The sun rose. This was the day of the Winter Festival, the turning point of the year, when the night was longest. Soon the nights would retreat and the days grow longer instead. The revelry lasted well into the hours of darkness. At midnight came the climax of the festival. Afterward, they cleaned the stone block, staining the snow around it a washed-out red. The party continued with renewed fervor, as everyone fought to convince themselves everything was fine and would continue so. They waited for the sun, knowing the worst was past.
Morning came. The sun did not rise.
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