Under her feet, the shifting bones slide, scraping against the hard floor beneath. Tachi watches the ground, walking with bent head, searching for the safest path through those hapless remnants. With each step the penitent broken moans grow louder, calling her onward.
Her chanting voice changes as she lifts her arms over her head. The orb explodes outward, covering the walls in glistening shards of light. The finely spread glowing embers transform the cavern into a night sky, pulsating in ripples like the ups and downs of a gentle pond’s surface. The stars shine on the dead of the earth.
In the soft glittering luminance, the bleached bones are decorated by the dancing shadows. And there, a meter or so ahead, a conflagration of blood and pale skin, lies supinely, gasping wide-eyed at the sudden transition from darkness to light.
The jangling bones fly as Tachi races to Richard’s side. He turns his head toward the priestess, and then lets it crash onto the floor. Exhausted, he falls into a black sleep. Tachi kneels beside him, and begins a new chant. The glowing stars break from the ceiling and walls. Gently they descend, floating around the wayfarers in many intersecting spirals, forming an ever morphing dome over the two.
Tachi’s chant builds as the little flakes of light catch her song and play the notes back to each other. They echo her hymn, harmonizing with her silky lead. A small glittering spiral breaks from the rest and flows like a ribbon tossed in the breeze. It dances before her. The singing stops, and the dome echoes the prayers back and forth.
She blows some air at the wispy collection of glitter and it bursts like a bubble, scattering its glowing flakes over the beleaguered hunter. Melting into him, the light spreads like a glistening balm, running over his broken frame.
She sings again, and the dome erupts. Gathering high above them, its tones grow to a loud fevered pitch. The spiraling chains of luminous stars rotate around each other furiously, and then, like a waterfall, rains down upon Richard, its screaming wail transforming into the tingling of broken glass. Lifting his body from the mass grave, the dancing light wraps itself under and over the hunter, like a mother would a baby in a blanket.
Softly cooing her melodies, the priestess walks to the rich light shining from the cave entrance. Behind her, Richard’s sleeping form floats after, the glowing cloud humming all about him. Together they leave the cave, entering the world of day.
In the daylight, Tachi unfolds the scarf from around her face. Above a sharp nose two shining dark eyes turn upon her patient. She pulls off her gloves as she walks to the broken man. Setting her brown hand upon his side, she begins to feel his ribs.
Beneath her soft touch she feels the uneven contours of rough scars. They litter every inch of his body, some old and faded, others young and sharp. The light is already at work upon the new cuts left by the cave, spinning in mad spirals up and down his wounds.
She bites her lip as she feels a break, this will take more than her magic to heal. The notes of her high vocals fill the forest, mixing with the songbirds’ twittering calls. Pulling off the long cloak from her shoulders, she folds it under her arms, walking to the road.
The pollen sizzles as it is incinerated in the sun. Tachi steps onto the byway and makes her way toward the hill. With the unconscious hunter following after her, she begins to once again mount the slope. Looking over to her patient she grimaces. The cloud is fading as its song slowly ends.
Wiping the sweat from her brow, she stands atop the peak. Gradually the light carries the hunter over the hill and vanishes, gently laying him at her feet. Looking down, she spots the sleepy village with nary a soul to be seen.