After retrieving her treasure, she makes her way down the mossy path, back to the small, thatched hut nestled against the rim of the Ancient Forest. A waxing crescent moon rising above the tree-tops greets a few transient stars that struggle to ignite themselves in the sunset afterglow. The old lady raises her staff to the moon and whispers a few unintelligible words to herself as she makes her way to the wooden door.
“Did you find it?” the old man asks as she closes the door gently behind her. Her eyes glint grey in the dim candle-light of the room. The smell of baked bread and stew greets her nose. Her tummy grumbles a tiny growl of appreciation.
“Ay,” she answers wistfully as she moves towards the hearth and extends a wrinkled hand to the man. One by one, her fingers slowly uncurl, revealing the golden object on her ageing skin.
“Ah, yes!” exclaims the man thoughtfully. His eyes shine and glimmer as he takes the weighted object into his own grasp. He is amazed at the weight and robustness of its composition. “And, what is this?” he continues as he stares down upon her hand. Another object, this one smaller and rough, remains in her palm, at the very tip of her life-line.
“Oh that” murmurs the woman, as she turns the glistening object about in her hands. The candle-light shining through the object reveals that it is golden-red in colour and crystalline. “I found it lying next to the key amongst the ferns and moss.” Her forced tone of complacency almost betrays her, “I’m sure that it’s nothing,” she sighs wistfully at the man and closes her hand. She is surprised by the tingling sensations in her fingers as she holds the object.
“Hmmm…You might be right” the old man states as he turns towards the burning glow of the fire, key in hand. “It looks like nothing but a dried up piece of tree sap,” he states in a rather distracted manner as he studies the key with myopic eyes. “Oh, and there is stew on the hearth, I thought you might be interested in a hot meal upon your return.”
The woman carefully places the amber-coloured stone into her velvet satchel and attaches it to her braided leather belt. Her fingers tingle and tremble as she reaches for a pewter ladle handle within the stew-pot. She serves herself a steaming bowl of broth and vegetables and sits down at the long, wooden table, situated in the small, darkened kitchen. From behind the rising steam, her eyes shift to the man. She senses an uneasiness and tension in the room. She reaches for the stone, feeling for it within her satchel, before continuing to consume her meal. The old man takes a seat in a rocking chair beside the fire. His eyes transfixed upon the key.
“Let him have his key,” the old lady whispers to herself as she takes a bite from a rye bread roll, “I have discovered something much more important,” she continues whispering, her hands reaching for her satchel, “besides, he didn’t even bother to ask from where I obtained it…”