. It was the only sign of spring in the canyon of winter. He took a step forward but a hand grabbed his shoulder. It was his son, his paragon general, and his eyes betrayed his terror.
‘This does not feel right,” he spoke softly.
He looked to his son and reached for his hand. “There is only forward,” he replied.
He stepped forward while his men watched. He knew no fear as he approached the rivulet. Not even as a white, luminous specter materialized from the clouds did he tremble. The voices of his men were raised in alarm, and several arrows and spear shafts came hurtling through the sky at the unexpected sight. All weapons were banished in a flash of light. An otherworldly voice wafted to them, scarcely audible over the wind.
“You may not set foot in my water,” said the voice. The soldiers cowered and balked as an extreme terror gripped them. But he stood unflinching, his eyes piercing the piercing eyes of the spirit.
“My way is there,” he calmly replied. He began to step forward.
“To step in my water is death,” the being said.
He nodded, and then walked forward. His men shouted in unison for him to stop, they reached out to grab him, but he was beyond them. Powerless, they watched in horror as he came to the running waters.
Without hesitation, he lifted his foot and stepped onto the water. To the astonishment of all, himself included, his foot did not submerge into the icy water. Instead, he walked atop the water as if it was firm ground. He took another step, and still the water flowed beneath him.
The specter moved before him, it’s brilliant iridescent light nearly blinding. “How are you doing this?” it asked, it’s voice quaking.
He stared back at the spirit. “Love,” he said. Then, without any further explanation, he finished crossing the stream and continued on the icy road.