This is a sequel to Shadowsoon. I recommend reading that story first.

When that girl’s demise finally sweeps Winter away, they get only a three month reprieve—the sweet warmth of loving Spring—before the hellfires of Summer come around to punish them for the sin of sacrifice. Summer does not care what Winter demanded of them, only that they were not strong enough to resist it. But how can you resist nature herself?

Shutters are closed, windows are boarded up, and no one risks stepping into the eternal day or the sun’s scorching torment. It takes only seconds to char under the brutality of the light. It is a sick recompense, robbing them of the illumination that kept them safe during Winter’s terrible reign; now, they must survive in the roiling hellfire that invades even the dark.

Summer, unlike Winter, asks for nothing. Summer only takes. It takes, and it takes, and it takes, water and children and elderly and every beloved stray, until it grows tired of them all—deems them undeserving of even its torment—and allows the sun to set. Then, the ominous omens of Autumn will bring a tense chill to the air. Autumn neither asks nor punishes: it warns. Though they will finally be allowed to leave their homes, starving and dehydrated, they will all pass one another silently. They will not look each other in the eyes.

How could they, when they will rely on the disappearance of another to survive another wretched year under the tyranny of the Seasons? Even Spring, gentle Spring, cannot, or will not, save them. They may not be free. They cannot even die—not until they are next to be taken.

Every year, their numbers grow fewer, and the torment will continue until the Seasons have taken everything from them. A transgression against Nature by their ancestors has doomed them all, and they will never be forgiven.