Filled with ash, the marker sat at the heart of the courtyard, surrounded by squares of dew-bright grass. Each night the flame was lit; each morning the flame was naught but ash. That was the way of it: that the orange light of the cracking fire would give way to the spreading crimson of dawn.
To most, the lighting of the flame was just a quaint tradition, one more thing that was done, but to grey-bearded Rodrik, Keeper of the Flame, it was far more than that. His father had shown him the fire’s secret.
“Watch them,” he had instructed his son as they stood in the cold night wind, watching the flame twist this way and that. “Watch the beasts.”
Rodrik had turned his eye to the carved things worming their way around the octagonal base of stone: all teeth and claws and eyes. The fire had touched them with gentle, warm light.
And in that light they had moved.
“The fire gives them life,” his father had said. “They protect us.”
As Rodrik looked at the horrible beasts, now dead as ash in the morning light, he wondered what it was that such things protected them from…
Word Count: 199
For Sunday Photo Fiction.