The Shrine

During journeys down The Path Less Travelled, if the road that diverges further away from isolation is taken, wanderers may find themselves at the entrance of one particular cave amidst a bushy overgrowth. Entering the cave leads not to a subterranean hidey-hole, but to a lonely space hidden away in the depths of the forests, away from all those that can cause it harm.

Suspended over a pink sky reminiscent of autumn's first sunrise, a path made of gritty gravel lies paved on a small, floating island. Merely five meters long and two meters wide, the passage is pitiful compared to the one traversed before. Patches of gravel have been covered by soil, reclaimed by the ground into itself, absorbed and embraced so what man shaped can reunite with its maker. Flora grows sporadically over the path, small shoots of weeds emerging between the patches. Soon enough, it seems to reach its end: it lets out a few more pathetic whimpers before fading into the grass. One could almost feel sorry for it.

Looking to the sides of the road, one will find that the path floats above a pink autumn sky, sun-setting yet without a sun. The sight expands and deepens before one's eyes, a minuscule part of something so much greater. Elephant-sized planetoids made of what can only be assumed to be stone float over the void far away from the entrance, some riddled with trees, some with quaint little waterfalls spilling water, like tears, filling the empty void with a symphony of sloshing and gushing. Some, however, are simply barren, devoid of all life, misplaced among their brethren. They share one thing in common: no structures borne of man or beast can be found on them. The only evidence that hints at the fact that life had ever inhabited this realm is a gigantic effigy of a vaguely human creature, made of what appears to be obsidian, that floats uninterrupted across the vast space. Its body is smooth and featureless, from each foot to its face, and it does not seem to move, stuck in the position it has assumed for all eternity. Even still, it is contorted, twisted around in a frozen expression of immense agony: no doubt, its final moments.

A featureless sword made of silver has been driven into its chest, fragments of what were once parts of it floating around the point of impact. Planetoids can be seen far, far off into the distance, presumably hundreds of miles away, but no remnants much like this one can be observed anywhere else.

The path ends where the gravel path finally comes to an end, in front of a small clearing surrounded by boreal trees. Purple hyacinths grow untended to in the general area, surrounding a marble statue of a human girl. The statue can be found at the far end of the clearing, positioned on top of a baroque pedestal with a weathered, bronze plaque welded to the front. The figurine girl is portrayed on her knees, her hands placed delicately on them as she looks down towards the ground. She wears a sundress and a daisy chain, her expression regretful and sorrowful, and her composure comparable to that of an angel.

The text on the plaque reads as follows:

Rest here, you
who comes weary
from paths deathly
and dreary.

Stand under the gaze
of the beholder,
seek refuge and weep,
under the remains of
those older.

When you arrive there, sit down and let time go. If you feel sentimental, burdened by emotion, fear not to lay down and let weariness overcome you for now. Should tears rise to the eyes and threaten to spill — let them go too.

They say that when you cry amidst the pink autumn sky, you are never alone.

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