Inspired by “Crystal Forest” by Vindsvept

Your wounds ache. Your body is heavy. You remember collapsing exhausted into the snow, but that is all you remember.

Your senses gradually return, carrying an amber light and the hiss of a campfire. The forest you expected to see was replaced by stone walls. Did someone find you and carry you here? Where are you?

You lie on your back, nestled in an alcove. Your cloak is draped over you. Your head rests on your pack. Your armor and sword are safely tucked between you and the back wall. Curious as you are about this place and your rescuer, you don’t have the strength to follow it. You can only breathe and turn your head.

A fire burns strong and steady in the center of the room. You see a dozen figures resting in the amber glow – other people wrapped in cloaks and blankets. Whether they’re asleep or sitting still in reverent silence, you can’t tell.

Candles flicker beyond the firelight’s reach. They look like stars from where you lie. In their dim light, you see the emblem stitched onto the banners hanging from the tall ceiling – the Crest of Sacred Flame. You must be in a shrine.

Your gaze falls back onto the fire. Is this a remnant of that ancient flame that fell from the sky? The fire that warmed all of the world’s creatures, stirring them to life? All you can remember of that old legend is that, so long as fires like this one burn, life will endure.

You clutch something in your hand. Something you don’t remember having before. Something hard and warm. Slowly, you lift your hand to see what you’re holding. It’s a crystal the size of your palm, glowing with pale magic. A Star Stone.

You let your hand fall onto your chest again. Were you that close to death when they found you? Are your wounds that bad? You’re too tired to think, yet you can’t bear to let the Star Stone go.

You can feel the healing magic within the crystal seep into your skin. You feel it flow up to your face, caressing you. You fall asleep, lulled by the comforting crackle of the Sacred Flame.

©2020 Joyce Lewis. All rights reserved.