The Traveler Met Twice and a View of the Middle Road
The Enclave > Known Roads

I'd curse my boots, legs too, and the mule for the Beautiful Stranger's touch if I'd thought it'd make any difference. The New Road from Lothar up to the King's Keep on the rise will be the death of me this winter or the next - and yet I always journey after first snow. Ah, my road continues, leastways for another winter in Mirael with commonfolk and those who pretend to be for coin. If you had half the wit of my mule, you'd throw your seafarer's pipe into the Lothar and take on a more noble profession. There's an honesty in song, I'll grant, but not in those who sing - all you have to look forward to is ruin for a pretty face or an ugly old troubador.

Here we are, atop at least, and there's the Keep - empty as a tankard in the Players' Guild, spearmen gone to camp at Tean's Marker and brave the Forest Road as sport for Neth. We'd stop in summer, but not while snow falls. Look downslope, there at the Traveler's woods, sheathed in snow, a prettier thing than any work of Ammander or Islefolk. Through and through passes the Middle Road, but a step to either side and Lost you are; it takes a strange sort of folk to come and go from Traveler's Stone, carrying a torch between the closer trees.

There's a tale of the Middle Road, yes, and I'll tell. Let those who can yet prance and dance for coin be jealous of their tales - mine are of no use to me beyond the telling.

Folk say that Krineth, the explorer Krineth, mind, who bedded more than I've bowed to, met the Power of Roads not once but twice. The once in the Greenwood and the Neth Road, of that we all know, but the second is not so widely told as once it was. The explorer and his fellows - The Marked, Aylei and others I forget - camped here, where we walked, in a winter season much as this one. This was generations past, afore the King's Keep and the New Road, afore priests took Three Stones from the noble folk. Explorers braved the Farthest Enclave with each step from the Roads known then, armed with wit and wizardry, and for each we recall, a dozen were Lost to sight and memory.

From where they camped amidst deep snow, Krineth's companions watched an old man walk from the woods below, from afar and distant to beside their tents and fire set on cleared ground. The Power, for such the old man was, leaned on his staff to greet Krineth, asked him why he camped atop the Road, and whether he would journey through the woods that day.

No, I know not what Krineth said to the Traveler, nor do I know if he was the one to lay route markers for the Middle Road - but such is the tale as I heard it told, and I have passed the seasons of treating an unfinished song as a troubador would. Come, I have caught my breath. We have a way to travel, and the New Road will be made crude by snow, spearmen and the King's horses.

[ Posted by Reason on August 17, 2005 ]