The next day, neither of two woke up until the afternoon. Arran produced his
Bottle of Water, Ant Eaten Ham, and some Neo Crackers he had managed to get
a hold of. They shared all of these for a late lunch, and then set off towards
the Western Ridge. It would be a good two hour hike to get there. The pair set
off. At one point, Arran found a bag of Cheesy Neos and some Cherry Neocola
at the edge of the road, which he did not hesitate to pick up.
Finally, they stopped. They were still half an hour away from the ridge, but
they would have a break. Before long, they were both snoring gently.
Arran awoke and looked at the sun. They had only 40 minutes! He woke Marii
and they ate a quick dinner of the Cheesy Neos and Cherry Neocola. Then, with
30 minutes to go, the two set off again. They arrived at the Western Ridge just
in time. As the sun slipped down behind it, the pair walked right into the sunset,
or, as the poem called it, fiery demise. For a moment, Arran felt a searing
heat course through his body, but it made him feel stronger. Then the pair emerged
in a green wood. They looked around, mouths hanging open.
Finally, Arran broke the silence. “Well, what next?”
“Find the land of Everlife, Far away from greed and strife,” Marii recited.
“Well, I guess this is the land of Everlife,” Arran said. “I think we need
the next bit.”
“Go to Encret Of the wood. Find the place where Justice stood.”
“Go to Encret of the wood?” Arran repeated. “Encret...En-cret...En-cr-et...
E-N-C-R-E-T... I’ve got it! If you mix up the letters of Encret, you get Centre!”
“So we’ve got to go to the center of the wood?” Marii asked. “Where’s that?”
“Whoa... Marii, look behind you,” Arran said, taking a step forward. Marii
glanced behind her. She was standing on the edge of the wood. Behind her was...
nothing. The wood seemed to be floating in midair. Marii, too, stepped away
from the brink.
“Well, let’s walk the length,” Marii said. “We’ll count the number of steps
we take. Then we walk back half that and that’s the center.” The two began to
pace out the distance. It wasn’t very far.
“112 steps,” Arran said. “So we have to go back 57 steps.” They did as he said,
and arrived at a spot where three trees stood close together, an Elm, Oak, and
“What does it say next?” Arran asked.
“Walk the path down through the green Elm and Oak and Alder ‘tween.”
“It looks to me like this is the Elm and Oak and Alder, so we have to go ‘tween,
or between them, and then we’ll find the path down through the green,” Arran
said. He stepped into the small space between the three trees and found himself
at the top of a spiral staircase. He began to walk down it and Marii followed.
The staircase and the walls around it seemed to be made of glass, but the glass
was shimmering green. They went down for a long time, and finally arrived in
a chamber made of the same glass. In the center of the chamber was a glass altar
on which lay an emerald.
“The Emerald of Justice!” Marii cried, wide-eyed. Arran picked it up. He and
Marii turned and began to climb back up the stairs, Arran in the lead. This
time, when they reached the wood, the staircase kept going, up into the night
“Find the gem of
Truth and right
Journey up into the night,” Marii recited.
Arran nodded, and they kept climbing for what seemed to be eternity. Finally,
the staircase ended at a star.
“Follow stars and
Walk through mind
There Whillenia you will find,” Marii completed the poem.
Arran bit his lip. “But how do we walk through mind?”
To be continued...