It was near sunset, and the group stopped on a ridge overlooking a beautiful valley. You could see forever it seemed from there. Far below a river flowed north to south, winding its way through the deep forest. Wilym sat on the cliff looking down thinking they would probably be to the river by midday the next day, and would have to find a way to cross it.
Alisa came over and sat down beside of him and said, “It is beautiful, like nothing I have ever seen before.”
“Yes,” replied Wilym, “I have seen so many wondrous things since we left the village.”
Then he realized he shouldn’t have mentioned the village and looked to Alisa, but she was still smiling.
“You seem happier now mother,” Wilym commented.
“I am,” she answered back, “I have never felt so good as I have come to feel on this journey. It is wonderful to have my father in my life, but also, the feeling of a happy life ahead, friends, and I just love Mikisum, she is so wonderful. I have never really had a female friend, someone I could talk with about the things women talk about. I see you have taken a liking to her as well.”
Wilym felt embarrassed because she had noticed. He looked off into the sunset and finally replied, “Yes, I have. She is like no other I have ever known, though she is a bit intimidating at times.
“But, I am getting used to that,” he said as he turned to his mother and smiled.
“Yes,” Alisa remarked smiling, “she certainly is.”
Mikisum called out that the food was ready, and Wilym stood up, reaching is hand to help his mother up. He looked into her eyes, smiled, then hugged her tightly for a long time.
After eating a very welcomed meal, which was especially good because of the rabbit, everyone leaned back and was looking at the last of the colors of the sunset.
Torian spoke finally, “I think it is time we break the silence about the future, and discuss what is coming.”
This was the moment that Wilym, and Alisa, were dreading. They had both been aware of the plans to a point, but tried not to think about it.
“Tomorrow we will reach the river,” Torian continued. “It will be time for you to head south on your journey grandson.”
Wilym felt the fear well up inside of him, and Alisa felt a pain in her heart. She did not want her child to have to go off into the strange world that neither of them knew anything about, alone, unprepared, still just a child in her eyes.”
Torian noticed the look on her face, and touched her hand, and said, “He will be fine daughter, he learns very quickly, and besides, Mikisum will be with him.”
Wilym looked quickly over to Mikisum, but she sat silently, listening as she whittled on a stick with her dagger.
Alisa felt a great relief because she felt that Mikisum could deal with just about anything, and Wilym would be safe as long as she was nearby.
She looked at Wilym who was looking at Mikisum. She knew all would be fine.
Torian continued, “Our destination daughter is straight west of here into the setting sun. Another week or so of walking for us, and we will be home.”
Alisa smiled at that; home. Though she had lived in the village of her birth all of her life, she had never really felt at home there.
Torian noticed the smile, and squeezed her hand, and said, “Yes my child, home.”
“You, on the other hand,” Torian said, looking at Wilym, “you will head south, follow the river, and follow your heart, you have no destination exactly, not now, but as you travel, you will find your way.”
Wilym looked at Torian with a question in his eyes.
“Don’t worry young Wilym,” Torian remarked, “it is not about the destination, the wonder is found in the journey itself.”
Wilym was not exactly bothered by the thought of it, after all Mikisum would be with him, and there is nothing he could think of that pleased him more than that. Of course he would gravely miss his mother, but he knew she would be fine. And the thought of travelling with Mikisum at his side had both taken away his fear and doubt, and given him the hope that something might come of the relationship between him and her.
“Don’t get me wrong young Wilym,” Torian went on to say, “your journey is not some sort of holiday, there will be hard times, a lot of walking, strange new lands, and don’t forget the potential dangers that lay along any path, and even more so, your path.”
Alisa looked at Torian with concern.
He squeezed her hand again and said, “He will be fine. He just needs to know that it is not all play and no work. He has a long road ahead of him.”
I think it is time that I tell you a bit on what you are up against; Cathode, the Solfon, and such things.
Mikisum saw the look change on Alisa face, and quickly said, “Alisa, why don’t we take a walk and let the men folk talk.”
Alisa started to decline, but Mikisum made eye contact with her and motioned with her head to come along.
They got up and walked away, and soon Wilym heard his mother laugh at something Mikisum said, and he felt relieved.
He looked at his grandfather, and Torian smiled and continued. “You will be going south along the river, and will be skirting Cathode, and should not come anywhere near it. But I still want to tell you about it all so that you know what to expect out there, and why the Solfon are still something you need to watch out for.
The Story of Cathode:
Long, long ago, so many generations back that no person alive can recall much of the story. Mostly it is all just legends that have been corrupted through the generations.
There was so many people in the world, they were like ants, they covered the planet, and destroyed everything in their path. But then, the earth started to change, the weather grew warmer, the oceans started to rise, all of the people had to leave their homes and cities, and keep moving inland, more and more of them, all moving farther and farther inland. Soon, most of the land was covered with water, only the highest lands still stood above the seas. Most people perished, the earth they stood upon could no longer support the massive numbers of them, and soon, there was only a fraction of the people that had been before.
Several generations later, the population stabilized, and the earth was covered with small countries, scattered throughout the sea. The oceans had all joined together to become one great sea. The people had redeveloped their societies throughout the countries, all based on the needs and the resources available. One country, Cathode, had advanced greatly during the many generations that had passed. They had records of past; the water rising, the wars fought over the shrinking resources, the fall of all societies that had previously existed. And they had very advanced technology, because they held all of the old records.
The people of Cathode came up with a device that would lower the planet’s temperature back to the temperature it was before everything had changed. Thinking that in doing so, they could restore the sea levels to what they once were, giving back to the people, all of the lands that had been lost.
It worked too, the temperature started to lower, and shorelines started to recede. They understood that it would be hundreds, and possible thousands of years before the land would be inhabitable again. But it would give their children’s children’s children their world back. It was happening all over the world, sea levels dropping, land that had not been stepped upon for many, many generations. All over the world, the people wondered, as the sea pulled farther and farther away from them, until the seas, in most places, all but vanished from sight.
Back in Cathode, things grew even worse; the device that they had created, malfunctioned, and it could not be turned off.
The temperatures kept dropping, slowly over the years, and the world began to freeze over as the oceans virtually disappeared, all of the earth’s water frozen in the high lands and far away in the far north and the far south. All of the high lands, the mountains, all of the lands that had been inhabited by the many countries that had been separated by the sea, were frozen and the people were all driven away from the high lands and back to the wastelands that had been, until a few years before, under the oceans.
The device lay buried beneath the thick ice, alone, for many generations, keeping the world frozen, and growing colder with each passing year. Then, something happened, no one knows what, and the machine malfunctioned again, and it melted all of the ice that imprisoned it, and started to radiate outward from the device, and as it grew, it killed everything in its path.
And though we live far below the frozen mountains, in the lands that once were the sea, it will someday reach here, as it will with all of the earth, and nothing will be spared. That is a long time from now, possibly several generations, but, if it is not stopped, the device eventually destroy everything. And there is no way to go there, so, no one will ever be able to stop it.
And that brings us to the Solfon, all of the places it passed, all of the lands it spread into, the people that lived in those places, all perished, and only the blackened dark spirits were left. The bodies all deteriorated, but the energy, the soul, it didn’t fade away, it lived on, burned from the inside out. Exposure to them, can pass the darkness, the burn, over to others. It takes more than a touch, but if the exposure is long enough, and strong enough, it will pass over. They carry the evil that radiates from Cathode within them…
That is the legend, that is how it is mostly told in the lands I have travelled. I know it sounds very hopeless, but like I said, it takes many generations for it to spread, but, as you have seen, the Solfon seem to know no boundaries. But if you follow Mikisum, you should not encounter them that far to the north. You have a long journey ahead of you young man, you will find allies, like Miksum, but you will find just as many enemies.
Chapter 8 (still in the works)