I breathe a sigh of unease as the fog around me begins to clear. I cannot recall the last time I stepped beyond the walls of the Tower. There is tension in the air as we navigate the winding path through the thick fog. Pockets of it are less dense – vague recollections of places I knew long ago – but it is not the same. So much has changed, leaving me feeling unsettled.
“Where are we going?” I ask the Pilgrim.
They shrug. “I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know?” I demand. “Are you not supposed to be my guide in this?”
The Pilgrim shrugs again. “The journey is one of adventure and mystery, my friend. We are simply moving toward the next waypoint – wherever that may be.”
I’m flabbergasted. No idea where we’re going?! I cast a glance over my shoulder to see that my Tower is still in sight, still calling for me. The Pilgrim notices my continuous backward glances and pauses.
“I will not force you to continue. The Pilgrimage is one of personal choice. You are welcome to return to your comfort and your old life, if you so choose. But I can see that there is a desire for more in your heart.”
“What if I’m making the wrong decision?” I demand.
“What if I’m moving too quickly? Surely I could have done more to prepare for this journey. Maybe I should return to the Tower. I don’t know if I brought enough supplies with me for the journey.”
“There are just so many unknowns and variables.”
Frustration is mounting inside of me. “Don’t you have anything else to say?”
The Pilgrim shakes their head and continues along the path. “Fear is a natural response, my friend. But do not let it paralyze you. There is more growth in the journey than there is in your Tower.”
“How can you be sure?” I demand.
“I can’t,” the Pilgrim laughs.
I stand in place as the Pilgrim continues to move forward, whistling a traveler’s ditty as they walk. I try to will myself to move, but the call of the Tower is strong. I cast a glance over my shoulder and can feel myself itching to return. I turn around and stop myself. No. This is the journey you’ve chosen. I turn back just as the fog swallows the Pilgrim, who is now much further ahead of me. Within moments, I’m completely alone. My heart begins to pound and with a loud groan, I chase after them. The fog swirls around me, its cool touch brushing my skin. I shiver with the cold.
“Pilgrim!” I call out.
There is no response.
Fear begins to take root as the fog closes in around me. It becomes so thick that I can no longer see the path beneath me. Disoriented, I turn around, looking for my Tower. It is a faint outline in the fog, getting fainter with each passing moment. The monstrous shapes with their glowing eyes reappear, mocking me in my current state. I’m alone. I don’t know where I am. This was a mistake. My chest tightens and my pulse races, a cold sweat breaks out over my body, my head spins.
“Help me!” I cry out.
Anger wells in me. “You told me to trust you!” I shout in fury. “Have you already abandoned me?”
Hot tears roll down my cheeks.
I close my eyes and take a deep breath, trying to calm myself.
The distant sound of rushing water fills my ears.
In the distance, a dim light breaks through the fog. Hurriedly, I hitch up my pack and race toward the light. The fog parts for me and the sound water grows louder and louder as the light gets brighter and brighter. Within moments, I find myself staring at the weathered sign of an old inn.
The signs swings in the breeze reading in faded letters, “Knowing’s Edge.”
Not wanting to stay outside any longer than I have to, I hastily push open the door and enter the common room.
Image taken from: https://www.pinterest.co.kr/pin/456271005974019920/