Winter in the world wrought with darkness was far more bitter than any Edward had seen back home. Harsh winds whipped the snow that fell in sheets rather than flakes, blinding him to most of the surrounding landscape. Bare tree trunks and jagged rocks stuck out in stark contrast to the pure white of the snowfall, but it was impossible to see the horizon past a hundred feet or so. And the cold - it sent a shiver down the prince's spine just at the acknowledgement.
The cooler months of Andalasia's year were hardly biting as this was. The kingdom - or at least his palace - was located in such an ideal setting, with a beautiful temperate climate and sprawling forest landscapes. Even in winter, it was more often brisk like a cool autumn day. Frost would gently coat the palace's gardens in the courtyard and melt by noon. The lakes and streams that dotted and twisted through the forest never grew cold enough to freeze over. If it did snow, the world was blanketed in a quiet white. It was a peaceful, frosty little wonderland: a dream of glittering snow and fragile icicles that glinted in the cool sunlight as they melted. This was a nightmare in comparison.
He'd come out on a regular patrol run, having drawn the figurative short straw to go out while it was still snowing. He knew it would be no easy task from the beginning, but he wasn't expecting the weather to turn for the worse as he ventured farther from camp. It seemed the wind only picked up, the snow falling harder. He would need to find some where to stop, to survive the storm before he was able to find the campsite again. Back to the campsite, wait out the rest of the time he had left before the nearest portal reappeared, and then back to San Francisco.
Since finding Giselle safe and sound across the portal, he felt well enough to split his attention between his two duties: one to her, the other to his lost kingdom. Since leaving more than two years ago (in his pursuit to find the lovely redhead with whom he had since reunited), he still hadn't been able to find it. Whatever spell, whatever curse the two of them had gone through, it seemed to be a one way ride and he hadn't been able to figure out how to jump back into it, back into that well in his palace's courtyard. They'd both found the portal to San Francisco in the end, but getting back to their home land had proven impossible.
Yet he'd been out looking ever since, spending time with the resistance in between his searching. It was no coincidence he'd volunteered for the patrol that lie in the direction of this crumbling, forgotten kingdom. He knew it wasn't his own (and he couldn't tell whether or not he was grateful for that), but some small part of him sought solace in seeking it out and finding it anyway. If only to ensure that this wasn't his kingdom that had fallen. In the blinding snow, the prince had to get much closer than he would otherwise to see if he could glean anything from what was left of the town that he was looking for. He studied the buildings as he stalked between them. Most were half in ruin, empty and falling apart, their roofs caved in or missing entirely. If anyone lived here it was years - perhaps decades ago. This could not be his kingdom, unless it had been mangled beyond all recognition and darkness had sunk it into more disrepair than two years would suggest.
He breathed a sigh of relief, but he was not out of danger of the storm yet. He needed to find somewhere to wait out the storm before he was able to return to the encampment. He had a small satchel of supplies but otherwise had traveled light, not expecting to have to stay in one place so long. That, and he couldn't be laden down with too much in case he needed to fight - or flee. But thus far, his sword had remained in its sheath at his belt, under the heavy cloak that shielded him the best it could from the bitter cold. The prince spotted a large structure, perhaps the remnants of a tavern or town hall or some other large building. Its walls and its roof were still half intact, and he decided to make camp here. He approached the structure, finding the door already open, wrenched off one of its great iron hinges.
And there - in the place he was looking for some respite from the cold (or at least the wind) - was a dragon. Surely it had come in from the far end of the building, the end that had been ripped off by some old, unknown force and it might have had the same idea as the prince himself. Looking for a bit of solace from the raging storm, perhaps. He couldn't be certain, but he also couldn't stand there, dumbstruck in the doorway. His breathing quieted, steadying himself on what was left of the floorboards below. He drew his sword, and paused, with all the caution he usually lacked in his carefree life across the portal. He had not thought to find anything out in the storm, but a dragon, of all things, was even less expected. What it might do when it noticed he had come across its hiding spot, he had no idea. But if he had walked into the dragon's den and he was doomed to die, he wouldn't go down without a fight.