The trees shook as a gentle wind hurried through the valley. Accompanied by the stary sky and fallen leaves, the wind made for a brisk atmosphere. The winter frost would soon approach, giving time for all manner of hobbies. Alfar sat along the stony bank of a bubbling brook. A few small fish darted along his vision almost as though they were children playing tag. A small rod, with a string and lure hanging from its’ end, supported by a forked stick buried in the ground made up Alfar’s fishing rod. The lure bobbed in the shallow water bearing no indication of ever serving its intended purpose. The air hung with poorly tuned notes as he clumsily played his flute made from a gourd he hollowed out as a young boy. It had been only two days since he had left the village of Elderbrook, his home and birthplace. A village justly named for the brook he now followed to its source. The brook, as legend told, originated from the power of Lykos, god of illumination. As a loyal follower of Lykos, Alfar intended to visit the streams source to commune with the god, as his ancestors had done before him. Tomorrow would mark the beginning of the second decade of his life and his first day as a man. It was only fitting that he should begin his adulthood paying homage to his village’s protector.
As the moon climbed higher into the sky Alfar finished his song and climbed the bank to his tent which was nothing more than a frame of a few sticks holding up a tarp with a bedroll beneath it. He didn’t bother collecting his pole fully expecting it to be there when he woke up.
With the sun peeking over the nearby hills, it was much easier to see the dirt road that followed along the brook. Packing his tent into a canvas backpack, Alfar grabbed his pole and began walking West along the road. Not caring much for breakfast, he planned a large lunch as soon as he arrived at the shrine. Swinging his pole and whistling a marching tune, Alfar felt like a hero going off into the great unknown. It was said that with varying frequency Lykos would allow his most faithful of followers a glimpse into the future. There was no doubt in his mind that he would receive a vision and that it would involve his marriage to Deirdre. Since she was slightly older than him as soon as he returned to the village, he could officially propose her and begin the preparations for their nuptials.
As the road curved the brook opened into a small pond. Frogs hopped into the water hoping to hide from Alfar. A cliff only about 20 feet tall sat on one side of the pond with a small cave about three quarters up it. From the caves mouth a small stream of water descended breaking apart at a triangular outcropping before falling into the pond as two separate streams. Below the cave there was a similar sized dent in the cliff on either side that appeared to be sculpted or at least a crude attempt. As Alfar stood before it he noticed that the cliff looked like a three eyed face. A jagged smile had been carved only feet from the ground. The face looked young except for a line straight from the third eye down caused by the running water eating away at the stone.
On the other side on the cliff was a gentle slope to the top covered in short grass. As Alfar walked up the slope he felt a gentle cool breeze across his face. The sun was almost at its peak creating a glistening view of the pond below. Finding a few good footholds Alfar managed to descend into the cave. The cave was mostly dark except for a few small clear crystals that glowed with a white light. Illuminated by the crystals was a small domed room no bigger than 10 feet across. A life size statue of a man with three eyes stood in the center. The statue looked and reached upward toward nothing. Imbedded in the statue where it’s heart should be was a white crystal no bigger than a human hand. At the statue’s feet the stream sprung forth as if by some unknown power.
After hearing so much about this place as a child Alfar found himself a little disappointed with reality. His elders had always described it as a once in a lifetime experience. Setting his fallen hopes aside, Alfar reached into his pack and pulled out a small loaf of bread, an apple, and a few pieces of salted meat. He split each object in half and wrapped half in a small piece of cloth. He then laid the bundle at the statue’s feet in the small spring. He began partaking in the other half of his meal. After, spending two days not eating on the road the food tasted delicious. The juices from the apple dripped from his mouth as he viciously tore into it.
“Aren’t you going to eat your half?” Alfar asked the statue giggling at his own joke. As Alfar bit into the bread he felt a sudden need to sleep. Despite trying his best to fight the encroaching fatigue, a deep sleep overtook him. The sleep was anything but restful as he saw the statue standing before him in a dream. Slowly the left hand of the statue shifted to motion downwards at the ground. The ground lit up revealing a golden path that winded past several dark silhouettes. One by one the shadows lifted to reveal what they hid. First was Deirdre standing in a green wedding dress. Her brown hair fell in waves down her back as her emerald eyes shown with tears of joy. No image could have made Alfar’s heart beat with such happiness. He felt tears of his own begin to well up as he tried to look at the second image. He saw his own golden hair shimmering in the afternoon sun as he sat on the porch of a huge house with a toddler bouncing on his knee. Deirdre stood next to him with a baby in her arms reaching its tiny hands for her face. With the addition of the second image Alfar found himself unable to hold back his joy. His eyes burst forth with a river of tears, preventing him from seeing further down the path to the third image. The path dimmed and disappeared as Alfar managed to wipe away the tears. To his dismay, Alfar managed to see the statue’s right hand move downward to reveal a second path paved with jagged obsidian.
The first image along the darker path was a sword of immaculate metal. The pommel featured a head of a dragon made of polished brass holding a ball of green glass. Lain on top of the sword was a simple coat of arms bearing Alfar’s surname, O’Tebre. The coat of arms featured a roaring dragon.
“Kind of a weird aesthetic for a farmer,” Alfar mused, letting out a nervous chuckle.
The second image, perhaps far stranger than the first was of a young man in platemail kneeling before a king with crown of golden swans. The king was presenting the man with a red cloth with an embroidered gold symbol on it. Having no knowledge of noble affairs, Alfar could only assume that it was some kind of honor. On a second look Alfar recognized the previous coat of arms on the man’s finely polished chest plate. The last image was Alfar sitting alone in a huge sitting room. His chair was a great wooden throne carved to look like it had grown as a chair. A pile of gold coins lay strewn across the floor. As the dark path disappeared the statue waved both hands to reveal a compass at its feet. The needle of the compass was spinning faster and faster. Picking it up Alfar noticed a monogram on the compass.
“To My Loving Son”
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