Path of Liam

Written by Hendrik van Beek, 2017

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Under the a deck of dark afternoon clouds lay a great city. Out of its gates marched rows with soldiers of to war. They would be marching all night. Along with them Liam left the city walls. One of the knights hauled him.

'Greetings! Where might your road bring you?'

'I am traveling west, sir', said Laim.

'West? You should come with us! We could still use some extra hands.'

'Thank you, sir, but I am on my way home.'

'Home.... You can earn some fine coin coming with us. Come with us and share the spoils and glory of victory. I don't think you will find those at home?

'Definitely not sir, but...'

'But?! You don't even think about it? What will you find at home?'

'Well, my family sir.'

'Your fam.... urhg, You think they will make you any better? Look at you. Why would you go back to some filthy farm?'

'Because that is my home.'

'Then why did you leave in the first place?'

As he muttered the those last words the knight spurred his horse and rode away.

Liam too continued on his travels and after a while left the army and the main road behind. He walked past farms and fields. As the afternoon turned into evening, open fields turned into a forest. While walking on the forest paths Liam noticed a light further on the road. As he went closer he saw it was a bonfire burning in a clearing. He came into the presence of a feast. People were dancing and drinking. A woman saw him and approached.

'A lost soul! And a handsome one. You are welcome here! Feast with us!', she said.

'Thanks for the invitation. But I would like to keep going.'

'Keep going? There are no villages nearby!? The forest is no place to be alone at night.'

'I should go home, to my family.'

'Oh come on now. Don't be silly. Spend the night with us, you already look cold. Come warm yourself by the fire.'

'Thanks, but I shouldn't stop now. I already came so far. I'll pass, thank you.'

'Come now, it is alright. It is such a special night. It could be a special night for you too...'

The woman stepped towards Liam. She takes his hand and walks him toward to the bonfire.

'Let us drink, together. Your family wouldn't mind would they? If they love you they can wait for one more night', she said.

Liam pulled his hand free from the woman. Other party guests to noticed them and turned around. Liam quickly started to walk away.

'Suit yourself! You won't reach your family if you get lost.'

The woman danced back to the fire let herself drop in someones arms. Liam continued the road.

He walked deeper into the forest. With every hour he walked the forest got ticker and darker. When the last light of the moon wasn't enough to light the path Liam got lost. He made a fire and lay down for a rest.

After some time the cold woke him up, though his fire was still burning. Liam sat upright, shivering. Out of the surrounding darkness an inhuman voice came forth.

'A simple man would ask if you are lost. But I don't think you are lost. You came here with a purpose', it said.

'I am not lost, I am on my way home.'

A pair of big glowing eyes lit up in the darkness.

'Home is your destination? Yet your travels bring you here? Have you looked around you? you could not be further form home.'

'I going to my wife and son.'

The being scoffed.

'Is that what you tell yourself? While you walk these dark paths? It looks more like you are hiding from them. Your only destination on this path is death', it snapped.

Liam said nothing.

'You are in pain but I see also a great strength in you.'

'Please leave me be', Liam begged.

The creature stepped closer and the fire started to burn brighter.

'I can grant you entry in a new life. Come with me. Let me safe you.'

'I just want to go home!', Liam shouted.

'Let me absolve you of your suffering.'

'I need to go home.'

'Come now. Together we will...', it started, but Liam interrupterd him by yelling:

'I AM GOING HOME!'

Liam jumped up and ran away from the being.

'What? no? You choose pain?! FINE! Then so be it'.

The flames of Liam his fire flared up and spread amongst the canopy. In moments the forest stood ablaze. Liam ran.

'There he goes. The family-man. YOU WILL ONLY FIND DEATH!!'

As the fire rushed beside him Liam darted through the forest jumping over burning logs and ducking beneath fallen branches. The scorching heat surrounding him like an oven. Tears ran over his face but Liam kept going.

Liam got ahead of the flames as he neared the edge of the forest. When he left the forest behind he entered a thick cloud of ash which made breathing near impossible. Not able to see properly Liam stumbled over rocks but he kept on running for hours.

After the last of the ashen rain wouldn't touch him anymore there was only the biting cold. The heat of the forest left him hours ago. Shivering he ran past barren plains where nothing grew. Under the cover of only the full moon he reached some abandoned houses and collapsed barns. Unattended fields where no farmers has laid hands on for a long time lined the path.

Liam came at a house with a broken fence. He opened the gate and entered the garden. There he collapsed at the feet of two graves.

'I am home.'

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END

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