“You cant send her out there!” A middle-aged woman sobbed. “She will be eaten alive!”
The six counsellors looked at each other and returned nods of agreement.
“It is agreed that she must be the one to retrieve the flower,” a greying woman announced, oblivious to the womans sorrowful cries.
“Please! Don't!” The woman pleaded, hands clasped infront of her as she knelt before the stage. “She is the only child I have left!”
The counsellors ignored the woman's pleas as they stood from their ornately-carved thrones and took their leave, dismissing the meeting. The village folk filed out behind them, whispering of a new hope and the mission at hand. They were not worried that the girl may die, they only cared about eternal youth and beauty. They would never have to see their children age, or die of sickness. They were interested in the flower, and only that, everything else was obsolete.
It was said, that someone had tried to find The Amber Flower of Elam some twenty-five years prior to the girls picking; they had never returned. Now the quest was bestowed upon a young woman of no more than eighteen years, if her face was any indication.
“Please do not cry mother,” she whispered, cradling the sobbing woman in her arms. “The great goddess Akuna has requested it. She guides us all, you taught me that.”
“I kn-know,” the mother hiccuped, burying her face into her daughters sandy blonde hair.
“I will return, you have no need to worry.” The young woman said with absolute conviction. For she truly believed she could return to her people, and bring them the flower they so desired.
She stood and pulled her distraught mother up with her, wrapping an arm about her shoulders.
The middle-aged woman wiped the tears from her ashen face. “We must get home and prepare, Arahlynn. You have much travelling to do tomorrow.”
The women hugged briefly before strolling arm in arm past the timber pews that filled the ageing village hall. As the pair neared the large entrance doors, they flew open with a loud bang, and bounced off of the whimpering wooden walls. A gust of wind had knocked them wide and blew out every candle that lit the room.
It was winter now, and the wind would howl a warning through the village of the freeze to come. Snow was expected soon, and young Arahlynn knew she would have to pack accordingly to stave off the cold.
The pair left the hall in a scurry, huddling closer to one another as they crossed the cobblestone courtyard. The evening was dark, and if they didn't quicken their pace, the fire at home may dwindle to mere embers. An hour would need to be spent on reviving the dying fire, so it could provide light and a place to cook their meal.
Their leather-clad feet carried them soundlessly to the edge of the yard, where they scurried up the stone steps of their porch. Arahlynn walked across the creaky floorboards and cupped her hands against the window. Peering in, she could just make out a few small, flickering flames.
She turned on her heel as her mother pushed open the small door leading into their home. “We need more firewood.”
“There is some inside, come in out of the cold,” her mother replied.
Arahlynn shuffled her feet as she moved through the door, heading in the direction of the living room. Underneath a bench is where they stored their firewood, and as the young woman pulled out a few blocks, her mother began preparing their supper.
“Are you not afraid about venturing into the woods?” The woman asked her daughter softly.
“A little, but it's quite exciting, I think.” The girls excitement was mirrored by the fire, which she was sat next to. “I mean, who knows what wondrous things I will find. What creatures I shall observe,” the girl smiled as she wound small braids into her hair. “It will be breathtaking.”
The woman flinched at her child's choice of words. They highlighted what she feared most, the loss of her last child.
She had three children many years ago. Two sons and her daughter, Arahlynn. Her second born son had passed at the tender age of six, he would have been eleven now had he known how to swim. But the one that had cemented her fears for her daughter was her eldest son, Nolan. He had vanished from sight while chasing a bear from the village at eighteen. He was a protector-in training, and a fine one at that. She still held out hope for his safe return. Although, she knew that no one ever returned from between the trees.
Wiping a tear from her eye, she gazed lovingly at her precious daughter. “I'm sure it will be. I can't wait to hear of your travels upon your return.”
Arahlynn moved to sit on the floor beside her mothers chair. Wrapping her arms about her parents legs she said, “don't worry mother, I will make it home to you, I promise.”
In her naivety she believed she could beat the myths, she thought she would become a legend. Nothing could have prepared her for the reality to come.ns22.214.171.124da2