Unending Trails

Quiet Difference

It had almost become ingrained in my mind about the story of Praemus. A hero that was told to have the ability to transform into the infamously large and fierce griffin. The story had always told of a prince named Praemus, whose destiny it was to rise against the Lord of the Realm.

I remembered all of the times my father had warned me in talking about it in front of other people —the realm that is. It was a common taboo among the people of Tierredaviid to speak of the Realm, though I never really understood why. Every time I had asked about it, Cecilia, my mother, was quick to throw the usual “because you’ll go mad, Liam,” warning. It was her go-to saying in warning me from being too curious.

Though that never stopped me from my adventurous hunger. I gathered all that I could around the town. I knew for one thing that Eli had been unusually skeptical as well. He’d tell of legends and myths that I always asked when I was little, for he was also interested in such things —and he had never probed my curiosity as my parents did. Mary would always remind me that they were indeed just legends and that I shouldn’t take Eli’s words to heart. “Don’t listen to him,” she’d say, annoyed that he still kept his stories to heart, stories that he was told when he was around my age —all the while he’d forget to do the simplest of chores around town.

'How fun would that be though, going to the Realm? What’d you think we’d find down there?'

I let out a stiff chuff through my nose and smiled at the ridiculous thought.

Death.

You are too weak. Time will tell if you grow strong enough…

If you can even remember that far out.

I smiled at the thought of consideration. From what I grew up with, the Realm is said to be a land of absolute hatred down below us. The skies are billows of ash, the light emits from the lakes and rivers of flowing lava, and the fires last until the end of times. The many monstrosities that inhabit it are evil and care for only the destruction of the lands above.

The demons there bend their knee to one ruler, who is the Lord. There are many stories over the lords of the past and if there is even a current one ruling as of now. This, of course, is the thought that always trails back to itself, the thought that Praemus had slain the evil Lord of the Realm, and that in due time, another will take the reigns. It was a common joke that soon a prophecy will be fulfilled, and that the end of the world would come —for us humans that is.

It was my father, Balen, a nickname my mother gave him, who always caught on my interest in things like this though. He wasn’t the sort to gripe on me for doing so, and would instead always smile and listen to what I had to say. I’d always ask him why he was so open towards my curiosity while he read his usual Diebus Tempus —one of his favorite philosophical books, to which he’d say “it’s better to get it out of your head and wonder now instead of locking it behind a door for the future.” My mother was annoyed that he wasn’t trying so hard to keep it from me, but I could tell that she knew I’d explore one way or another.

On rare occasions, Balen would read me paragraphs of the book; but it was all too confusing, sophisticated beyond belief. I’d lay across the woven rug in the living room and look up at the ceiling, wondering how in the world can anyone become that smart. Wondering how if I read the books that Balen read, maybe I could become that way… maybe I could write the kinds of books my father read.

Though that’s how it went… that was what kind of luck I had. For the many times that I wonder, I’d sit and wish. Maybe that’s how the Creator intended it to be. After all, mother had always said that nothing comes for free. Not even kindness.


I lifted my head from my arm perched on one knee, and stared at the passing scenery. The tree line was more common for anything, and it had struck me that these trails are our marks in history. Our triumph over the many beasts that the evils can throw at us. How many could I suspect died on this very trail? How many could I fathom died making this trail?

Anywhere was like that, and it slowly evolved from a grim realization of life around us, to an achievement worth holding within us.

By now, I had lost the sense of direction I promised to keep. For all I knew, we could’ve been traveling back north. All I suspected, is that Alton was taking us south, and that worried me a little.

Before we had departed, Alton showed me a map of the regional area we had been in. As much as the charcoal markings had been interesting to me, it had only distracted me all the more. Tierredaviid, a town that two kingdoms are currently scrambling for, was marked near the northwest quadrant of the map. Southwest to the town, was the large Ygrivin peninsula, where even further south in the east direction had a small circle marking —which I assumed that was where we were headed. It hadn’t exactly dawned on me that though it had looked as if it was a reasonably timely walk between the town and the circle, it was still a tedious trip. For such a small map of just the region, I feared traveling any further across provinces.

Though another feature I found odd, was that the circle was noticeably far from any kind of villages or even towns. Remotely marked near a large forested area, it had only grown the idea that I was traveling with most likely, a lunatic. Hermits in these days and ages are only asking the Creator for unneeded difficulty, and that He gave.

But, I’m happy nevertheless. That had been a couple of hours or so since we had left the small resting spot, and now I knew that we were close. I sat in the same spot I had always sat throughout the trip, always excited when Alton broke the silence. Excited for some sign that we had finally arrived, but alas, they were all just minor conversations over bird calls or beautiful marks of the view.

That is what was the most bothersome about the trip. Sure it was long and uncomfortable, but it was increasingly beginning to feel like torture as every 30 minutes, I’d get excited for nothing. A time where I’d give anything to make it stop.

My train of thought was interrupted when I felt sick. Motion sickness maybe?

'What is this? Is it happening again?'

Suddenly, I hat gotten lightheaded. The sounds around me had echoed, and I felt as if I was in time alone, looking down at my own self. I turned my head back and forth to make sure I still had feeling and consciousness, and that I still did. Only now, my shift of fainting moved towards my swift shift in mood.

'Why am I here? What is it I’m even doing?'

What?

I’ve told you many times —MANY times, that we could’ve left. I suggest we leave now.

A strong irritation came through me, as if someone had just spat in my face. I wanted nothing more than to stand and scream at the top of my lungs. My muscles throughout my abdomen and arms clenched, and I started to breathe heavily through my nose.

It was then that I had felt a fit of unnatural anger towards Alton for him having taken me from my home.

'Why was that? You’re an idiot for having left.'

I turned my head towards Alton, and my muscles clenched even harder. A deep voice is calling to me, though I couldn't make it out. It was softly echoing as if it was right next to my ear, and yet, I couldn’t understand a single word but my own.

'You. You brought me here. Why? For what? What about me do you want?'

The voice began to grow louder, but still nothing reached. My arms balled into a fist, and I wanted nothing more than to strangle him. That man who had brought me here. So far from home, so far from my dream.

You chose wrong —and now? Now this is your fault, and your fault only.

Scheming… planning, all of it to make him suffer the worst. Maybe too harsh? Maybe not harsh enough.

The voice grew louder and louder... louder until it became indistinguishable to a yell in my head, and suddenly, it had been clear.

Continen bri entelos. Restrain yourself.

The words echoed, and I had felt as if my ears had been sensitive —as if someone had screamed into my own ears. The audible words repeated themselves, growing quieter and quieter, and I had taken notice that that is what all I heard. That, and the complete silence in my head, leaving only the cart wheels traversing across the path.

I felt… there again, grounded in reality. I sat completely still, and felt only the shaking of my body from the cart continuing on. My muscles relaxed, and a feeling of complete relief came over me. What I had felt now was pain, a soreness of sorts from the tension I caused myself. My breathing relaxed, and now I was breathing through my mouth, taking slow gasps of air.

'What… why was this one worse?'

This time, it was silence because I didn’t want an answer. I placed my hands on my face and slouched further. How would this happen? Just like that, I was ready to realistically kill someone. Is that how evil is born? Just in a snap of a finger? Is that how all killers are born?

'Lord help me. Help this soul for the better of his future.'

I sat astonished as to what had happened. Astonished and confused. I didn’t know whether to help myself or pray for forgiveness. Pray for what I’d really turn out to be in the future.

No. In time, you will be able to control it. Fear is only your heedance that you ought to watch.

What? Control it? That’s not the point. The next time this happens, we need to tell Alton. For all we know, it’ll only get worse, and this could lead us down a very dark alley.

Hmp. Nost et-tel vaeil… if it helps.

Stop doing that. I don’t like it when you do that.

What even is that? Is that-

Wait, so you mean to tell me you got psychotic intentions, and now you’re speaking gibberish? Yea no, Alton isn’t the lunatic here.

'Just, wait a moment…'

I paused as a put my left hand on my left leg, while my right arm was still propped up against my knee.


'This one was worse. Disturbingly worse. I don’t think I’m that demented enough to just mood swing that hard.'

I don't know about that. We were told that maturation is indeed a mystery, maybe it's us just becoming an adult.


'Stop that. It’s not.'

And it was so that throughout the morning, that same lightheadedness had periodically shown itself. It was never that strong though, and it surely didn’t come with the mood change. That I knew, that it’s getting worse.

I again tried to make sense of my surroundings, and it was only now that I had fully sensed everything around me. The path through the evergreen forest, the calls of the wild around me, and the sounds of the horses and cart making way along the path. Everything had been the same, everything… as if the eyes of the wild were watching me. Watching what had just happened to me.

“Heigh-ho! We are nearing it, my friend, I can feel it! ‘Tis only a little more, and alas, we are home,” Alton exclaimed, boasting with sheer excitement. It had completely broken the ambience, and had almost startled me.

I didn’t make an attempt to respond back, and instead chuffed. It had almost gotten my mind off things —thinking about resting in a spot at least. For once, I too was excited and looked up at the partially covered sky from the trees around the path. A slow slow grin grew on my face. Though, it wasn’t one that I liked. One part was actual excitement, the other was the same astonishment. I knew full and well I couldn’t hide it. I knew that everything else was the same, except me.