Around them the circle of stones would be their refuge, their protectors against the demons of the night. She looked away toward the snow-covered hills:
“There will be our home. In the morning we will cross those fields, and then climb up. But tonight we will rest. The ancient warriors are there: look! They were expecting us…”
She showed him the stones, some erect, some lying, as if asleep.
He felt, somehow, reassured: they were now in her country, not so far from them, he knew, they would soon meet her tribe. He would follow the rites. He would shed his blood. Later, they would receive him in their rank.
Later still, they would have a child.
The ground was frozen, and as he looked up at the pale disc of their star, recognising the landscape in the mists, inhaling the air, he remembered the desert, the infinite sand, the temples in the dunes. He was back. After all these years. Who would recognise him now? He had been a young man then, almost a boy still, who liked to play in those fields, who enjoyed feeling his growing strength, his supple body… He remembered their departure, the colours of the flags, the hymns, the long line of young men, just like him. He remembered her face, the laughter, the cries, the prayers – the wind in her hair.
He remembered the sand, rivers of blood flowing in the sand, the scorching heat of the day, the frozen nights… So many dreams scattered to the desert winds. Now, he was alone, perhaps the only one to have come back.
But who was left who would recognise this ghost, lost in the mists?