( I started this 4 years ago in response to this challenge. I knew I was getting off track of the topic and never finished it. I decided today, what the heck. I will finish it. Perhaps I will use it to write a full story later. I hope you don’t mind.)
Alec had walked for days. He had to reach the ancient city of Arkan before the end of this day if he was to complete his quest on time. There were twenty people relying on him. He walked through the tree line and with great sadness looked upon the city that had once been his people’s home. The great towers that reached toward the sky were broken, the crystal parapets now lay at their feet.
His footsteps echoed down empty cobble stone streets as he walked towards the imposing Cathedral. Fingers tracing lines through soot on pink crystal walls. The colored windows of the city once brightly lit now are cracked and dark. Shadows whispering in the wind, fleetingly pass from one building to another. Alec paid them no mind, they were memories trapped here from a distant time. He paused to look into the broken window of a bakery. The cakes and breads hardened to stone upon the stands by the heat from the disaster. All roads led to the great fountain in the center of the city. The rushing water spilling from the peak in it’s center filled the empty spaces with sound. The fountain was carved from marble as black as night and rose four stories high. Water flowed from the golden filagreed top down 6 tiers of black stone held up by a marble statue of a forgotten God. Four towers remained intact around the center square along with the great cathedral. Each tower contained a large lense that focused the last sunlight of that season’s equinox upon the fountain. Four season, four towers. What was not forgotten was the power in the water to heal any illness. The reason for his quest.
The last of the summer light shone upon the lense in the yellow crystal tower. A bright beam of light fell upon the fountain head. The flowing water sparkled in the light and began to glow. Alec ran forward with ten flasks and filled them full. He stepped back and watched the glow fade with the setting sun. He turned to enter the large cathedral. If you did not leave a “gift” you could never leave the city again. The heavy cathedral doors were ornately carved mahogany. Flora and Fauna of all types flowed in patterns from the top to the bottom. His legs suddenly felt heavy as he walked up the steps to the doors and he had to push with all his strength to open them. His fingers wrapped around the edges of the doors and he leaned into the door to open it further. The sound of the heavy metal grating on long rusted hinges echoed rang harshly in the air. He walked inside, his legs got heavier with each step. He had heard that the effort given to leave the gift was as much a test as the trip to the city itself. His shoes left scrape marks in the dust as he shuffled his feet forward. The brightly colored tiles shone through the layers of dust. The alter was in the center of the cathedral room. It was also carved of black marble and etched with gold writing. A language that was as forgotten as the god holding up the fountain.
He fell to his knees and crawled the remaining distance. He pulled himself up to stand and with shaking hands removed the his most prized possession and placed it upon the altar. The simple leather vest lay upon the dust covered surface. He dare not brush the dust away, he just laid the vest gently on top. This was the last thing his mother ever made for him before she died. It was brown, sueded leather with ornate beading and embroidery in the shape of flowers and birds. It was made for his coming of age ceremony this year. There had been a huge celebration as he was the Chief’s son. She lovingly put it on him before the ceremony and kissed his head. Told him how proud she was of him and then smiled and playfully pushed him out of the house. But, as soon as everyone had started eating the food they had become ill. His mother was one of the first to die. His father remained ill. No one knew why this was happening. No one had anything to gain by doing this to them. Then one of the healers had said it was just an accident. A child sent to pick the herbs had chosen the wrong ones. There was only one cure. The healing waters of the city. He had not eaten anything as he and the other children reaching their time of change was supposed to fast until the next morning. There were a few remaining adults who had been serving, but not eating that would look after everyone until he returned.
He felt the life draining from him. “I need to go home, please…I am begging you. Accept my gift so I can save my people. This water isn’t for me, it is for them!” He cried out “Please!” A voice like the whispering wind he had heard walking through city streets brushed his ears. “I accept you gift on one condition.” “Yes, anything.” Alec answered. “You and the remainder of your people must come back here and live in the city once again. I will take care of them, and they will take care of me…please tell them to return.” Alec had been warned to agree to whatever was asked or he could never leave.”