The Sun Tree

She stopped on the last rise overlooking the coast, breath catching in her throat. She swallowed painfully around the lump of it and sank to her knees. Shades of red and purple bathed her, along with the waving grasses that now slid around her shoulders in the ocean breeze.

For a thousand years her people had told tales of the sun tree. The great tapestry in the Hall of Ancestry depicted the Leaving, when the Ilanga had been forced from their beautiful sea haven by marauders from the Invisible Lands. They had built a new life for themselves in the deep forests, and the Sun Tree had become the myth of a far off Heaven where one could join the ancestors in eternity.

They had mocked her quest in the Hall, declared what she sought reachable only in death. When she persisted they denied her aid, believing she would abandon her purpose. Her heart drew her on, however, and she had slipped away in the darkness, living on what the land provided.

And now she faced the Sun Tree itself, its light held in sacred trust in the embrace of wide leafy arms. She rose on shaky legs and stumbled forward down the slope, her own arms outstretched. She stumbled with a cry of pain and, still bent double gripping an injured foot, failed to see the red and purple sails rounding the nearest point.

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