When they left the creek they moved beyond the limits of Wilym’s previous wonderings in that direction. He had gone beyond the world he knew, and into a land that was all new, and foreign to him.
They were traveling at a leisurely pace, too leisurely, and that concerned Wilym more than just a little. The Solfon would not be far behind, and the villagers not far behind them. It wasn’t exactly a day for a casual stroll through the forest.
Wilym pointed this out to Torian, and he shook it off saying, “We will be fine, the Solfon were frightened off by the spell, and it is day time, and the towns’ people were frightened by the Solfon. It will be a very long time before they gather up the nerve to step into the forests around their village, much less venture deep into the forests to find us.”
“And besides,” he whispered with a wink, “Your mother is not used to walking through the woods and up and down the hills like we are.”
Wilym, taken aback, hadn’t given any thought to what this must be like on his mother. He turned to her and asked if she was doing alright.
She smiled and said, “Well considering my long lost father just showed up, and my son and I were burned out of our home, and are now tromping through the forest to who knows where, leaving my shelter, my food and my meager comfort behind me, and not having any idea where I,… my son,… and my new found father,… are going to sleep tonight. I suppose I’m doing alright.”
Wilym felt reassured, as well as far more conscious of his mother’s needs. So he slowed down and started taking in all of the new land he was passing through.
After awhile Torian told Wilym he should take out his flute and practice, reminding him to listen to the world around him for the music to play along with.
Wilym, who was really itching to play the flute, whipped it out and drew it to his lips and blew into softly. Just the sound of the flute itself was unbelievably beautiful, and any sound out of it would enchant anyone. Or so he thought, as he laid down one of his fingers on a hole, the note went very sour.
Torian turned at looked at him with a grin, and he could have sworn he heard his mother giggle behind him.
Embarrassed, he felt apprehensive about trying again, but Torian told him he would never get good at anything without making a few mistakes along the way. So he put the flute to his lips again and tried the fingering. This time it was smoother, and he felt reassured.
As they walked on through the day, and higher into the mountains to the west, the forest thinned out and they could see for miles and miles in every direction.
Sunset approached, and as they passed a stream Torian said it would be a good place to rest for the night. Alisa took some bread and cheese from her pack and everyone enjoyed the meal as they watched the sun set in the west.
After finishing his meal, Wilym asked Torian if he thought it would be safe to have a small fire.
“I think we will be fine now as far as the villagers go.” Torian answered. “Too, like I said earlier, it will be quite some time before the Solfon gather up their nerve and follow us into the forest.“
Wilym gathered up some wood in the fading light, and soon had a nice fire going. This far up in the mountains the night grew fairly cold, even in the Spring. Wilym thought they were lucky to have not had to cross this mountain in the Winter.
Alisa put the left over food back in her pack, and walk to a nearby tree and hung it from a limb. As she walked back to the fire, Wilym was looking at her wondering how she knew to put the food up out of reach of animals that would be hunting in the night.
She saw the look on his face and smiled saying, “You think you are the only one who ever wondered around in the forest?” “I was your age once too you know.”
Wilym grinned, realizing there were things he did not know about his mother.
“Alisa,” Torian spoke after some time, “There are thing we need to talk about. I am sure you have lots of questions, and they will all be answered in time. But there are some things you need to know now.”
Alisa agreed, and leaned back against a rock and waited for Torian to continue.
“First off,” Torian began, “The Solfon. I think you need to know why they came to the village.”
Wilym flinched, knowing this was it, this was when Torian was going to tell his mother about the Solfon coming for him.
Torian saw the look on Wilym’s face and said to him, “She must know sooner or later, and considering the journey we are undertaking, I think it best she know now.”
Wilym nodded, not so much in agreement, but understanding that he wasn’t really going to be able to stop Torian from telling it.
Torian told Alisa that the Solfon had actually came looking for Wilym. Obviously she was shocked by this, and panic hit her hard. Torian quickly assured her that Wilym was not in any danger from the Solfon at the moment, and soon he would be good enough on the flute to be able to drive them away. Of course he knew there were lots of hard times ahead for Wilym, but didn’t tell Alisa, or Wilym that part.
He talked on and told her that the Solfon were drawn to Wilym because of his growing strength against them, and they were trying to get him before his power grew beyond their own.
He told her too that they would be back eventually, looking for Wilym, and that Wilym would have to keep moving.
“Also,” he said, “Wilym cannot go in the village where I am taking you, because then they will come there and many innocent people would suffer.”
Alisa felt the panic coming again, and Torian knew that nothing he could say would ease the panic she was feeling now, and the pain she was going to feel when Wilym had to go his on way in a few days.
Alisa felt helpless, and tears came to her eyes. The lump in her throat made it hard to breath, and she could not speak at all. She felt as if her womb was being ripped from her.
Wilym moved quickly to his mother’s side and took her in his arms. Suddenly his excitement of traveling turned to a curse, and he just wanted everything to be back the way it was before, no matter how uncomfortable life in the village had always seemed.
Better the demons you know, he thought to himself.
Finally Torian spoke again, “Alisa, I know there is nothing I can say right now that will ease your mind. I know this is hard and no words can make it easy. But, there is no other way. They will come after him, he will have to learn to fight them, and you will not be safe traveling with him. And you would be a distraction for him when it comes time to fight. Rest assured though, the very reason they will seek him is the reason he will be safe. They seek him because of the power that grows in him, and that power will allow him to deal with them. The Solfon are not the brightest of creatures, they are very weak minded, and your son is more than you know.”
“You must come to your new home with me,” Torian continued. “And Wilym must go his own way for now. He will be back, he will come home to you someday. But for now it must be this way.”
“But you and Wilym together could protect the village?” Alisa said with the tone of a question.
“The Solfon’s realm grows always, and once they get a foothold in an area, it can not be the same.” Torian said quietly as if not wanting to tell this. “Cathode spreads constantly engulfing the realms that surround it. As it spreads, the Solfon spread. And though it will be a long time coming before your old village will be consumed by the darkness of Cathode, the villagers will never be the same because of their fear of the Solfon after the attack. That alone will set the destruction of the village into play. By the time Cathode’s darkness reaches there, there will not be that much left anyway. My village, soon to be your village, will not see the approach of Cathode for a very long time. And with a little hope, and with the likes of young Wilym and others like him that will fight against Cathode’s advancement, it may never reach our destination.”
Alisa listened, and even in her pain she somehow knew that what Torian said was true. She felt a trust for he very deeply. Too, she saw the Solfon, and what they did to the villagers, and she knew they could not bring them to another innocent village. But that did not ease her pain still.
Torian knew there was nothing else he could say, and knew she needed to sleep on all of this to absorb it all. Even though she would never really come to terms with it, none of them would.
Alisa was sobbing into Wilym’s shirt, and slowly she fell into sleep. Wilym looked into the night sky, knowing his life was changed forever, and tears fell from his eyes knowing he would have to go from his mother and into a strange world on his own. The romance of travel he had always felt had disappeared beneath the desperation he now felt.
Nothing else was said, and slowly the fire faded and the darkness crept in and everyone had fallen off into an uncomfortable sleep. The moon crossed the sky and the stars travelled in their nightly spiral, and all was quiet.
The morning came, and when Wilym opened his eyes he saw his mother sitting there watching him. He had never seen her look so sad. She touched his hand, and tears came from her eyes again.
He looked around and didn’t see Torian, and for a moment panicked.
“He will be back,” Alisa said sadly, “He has just gone to see if he could find us something to eat besides cheese and bread.”
Soon they heard footsteps and turned to see Torian coming towards them. “I caught these in a deep spot in the stream up ahead.” He said as he held up a couple of fish.
Soon the fire was going and the fish were hanging from sticks cooking slowly. He pulled out some mushrooms he had gathered along the way as well, and lay them on the rock next to the fire to warm.
As they ate, Torian finally spoke. “We are in no hurry now. We have plenty of time before… well, you know. I suggest we all enjoy the time we have now and not think about the future. In my travels far to the east, I have heard the phrase ‘be here now,’ and I think we should consider that.”
It didn’t bring any smiles to their faces, but the thought had been planted, and they would all have time to get used to what lay ahead.
After breakfast they walked on, continuing their westward hike through the now sparse forest. Wilym stayed very close to Alisa, mostly in an attempt to comfort her, but also to quell his own fear of having to leave his mother. She was all he had, and he knew they would have to part ways soon.
The morning went by very quietly, no one said a word as they walked easily on.
While having some bread and cheese at midday, Alisa finally spoke. “At first I was very angry with you father. I felt that if you had not returned, then our life would still be the same. And I’m am still not sure that wouldn’t be the case.”
“Sadly daughter,” Torian replied, “that would not be the case. The Solfon came, not because of me, but because of young Wilym. There was nothing that could be done about it, and if I hadn’t been there just ahead of them, things would have gone much worse. They will keep coming, and it has nothing to do with me. I understand the way you feel, and you want something, or someone to blame it on, but I came because they were coming, not the other way around. I sensed something, just like they did. I Sensed Wilym.”
“Obviously there is something about Wilym that drew them to him.” Torian continued. “Obviously Wilym, as he is passing into manhood, is gaining a power that they feel they must destroy before he gets any stronger.”
“Why would Wilym have any power?” Alisa asked. ”He’s just a kid from some nowhere village.”
“No offense,” Alisa added quickly looking at Wilym.
“None taken mother,” Wilym replied. “I have asked myself that same question over and over.”
“I have no idea.” Torian answered looking at the ground. “All I know is something was calling me home, and as I neared your village the feeling grew stronger everyday. Next thing I know I ran across Wilym in the forest that night, and found I had a daughter and a grandson. Now I have to let that grandson go, and though I have never known the two of you before now, it is still all very painful for me.”