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The Longest Night

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Solstice evening was crisp and cold, a winter’s sunset burning itself out in the west and throwing long shadows over the elves in the snowy clearing. They were gathered around small fires, clustered in groups that broke spontaneously into song and just as suddenly dissolved into laughter or storytelling, or parted to greet another set of friends. Children, excited more by the chance to stay up late than a winter’s celebration of the Star-Kindler, darted through the crowd.

The stars began to come out, the crowd grew quieter. Fires were banked, children were brought back to parents, food and drink was finished or set aside. Those who had been at the edge of the clearing drifted closer to the cluster at the center, and those who had brought instruments tuned them softly.

The sky turned dark blue, and still darker as the assembled elves fell silent, waiting. At last the daylight had gone completely and the sky had turned a deep velvet black, was covered in a wealth of winter-bright stars.

There was a long moment of perfect quiet as each gazed up at the stars and gave silent praise to Elbereth. Then, as one, the elves broke into song.

Tree and Flower Awards, New Author, Second Place