Okay, maybe intimidation was a bit of a factor.
I thought it was a simple request: gather some samples of the blight from the other side of the mountain, send it off to be analyzed back in the city, possibly start on a solution to fix the land.
But as I continued to explain my intentions for making my proposal, it grew harder to keep my voice from cracking and wavering as the Duke of Gavallande's visage contorted into one of frustration. My words were barely above a whisper by the time I was finished.
"Get out!" the gaunt-faced man ordered, slamming his palms against the desk in front of him as he shot up from his chair. "All of you!"
"If I may, Your Excellency–" I managed to squeak before being interrupted by the man.
"No, I've heard enough of your request."
He gestured to a uniformed guard that stood at attention at a wall before the nobleman disappeared behind a set of curtains behind his desk.
The guard approached me, a slight frown pulling his hardened features and an eyebrow quirked upward, silently urging me to comply with the leader's demands. I sighed and shuffled out of the room, following behind the other exiting occupants, shivering as freely as I wanted. There was no need to keep up appearances anymore.
"You're an idiot," the guard said bluntly.
"I know," I said, defeated.
"You're still stranded up here until the day thaws the lake."
"Just stay warm and stay out of the way of the duke, and you should survive the winter."
The guard grunted, unimpressed with my responses. "You know a lot, but you don't know something obvious: your request is able to destroy the island."
I grew indignant at this, forgetting the cold that nipped at my cheeks as I whirled around to hurl at the uniformed man's face, "It's not going to destroy anything! Why can't anyone just open their eyes and see what good this will do?"
"Things are different here compared to the city, and with good reason. Don't cause any trouble."
"We reduce your daily allowances."
"My..." I trailed off, thinking of the limited freedom I would have should that happen. I gasped and pulled my hands to my chest like a child holding a prized possession, fearful of what could be taken from me. "That's inhumane! Magic is in my blood as much as it is in yours."
"But it's better served for a law-abiding citizen than a trouble-maker, hm? Best to not waste such a valuable resource when its access is limited this time of the year."
"Wouldn't your criminals go mad, then?"
"Some do." The guard shoved me outside of the duke's mansion into the unabated winter. He looked me up and down as he lingered in the open doorway, the frown still etched onto flesh-toned marble.
"Stay a moment," he instructed me as he clicked the front door to the estate shut.
My eyebrows furrowed as I continued to shiver violently from where I stood in the snow-covered world.
How could people even want to live in a place like this?
Before I could properly curse my situation under my breath, the door opened once again, the same guard returning. He held a folded bundle out, which I took with trembling fingers. I unfurled it to see that it was a cloak.
"I forgot that you're a horticulturist," he explained. "While it's not ideal, hopefully it will make up for your lack of a means to stay warm. Good night."
With another click, the door swung shut and the muffled scrape of the bolt sliding into place was my cue to leave.
And so went my first day up the mountain town of Gavallande.
This is just an exploration of an idea. I'm still trying to get the feel of what style I want to write this in. Whether I want to write it in first person or third, whose story among the characters in this scene I want to tell, etc. I'm not sure if I like it so far. I might continue the vague plot I have written down once I make those decisions.
I also usually write things in medias res anyway, so it didn't quite feel as much as an experiment, but more like a display of my current abilities (and inabilities) to write like this.