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Distant Man - Part One
Daniel R. Menage
As the crowd broke into yet another round of singing and dancing on tables a traveler sat in a dark corner, alone. It was just the way he liked it. His brown cloak blended in perfectly with the wooden wall. The fire in the center of the room gave his facial features a hardened look. His cowl cast a deep shadow on his eyes, which still gleamed in the light. He sloshed his last mouthful of ale in the bottom of his cup before tilting it to his mouth and finishing it.
He glanced through the window at the moon, almost full; he knew that staying would be a mistake. He sat there staring at in awe. What he saw was his maiden, his one. And he wondered if she too had seen the moon yet, if she thought of him. Then his mind came to a better reasoning, and he realized she was no longer his, better yet that he was no longer hers.
He set his mug on the bench beside him and threw three gold doubloons* inside it. Then he swiftly left out the back; he would have to run fast to cover the distance he had lost tonight. He knew that these expeditions cost him time, and money he would need later. But he needed to be reminded that he used to be human like everyone else, had merry friends and loyal lovers - but he also needed to accept his 'new responsibilities'.
He was told to make it to Tabletook by the next full moon. Which would be tomorrow, and he knew he wouldn't make it unless he took a straight line and risked the forest for a few hours. His mind began to wander as was so usual now. This time he dreamed of her. His lost one. Though at the time he did not know it, he knew it now, the last time they would be together. A bright flash passed before his eyes, and he was there…
A babbling brook flowed carelessly under a meticulously crafted stone bridge. She had hair the color of spun gold. All pinned up with light pink blossoms. Around her as if by some spell hundreds upon thousands of the same blossoms floated like butterflies.
She looked so beautiful in a white silk dress. She spun 'round and 'round in circles heedlessly on a bridge which barely fit the bottom of her dress. Which she had a good fist full of in her hand, just to make it clear the ground. She stopped and started to go the other way. Her dress looked to have a mind of its own and continued in the first direction for a little bit.
There had been a dull aching in the back of his skull for weeks, telling him to forget about his specious** humanity. This dull ache now reared its ugly head and became a searing pain. He knew what was causing these flashbacks, his sporadic contact with his lost humanity. So many things gone but not forgotten, too many. The image to follow would stick out in his mind forever.
He was standing in a palace. In front of him, on a small table was a vase, dark blue with yellow elven markings around it. He walked up to it, he had a need to touch it. Without warning it shattered. Pieces of it smashed up against the walls, many against him cutting his skin deeply. He willed himself to be pulled out of this dream and back to reality. Slowly a dark forest replaced the palace.
Everything was still. In this pitch black nothing moved. Then with a crash the forest came to life. The wind rustled the trees, crickets called, wolves howled. The whole forest seemed unbelievably alive.
"This is not the time to be of a faint heart, Till," he said to himself, as he thought no one was around to hear him. Suddenly remembering why he was here, he began to run again. He was swift now; he made little or no sound as he sped through the dark wood. Not even a twig cracked under him. His cloak was slapping the air like a giant flag. He was stealthy and quick. As he ran he tuned out the forest; slowly its sounds began to fade. After a few seconds all he could hear was the sound of his heart and his racing breath. He could already see a road in the distance.
*Doubloons - Gold coins.
**Specious - Deceptively plausible, but false.
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