December Starlight

Epilogue

A single set of footsteps crunched through the cold forest. Water dripped from every tree branch and leaf, landing on the rocks below to create music that radiated throughout the forest. The air rested quietly, as if tired from being blown around and carrying the weight of the snow for so long. The dark, hooded figure still blended in, as the sun had not risen yet. The cold, moist air allowed him to pass through without protest, not even the slightest breeze. He smiled softly to himself, gazing at the skeletons of the ancient trees. Everything still looked unhealthily pale from the years of eternal winter.

‘Though it’s not really eternal anymore,’ he thought wryly as he trudged along. The limp, cool leaves were still a milky white and only held the faintest traces of green. He plucked one off a nearby branch and looked at it. It reminded him of his own name.

He knelt to the forest floor and handed it to the pale-eyed creature traveling with him. It nibbled on the leaf happily, bringing a soft smile to his face. He stood and continued on, knowing they couldn’t stop just yet. They were almost there, though. He knew it.

A wafer-thin beam of light broke through the highest layer of indigo shadows, highlighting the very edges of the trees with gold. He looked up at it, allowing the cold air to fill his lungs for a moment. It felt strange to see golden light after looking at the silver stars and moon for so long. When he finally brought his gaze back to the pathway before him, he saw it. He practically ran towards the small cabin resting between the ghostlike trees; the pale-eyed creature could barely match his speed without breaking into a sprint. He happily opened the door and almost walked inside, but then seemed to stop as if realizing a mistake. He turned back and smiled at the creature, motioning for it to enter.

“We haven’t got all day, Nex,” he said with a laugh. The creature seemed to understand and hurriedly made its way inside, relieved to be out of the cold weather after walking through it for so long.

Soon enough, he was able to light a fire in the fireplace, knowing it wouldn’t last long without more wood. He hoped the sun would be enough to dry up some of the fallen branches and twigs, left over from the years of storms the land had endured. He removed the hood from his head as warmth began to circulate through the air, and smiled softly when he caught sight of the pale-eyed creature, now fast asleep in front of the fireplace.

He gently stroked the sleeping rabbit’s ears, longing for sleep himself. He felt the need to watch over this snow-colored animal, though. He fully remembered what had happened, and let the smallest frown cross his face before a lighthearted smile replaced it once again. He wouldn’t think about it. Not yet, anyway. He would have plenty of time to think on the way to their real destination.