Goddess in the forest shrine
She danced in the height of brilliant summer, amidst the glorious wildflowers sprinkled through the meadow like a giant's tapestry. The cool winds from the mountain caressed the earth with their breath, bringing with them a chorus of birdsong. Humming, weaving, bees stitched complex patterns through the air. Fragile butterflies rambled through the grasses on gossamer wings.
Quick breath and light steps, over plain and under forest, she moved to the invisible pulse of life. Like the faintest midsummer's dream image after image, sensation after sensation flashed past in a kaleidoscope of color and sound and light. And she did not need to grope for them, nor mourn their passing, for there was no past or future, only the ever-changing now.
Under the brightness of noon she danced, unmindful of the glare of the sun. For just that moment, time slowed, stopped, stretched into an infinite horizon. For just that moment, it seemed to her that she would have an eternity of summers.
The first sign of discord had been silence. No noticeable change, yet the crickets were still and the bees retreated to their hives. Only the careless butterflies remained, preening vainly in the sun. It was the pressure of the calm before the storm, air taut with strain and soft dry earth waiting for the first drop of rain.
When the storm finally came, blessed relief after the waiting silence, it was not a storm of wind and water. Across the horizon it rolled in a dark cloud of war, of desperation and hate and fury. Legions of men, machines, and monsters trod with careless frenzy over the fields, or blotted out the azure sky with their wings. Clear clarion calls to battle, broken by the rumble of magic and the shrill shrieks of the dying, filled the waiting silence in a clash of discord. In the face of the unrelenting storm she could only run.
When next she returned to the meadow, the old blood had been long since washed away. But the remnants of magic and war remained, and the only life that bloomed there were the twisted thorns that fed on hate. In the distance the silvered woods with their fruit and blossom stood, but living wood had long since transformed into cold stone.
Her summer had gone. In the chill air evening air she felt the first touch of frost.
In the depths of winter she dreamed a dream of renewal. The memories of her meadow, of her brilliant summer, each and every detail she locked within the fine perfection of frozen time. The scent of blood and battle she covered with a blanket of purest snow. Ghosts of butterflies, pulled from their grave of memory, danced once more in the frosty air.
Beneath the spiraling ice she slept, and dreamed. Waiting.
Waiting for a time when it would be summer again.