The shepherd warms his hands over the fragile flicker of flame, and adds another branch to the fire.
The sheep huddle close, bleating petitions into the dark. Mothers warm their lambs beneath their wooly affection.
In the distance a dog barks, and a murmur runs through the flock.
Tongues of flame lick the fresh wood, and the light flares. The shepherd lifts his eyes away from the fire toward the sound of the barking.
The sheep stir around him, and pull closer to the circle of light. Reaching into his bag, he pulls out a stone, and turns it over in his hand. It’s smooth surface, having long since lost the memory of midday sun, is icy to his touch as he slips it into his sling.
Grabbing his staff, he rises and walks slowly towards the sound. It is growing now, but drowned by the nervousness of the sheep. Squinting into the abyss of night that has descended, he sees a glow of light coming from beyond the crest of the hill.
No wolf he’s known can light the darkness. He thinks of staying with his flock, but cannot draw his eyes away from the golden light. His feet move of their own will, and even the rocks seem to beckon him onward.
The darkness recedes as he reaches the summit, and the sound of the sheep has faded into the distance. Far below in the valley