The darkness in these woods put everyone at ease. The trees were so tangled, each overlaying the other, even Moon’s comforting glow couldn’t penetrate. We were in total darkness, except for our small fire and even it seemed to be gasping for breath.
Then, a tiny light appeared, flashing by itself, searching for its place in the dark. First just the one, then many, finally thousands of flying, flickering lights. The cloying darkness was chased away, filled instead with their magical splendor. These woods, cursed for all eternity by the ghosts of war showed us there was beauty left in it.
Seeing the looks of wonder on our faces, Galyn dampened the fire with a subdued snap of his fingers and sat gazing as our rapt faces watched in awe at the amazing dance taking place before our eyes.
“What are they, Galyn?” Marwyn asked, her voice breathless and hushed.
“These are the souls of the dead, lighting the way at night in the darkest parts of the woods. They only appear when light is fading and stay until darkness is total.”
“But there are so many!” Marwyn replied. A tear running down her face, she continued, “We did this, didn’t we?”
“No, not us, Marwyn. It was all the great dragon Xyldreth’s doing. Many died here needlessly, all because of evil released through the veil. No, not us,” Galyn whispered.
We continued watching them, the bleakness of the woods dampened, until the last soul had blinked it’s last. Never had we seen anything like them. I think in some small, but sad way, it made our journey into our unknowns easier. We knew what we would become if we failed – a guiding light in the darkness.
Would our future be any easier because of what we witnessed? No, but in days, months, and even years to come, when we needed something to show us our way – a ray of hope – we remembered.
All rested easy that night, dreams of glorious fireflies lighting our way through the darkest night.
A Fantasy Flash Fiction Tale by Karen B. Jones