Everyone else had moved on, but still Aldin held out. Every night, he stood watch at the edge of the clearing of the dead castle, awaiting the return of his savior. He dared not venture closer; not even the crows would pass into the clearing.
He had begun to wonder if his faith was misplaced. For months he had come here, always with the childlike expectation that this time he'd be right. Had he been seeking something that never was? He wasn't sure he wanted to know.
It would not be tonight, he realized. The window of opportunity had passed. Perhaps tomorrow. He considered that maybe he should just stay in, but what if the great one finally returned? He wasn't sure he could bear it if he missed that.
Aldin stood up, brushed himself off, collected himself. By chance, he glanced up at the sky. He froze. Something was up there. It was a red star that had not been there before. Before Aldin's transfixed eyes, the speck of light grew larger and larger and suddenly shot down out of the sky, colliding with the ground in an explosion of earth. As if paralyzed, Aldin watched the smoke and dust clear.
Snapping out of the trance, he cautiously entered the clearing and made his way to the crater. He stood at the lip and gazed down into the ruin. In the center, there lied a small, round object. Aldin felt the thing pulling at him, drawing him in. Unaware of his movements, he climbed down into the hollow and crouched by its heart.
It was a seed. Intrigued by its seemingly impossible survival, Aldin reached out and picked it up. Turning it over in his hand, he wondered how such a small, fragile thing had managed to be virtually untouched by the immense blast.
A sudden squawk from above made Aldin jump. Pocketing the seed, he looked for the source of the noise. A flock of vultures had assembled there, waiting hopefully for something to die. Aldin had an uneasy feeling that he was that something. He scrambled out of the crater and hurriedly left the clearing. Not wanting to stay at this accursed place any longer, he began the journey home.
As he traveled, Aldin pulled out the seed and examined it. It was a small brown object, round but with one end extended. As he looked at it, he felt that it needed him. It was dying, and only Aldin could revive it. Arriving home, he removed his coat and tracked down a flowerpot, which he filled with soil. Delicately, he dug a small hole, placed the seed inside, and buried the thing. Picking up the pot, Aldin walked over to the well. Just before he began drawing up water, he felt that something was wrong. This would kill the seed, not save it.
Aldin put the pot on the kitchen table, donned his coat, and left with a bucket. The waters of Lake Gemir, only those aged waters would do. It would be a hard journey, especially the return, but it wouldn't be insufferable.
Aldin dutifully watered the seed over the following weeks. Long rejected as a pariah, he came to consider it his best and, indeed, only friend, marvelling at its growth and even giving it a name: Viera.
And Viera's growth truly was a marvel. Not two days had passed when she first pushed up from the dirt, growing immediately to the height of a small sunflower. Smooth and soft, her slender stalk almost reached Aldin's chest. The next day, a bud had grown atop the young plant, about the size of a cherry. What sort of flower would bloom there?
Aldin's anticipation became nearly unbearable as Viera's crown swelled. First the size of a cherry, it soon was soon as large as an apple, a watermelon, a small bear. Viera's vitality was indisputable.
In the dead of winter, months after he found the seed, Aldin opened his door and saw his beloved Viera, withered and crumpled on the floor. She had bloomed during Aldini's sleep, bloomed and then perished. Distraught, Aldin rushed over to the remains and collapsed beside them. What had all this been for?
A slight movement at the corner of his bleary eye. Aldin turned to look and saw...
She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Tall and slender, with brilliantly silver hair down to her waist, she was looking at him with piercing green eyes. There was an odd familiarity about those eyes, and how they blended into her delicate, plant-like dress...
Aldin gasped in realization. Unable to speak, he simply stared, looking for some sort of confirmation. Smiling, Viera opened her mouth and began to speak.