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He pulled the cloak tighter against the bitter, winter wind. His wool socks and leather boots kept his feet mostly warm, even when crossing small streams. The rest of his body was wrapped in furs and leather designed to keep the cold out and the warmth in. Today, it was barely working.
He clutched his chest, feeling for the pouch that held the Fire Stone and felt the relief pour over him once again. He’d done this just about every hour since he left his families lodge over four days ago. He had been chosen by his clan to carry to the stone to the gathering on Mid-Winters Day. It was an honour. And he was thankful there was no snow to accompany the biting wind.
He had only the rest of the day to get to the gathering point. The Fire Stone was essential to complete the yearly ritual. His family had been tasked with and blessed to find, a Fire Stone.
As he trudged along the beaten path, his mind started to wander while his feet did their work keeping him heading forward. He thought of his family. His father and mother. Two younger brothers who were disappointed they couldn’t join him on his adventure. His older sister who gave him the cloak and a long hug then ran into the lodge, crying. The clan who chose him and the Elder who tasked him with this journey. If he was successful, he might be able to return to his family and clan. If not…he did not want to think of such things.
The sound of water broke his reverie. Another stream. Thankfully a bridge was on the path unlike the two previous streams which left his feet cold and damp. The bridge meant only another hour of walking.
When he arrived at the gathering point three elders greeted him. They asked if he had the Fire Stone. He nodded and they lead him to the center of the stone circle. The tall, monolithic stones formed an outer and inner circle on the plane. With a clear night and full moon, the henge was fully lit. There was no need for torches.
When it was his time, he placed the Fire Stone with the Earth Stone, the Water Stone and the Wind Stone on the sacred plinth. Standing back he watched as the four elders started their chant. Their voices rose and fell, blending until it sounded like one. It was then the moon seemed to change colours, first white, then blue, then yellow, then red, then back to white.
Suddenly the whole henge was aglow, awash in a vast array of colours. He felt himself being lifted from his body. He saw lights and trees and vast oceans and other people who looked and dressed nothing like him. The sounds were as if he were inside a summer downpour.
Almost as soon as it started, it was over. He sat blinking at the center of the henge. He looked down at his hands and marveled at the intricate swirls that were now painted on his palms. One of the elders smiled at him and said, “You’re journey has just begun.”