The next morning Wilym woke before the dawn to the sounds of the first birds of the new day. It felt like a new day, everything was different, he was different. A lot had happened the night before, the simple life of the village seemed far away.
Opening his eyes, he noticed Torian was already up as well. Before he even sat up he was already asking questions.
“Torian, what is the symbol on the flute, the circle with the curved line through it?”
“That is the symbol of the Third Road, the road that those like us travel,” Torian answered. “It is there to remind us to follow our own path throughout our life, and that path is the third one.”
“What are the other two?” Wilym asked.
Torian smiled and said, “The paths that the others take.”
Torian reached across and handed Wilym a piece of bread, and said “You better get something in you, we have a long walk today. And before any task, one needs to feed their body or it won’t be able to keep up with what needs to be done.”
After sharing the bread and Torian packing up his meager belongings, the two were off, walking through the woods to the west, back towards Wilym’s village. Wilym felt a little apprehensive in the woods this morning after all that had happened and all he had been told the night before.
Torian apparently picked up on this and said, “Nothing to fear here my young friend, the Solfon aren’t as powerful in the light of day, you would hardly ever see one in daylight. And, don’t forget, you have your flute now.”
Wilym looked at the flute he was tightly clutching in his hand and asked, as if he already knew the answer, “So, it’s music that they cannot stand?”
“Well sort of,” replied Torian. “it’s a certain kind of music though, and only when it’s played on certain instruments. There is music, if that’s what you want to call it, that will bring them to you. But, it too must be played on certain instruments to work. A flute would never call them, it is too natural of sound, like the wind, and it drives them mad.”
“Like my flute?” Wilym questioned turning the flute in his hand.
Torian grinned and said, “Yes, like your flute.”
Wilym smiled his first smile of the day, then it faded quickly and he said, “But I do not know how to play it. How will I learn it if you are not here to teach me?”
“I cannot teach you, your path will teach you.” Torian replied. I can show you how to hold it, and how to place your fingers to make the notes, but you must learn to listen to your path, the world you are walking through, and it will teach you.”
Wilym felt more confounded than before, and said, “I don’t hear anything. You seem to talk in riddles grandfather.”
Torian smiled, “Do you not hear the birds?” Torian asked. “Do you not hear the stream that flows by the path? Do you not hear the wind whispering through the leaves on the trees?”
“Yes, of course, but how will they teach me to play?” Wilym questioned, “They do not play the flute.”
“Yes, but they make music just the same,” replied Torian, “and their music is very beautiful, and their music is very powerful.”
They walked along in silence for awhile, and Wilym listened to the birds, the stream, the wind and the forest, but he wasn’t really hearing what he would call music.
After awhile, he turned to the old man and said, “So then, you are family, you are my grandfather.”
“I suppose I am young Wilym.” Torian said and laid his hand on Wilym’s shoulder, “I suppose I am.”
“Then why don’t you stay with my family for awhile, stay in my village.” Wilym suggested.
“I would truly love to spend more time with you grandson, “ Torian answered, “but I must return to my village, my road has kept me away for far too long.”
“I understand,” Wilym replied, “but I would sure like to spend more time with you. The people in my village, even my family… they think I’m odd… different, because I wander around in the woods all of the time. And I am always wondering what lies beyond these woods. You know?”
“Yes, I am afraid I do,” Torian answered. “I left my village for much the same reasons many years ago.”
“Then why do you want to go back?” Wilym threw in quickly, “Why would you go back to a place where you don’t feel you belong?”
“For the same reasons you will someday find your way home,” answered Torian, “it calls me now to come home, to where I am from.”
“I just realized something,” Wilym spoke, “you are my grandfather, so that makes them my family… my village too?”
“Yes, you are quite right my young man,” grinned Torian, “they are indeed your family.”
“I should like to go there someday.” said Wilym.
“And indeed you will.” Torian replied. “Indeed you will.”
“How will I find it?” Wilym asked.
“You will know it, you will know your way there,” Torian spoke assuredly, “it is in your blood. In fact, along your journeys to come, you will find many places you will know inside, in your blood.”
“And,” Torian continued, “you will find your way back through here someday as well, just as I am finding my way back home now.”
Wilym liked the sound of that; journeys to come.
“I would like to stay with you here for a couple of days if I won’t be a burden,” Torian spoke after awhile, “I would like to rest up for a bit before my last leg of my journey, and too… I would like to see Snommis once again, I have thought of her many times through the years and have missed her in my heart.”
Wilym felt at a loss, he didn’t want to have to tell Torian that Snommis had died two years ago.
“Grandfather,” Wilym finally said softly, “I am afraid my grandmother has gone on to the other world… two years ago.”
Torian’s face showed the pain he felt when he heard this. He had carried her so long in his heart, and now to find out he would not see her again in this world.
“I’m sorry,” Wilym said after awhile, and touched his grandfather’s shoulder.
They walked along in silence for a few minutes, and finally Torian spoke.
“So, is it your mother or your father that was Snommis’… and my child?”
“It is my mother… your daughter.” Wilym answered smiling.
Torian smiled at this, he had a daughter.
“All these years, I never knew I had a daughter.” Torian said smiling.
A few houses of the village came in sight as the stream turned north. Wilym realized as he saw the village, it didn’t feel the same, he didn’t feel the same. It was almost as if a boy left here yesterday, and a young man came back today.
“This is my village,” Wilym spoke, “you can stay with us as long as you like. I am sure my mother will be glad to finally meet her father.”
As they walked through the village, the people all stopped what they were doing and watched the stranger with a careful eye.
As they passed, Wilym looked back and people were gathering behind them and whispering.
“You see,” said Wilym, “they are so closed off about everything here, including me.”
“Oh, that’s normal Wilym.” Torian spoke softly. “You might as well get used to it if you are going to travel, most villages are curious to say the least about strangers.”
They were nearing Wilym’s house when Wilym looked back from his grandfather to see his mother was standing by the woodpile with a few logs in her arms staring at the two coming up the road.
“Where have you been all night young man?” his mother asked in a half angry and half relieved tone of voice.
“I wondered too far to make it back in the dark, and spent the night at the camp of…” Wilym hesitated, he didn’t want to just blurt it out.
“Torian, the name’s Torian,” the grandfather said to help Wilym finish his sentence.
“Right, mother, this is Torian,” Wilym joined in, “Torian, this is my mother, Alisa.”
Torian bowed, and said, “It is indeed a pleasure to meet the mother of such a wonderful young man.”
Alisa smiled back and thanked him and asked if he would like to come in and have some tea and a sit. Torian nodded, and the three went into the house.
Alisa, still a bit curious asked Torian where he was from.
“I am a traveler Alisa,” Torian spoke, “not really from anywhere, though I was born and lived my childhood not too far west of here.
You could tell Alisa was very nervous, and something was on her mind.
“Wilym,” Alisa spoke abruptly, “will you go and get me some more wood, I was in the middle of it when you two showed up.”
Wilym said, “Sure thing mother.”
He was up heading for the door when Torian started to rise and said, “I will help.”
Alisa quickly said, “No, you are our guest, you sit, you rest.”
When Wilym was out the door, Alisa turned to Torian and looked him over from top to bottom.
Finally she asked, “Have you ever been here to our village in your travels?”
“Yes,” Torian answered half hesitantly, “many years ago.”
“You are him aren’t you?” Alisa asked with a nervous sound in her voice.
“Yes,” Torian answered looking into her eyes for a sign of how she was going to react.
“My mother spoke of you on her death bed.” Alisa said quietly. “She spoke very kind of you, and said you did not know about me.”
Alisa, trembling nervously, sat down at the table to steady herself. “I never knew anything about you until she was dying. The villagers were not very understanding about the whole thing, so she never spoke of it, and didn’t want to, as she said, burden me.”
“I am sorry if my coming here has caused any problems,” Torian spoke.
“No, no, you are most welcome here,” Alisa replied, “I have often fantasized about meeting my father.”
She smiled a warm smile when she said my father, like she had never gotten to say it before.
Wilym came back in about that time with an armload of firewood and placed it in the corner. Alisa returned to the fire to finish the tea, and Wilym glanced nervously at his grandfather.
He walked over to his mother and started to speak, “Mother…”
She cut him off in mid sentence and said, “I know Wilym, I know who Torian is.”
She turned and looked into Wilym’s eyes, touching his face softly, and smiled.
Then turning to Torian, she said, “The two of you must be starved, go wash up and I will get dinner on the table.”
She told Wilym to show Torian where everything was, and she turned to the cupboard and started preparing to make dinner.
“Now that we are alone Wilym,” Torian said quietly as they were washing themselves in the stream, “where is your father?”
Wilym looked into the water as a saddened look came across his face.
“Sorry,” Torian said quickly after noticing the sadness on Wilym’s face, “I didn’t mean to pry.”
“No,” Wilym replied, “you are not prying. My father lives with his family at the other end of the village. He, like all of the other villagers look down on me and my mother because we… because we are not one of them, we are family of Snommis, and she was looked down on by them as well.”
“I’m sorry,” Torian said as he looked down into the water, “I didn’t know.”
“It’s not you, it’s them,” Wilym said with a touch of anger in his voice, “and him.”
“Him?” Torian questioned.
“Yes,” Wilym replied, “my father. He lived with my mother for several years, but the comments and whispers got to him, and he finally left us and returned to his family’s house. He never speaks to us, and treats us no different than the others treat us.”
“But you’re his son Wilym,” Torian said with a confused tone.
“Not anymore,” Wilym answered back, “he has nothing to do with us, and I have no hurt feelings over a man who would do that to his family just to fit in.”
“The world is full of fools Wilym,” Torian replied, “more fools than wise men, I can tell you that for sure from my travels.”
“How does your mother make it?” Torian asked curiously.
“We both pull the load…” Wilym said as his voice trailed off. “I can’t travel grandfather, I must stay here and help my mother, she couldn’t survive on her own. Not to mention she would be alone here, in this village of strangers.”
“Don’t worry young Wilym,” Torian spoke kindly, “we will work this out, you will see.”