The desert stretched to the horizon and beyond. Dark clouds with no promise of rain loomed above, blotting out the sun and moon for days. Or had it been months? Did it matter to keep track anymore when the entire world died and decayed?
She meandered the landscape in search of a spell that didn't exist. Sheer, black linens shrouded her rigid form, billowing in the subtle breeze that offered no comfort. Not that she required it; a frigid chill pulsated from her, submerging her surroundings in a coldness that put the desert's nights to shame. It lived in her porcelain skin and icy eyes.
It lived in her heart and soul, secretly yearning to be set aflame.
She paused in her ventures. Every muscle ached and pleaded for relief, yet her stillness wasn't out of comfort. She wove intricate spells through the air, mere threads in her web of magic, and summoned forth the messengers sent out forty days ago.
Mirror images of herself inched closer like shadows stalking the light. Her eyes flicked amongst them. What had they found, if anything? Was there still a chance in this benumbed world?
All it took was a single drop, an ancient ingredient spoken in myths and fairy tales. With it, she could command more than life—she could bring it back.
Anything to resurrect the only one she ever dared to love.
Each illusion merged into her body. Holding her breath, she awaited their whispers—whatever truth they had found in their journeys. She expected of a font of knowledge, overflowing like a waterfall. Nothing but silence rattled her brain.
She clenched her hands into fists, black nails daring to pierce her skin. She longed to scream and cry, but had forgotten what it meant to do so long ago.
She remembered the one who warmed her heart—a new transplant in the local village. The previous herb suppliers were bitter elders who charged her extra and withheld premium wares, simply because of the old wives’ tales of meddling with witches. But the day she ascertained a freshly carved sign outside a once abandoned building, she discovered far more than precious flora.
The lively woman hummed while watering her myriad, potted plants. Sunlight spilled in from the glass ceiling to catch in her blonde hair and sun-kissed skin. Her vivid wrap dress matched her smile. That beautiful smile.... It worked more wonders than any enchantment in her repertoire.
She frequented the shop for more than resupplying her cabinets. She lingered, feigning interest in items she didn't need, simply to hear the woman divulge in her love for plants. She adored small features forgotten by everyone else: those freckled cheeks, the flecks of gold in her brown eyes, and the way her curly hair fell across her face.
One day, she dared to reach out and tuck that hair behind the lovely woman's ear. She didn't expect that smile to radiate brighter than ever before.
She didn't expect her to step in and share a tender, passionate kiss.
Every visit to the shop since was filled with laughter and kisses, along with surprise gifts in the form of rare flowers. In exchange, she stuffed baskets with the items she used those flowers for: protection wards, restorative teas, and empowering incense. She learned to love again, because of her, that precious flower girl with a bleeding heart.
If only that heart hadn't stopped beating.
If only there was a potion to cure the acute illness which stole the woman she loved.
If only she could find a way to bring her back.
She blinked silent tears. Yet another failure, but not a waste of time. If one aspect remained useful, it was time’s essence itself. She learned to slow the flow of it, outright freeze it, and even rewind it to her liking. Such a delicate thread in her web, one she handled like glass, yet a powerful spell. But not effective enough to solve her conundrum.
How many times had she started over? Back to the beginning, to various points in their life together, and even seconds before death stole away her love. Every attempt varied, yet yielded the same results—a dead lover and a broken heart. What was the point of living without the sunshine in her life? Who would fill the void which consumed her soul?
No, there was never a point. If she couldn't cure the elusive illness, then she would dedicate her life to the single purpose of perfecting the art of resurrection.
But life and death were two sides of the same coin, always present, always lingering behind the other. In her pursuit, death wallowed in her shadow and festered in her wake. The earth and heavens rotted until they mirrored her empty heart. Even her leverage with time couldn't mend the damage she caused.
If the one who mattered couldn't live, then why allow the rest of the world the luxury to do so?
"I will find a way, love," she murmured to nothing. "I'll start over again... and this time, we'll be together again."
Plucking the bare thread of time, she fell backwards. The skies and zephyr rolled in reverse. She closed her eyes and smiled before shattering across the ground into millions of shards, which morphed into ravens flying to where it all started.
To try to bring her back for good.