Dust. Dust and ash. The blackened, skeletal remains of trees, twisted beyond recognition. The stench of burning still hung close, even after all this time. The absence of birdsong accentuated the morbid silence of the dead forest.
Ahead, glints of light and movement momentarily lifted his heart, but it was a bitter illusion. Silver trinkets hung from bare branches, stark reminders of those who had perished here.
At the foot, hands ashy and sooty, a weary figure lovingly
tended a tiny shoot of green, the merest hint of new growth, before
looking up with a smile. “Welcome home, my son.”