A meeting on the road.

Here, I promised to post a little bit… This is from early on.. I haven’t decided for sure, but Talia would have been roughly 10 to 12 at this time.

I’m doing ok, just a little behind, but if tomorrow goes well it won’t be much.

Talia continued on for two more days and nights before coming to a crossroads.  Ahead of her the road continued to wind south, but now a similar road spread out to both the east and west.  The sign posted to a nearby tree was too worn and faded for her to read in the dark.  Her father’s stories never spoke of directions, only that the outside world was to the south of their own village.  She studied the path for a time, trying to determine if one way seemed more traveled than another, but she could see no difference in the grass and dirt in the faint moonlight.  Tired and frustrated, she sat where she was and began to cry.  Once started, the tears flooded out.  Why had she left her village?  Why did they treat her as a stranger?  It was days between villages, would she ever find the city that her father had spoken so fondly of?  Minutes passed, or maybe hours.  Her sobs subsided to sniffles, and more tears refused to come.  She sat in the center of the road; knees drawn to her chest, rocking gently back at forth.  For the first time since she had left, she felt lost and alone.

“You’ll never be alone,” a soft voice floated on the night air.  Talia looked up suddenly, wiping the tears from her eyes.  There was no one there.  The road was empty as far as she could see.  Only the tree broke the desolate landscape.  She stood, turning checking all around.  “I’ll always be there in your time of need” It was behind her, back by the tree.

“Who’s there?” she called, fear creeping into her voice.  There was no one there, only shadows from the tree, shifting in the moonlight.  As she was about to turn away, a small woman stepped from the shadows.  She was shorter that other adults she had seen, only a foot taller than Talia herself.  Her clothing and hair were black like the night, her eyes and smile glittering slightly.  “Who are you?”

The dark figure smiled, but stepped no closer.  “I’m just a friend, sent to help you on your way.”  The woman sat elegantly at the based of the tree, as if waiting.

“Help me on my way where?”  Talia asked, skeptically.

“Where ever it is you think you need to go.”

Talia stepped closer, wary of the seated woman.  She felt something about her, something her limited experience could not explain, but it made her uneasy.  “Why?  Why are you helping me now?”

The woman raised an eyebrow, tilting her head slightly, as if surprised by the question.  “Why?  Because you asked, of course.”  The woman smiled again.

Talia stopped at the edge of the grass, a few yards from where the strange woman sat.  She shook her head, “no, I mean, why now?  Why not before?”

The woman leaned forward, her smile becoming more serious.  “Talia, there are things you want, and things you need.  Honestly, we didn’t expect to be called for several more years.”  The woman looked about, as if just noticing her surroundings, “and we certainly didn’t expect it to be out here.”

“How… how do you know my name?  And what do you mean ‘we’?”  She looked around, fearful others might step from the shadows.

The woman shook her head, “it is too early for this, you won’t understand.”  She stood quickly, turning back towards the tree.  “Suffice it to say, your destination lies further to the south, maybe two days at the pace you’ve been traveling.”  The woman puts her hand on the tree, turning back to smile at Talia.  “It was an honor to meet you, I hope we may again, some years in the future.”  With that the woman steps behind the tree and is gone.

Talia stood for a moment in stunned silence, and then ran up to the tree after the woman.  She circled the tree, but found no sign in the dark of her passing.  Even the place she had been sitting was undisturbed, as if she was never there.  Talia shakes her head, “it was just a dream.”  She walks slowly back towards the road.

“No, it wasn’t…” the soft voice is barely audible above the wind.  “You’ll understand in time.”  With that it is gone.  Talia waited for minutes on the edge of the road, waited for the voice to speak again, or the woman to appear, but nothing happened.  As the chill of the night started to set it, she gathered her resolve and continued on the road, heading south.


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