The Journey North
Three travelers rise from the village of Dardek and begin journeying north to the citadel of Greanfas. The group is comprised of two men, one young, the other old, and a lady elf, majestic in frame and composure. There is an air of serious anticipation amongst them. Still, the more they walk, the more it is replaced by beautiful surroundings and fruitful conversation.
They pass down a long and large hillside. At least they think it is a hillside. Keatoph wonders if it could be deemed a mountain. The view is breathtaking. Low floating clouds pass just over their heads. In the distance and over the trees, occasional fields and rolling grasslands can be seen.
At the end of their third day away from civilization, they find a quiet place to rest. It is guarded by bushes, hills, and stones. It is a small dip, tucked into the forest. In fact, they had not seen it until they were at it’s lip.
It is a pleasant looking area, quite like the rest of the forest. However, it’s base is flat and ornamented with fall leaves and branches. Also, the ground that surrounds it is a short and sudden wall, which could be looked over from within the pit. The group is glad to stop here for the night. This is especially true for Rhokie, whose age disagrees with the pace of his adventure.
They set up camp in peaceful quiet. Keatoph gathers firewood, Ophni prepares their cots, and Rhokie makes their food. Much like every night prior, the wizard completes his task most quickly. From the darkness of his cloak he pulls out jars, filled with salads, toppings, and berries. Then once the fire is lit, he whispers a word into the woods and meat appears above the flame. They settle some logs around the heat as the temperature drops to a chill and speak to each other of their lives as they have known them.
As the night grows darker, their stomachs begin to warp with knots of stress and fear, that is of course, with the exception of the wizard.
“Tomorrow we arrive at Greanfas,” Keatoph says. It is a truth that has been staring at them from the corner of the campground all evening. The young warrior feels it is time to call it forth.
“Yes,” Rhokie, agrees, tapping a sophisticated looking metal orb against the rock he sits on. The stone inside it glows through its Celtic knots. “Let’s talk about that.”
He rolls the sphere onto the ground. The light inside it bursts through the space above it, projecting memories into the world.
“This is my old friend, Savine,” the grey wizard informs. “She was an excellent mage.”
Light bends around itself. In its glow, the female wizardess travels down a corridor, smiling. From the corner of Keatoph’s eye, he can see Rhokie smiling back.
“Will she be joining us?” Keatoph asks.
“No,” the wizard frowns. The light shifts again. The corridor stays the same, but darker. There is a woman lying on the floor. The vision of the memory runs to her side. Hands grab her and pull her close. “I’m afraid not.” Rhokie looks at our hero. “Keatoph?”
“Yes?” He looks back.
“I understand you’re being conflicted. King Hesfall has raised you since you were young. You have believed, for as long as you can remember, that he is your father. And it has been a short season for you to figure out otherwise.” He looks to the ground as if he were mentally in another world and then back up to Keatoph. “Many things may happen tomorrow, which you cannot anticipate. Are you ready?”
The young man looks back at him. Both of their shoulders are heavy on their frames.
“I think so.”
“I will be with you,” Ophni tells him. She grabs his hand and squeezes it. “You are not alone.” Keatoph smiles sadly at her. He rises from his place and walks toward the hill wall around them.
“I’m going to use the restroom.” He passes over the helm of grass. “Not alone…not yet,” he mutters to himself. In his core he knows that if he had been in any other position, they would have never met him nor cared to. In his heart, he suspects that once positions change, they will be gone again. “…And yet always.”
Our adventurer knows in his heart that being alone is not really about who is near you. It is about who will not let you be apart.