The following year was, indeed, extremely hard: their mother was forced to spend what little money she and the farmer had put aside to hire workers and spent most of her time working with them in the fields. The children had never been allowed to be idle, but now they had to take care of the animals and mind the house.
One day, Adric was told to stay home with Jared while their mother oversaw the last preparations for winter. However, he soon grew bored and started poking his nose around the house: in a drawer by his mother's bed he found a pretty little silver brooch, the only present his mother received on her wedding day. He knew he was not to touch it, for his mother had said so many times, but he decided to take it anyway and show it to his friends.
While his brother did his chores, he snuck out of the house and ran across the fields, where he played all day with the neighbor children. When he returned home, he went into his mother's room to put the brooch back, only to discover that his pockets were empty and the brooch was nowhere to be found. Scared, Adric ran out of the room, but he forgot to close the drawer.
When mother came home, she went into her bedroom and saw the drawer half-open. Remembering she had not touched it at all, she called the children. “Who opened my drawer and took my brooch, the brooch I told you never to touch? Give it back now or I'll give you to the Northern wind, who is cold and cruel.”
Adric immediately burst into tears: “I'm so sorry, mama. I took the pretty brooch to show it to my friends, but I lost it, I can't give it back. Please, mama, don't give me to the Northern Wind!”
The woman was surprised, for she thought her darling boy could do no wrong, and though she was very angry, she still couldn't bring herself to punish him. Instead, she turned to her step-son.
“You are a very wicked boy,” she told him. “You didn't watch your little brother and you let him lose my silver brooch that was going to be his only inheritance. Take a lamp, go out into the fields and look for my brooch! Don't come back until you've found it or I won't let you in!”
In vain Jared protested that he had been working and he had not seen his brother take the brooch, he was thrown out into the night with only a light and his cloak.
Sad and terrified, Jared walked up and down the fields, looked in every hole and every bush, but he couldn't find the brooch.
He went back to the house and knocked on the door. “Please, mother, let me in, the night grows colder and colder.”
“Did you find my brooch?” said she.
“It's too dark to see, mother, I cannot find it. I beg you, let me in or I shall freeze.”
“Good-for-nothing! Layabout! You haven't looked hard enough! Go back to the fields and keep looking, for I will not let you in! The barn and the hen house are locked: you'll find no shelter unless you bring me back my brooch.”
Jared took his light and walked back to the fields, all alone and even more terrified than before. He tried to look for the brooch again, but the howling wind froze his fingers and stung his eyes and every sound made him jump with fear.
Exhausted and broken-hearted, he curled up under a tree, trying to warm himself under his cloak.
Suddenly, he heard hooves clattering as loud as thunder and he saw a rider approaching, a pale man all wrapped in furs on a snow-white horse. At that sight, Jared trembled in fear, for who could it be but the herald of winter, the lord of the Northern wind?
Nobody liked the Northern wind, nobody blessed its arrival or mourned its departure for it brought naught but cold, frost and darkness and its lord knew neither mercy nor pity.
Jared's first thought was to hide, but he immediately chided himself for a fool, for what good would it do? No creature under the sky could hide from the wind and his chattering teeth would give him away in no time at all.
Instead, he smiled at the rider and shouted, “Well met, lord of the White Lands! I hope our heavenly Father sent you for my sinful soul.”
The lord of the Northern wind jumped down from his horse. “Why, a little mortal! What are you doing out here in the fields?”
“My little brother lost our mother's silver brooch and I was sent to find it.” Jared said and tried in vain not to stare. Stories and legends always described the lord of the Northern wind as an old man, with a long beard as white as snow and eyes as cold as ice, yet the man who stood before him was young and handsome. “Is this your real form or just a guise you took not to scare me?”
The question left his mouth before he could stop it, but instead of being angered, the lord of the Northern wind laughed. “Truly, I have no other form than this and I doubt there's a thing on this Earth that could scare you, little mortal: bigger men than you dare not hail me or ask me questions. But the night will grow colder still and you should run home. I know little of your people, but I know they cannot survive a night like this.”
“I cannot go until I find my mother's brooch,” said Jared. “And it's so dark I cannot see it.”
“Oh, you cannot? Is it because you are still young?” he asked, then shook his head. “Forgive me, you are hardly in the mood to chatter and here I go, asking questions. But you're a brave one, little mortal, and bravery should be rewarded.”
Before Jared could speak, the lord of the Northern wind raised his hand and there was a gust of wind so strong he had to close his eyes.
When he opened them again, the lord of the Northern wind held his mother's brooch in hand. “Is it this one?”
Jared jumped to his feet. “Yes, yes, it is! Thank you, sir!” He clutched the brooch to his chest, his fingers numb with cold. “I know I am only a child, but if there's any service you'd ask of me...”
“There are no debts between us. Although...”
“My brother and my sisters know the mortal world very well, but when I ride, all mortals sit in their warm houses and won't stir. You too probably wish to go back inside, but would you mind staying here and talk for a while?”
“I wouldn't mind at all, sir.” Jared replied, shivering.
The lord of the Northern wind smiled. “And will you be comfortable here, brave little mortal?”
For a moment, Jared hesitated, then he met his eyes and answered: “I am very comfortable now, I hope I shall remain so.”
The lord of the Northern wind laughed again and sat down next to him.
The wind howled all around them and the night grew colder, but while Jared talked to the lord of the Northern wind, he did not feel cold at all – actually, he felt almost warm and he was, indeed, most comfortable.
The hours flew by, until it was almost dawn.
“You are a very kind mortal. I have one more question for you.”
Jared's heart clenched, fearing the lord of the Northern wind would leave him alone, but resolved to answer him truthfully. “Ask away.”
“I'd like to know your name, if you'll part with it.”
Hearing that, Jared hesitated again: everybody knew you were not to give your name to magic creatures, or they'd have power over you.
“I will understand if you don't...”
“It's Jared. My name, it's Jared,” he said quickly, before courage deserted him.
The lord of the Northern wind smiled. “Jared. Thank you. It's a great gift and I wish to repay you in kind.”
“It was a gift freely given, there are no debts between us.”
“A gift for a gift, then,” he said. Then he leaned forward, pressed his lips against Jared's forehead and Jared forgot the cold and dark. He suddenly felt hot, as though he had been standing close to a fire at the height of summer.
The lord of the Northern wind stood, but the heat remained. “For the kindness you showed me, you'll never feel cold again. Snow won't trouble you, nor will ice, nor even the Northern wind. And for the gift of your name...” He smiled. “I shall give you my own.”
“Your name? But...”
“Jensen. This is the name our Father gave me, the name only my brother and sisters know. I gladly give it to you. Say it when the Northern wind blows and no matter where I am, I shall hear you – but it's for you alone. You must never share it with anyone, living or dead.”
“Upon my soul, I won't” Jared said solemnly, the promise of the man he would be someday and not the boy he still was.
The lord of the Northern wind looked back at him, not quite smiling. “I know you'll keep your word, little mortal,” he said and swung himself back in the saddle. “Farewell!”
“Until we meet again, my lord!” Jared shouted, waving and smiling, and the wind carried the sound of laughter back to him.
Soon the lord Jensen was gone from his sight and Jared started the long walk back home with his mind full of green eyes, a kind voice and that low laugh.
When he appeared before his step-mother, casually strolling up to the house with her brooch in one hand and his folded cloak in the other, she hardly knew what to think or feel: all night long her conscience had tormented her, but then the love she felt for her own child would start whispering, painting terrible pictures of her dear Adric alone and starving, without a place to call his own. It would have hardly been murder: men and livestock alike often succumbed to the cold, it was just the way things were.
Yet there Jared was, hale and healthy, not even a bit chilled, after being out all night....There had to be an explanation – the boy had to have found some shelter, a shepherd's hut or a groove in the ground. She wondered if somebody had helped and that thought filled her with fear: not of neighbors, but of the spirits and ghosts that walked in the night. She almost asked him if he had met someone out there in the fields, but her voice would not come. Instead, fearing for her soul, she told her stepson to go to his room and sleep.
Jared gratefully obeyed. As he laid down under the covers, he wondered if it would have been blasphemous to dream of a Wind Lord.