A faerie screamed. Yells could be heard echoing across the clearing. Pixies and Faeries alike flew from the hollow log that served as the manor house for the leader of Faerfeld, clutching bundles of possessions, foods, and faerlings to them as they escaped. The small huts along the outskirts of the center of the town burst, one by one, into balls of heat as the red heat - light ate at them. Acrid, dark clouds rolled from the trees surrounding the clearing. Spotters, hoppers, and runners scurried from their barns, rushing to find safety away from the heat.

More frightened shouts, and cries of pain, continued as the heat scorched and destroyed all in its path. The cries of pain soon gave way to cries of grief as the red heat moved on. Few were left to see the destruction that was all that was left of the town of Faerfeld.

The log was a pile of smoldering, charred wood. Red light still could be seen glowing from the center of it. Drapes hung in burnt tatters, homes were nothing but piles of charcoal. Bedding, clothing, food, all were gone. Faerfeld was gone.

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Rae flew still, only her wings moving in the hot air, overlooking what was left of her home. She felt cold inside, frozen by the horror she viewed. Her home, one of the largest huts along the tree line, was gone. She looked upon the burnt remains of the town, feeling nothing but the strange, fearful coldness. Where was everyone?

The group of faeries, knobbies, and faerlings had hidden near the river, waiting for the red light to pass them. It was late evening before it had been cool enough for them to emerge. They had come out to find their world changed. This strange, eating heat had made all they knew turn black. They slowly made their way back to the town, hoping against hope that the heat had missed Faerfeld. The faeries lifted up their voices in prayer to the Creator, desperately entreating that their families had escaped the eating heat.

Rae couldn't understand why the answer had been 'No'. The questions would come later, she was sure, but for the moment, she had no ability to ask any questions. All she felt was cold. The town of Faerfeld was gone.

Laena flew past her in a blur, crying. She was headed for the manor, where her husband, Aepham, worked as a hopper groom. Rae could still see red heat flickering from the inside of the manor, however. She knew that heat would hurt. She had felt it back in the fields.

"Laena! Wait! Don't go in there!" she called. She chased her friend down, pulling her back, and towards the ground. Laena crumpled to the forest floor, now blackened, tears streaming down her face.

"No… I have to go to him… He's still in there…" she sobbed. Her face was quickly streaked with black powder as she cried on the ground.

All the faerlings were black from running in the powder. It seemed black and white flakes of fine, smelly dust were all that remained to tell the tale of the past few hours. No plant life showed itself in the aftermath, only blackened stumps or lines where branches had been.

All the faeries and faerlings gathered around the pair, comforting Laena, holding the young ones, crying as a group. They all had surely lost all. Loved ones would have had no warning, the red heat - light came up so fast.

Rae stepped outside of the group, unable to cry. She hugged her arms to herself, wishing the tears would come. Her thoughts ran in circles.

This was nothing like we've ever seen before. What was that red heat? Where did it come from? My home is gone. My parents are surely dead. Most of the town is destroyed. Most of my friends and those I've grown up with must be gone. Trae is gone. I will not marry next week. I will not be engaged tomorrow. All my life, all my plans have been eaten by the heat. This is so strange, this red heat - light that eats all. This is like nothing we've ever seen before. What was that red heat?

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Later that night, Rae led them away from the debris to a small hollow at the base of a tree, one that a rabbit had made, some far off Freeze, long in the past. The hole now went far below the tree, the roots making walls, floors, and ceiling. The faerlings, tired with the long, stressful day, fell to the floor immediately and went to sleep, despite the rough surface. Their mothers cried together for a while, then rested their heads against the walls of the hollow, troubled slumber coming to them eventually.

Rae, unable to find peace in sleep, wandered around the hollow, and eventually out into the cool night air. She climbed a large root, relishing the challenge not to use her wings. For a moment, she forgot all about the tragedy they had seen that day. Then, overlooking the blackened forest again, it all poured back.

Thick clouds of black dust flew out at the faeries as they poked through the rubble. Sorrow overcame many as they found their loved ones; wings charred, having suffocated in the clouds, or burned in the fire. Possessions ruined, homes destroyed; all fell prey to the ravaging red heat.

Late in the day, Rae had found the bodies of her parents. They had died together, working, as they loved to do so much. They didn't even know what had approached until it was too late. The red heat - light had eaten the hut before they could move from their project.

Others had tried to search the manor, but it had taken until evening before the heat was bearable. Several searchers had still been burned badly, pulling debris that was not yet cool. Trae's body had been found among those dead, as had his father's, and that of Laena's husband. Almost all of the manor servants were counted as missing or dead.

In fact, if truth be told, only those who were in the fields with the spotters seemed to have survived the tragedy. No stragglers had shown, no pixie had come from a tree, high above, or a faerie from a hollow, deep below. Rae and her group were all that was left of the town of Faerfeld.

Rae reflected on all this as she sat on the tall root of the tree. She had no idea what to do, or where they could go. Why had this happened? Who would care for them now?

She did not hear the approach of silent wings until they were right next to her. An old faerie sat on the root, easing herself to the seat beside Rae. The ancient Fae rested a hand on Rae's. Her wrinkled hand shook a little as she gripped hard, seeming to try to squeeze comfort into the hurting young faerie. Her lined face spoke of countless seasons of wisdom, and of hurt. The only thing not old about her was the slanted eyes, ringed with laugh lines. Her eyes, dark grey, seemed ageless, young and old at the same time.

"You are troubled, young Araenna? Talk to Maera. Perhaps she can help you." Maera was the town's healer, considered by many to be a bit out of her mind, but Rae liked her. She liked going into the old one's hut, smelling all the herbs, feeling transported to remote places every time she stepped inside. Now, that would no longer happen. Maera's hut, like all the others, was gone.

Rae looked sideways at her friend. "Troubled? Are we not all troubled after the events of today? Our home is gone, Maera. We have all lost everything. What are we going to do?"

"You are troubled, but not with just your own fate, young Araenna. You are concerned about all of those around you, along with yourself. This is good." She patted Rae's hand before continuing. "You see, dear one, you are now the leader of Faerfeld."

Rae's wings stiffened, flying straight back, showing her surprise. She turned to face old Maera, her eyes wide, shocked at what had just been said.

Maera smiled at her. "As daughter of the second – in – command of Faerfeld, and as fiancé to the future leader of the town, you are now in charge, by the law of the land. But, beyond this, it has been revealed to me by Creator that you have a great fate. You will lead us, all of us, to a new home. And there is more in store for you, although He has not told me what it all is, at least, not in detail."

"Creator? Why does He care about what happens to us? We all prayed that He would save our families from the red heat - light, but He didn't. Why does He now take an interest in what will happen? I'm not sure I believe you, Maera." Rae turned away, stood, and began to take flight, but the old one still had her hand.

"You will understand in time, Araenna. Creator's will is not always ours. His plans are higher than ours, and His ways beyond our understanding. Who are we, mortal Fae, to question his reasoning?" With that last bit, Maera released her hand, letting the younger faerie fly off.

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Part of His plan? Me? This destruction? It can't be. I refuse to believe it.

Creator, Why? Why did you let my family die? Why did you allow the town to be ruined? Why is your plan so hard to comprehend? Why do you let these things happen?

A loving Creator would never do such a thing. A Loving Creator would never allow our prayers to go unanswered. Why should I call on one who has forsaken me? Why should I even believe He's there?

Creator? Who are you, truly? Are you even there? Are you even aware of my pain? Do you hear the suffering of the creation you love? Do you feel our hurt, or are you ignorant of us? How could you be the one I've always heard of, and still let this happen? Do you not know we care? Are we beneath recognition?

I cannot believe this to be true. I am now the leader of a forsaken people. We are ruined, we are sorrowing, we are lost, and we are abandoned. We have no hope left to us. Why should we go on?

Creator? Are you there? Are you listening? Take this fear away from me. Take my doubt and hide it, destroy it utterly. I need something to believe in. I need to know. Are you still watching us in this time of trial? Do you still have a plan?