“Have you ever just stared out into the distance? Out there is something unknown but it’s known by the wind. The howls, the cold, the birds, the whispers, the storms, the seeds, the wanderlust. If the unknown calls then surely we should heed it.” These are the words said by a stranger on his way through my village.
These words they resonate in my mind. A man traveling by himself through dangerous lands yet he remains cheerful. I wonder if I could do the same. The stagnant state of this village leaves a pungent taste in my mouth. No news from the outside reaches here and the villagers find solace in the isolation. Do I? Lately the man’s words romance my thirst for something new.
I walk to the edge of town where I met the man. The place is unusual for most travelers. A ravine the village elder calls the entrance to the Burrow of Despair. Tales speak of men losing their minds in the ravine and finding a door hidden beneath thorns. Neither does the door exist or the thorns but the hallucination is much more vivid than reality. One man rescued from the ravine was unable to function at all.
The older villagers say he never escaped the ravine. I never met him nor do I wish to find truth in such a tragedy. Out of mercy or perhaps selfishness they put him to rest. We warned the traveler about these states of altered reality but he pressed on. I wonder how. His footsteps, the only pair on the soil, show a leisurely stroll.
“What was it? If I could ask about his confidence in traveling. Or return the book he dropped right here.” I ramble on.
I traced the cover with my hand. A skillful engraving meets my fingertips and I feel warmth radiating from it. Should I read the book? He may never return. Or I could show it to the elder because all those old people in the Council have strict rules on outside knowledge. No I can’t let them get rid of the book. I place the book back in my pocket and head back to my house.