The landscape was familiar. I have encountered it before; in another place, another time, a different culture. Perhaps more often than I would have like to as the memories brought me feelings of fear, pain and failure. Why must I come back here?
Down below I could see a crowd of people gathering on the city plain. Feeling reluctant to go among the crowd, but yet at the same time curious, I made my way towards the gathering. In the center of the plain was a circular podium made out of red stone. On this podium stood a man who looked like a classic sage with long white hair and beard, dressed in flowing white robes. The only thing that did not fit the picture of a sage was that this man had a Kaskara sword across his back, tasseled with silver bangles.
I looked around at the people in the crowd. All the men, women and even the children, had some weapon strapped to their bodies. A woman standing next to me, lifted her excited child up to get a better view of the podium. She had a knife in an ornate silver scabbard, girded to her waist. She looked harmless enough though, so I ventured to ask her what the event was.
She looked at me in disbelief for a moment, saw the key hanging from my neck and laughed.
“Are you humoring me?”
But before she could continue the sage started to speak.
“The moment has come for the brave warriors selected to begin the journey to the Great Blacksmith. Will those who have received the keys please step forward. Men and women from among the crowd moved forward towards the podium with loud cheers of encouragement. I strained to have a better look. The woman next to me gently pushed me and said,
“What are you waiting for?”
She touched the key hanging from my neck, and pushed me forward. “Bring back the perfect weapon.”
In my mind’s eye I saw the man who knew the way, handing me the ribbon, and I realized that he knew and tricked me. Who was he really?
Reluctantly, I joined the others on the podium, and sure enough, they all had black keys with a red ribbon. I did not have a good feeling about this at all. I most certainly did not feel very brave, and had no desire to go and meet the Great Blacksmith, whoever he was, looking for some mythical weapon. How could this possibly help me find my way home? All I want to do is just to go home.
While I was silently bemoaning my fate, I saw the others follow the sage down steps. As I started to descend into the darkness, I heard the echoing sound of underground water, and cavernous coolness greeted my face.
A refinery for silver
A furnace for gold
Who tries the heart?
To be continued …