Story A Day Challenge – Day 25: Penance

The old village was built of stone and sand, blending in with the surrounding landscape. Dr. Carver was there seeking legends. He had come to know of an artifact known as the Chalice of the Sun, a sacred relic that was supposedly guarded by the dead. Dr. Carver was never one for superstition, but the chalice would have great historical value for its use in ancient funeral rites.

He had been trying to pinpoint the location of the chalice for a few months and had very recently had a breakthrough. This was his opportunity to uncover a lost piece of history. He was eager to find it and explore the stories behind it; perhaps another best-selling book was on the horizon.

The village was small and unassuming, not the sort of place where one expected legends to dwell. A morning’s worth of work had revealed precious little. The rest of his expedition, consisting mostly of his graduate students, were mingling with the locals, trying to learn about the village and the secrets it held, though finding precious few answers. Dr. Carver sat outside a small cafe, scouring his journals for some sort of clue. He wasn’t one to give up easily.

A young girl in a faded green dress ran up to him, holding a small clay cup filled with water. Dr. Carver looked up, cracking a smile for the first time since his arrival.

“Well hello there,” he said in slightly stilted Arabic, accepting the cup graciously. “And what’s your name?”

“Zara.”

“Thank you, Zara,” he said, taking a sip from the cup.

“My father says you are looking for something.”

Dr. Carver nodded, idly flicking through his notebook. That’s right. We’re looking for the Chalice of the Sun. Have you heard of it?”

“I’ve heard stories. My father says it is protected by the gods and should not be disturbed. He says you should go back.”

“Yes, I’ve been hearing that since I got here.” Dr. Carver grunted and drained he rest of the cup in one go.

“I have heard that it is made of powerful magic.”

A rasping laugh escaped the doctor’s throat. “Is it now? Do you know much about magic?”

“Only the stories my grandmother told me. Would you like to hear one?”

It had been a long afternoon, and there would likely be more of those before they found anything, if they found anything at all. At least he could take in some local culture, if nothing else.

“I’d like that very much,” Dr. Carver said with a smile.

Zara smiled back and sat down on the chair next to his. She began telling the sort of fantastical tale that could only be real in the imaginations of children.

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