Mine. It is all mine. Do not steal my stuff. Ask permission.
Song Suggestion: Enchanted Realm by Nox Arcana
It is the evening before a long journey which is a mixture of sad and exciting. It seemed to Bethany that she had never before seen the mountains. Their snow capped head shining beneath moon and stars or the long, shadowy wedge of the vale. Everything familiar was new, fresh, and beloved to an eye that might never see it again. The dogs barking in the village gave her pangs of homesickness, though she had not yet gone. The way that everything felt familiar and safe was something she cherished, for though she was excited to go, she was also ready to leave. She spent most of the evening sitting near to her grandmother’s grave and speaking to the old woman in hushed tones.
It was while she sat beside her fire, next to the old pit, which her grandmother had dug before Bethany – or even her father – had been born that there came upon the winding road a traveler. He was a young and handsome man from the west, carrying on his back a satchel full of canvas and paint. When he saw Bethany by the light of the fire, he was enchanted, for she made a lovely picture with her long, dark hair draped about her and her green eyes glinting. He came to her and she invited him to stay the night to rest; his journey had already been long and there was much further left to go. If Bethany did not ask him to stay and abandon the quest they had prepared for. The cat stayed quiet; he knew that, upon life’s path, everyone comes to crossroads. One way is no different than another, for both might lead to happiness. No-one can be happy with a choice they don’t make themselves, especially when it comes to adventures, for they are often long, exhausting, and full of terrible things.
The young man, whose name was Jacob, sat with Bethany and told her of all his travels. He was on his way to the city to sell his paintings and it was clear to her that he would not mind lingering by the gypsy wagon with Bethany for a while. Perhaps for a lifetime, if she willed it and as the cat had foretold. And she did consider it; he was charming and sweet and his stories fascinated her. Yet she did not wish to only hear stories. In her heart of hearts, she wanted some of her own to tell. And so, her mind fully made up and without doubt, she went inside the wagon to sleep while the tom cat at her dog kept watch outside.
Jacob could not sleep, for he felt – as many do when they reach such a place – that something had just passed him by. So he decided to leave a gift for the charming gypsy girl who told him she would be making her own journey when the sun rose. The young man had no small talent with brush and paint and he mixed the colors himself from seashells that washed up on the shore near his far away home and the bright flowers which grew upon the cliff sides. Blue and white and silver that glistened like starshine – and, indeed, radiated a bit of light, for it was mixed with moonsand – he brushed each one out over the faded wood until the mural was once more bright and fresh. He gave the roof a coat of rose and trimmed it with a lovely yellow. Vines were green again, as if fresh grown, and the seat of the wagon was the softest of sky blues. Soon, the old wagon looked as though it, like the horse, the dog, and the cat, had shed all the long years between it and the day it had first been finished. Jacob was pleased with what he had done and hoped Bethany would remember him with a fond heart. He signed the mural in tiny, curling letters hoping that, one day, they might bring her to him again. Then, before the sun was more than a pale, pink blush in the eastern sky, he took to the road again.
When Bethany awoke, she stepped into the fresh gold of the morning sun. When she turned to face the wagon, she was very pleased indeed. The rich greens of the vines and blue and white of the flowers, stood in sharp relief around the silver door and the young man got his wish; whenever Bethany felt tired, unhappy, or was hurt upon her journey, she would turn to look at the wagon, remember the man with a soft heart, and trace his name with her finger until she felt better.
Singing gently one of her grandmother’s favorite songs, Bethany prepared to set out at last. She buried the fire pit in fresh earth and collected her skirts from the drying line. She fed Sage – now steel gray with a wide, straight back, and eyes that shone with fresh energy. She set the cat upon the high seat and helped the dog up beside him. She put the fresh cleaned harness upon the mare and latched the door into the wagon firmly. All was ready and Bethany took only a moment to stand, breathing in the air of home and looking at the familiar lines of mountain, tree, and village, before she climbed up onto the wagon seat, clucked her tongue to Sage, and away they rolled, onto the wide road.
Down in the valley,
Down in the vale,
All the bells are ringing,
Singing out to greet the day.
Bethany’s sweet voiced rolled out and the rich man heard it, looked to the horizon and saw the gypsy wagon on the road. Though she could not see it, the rich man who had once known a small bit of magic, in his younger days, bent a deep bow to her and sent a blessing on the wind to her, to be used when most she needed it.
The wainwright and the farmer, talking in the market, both turned to look at the wagon as it rolled through the village, the mare prancing prettily and the cat watching proudly from his place at Bethany’s side. Both made a deep bow to her and the wainwright called for her luck while the farmer blessed her road. Then Bethany was beyond the village, headed for the forest, where she had never gone before.
Down along the river,
And in the deeping dale,
All the children laughing,
Laughing at the falling of the veil.
Along we roll, along we follow,
The wide, gray road beneath us unfolds.
Places unknown ahead lie waiting,
And who knows what adventures yet remain untold?
Over distant mountains,
And deep within the folds,
We will follow the road away,
Away until in darkness I must hold.
Let none be sad to see me go,
Let none here mourn my passing,
For when the leaves are falling I will come again,
And make my home for everlasting.
So singing, Bethany, the cat, the dog, the horse, and the wagon passed beneath the eaves of the forest and onto ancient ways that most had long forgotten and which were kept clear only by a power that had long been forgotten by all but a few. She came upon a silver door set in the vast bole of a tree, which was wrapped with thick vines that were heavy with many white and blue blossoms. Here, Bethany stepped down and cast open the door. Beyond lay a long, silver shore with a cloudless sky above and a road that led away from a wide, blue sea, which glimmered as though there were stars caught under the water, into another forest. Bethany took the mare by the bridle and, without a backward glance, she stepped through the doorway, out of this story and into another.