The Wanderer's Shadows

The village lay still astride the hill
    When Evil came out to play.
The Lord of the Sky piled the snow high
    On the morn of that fateful day.
The wanderer knocked, Sun's servant unlocked,
    And Evil came home to stay.
Her convictions? Pure. Her sword arm? Sure.
    But nobody knew until May.

His cloaked form filled the doorway, haunted eyes pleading. "I seek sanctuary," he croaked.

Shayla hesitated. The Sun Temple rarely saw worshippers in the dead time between midwinter and planting, and only merchant caravans travelled this far north. This wanderer fell outside anything resembling ordinary. "Sanctuary from what?"

"I don't know. I'm being followed." He chanced a look over his shoulder, peering through the cold evening, oblivious to the two shadows spread across the snow behind him. "Please."

Shayla recited, "May the Sun warm your spirit. Enter and be welcome." She stood aside to let the stranger enter the central chamber lit by the Eternal Flame. Its heat chased the tendrils of cold out of the air as Shayla shut the door behind him.

When she turned back to the Flame, she tripped over his collapsed form on the floor. She bent down. "Are you all right?" Tears squeezed between tightly-closed eyelids to roll down his weathered face. His legs bent as he went more fetal.

He whispered, "No, turn me away. Death follows." And the stranger snored, still crying.

From the corner of her eye she saw the Flame's reflection over by the kitchen, but it seemed curiously dark there when she looked.

She shivered despite the Flame's constant heat.

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