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[Travel - Foot Travel] Hargeon to Baska

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#1Faust Noire 

[Travel - Foot Travel] Hargeon to Baska Empty Sat Nov 04, 2017 8:41 pm

Faust Noire
The hills that lie friendly in the day - like the pillows of the land - are darkly ominous by night. The paths that were illuminated just hours before become lost in a blackness that even moonlight cannot help. The trees that are magnificent in sunshine tower over Faust as he steps across the borderline between the seen and unseen. Choosing not to go in is no choice at all, but aren't all quests like that? He steels himself to keep moving, his hair on end as if the forest was on the enemy side. The air is several degrees cooler and soon he begins to shiver. On his frequent stops, James listens for signs of life around him, but there come none. Back in his home such a silence would be tranquil, but out here it is more like the quiet of the graveyard. After the never ending lights of the city, Faust underestimated the utter blackness of nighttime in the woods. In his mind the trees would be black trunks against a bluish charcoal sky, the path would become deepest brown and the moonlight would bleach the stones within it. Hadn't every painting of woods at night been like that? Even if there was a moon tonight its silvery rays would not penetrate the dense canopy above. He was in too far in to turn back, the twilight he had mistaken for night had passed rapidly. It could be no blacker in a coffin, six feet under and piled with dirt. He began to breathe the cool air more rapidly. The darkness pressed in on him from all sides and his body screamed for him to run. He sank to his bottom on the damp earth of late spring and settled in to wait for dawn. All the while he listened for the bears and the wolves. Stepping into the forest robbed you of one sense and heightened the others. It was disorientating to be almost blinded but given the ears of a wolf. Even the soft susurration of the branches felt heavy in the ears. The sense of smell was sensitized, the loam in the earth and the decomposing leaves made the atmosphere close and thick. The blackness nurtured a sense of claustrophobia inside you even though the woodland stretched unbroken for miles. The narrow path, which was made uneven by the knotted roots that crossed it, branched at intervals. There was no map to follow, but even if there was the perpetual dark would prevent you from using it. Only the songs of the elders would take you through. That's why the children sang them every night before bed and then again after breakfast. They were the only way to navigate. Faust could feel the darkness drawing closer to him and pressing down, suffocating him slowly as he stepped carefully through the thick maze of woodland. The densely packed trees loomed high above, but remained still despite the icy breeze that continued to flow around him. The silvery moonlight was slowed to a trickle by the full branches, and Faust had to squint, only to see a path of gloom and uncertainty ahead.

The river was a sleeping cobra. It lied across the land in smooth seductive curves, beautiful in the morning light, cool and innocuous. Yet it hid a myriad of dangers, its swift undertow being the least of Faust's concerns. Just yards around the next bend was the largest waterfall in the region; if he survived the fall he could enjoy drowning in the plunge pool as he circulated like laundry in a machine - round and round until one deteriorated. The water was icy even at this time of year since the water comes from the alpine melts as much as from the rain. Being the eldest and heaviest of the group of travelers would have to go first to secure a rope on the other side, then the others could follow knowing that if they lose their footing at least there was something to hold on to until help arrives...in the form of Faust, a dark mage. He couldn't wait. The mountains clustered together like they were cold, and under all that snow he didn't doubt they were. He imagined them to shiver under their white coats, the real cause of the avalanches perhaps. Perhaps in that rock they think in the way timeless creatures must, with no regard for time, no concept of what it must be to hurry, be anxious or sad. He'd like to think that deep in the tonnes of granite is a spirit of the earth, slumbering since the time of the dinosaurs or before. At this point he couldn't tell which of them the road will take me to, it disappears in the forest only fifty meters or so ahead. Faust only hoped that it passes though a valley between two of them rather than having to scale a peak. The journey that lay before them would be peril on peril. There was no safe way through the badlands and even if they made it through they would have to sail around the peninsula and through the hangman straights. After that the seas were poorly charted, almost no-one ever made it that far and even fewer came back. Spooky doesn't quite cover it and eerie is an understatement. In the shadow, cast by castle walls thicker than his arm was long, a chill creeps over the uncut grass. The scent of late fall is laden into those gusts that push impetuously against the sentinel stone. Every flutter of a leave catches our attention, sparks our minds to turn faster, loosening their tenuous grip to the agreed upon version of “reality.” Before we leave for the cover of the forest tree-line, walking with purpose through the dwindling light that remains, we bury a GPS chip. The radius is pitiful, but if we lay them like electronic breadcrumbs the other runaways will come, follow us to whatever is at the end of this journey. The thin ice on top of the puddles cracks under boot and the loamy scent of the air is gone. Old man winter has robbed the woods of its usual charm and replaced it with a barren beauty. The path halts at a river, each side lined with denuded trees. Their branches are whitened by last nights snowfall and reach starkly against the blue-white skyline. Frigid water tumbles over the rocky bed, briefly turning white. He trained his eyes right and left for a bridge, there is none.

Alas Faust arrived in Baska Town. After traversing many moons, he made it to the town that hosted the wondrous tournament everyone talked about and miniature fights on a daily basis. What a town.

1,128 words

[Travel - Foot Travel] Hargeon to Baska URfIrNm

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