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Maiden's Tears
She runs. Her feet bleed as she races over river stones. Branches catch at her hair and drag her back. Dirt shifts beneath her weight and she pitches forward, tumbling into the brambles. A sickening thud fills the air as her shoulder braces against a withered pine, its trunk cracked and twisted. Her blood drips into the rushing water at her side. Pressure fills her skull as pain pounds within every broken bone. Her sobs are quiet, her frame small.

The maiden is a warning to the righteous. She is the embodiment of all that is innocent, and so she is the victim. She is the casualty when tragedy strikes, the one left surviving so that she might suffer. She is pure only so that the angels might strip her of it and make a mockery of yesterday's smiles. Only the hopeful cry, for only they are foolish enough to believe that help will come.

When the volcano first blew, its side fell away into a crater. The explosion caused a devastating landslide that desecrated all in its path. Here, at the foot of the wastes, is a forest that felt only a glancing blow. The land is sloped and old pines hold treacherous footholds in the soil. A false waterfall has started from snow-melt running down from the mountains. Its rapids are swift and merciless. While the land is lush during summer and spring months, the winter betrays its true scars.

Maiden's Tears
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