You follow the lighter petals.

Although dried by winter cold, the undergrowth is thick, and the going is tough. Your clothing keeps getting caught on branches and you’re just about to give up when you notice what appears to be a clearing up ahead.

Rubbing your hands, which are freezing despite the gloves, you brave the last few steps quickly. Peaking from under the maple branch you look at the clearing. It is small and almost perfectly circular, covered with dry tangled plants. For some reason they make you think of sage.

The clearing is quiet and empty, except for a stone – a big rock, or maybe a small boulder – siting in the middle. The trail of petals tapers off right in front of it.

You move the branch away, leaning in for a closer look. The boulder appears to be a big chunk of ironstone, its colours bright, well-defined layers clearly distinguishable even in this waning light. You could swear that there are shimmering particles strewn in its veins.

All of the sudden you notice how quiet it is. No rustle of the leaves, no chirping of birds, nothing. No place outdoors could be that quiet, not even in this cold!

The End

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