Shimmering spires of multi-hued glass stood around me, the press of otherworldly towers near suffocating. Rays of light danced and sparkled as they bounced from crystal to crystal, refracted a thousand times over by the peculiar architecture of the gemstone spikes. Vistas of glimmering splendour constantly shifted in shape and colour as I ambled through that strange place, my surroundings twinkling as I passed.
Each footfall stirred a sea of shattered glass, a hundred different hues grinding beneath my boot. Now and again I would kick up a jagged gem, clinking and clattering as it rolled out of my path to rest once again amongst the crystal sand. Such stones littered the ground, like ripe fruit fallen from an overburdened tree.
The smell of earth was strong there, as though a heavy rain had swept over a dry field. Trapped by the press of towering gems it grew stronger and stronger, to the point were I could find my way by scent alone. I knew I was moving away from the heart of that crystalline forest, for my head no longer swam with the intoxicating aroma.
Then, in an instance, the tranquility of that odd place was broken. A call came out, a surly voice distorted as it echoed through the labyrinthine of glass.
Before I could call back, a tremor rocked the forest, sending me sprawling. Small shards of glass cut and my hands as I fell, but at the moment I felt nothing. For before me a red, crystalline tower rumbled, jagged cracks marring it’s once perfect surface. Like lightning the fissures spread, a deep, horrid ping announcing each new line.
After several frightful moments, the tower finally collapsed. As though struck with some colossal hammer, it fractured into a million crimson hued shards. Like sand it flowed downward, a cacophony of clinks and cracks emanating from the dying spire.
And, just like that, the tower was gone. The space it had left vacant stuck out sorely, a break in the strange symmetry of that wondrous wood. I gawked at the ruined remains of the tower, my ears ringing fiercely as my mind raced. What force could topple such a mighty spire? What could render solid stone into mere shards in moments?
I was pulled from my pondering by a lumpen brown shape clambering over the shattered glass. It was a man, bald and bloated, wreathed in a leather smock. Like rat he picked over broken tower, plucking at chunks of glass and depositing them in a sack at his side.
Soon others joined him, carrying shovels and hammers. They, too, scavenged the corpse of the crystal spire, loading choice pieces into buckets and barrels.
“Burn it all to cinder!” a voice echoed from my right. I turned, spotting a small, bearded soul, thin as twigs and twitching as he approached. “You daft bastard! You could of got killed, wandering around a work site like that!”
I did not reply.
The skeletal figure snorted. “Wrong in the head, eh?” he spat, “or do you not speak the Duke’s tongue?”
“That spire,” I stated, my mind still reeling. “It… It shattered.”
“‘Course it shattered,” the man barked, “how else are we supposed to move it? One big piece?”
“Move it?” I said, my faculties returning, “what business does a man have moving a stone of that size?”
“What, you a yokel or something?” the man mocked. “Stained glass, latest fashion in Rendsheim. Make ‘em into windows, cups, piss-pots, you name it.”
“Your destroying these structures for glass?” I gawked.
“You ever try making stained glass? Nah, much easier to take chunks of this stuff and melt it down back home. Duke gets his fancy windows, family gets to eat for another month.”
I rose to my feet, incensed. “You can’t just topple these things! They’ve been here for ages!”
“Yeah, and there’s a lot more of them!” the man retorted. “I’m sure a few won’t be missed. Now if your done crying foul over a few overgrown rocks, clear off! Before another of your beloved spires falls atop your head!”
With those final harsh words the man loped off, a bag of clattering glass at his side.
I left that enchanted place deeply saddened. I doubt I shall ever return, for each time I do I know the crystalline forest would not hold the same splendour it once did. I doubt my heart could take it, witnessing the short-sighted avarice of my fellow man.