All in Haru

Treading warily, Lam followed Lissa inside, where he found her standing, frozen, just a few steps across the threshold. She was shaking, but not from the cold, and he followed her eyes to the shape of a lone woman, who lay huddled in a far corner. She was hard to see, through the network of roots which grew all the way from the sunken ceiling to the earthen floor, and the simple green dress she wore matched the color of the grassy walls so closely that, from a distance, it was almost hard to tell where the woman stopped, and the earth began. She was lying there, silent, and still, with her eyes closed, and, as Lam crept warily towards her, she did not stir.

“Who is she?” Lissa said.

“How did you break the rules?” the man asked. 

Haru closed her eyes, and she ran her hand along the ground next to her. She enjoyed the feeling of the grass between her fingertips, of the soil beneath her fingernails. The farmer’s earth was good – Haru could feel it.

“I did what I thought was right,” she said.

Ritual held that the Goddess of the Fields welcomed the souls of the departed only if their bodies were buried beneath good earth, with a shock of winter wheat in one hand, and a heart of barley in the other. That was how the dead had been hallowed since time out of mind. It was how their souls returned home to the fields.