You trudge up the hill, head bowed and eyes focused on the craggy terrain. It’s below freezing, but somehow the ground is covered in plant life. It’s all slick with frost, so you have to watch your step!
The chilled air burns in your chest. You adjust your scarf to wrap a little bit tighter, and flex your gloved fingers to chase away the cold. The view will be worth it, you’re sure. And you should be almost there!
Right when you lift your head to check, a rock comes loose beneath your boot. You pitch forward, slamming into the ground with a loud, “Oof!”
You gasp for a moment, trying to get all the air back in your lungs. It’s a good thing you bundled up before you set off on this hike, because all that extra padding probably saved you from serious injury.
Groaning, you slowly push yourself up, lifting your head to see how far you are from your destination.
“Whoa.” Your breath is gone again, but this time it’s for a good reason.
The valley you’ve been hiking toward stretches out before you. On your right, majestic mountains stand tall, navy blue and sprinkled with termination dust. There are mountains to your left too, but they’re dark, almost black, with jagged tips reaching up to pierce the dusky sky. They look like gateways to two worlds, one of good and one of evil, with a valley of peace betwixt them.
Eventually, your gaze lands on a small abnormality in the landscape at the far end of the valley. It’s just a brown smudge amidst all the green, but it’s exactly what you were hoping to see. A smile spreads across your face, hidden by your scarf. You’d been told that your destination was indeed here, hidden in the valley, but actually seeing it in person is a relief!
You start down the hill into the valley, taking care not to slip. One fall is enough!
The ground crunches beneath your boots, echoing in the otherwise near-silence. You can’t even hear any birds. Maybe they’re asleep? Or maybe it’s just too cold for birdsong.
Your destination grows closer, finally starting to take on a recognizable shape. It’s an abandoned mine shaft, leftover from when this valley was home to a thriving workforce. Little of that time remains, so this mine entrance is the odd sign of humanity’s presence in an otherwise untouched valley. It was left behind long before you were even born, but there’s still treasure within, supposedly.
That’s why you’ve come.
As you approach the old mine, you retrieve a flashlight from your bag. The shaft opens before you like a gaping black hole, with no hint of what may be contained within. Is it safe to go in? Probably not.
You take a step forward anyway.
Then another, turning on your flashlight as you enter the mine.
The silence is eerie—your own footfalls are too loud in the tight space. You pause, letting the sounds you’ve created fade, when another sound catches your attention. It’s faint, but it sounds almost like a fireplace.
Intrigued, you move forward until you see another source of light. You turn off your flashlight, letting the glow of what you can now see is a candle flame draw you in. The light dances off the walls of the mine shaft, the soft crackle filling the space with warmth, even though you can still see your breath when you exhale.
You stand there for an indeterminate amount of time, staring at the flickering flame. Unable to help yourself, you reach for the candle, carefully picking up the vessel and holding it before you to guide your way back out of the mine.
The shaft seems longer than before, or at least, you think so until you stumble out of the opening and discover that it’s already dark outside. How long did that candle hold you inside the mine, mesmerized?
You look up and gasp. The sky is filled with a rich, green light, stretched out in ribbons as far as you can see. The candle you claimed within the mine is still crackling away in your hands. When you look down, you see the spark of something magical.
Taking a seat on a nearby rock, you lift your head up to the sky once more. Your hands warm as you cradle the candle that summoned the Aurora Borealis to the sky. It is a treasure indeed.
Northern Lights is a part of our seasonal Ancient Yule Festival Collection.