A Wanderer's Tale
The roads. The roads are an eternal thing, as eternal as the sky, as endless as the stars above. The roads are many and while some if not most may seem quite alike, they are in fact quite different from one another, for each road has it's own wanderer, striving to reach the end of its endless journey. No different than this particular individual. His heavy footsteps ever moving on this road he has been wandering for Gods know how long. The gentle clanking sounds of his armor resonate with each step, the hoots of owls announcing their presence, the larks singing their ballads and the ever watchful moon above being his only company in this cold, dark night on his long and empty road. A gentle chilly breeze rushed him over, sweeping his long messy brown hair only to have its strands stubbornly return back in place once the breeze had passed. A deep sigh he gave. His armor was heavy on his shoulders, his weapon heavier still. His cloak, dirty with mud and ripped at the edges, was hanging loosely around his armored shoulders, the hood which once covered his head had just been swept behind by the earlier breeze and the Knight saw no point in spending the extra ounce of effort to place it back. His broken eyes were begging for slumber, attempting to close many-a time. Yet he couldn't. Wouldn't allow this to himself. Where could he rest in this dank night? Everyone knows that the night is dark and full of terrors, only a fool would dare to simply lie down and rest in the middle of the road. This Knight knows it, which is why he would not award himself this luxury. "It's dangerous to go alone" he once said, yet what choice does he have? He must travel this road, there is simply no way around it and he cannot wait any longer. And he has waited...oh how he has waited...
This road had taken its toll on the Knight and it was not finished with him yet. Pools of mud from long rainy days tested his footing, many times he nearly fell. When the roads were not muddy, they were littered with a uncountable number of jagged rocks and small stones which made every step harder and harder. One small mistake and it would be over. There were days when the road was clearer, when it lead to grassy meadows or bountiful orchards bathed in rays of the grossly incandescent sun on a clear blue sky of a sprig's day. Those days used to be plenty when he started his long march. He was still young back then, a dreamer full with hope and childish aspirations for glory. His armor shone proudly and his freshly honed blade was ready to meet valiant foes. He marched with his head held up high, his sight fixed to the horizon. "A life of heroism awaits" he would boast and eagerly follow the road. Those were the good days, yes indeed they were. Sadly, this has changed much in the years he spent marching these road, with its seemingly endless twists and turns. These days, the skies are cloudy with nigh a ray of sun to peek shyly through. These days, his armor is marked with dents and cracks, spots of dirt and rust in place of its once glorious shine, all these testament to the many foes and obstacles he met on the road. Even his might great-sword is not what it once was. Where it used to be a weapon that would make any Knight proud and honored to wield it, now its chipped and near-blunt blade make it look like a sorry excuse for a weapon. Many battles it had seen and many foes it had slain but each left its mark on the Knight as well as his gear.
The road is not easy, it never is. Everyone knows that, everyone expects it to be this way, tis' a simple truth. Yet no matter how much you train, how much you prepare yourself, how much you strive to keep your gaze fixed to the horizon in front of you, in time the road will make you feel as weak and as tiered as an old broken man. The Knight let loose to another deep sigh before stopping in his tracks. Would it really be so harmful to rest and lie down for a moment? His eyes fluttered, wanting desperately to close. It would be so easy, so simple to just...let go and slide down into slumber. This wasn't the first time he had stopped somewhere on the road and pondered the exact same thought, he assumed this wouldn't be the last either. With a low grunt, the Knight placed one foot in front of the other and sure enough he was back on traveling this long and lonely road. His bones started to ache, yet they would always be so. He has forgotten how long it has been since he started on this journey, he wasn't even sure where it would lead him. Truly, what is the reason behind this journey? Why is he traveling this road? Is there something waiting for him at the end? Or is this perhaps an endless road meant to simply test and see how long it would take until he would crumble down? Those were the sort of questions that the Knight would often ask himself yet would never come up with an answer.
The road is dangerous. Yes, dangerous indeed. Unspeakable beasts prowl these ways, it is the reason why only a complete fool would rest during the night in the middle of their journey on this path. "It's dangerous to go alone" he recalled his father saying to him. How right he was. Yet, to journey alone seems to be the Knight's destiny. He has met many other travelers over the years. Some friendly, willing to aid. Others would antagonize him, preying on his good nature and simple heart. He resented those memories, more often then not he would not think of the past. Some wounds take longer than others to heal. Ever since he first laid eyes and realized the dangers of the road himself, he has been hoping, strongly hoping, even occasionally praying to the Gods above for a companion to journey with. The Gods were good to him back then, whenever there was an obstacle in his way, the Gods seemed to grant him a means to bypass it, always. Yet, in time even they have turned a blind eye to him and his prayers have fallen on deaf ears. He met plenty of travelers, there were even a few he would have considered worthy companions on the road, yet each of them did him more harm in the end. Perhaps they didn't saw the Knight as a worthy traveler to have alongside oneself, perhaps they saw him as more a liability than a support for the long harsh road. That, at least, is what he thought, why else would these travelers reject his company?
The road had taken it's toll on him. When once the Knight stood tall and valiant, now his back in hunched, feeling his body heavy and weary. When once his hair had been neatly cut short and his gaze fixed forward, now his hair had outgrown akin to a mane and many strands blocked the vision of his already broken eyes. When once his kind heart would do the work of justice without a second's thought, now his heart had grown sour and his trust in other travelers is short-lived. He had lost faith in the Gods that once guided him, he has lost faith in his abilities, he has lost faith in himself. What else was there? Was there even a reason to continue on this road? Why not surrender and simply let it be done with? That is when the miracle occurred. Through the dank night and ballad sung by its denizens, he heard a voice. He couldn't make out the words, whoever was talking was to far away for him to hear properly, yet the voice sounded so...pleasant...peaceful...beautiful. The Knight fell on his knees, that is when he saw through his imperfect vision a silhouette in the distance approaching him, closer and closer it came. This silhouette was the once speaking, its voice sounding clearer and cleared the closer it got. Soon enough the Knight could make out some words. Until this person was close enough for him to hear properly what it had to say.
"It's dangerous to travel alone. The night is dark and full of terrors."
He felt a pair of arms reaching through his armpits, as if embracing his torso. Then he felt a slight nudge and could hear the grunt of effort from this person. Whoever it was, it was trying to lift him up. The Knight chuckled...he wasn't sure if it was because he found it sadly amusing that someone would actually try to help him or because he was amused how this person, in spite it's great effort, couldn't seem to be able to lift him up. With a bit of a sigh, the Knight stood up and almost as soon as he rose he felt a warm, soft touch brushing through his hair, sweeping it away from his face. By opening his eyes, the Knight saw...bliss. A woman, a strange woman, with pale skin, soft features and long oddly dakr-blue hair was standing right next to him. She was dressed in some strange robes. Those must have been fine once but they have seen some wear and tear nowadays, surely the road has left it's mark on her as well. "Hey, are you alright?" that lovely voice asked, "Mmm...fine..." was his response, yet it could not be further from the truth. Somehow the woman figured it out as she was desperately scanning the area for a shelter of some kind. And what would you know? She actually found some, a crumbling barn of an old abandoned farmhouse. Not ideal yet better than nothing. Struggling, the woman somehow managed to drag the weary Knight over there all the while complaining that he shouldn't be loopy. The last thing he saw was the ruined interior of the barn and the next...blackness....after a while he opened his eyes and found himself laying on his back, with his head resting on the lap of the woman who had just dragged him here. She was stroking his head, playing with his long messy hair....it felt nice...it felt...peaceful.
The Knight rose. He felt slightly better. His bones no longer ached and his eyes were wide awake. He had slept. He...had slept. After so long he finally managed to sleep and rest his weary body even if for just a little while. He was fine, he had not been attacked by anything while he slept and none of his items had been stolen from him. He then turned to face the strange woman, did she watch over him? So it would seem but....why? The woman greeted him with a warm smile. Her face was pretty yet now when she was smiling it somehow became even more prettier. "Slept well?" she asked playfully, the Knight could only nod, his eyes not leaving her for a moment. Finally, after a few moment of silence, the woman bowed her head and said "My name is Hoshizora, nice to meet you, Mr. Knight." He couldn't help but give a feint smile, "Sylas.." he said simply. Hoshizora nodded her head and then rose on her feet, "Right then Sylas. Now that you are rested, we should continue on the road don't you think?" He was taken aback by the question, "Wait, we ?" Hoshizora sighed, "You are a forgetful one aren't you? I told you that it's dangerous to travel alone. So...I guess it would be better if we stay...together...for now." It took Sylas a few moments to properly digest the information, yet he voiced no objections and soon enough, the both of them were on the road, side by side. Luckily, it appeared the sky was becoming clearer as the dawn approached.
The journey had become..easier. The dangers of the road were no loner so perilous, especially since it turned out that Hoshizora was actually a skilled Healer, which would explain her uncanny robes. Sylas himself appeared to be making a recovery, he slowly regained his composure, his armor no longer weighed him down and he actually found the time to sharpen and hone his blade. It felt good to have someone as company on the road, very good actually. However, Sylas suspected that sooner rather than later they would have to part ways as it was with all the others who shared a path with him. So he thought. So he was wrong. Hoshizora remained in his company for longer than he could believe. Soon enough they came to know each other better. She was a sweet and kind soul, who had wandered the road for just as long as he has and endured just as many hardships if not more. Sylas was not so trustful at the beginning, however he slowly opened up and shared more than a few things about himself and his past. The time flew and the duo journey far on the road together, confronting many dangers and meeting with plenty of obstacles on their way. Yet they managed to pass through each and all of them, together. Sylas could finally rest at night knowing that Hoshizora was keeping watch, yet more than often he offered to keep watch as he considered that her well being was more important than his own. It was only after a long time, after plenty of hardships and miles traveled that Sylas slowly began to understand. Perhaps the Gods have not fully abandoned him. Perhaps Hoshizora...is the answer to his forgotten prayers from so long ago.
And there it was. After much thinking and pondering, worrying and mustering courage, Sylas approached Hoshizora one day, on the top of a great hill where an old monument of the Gods stood watchful over the valley and the portion of the road it contained, he asked her a simple question.
"Would...would you like to...journey together on the road? I mean...the whole road. To find out what lies at the end...for both of us?"
Hoshizora widen her eyes, clearly she did not expect that, yet her mouth curled up in the warm smile that always gave Sylas peace of mind.
"I would like that. Yes." was her answer
"Then...then... I shall be your knight. I swear on my honor, to protect you and care for you." Sylas swore placing his armored hand over his breastplate.
"And I shall be your Healer. I will mend your wounds, lift your suffering and give you the strength to carry on"
And so it has been. The story is not yet over however. After all, Sylas and Hoshizora are still out there. Wandering the road together. Where it leads, neither of them know for sure. But they don't care.
As long as they are together.