This is part of the A to Z Challenge. A story told in 26 parts.
“Xavier! Xavier, wake up!”
Xavier felt hands on his shoulders shaking him to consciousness. He rose on his elbows to see Dianthe kneeling before him.
“Look!” she said, pointing towards a far corner of the cave, which was dimly lit by the fire. There in the shadows something moved. He jumped up and advanced towards it, Dianthe close behind. It was a vine-like stem that grew before him, as if by magic.
The others had awakened and the four of them crowded around the plant as it grew ever taller. When the stem hit the roof of the cave, a bud appeared. And then a pure white flower as big as the span of his arms began to blossom.
“The flower!” Princess Cardelia shouted, jubilant that she was not wrong in leading them here. “The poem. It says ‘the bloom you’ll find is quite contrary.’ It is contrary because unlike ordinary flower, this one blooms at night.”
“It is quite rare. I’ve only ever heard of this flower by legend,” Dianthe said. “It is called the Princess of the Night.”
“Apt name,” Valerius said. “The priest was quite clever.”
“The flower is rumored to have magical properties if used correctly,” Dianthe added.
Xavier stepped boldly to the bloom, unsheathing his sword, intent on plucking the flower.
“Don’t touch it!” Dianthe cried, and Xavier fell back, alarmed. “You forget the last line of the poem. ‘The flower of death to those unwary’.”
‘The flower of death to those unwary.’ Xavier had narrowly avoided death yet again, thanks to Dianthe. Xavier gave a small prayer of thanks to the Gods once more for bringing Dianthe into his life.
“You must give me your sword,” Dianthe said. “I think I know the spell to render it harmless to me.”
“You think or you know?” Xavier asked, unwilling to subject Dianthe to danger.
“I know,” Dianthe stated as firmly and coolly as possible. She’d never attempted anything like this but of the four of them, she was the only one who had a chance at the flower. “Hand me the sword, if you please?”
Xavier didn’t move, so Dianthe had to go to him, and take the sword from his unresisting grasp.
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Xavier asked, fear evident in his eyes.
Dianthe nodded, then knelt before the flower, reciting a prayer to Diana, goddess of the moon. She was named after the goddess and her mother had required her to memorize the prayer when she was still a girl.
When she was done, she tentatively touched the stalk of the flower. No sting or feeling of pain flooded her so she used Xavier’s sword to cut the flower down.