It had been an awful morning. Caterpillar had come around to check on her treasure and it was gone.
It was gone, and the whole shrine was a shambles—torn to pieces. There were great gashes and pits in the earth. Plants had been torn and trampled. Leaves had been stripped right off the trees, leaving long, startled fingers of gray branch and twig.
As she’d crept through the debris and flattened turf, she looked from side to side and above in horror. She neared the shrine without breathing, slipping beneath a broken branch, smelling death in what remained of its limp leaves.
But there was, for all the violent mayhem, no trace of the treasure itself. Caterpillar probed the empty bowl of earth where it had been. It was a terrible shock to see the blank soil that had been hidden beneath it, so tidy and mute, for so many years.
The sun began to lower and an older, deeper fear gripped her heart. The Sun!
Even now, she had to tear her eyes away from the business of finding not a single clue to watch the dreadful thing sink down into the earth. She hated to think about it, it scared her so much, but she was always compelled to look.
Only when the last licks and flashes of flame had disappeared behind the bracken, could she turn back, and then only to be struck more painfully by the loss. It had been her life’s work to guard that treasure and she had failed. Was there some way to get it back? Could she find it?
She decided to put her mind to that. She would search all the corners of the world.
She set off, but only for a few minutes; Now that the numbness and shock subsided she realized how hungry she was.