On Seeking and Finding

The midmorning sun shone through the near-barren trees, barely chasing away the lingering mists that clung to the forest floor. The running creek masked Valko’s footsteps, though he was already treading lightly – albeit leisurely – down the pathway through the ancient trees.

He’d intended, as usual, to skip over his daily responsibilities, though his pack was heavy with a few mining tools. They were something he’d tossed in there at the last minute before setting out, and certainly didn’t intend to use. Working on such a beautiful early-spring morning almost felt like a sin.

Had things in Luisant always been so complicated? As a youngster, he’d always tuned out the endless droning of the elders, only pricking up an ear when gossip was whispered. Politics bored him, and he cared little for the religious disputes clashing within the town as he found it easy to get along with most. If he really wished to weasel his way into an unfolding drama, he had no trouble batting his eyelashes to charm his way into a situation. He’d do anything (as long as he had an easy out) to leave with a good story.

Stories…

Perhaps he’s been searching in the wrong place.

The lofty fairy tales that he’d been seeking while he spent months at the edge of the Mists always seemed to elude him. He’d already perused most of the relevant tomes in the village and picked the brains of others in search of the stories that stirred his soul. Surely there was something beyond the borders of the village that was even more magical and profoundly inspiring. No responsibilities or obligations had been able to curb his incessant thirst for it, leading him into the swirling fog day after day, and late into the night. His soul yearned for the untouchable and mystical, something that would shake him to his core as if the very earth was rumbling beneath his feet.

But now, the world was quite literally rumbling beneath his feet – the stirring of an ancient being was a reality he’d have to now face, whether he was ready for it or not.

Stories, however lofty, are typically forged in some fact, event, or feeling. Even the tallest of tales carry wisdom, hope, victory. Did he really think he would find such a spark tucked away into a mountain crevice or trapped under a murky bog? That some benevolent creature of the woods would hand him a scroll for naught in exchange?

It wasn’t that he didn’t care for the others, though. He wanted– more-so now than ever– to give back to the town the life and sustenance that it had given him. And being there, in the midst of the action amongst his brethren, was the most inspired he’d felt in moons.

Perhaps, a quiet thought suggested, the reason he sought grandiose tales was due to how small he’d always felt. How mundane was the life of a textile monger, the daily drudgery of a merchant’s life. Yet was it really mundane, then, when those textiles protected those he loved from the cold or kept them cool in the late summer sun? When it protected them from the claws and fangs of the monsters that threatened them? When there was love darned into rips that needed repair, embroidery to show a little spark of the soul wearing the garment?

Even something as mundane as fabric holds stories, and it took the village splitting apart by the seams for him to realize that.

Valko felt a little miserable at the revelation, a rare frown creeping into his expression.

Ah, there!

Nestled into the bank was an excellent deposit of iron, just out of sight from the overgrown foliage it was tucked into. Even at a glance, Valko knew it’d provide good metal for armor or weaponry for one of the town’s protectors – and someday, perhaps even him. The thought dispelled the spiral of negative thoughts.

Gently, Valko scooped the moss that had been diligently growing over the stone, spreading the patch onto a nearby boulder to let it keep growing. He whispered a prayer of thanks to the forest for providing such a resource. He withdrew a small pick from his rucksack and crouched by the stone, settling, for the first time in a long while, into work.