It was a bright day and most of the town’s inhabitants were lounging in the speckled shade. With her mother and sister, Istra sat among the locals, enjoying the fine atmosphere of the town’s central plaza. Towering above them were thin trees, filtering and cooling the sun with their leaves, they cast warm green light upon the idle dwellers. On their right, a stone’s throw from their earthly seats, was the town’s main attraction: an elevated rock formation, only 30 feet wide, but running the entire length of the village. The boulders were deeply carved in the middle, cradling within their granite arms a gently cascading river, and, by the borderlands of the town, a set of petite waterfalls.
The air was full of oxygen, moist and light. The gurgling sounds of moving water danced through the light air like a company of fairy ballerinas. Cool sprinkles landed upon the skin of all who sat by the waters. There was a calm sense of activity, brought into existence merely because of the rivers, for no one else was doing much. The villagers were not burdened with the thought of duties or enterprise. Some were busy with black-smithing or tending to children, but if one desired to luxuriate in the company of the sacred waters, it was judged as a good use of time.
Far beyond the natural boundaries of the village, far into the sprawling empire at the base of the mountains, the river bed was known to be alive. For longer than anyone could remember, the villagers had boasted about the pureness of their water source, the rejuvenating quality it granted the thirsty, the liquid salvation it brought in its elemental state. Travelers and heros on quests journeyed for months, sometimes years, to sip at the banks of the meandering liquid stream.
The rock wall formation was at least a hundred feet overhead, but some clever men of the village had constructed a little faucet close to the ground. Copper in origin, it now was covered in turquoise rust, and soft patches of emerald green moss grew in the cracks of water moistened stone.
As Istra sat, enjoying the weather and ambiance, she saw a handsome traveler. She watched him as he passed through the natural archway in the boulder, the passageway granting access to both sides of the village. Her eyes rested upon him as he approached the faucet. He filled his jug with the delightful liquid from the earth and then he vanished.
She marveled at the idea. Although she had seen the faucet, it hadn’t occurred to her to fill her glass jug. She had been so entranced in the movements and elements, her rational mind hadn’t put logic into use. She ran over to fill her bottle, acutely aware of the two young men close to the spigot that openly stared at her derrière, exposed in all its soft whiteness to the sun, riding the edge of social acceptance by covering only the most crucial parts with small red panties.
She waited for her clear jug to fill, quickly growing cool to the touch. Still behind her, they watched her flesh ripple; conscious, but unaffected with their attention, she concentrated on the water, the gurgling sound it made, changing in melodic pitch as the bottle filled. She felt its coolness, the air around her was different in its presence, more alive, like all the elements were converging with the jig of life.
She held the clear vessel to her mouth, savoring the liquid sweetness it held in its charge. She had never experienced water so delicious and perfect. Remembering her mother and sister, she refilled the bottle, bringing it to them for a taste. As she approached them, not a 100 steps from the faucet and steps from her kin, the water turned a reddish brown and became thick and cloudy. It separated, the essential elements running away from each other like oil and vinegar and small sudsy soap bubbles began to spill from the mouth of the bottle. Istra was confused with the change, explaining to her mother that she had just drunk the same pristine water only minutes ago. Her mother looked startled, her eyes darted about as if in a daze. She hadn’t even noticed that they were sitting by a river nor had she heard the soft burbling of the water. Istra then hesitated to look around, for she was suddenly aware that if she were to turn, the running waters might not be there at all. No water, no faucet, no waterfalls. Nothing at all.