Chapter 1 - The Girl
Chapter 2 - The Road
Chapter 3 - The Choice
Perhaps though, since you do not know what I do, I should start from the beginning.
I watched as she cried for a minute, then two then three. Finally she took a few deep breaths and addressed the large tree before her as though it were a person.
"Why is it that after all this time, after all my travels, after all my heartbreaks I discover now the death of my parents?", she asked as if the tree could hear her. How little she did know. "What am I to do now that I have no family. Which path in this fork in the road do I follow?"
She sighed and turned back at where she came. The village of Whitestorm could barely be made out in the distance.
The girl had long red hair which flowed nearly to the ground. Usually it was braided in the back but today it fell freely. I had of course seen her many times before and knew her well. In fact, if I were to tell you that I was today in this tree because of her, and that my purpose here was nothing more then to be an observer of this moment I am sure you would call me a liar, but it is the truth.
She stood there for a minute then muttering under her breath whispered, "What hope does this world have."
Such beautiful words I found myself repeating them aloud, "What hope does this world have."
Of course it was a foolish thing to do for she heard me and wheeled around quickly facing up into the branches. But she could not see me, for we were not destined to formally meet until much later in her journey. She continued gazing blindly into the branches but never saw a thing, her eyes still full of tears.
"What hope indeed", she went on, "What hope does this world have where one day out the skys fires will fall and destroy your land. Where the gods care not for the welfare of mortal. Gods who would kill your parents and leave you alone in this world without a second thought to the consequences of their actions."
Once again her focus turned to the fork in the road. In each direction a thick mist had formed, which was not uncommon in these parts, making it impossible to see much more then a few feet in either direction. Using a single finger she pointed to the path on her left, "Am I to live the life of Peace and spend eternity fighting the gods in anger?", then turning to the path on her right, "Or am to travel to the next village in search of a dream which I have discovered today died many years ago."
She sighed and sat down in the middle of the road as if awaiting some divine intervention.
An old man, possibly as old as time itself peered out of the wagon. Looking at her direction he asked, "My dear child, are you lost?"
"No", she answered, "but I have been awaiting travelers from either of these two paths. I wish to know what lies further down them."
"Well, what lies beyond this fork is something more beautiful then I could ever describe, it is of such beauty that the gods would take notice, that even the gods would weep at journey's end.", and then he smiled right at her.
"Don't listen to him", there were two others in the wagon who now appeared from behind a curtain of silk. Both were beautiful women not more then a few years older then the girl herself. The first continued to speak. "He is as good as blind at his age."
The other added, "It really is quite evil for you to tease the girl. We really must keep moving or we shall be late. My child", she said turning to the girl, "what lies beyond is what lies before you. A choice, and it is yours and yours alone to make."
And with that the curtain closed and the wagon continued down the road to Whitestorm. No sooner was it underway then it vanished. Not into the mist for there was none down that path, but into thin air. But the young girl's back was turned and she did not witness the disappearance.
"So tell me my dear tree", she began pacing around the tree, peering to the branches as though she could see me, but I knew she could not. "Speak to me as you did before, is it really my choice, after all you do have the wisdom of the ages in your branches."
"It was not my choice to wake up those years ago to find my village in ashes, nor was it my choice to discover about, on this day, the death of my family." She stopped pacing and peered once again up into my branches, "Our choices are determined by the gods as much as by random luck. Every where I go a village is still burning in flames, even after two whole years. People dying, others starving; thieves and bandits run wild in the woods and I have a choice? In such a world I would choose not to live."
And with those words the sounds of another wagon approaching took her attention away from me and my tree and back to the fork in the road.
The driver did not move, but starred coldly forward as though he could not hear. "Excuse me", she repeated, "I was wondering what lays down this path."
"I hope you do not expect him to answer", came a voice from within the wagon, and the girl walked back to it. Inside there were four people who appeared to be a family. It was one of the young daughters who had spoken, "He has never said a word we think he is a mute."
The other daughter spoke now, she looked much like the first and could easily have been her twin, "Leave him in peace you know mother has said many times not to bother him." Then the second daughter turned to the girl, "He is just an old man waiting for his time."
"Yes perhaps he is", the girl answered and turning to the parents she asked, "Could you please inform me of what lays down the path you just came from? I wish to know which fork in this road I am to follow next."
The mother spoke first, "All that you can imagine lays down the path we arrived from, there are cities, towns, forests, lakes and more. There are places to eat, places to train, places to worship. An adventure awaits you along that path."
Then the father said interrupting, "I am sorry but we do have to hurry, our journey like yours is only just beginning and there is much journey which lays ahead. We must be off, but sin not and any path you chose will be a great one. But do chose wisely for you will never get this choice again."
The wagon then started to move but did not go forward, instead it circled back around until the driver was once again beside the girl. "What lies beyond is your own adventure my child. Death comes to us all, but it is what we do now while we are alive that makes us mortal", he said smiling at her. Then the coldness returned his face and the wagon once again took way toward Whitestorm. And as it did, like the wagon before it, it vanished into the air.
But this time she knew, and in shock and amazement turned back toward the tree and as she did the fog and haze, which until now had blinded her choices vanished and she could clearly see down them. Turning back to me and for one last time spoke to my tree as though it had ears.
"Such an imagination I have, yet my imagination has cleared the paths. My dear tree, my journey laid before me all the time but now I can see for the fog has lifted. Dear tree I do envy you, for how easy it must be to be a tree, no choices, no destiny, no wrong decisions. But I do have one to make do I not, for the path I am on splits here and I must now decide where to go."
"But what does it matter which path I chose, neither will bring my family back, nor will my choice return life to the crops or water to the streams. What hope does this world have where the gods decide the destiny for all. For it surely were the gods who created this path knowing I would be on it this day, and they created this fork as well for what purpose I will not know. If I could truly chose, I chose not to live in such a world."
I watched as she chose neither path from the fork in the road and walked back to the village of Whitestorm.