The Arctic is cold. It’s an infinite expanse of white, with the smallest hints of ice and dark soil peeking through. Techno has built a refuge here, where the wooden walls are constantly beaten by the blizzard, and where the stone floor could freeze him if he stays still too long. The fireplace he lit has long since gone out, and he can’t bring himself to rekindle the coal. He draws the cape closer around his shoulders, hunched over by the wooden cot, back to the oak.
He feels the structure sway against his spine, dancing to the wind’s beat. It’ll hold, he knows, having built hundreds of bases over the course of his travels, but he lets himself wonder what might happen if the house caves in on itself, burying him in stone and wood and frozen water. He feels the tips of his fingers numb and pulse, some sort of stinging pain to compensate for his heart’s slow and steady beat. It echoes somewhere in his bones, dancing over him in a buzzing kind of hurt, far more biting than the winter chill. He thinks about the snow.
The piglin hybrid never was fond of the winter, being more sensitive to the cold than most creatures. He had come from the sweltering, oppressive, heat of the Nether, and the first snowfall he had experienced in the overworld had almost cost him his life. Phil had found him shivering in a shoddily built toolshed, dressed in rag-thin robes and pieces of ice cold armor, sick to the point of delirium. He remembers weeping at the warmth of being cradled by the older man, leaning into his chest with half-lidded eyes, falling asleep to an off-key humming of some human tune.
He remembers waking up to a heavy weight over his chest, warm and snug, and to the sound of snoring. To the right of the bed he had found himself in, a boy slept on some pelts on the floor. He had sat there watching as the boy had woken up slowly, hand aggressively wiping the sleep from his eyes. His waves of brown hair stuck out in all directions like he had just been struck by lightning. The boy pouted in the morning light before perking up when he saw that Techno was awake.
He had stuck out his hand, a big grin on his tiny face, speaking words Techno couldn’t understand. Techno had stared at the outstretched arm for a long moment, guarded confusion written into every nerve in his body, before he hesitantly reached out with splayed fingers, interlocking their hands together. The boy had stared at their intertwined fingers in surprise, before smiling so wide it must have hurt. He looked up at Techno, and pointed at himself.
“Will. Burr.” He had said, enunciating each syllable.
Techno cocked his head, imitating the foreign words with a foreign tongue, “Wil...bur.”
Wilbur had grinned then, taking hold of his other hand and swinging it gently, to the beat of some unknown rhythm, letting out a peal of laughter, “Wilbur!”
“Wilbur.” Techno says into an empty room, voice hoarse with disuse. He pushes himself up on shaking legs, feeling his mantle and his crown weigh down on his shoulders and brow. The door opens heavily, mounds of snow pouring in and pooling by his feet.
He trudges out into the open, feeling his feet sink deep into the snow. His mantle drags out behind him, a waterfall of crimson.
His second snowfall was a more lighthearted affair. He had stood by the doorway, shoes a hair’s breadth away from the white ground. It had come in a soft drizzle, gentler than the blizzard a year ago. He watched his brother frolic and jump in the blanket of snow, cheeks ruddy and eyes bright. Snow crystals stuck to the ends of his hair.
Techno ran a hand through his own, a nervous habit he picked up from Wilbur.
(His hair was dyed a medium shade of brown to cover up the bright pink. It had been a bit too reddish for his liking but it had served its purpose. The first thought that flashed in strangers’ minds when seeing the duo was brothers .)
A warm hand had settled onto his shoulders, heat a strong comfort from the wind that nips at his face.
“Go on, mate,” Philza had said, gently nudging his shoulder to the yard, “the snow doesn’t bite.”
Techno had taken a tentative step into the open, foot sinking inches into the snow. He missed the warmth of Phil’s hand but felt comfort in the smile he could hear from his laughter. He took another, and then another, till the breeze swayed on all sides and he could see his breath dance up into the clouds. He breathed in the cold air, feeling it sting just a little bit as it entered his lungs and came rushing out his mouth. He turned to call out to Phil—
—and felt a cold mass hit him square in the face.
Through the snow that clouded his vision, he saw Wilbur double over from laughter, a hand on his knee to support himself and the other cradling another snowball. He could hear his father’s amused concern, from where he stood at his adoptive son’s side. He wiped the snow from eyes, blinked to swim away the blur, and looked his brother dead in the eyes. His humanspeak, by then, had been somewhat decent, but an accent laid heavy on his words. “Wilbur,” he had growled, a voice deeper than that of a normal child, but no less endearing, a smile threatening to break through, “you’re going to pay for that.” and tackled the boy, dragging the both of them into the snow covered yard.
Techno feels his knees hit the snow, feels the cold seep into his skin. The wind whips around him, pulling his coat and hair in its stride. Tears fall down his cheeks and freeze at his chin. The sky greys.
“When’s your birthday, techno?” Philza had asked, one summer night, after Techno confessed that he didn’t know how old he was. Techno had stared at him for a few long seconds, a question in his dark eyes.
“Ah..what day were you born?” Phil said, and Techno spent yet another minute in contemplative silence.
“I don’t know.” He admitted, something hot and uncomfortable pulling at his chest. “I’m sorry.”
“Aw, mate , nothing to apologize for,” Phil had said, drawing the boy in for a hug. Techno had ignored the way his heart shook at the gesture, turning his face into his father’s coat and breathing in the scent of wood and smoke and pine. He felt a small tug on his sleeve, and peered up from over Phil’s arm to look at his unnaturally quiet brother. Wilbur had a strange look on his face, an expression that screamed hesitance and brilliance and determination.
“You can share mine.” He had said, hand shifting from Techno’s sleeve to grasping at his hand. “We can open presents together.”
“Share...birthdays?” Techno had asked.
“Yeah!” Wilbur had smiled, then, “We’ll be twins.”
He pushes his forehead into the snow and begs the ground to swallow him whole. It does not answer him, icy rejection written in its tempest. He bends under the weight of his grief.
“Look, Techno!” Wilbur had said, nudging him in the ribs, pointing at the small human Phil held in protective arms, “He smiles just like you.” And the child did, the same crooked baring of teeth and the same gleam in his blue eyes that mirrored the hybrid’s red. “ Family .” Wilbur had breathed, eyes wide in a awestruck kind of way, the way only children can so innocently stare. Techno had ruffled his hair, as well as the new kid-Tommy’s- and nodded. “Family.” He echoed.
He grasps at the snow, feeling clumps of ice prick his fingers. A wail tears from his lips, akin to a beast who has lost its pack. Similar to a wounded stray. The wind carries the sound away.
“Stay safe.” Wilbur had said, standing at the precipice of the ravine, Pogtopia a stone pathway he’s managed to carve a home into. “Tommy needs his older brother.”
“You too.” Techno had replied, eyeing the storm that came with the dawn. “He’ll need both his brothers.”
Wilbur had only smiled then, a promise written in the curves of his lips. Techno had mistakenly thought it to be a vow of survival, a dedication to live for the brother they both cherish with their lives.
He knows now that it was a smile of surrender, of a realization that maybe the world was better off without a Wilbur Soot to tear it at its seams.
His brother’s falling body flashes before his eyes, and the same damned smile he had given him the morning of the revolution accompanied his dying breath. Their father had screamed, a cry that shook the nation to its core, and Technoblade had felt something in him snap .
Losing a twin, he thinks, as he lays in the snow, is not a world shattering event. Time does not freeze, the world does not go silent. It is an absence. It is the loss of a warmth by his shoulder, the quiet in the corridor where his room once stood, the silence in a conversation where his replies so easily slotted into place. It is empty air where a hand once held his, and a grave where his brother once stood.
(“Techno,” Wilbur once whispered, in the quiet of the night when even the world goes to sleep, “Will you be by my side forever?”
They were fourteen, then, on the cusp of a brilliant new adventure, ambitions and dreams untethered and unmarred.
“Always.” Techno had replied, eyes heavy with sleep and fingers loosely intertwined with Wil’s. “I’d go with you to the ends of the Earth.”)
Frost creeps up his limbs. His breath chills the air. The cold whispers an agreement with his heart. In the valley of snow, where ice falls and wind howls, Technoblade is alone, and so very cold.