Finding Peace - Cover

Finding Peace

Copyright© 2015 by Allan Kindred

Chapter 1

A lone man stands on the edge of a cliff. He has tears in his eyes and running down his cheeks. He looks behind him and sees both his past and the gently rolling hills of his valley as they roll on to the horizon and beyond. His heart is heavy with grief and uncertainty. He looks forward and down and sees the Great Ocean of Infinity.

The crashing of the waves against the rocks and shore are churning the sea into a mass of white foam and rage. The rhythmic sound of power as the waves pound the cliff wall is both calming and exhilarating. It is a warm summer day, and the winds from the rare storm seem to be trying to stop him from making that one final step that could bring peace and harmony into his life at long last. He is so tired.

He steels his nerves and says he is sorry one last time as he takes his fateful step off the cliff. He begins his plummet of more than a hundred paces to the ocean and rocks below. The wind is rushing past his ears so loud that he cannot hear his soul screaming. The tears in his eyes make it so he cannot see that he is about to hit the water's surface. The cold of the water awakens in him something that has long since been missing from his world. The pain from the water smacking his face, and from his leg that just shattered on a rock sticking out of the ocean, makes him smile one final time.

Never one to shy away from fear, he opens his eyes one last time to confront the death that he feels is owed him. When he opens his eyes he is standing in outer space amongst the stars. Before him is a swirling mass of matter and creation. He cannot believe what he sees. "Is this the abyss that has long since haunted me?"

"No!" answers a deep resonant voice from the spiral galaxy itself. When the voice speaks, the worlds in the galaxy speed up and eons fly by.

It takes him a second to gather his thoughts. "I don't understand."

"We are the Gods and we demand an explanation."

"Late into the haunted night do I lie awake staring into the blackness of nothingness. It is not the blackness of the hour of which I see. It is the darkness within that torments me.

"Long ago in my lost youth I tore my heart, mind and soul asunder. A warrior poet did my destiny sing to me. A betrayer and a destroyer did I turn out to be. One would think, or at least one would hope, that after many years of trying to balance the scales of justice with good deeds done today, that would somehow make up for my follies of yestereve. In doing so, could this somehow make the pain go away? The gods in their simplicity know that the past cannot be changed. In truth the closer I came the deeper my shame.

"My mind cries out, my heart constricts with pain, but it is my spirit that hurts the worse, for it is as hollow as the deep well that sustains life to my village. Like the well, when I scream, it always echoes back to haunt me."

"We understand. It is time for you to go."

The man awakens with a start. His heart is pumping as if he just did battle and sweat has soaked his bed.

He sits up, but cannot see for it is only the middle of the night. "Damn it. It was just a dream."

The embers in his fireplace are barely visible as the fire did its best to warm a cold world. This tormented man has been down this road before and knows it is useless to try and fall back asleep. He runs his fingers through his brown hair as he yawns and stretches himself fully awake.

He gets up and throws two more logs on the embers. He hopes it will catch, for there is still a chill in the air. In the darkness he reaches out and finds his rocking chair that once belonged to his beloved grandpa. He takes a seat and in his mind's eye he can see the scarring on the wood planks of his cottage from the rocking chair that he has spent the last ten years in, rocking his life away.

"What do you think of me now, grandpa?" he says to the dark.

As he sits there rocking back and forth, staring into the fire, the haunting words from his nightmare come back to him. "It is time for you to go."

For the rest of the night he contemplates every possible meaning of the sentence. He is stunned at how that simple sentence seems to correspond to his dark thoughts of late. Come sun up he is sure he has made the right decision.

As he walks out of his cottage, he notices a chill wind is blowing out of the foothills that must of originated in the Dandum Mountains, to find their way down into the Valley of the Sleeping Dragon into his sleepy little village of Flosom.

Right away he is hard at work doing what it takes to survive in an often-cruel world. Of late, that very same man has been thinking long and hard that it takes more than breathing in and out and doing just enough to feed yourself and those of need in your village to consider that living. At what point in ones life does just not surviving equate to living? And now the dream strengthens his resolve.

"Momma?" The blonde haired and brown eyed six-year-old sweet-hearted girl named Krissy asks.

"Yes, dear." smiles the light and pretty mother in the middle of her life, sadly left a widow not so long ago.

"He seems so sad. He helps everybody in the village when we need it. He is kind and gentle in his words and his smile is honest, but still his eyes almost always seem sad." The little girl named Krissy ponders all this, as she watches the sad man from her porch as he chops the wood for her and her mom.

The sad man, as most of the children of the village have taken to calling him, was the first to offer his help when robbers killed her daddy last summer.

The crude but sharp ax comes down and splits the log in half, sending the opposing sides flying through the air away from each other. The repetitive motion and physical exertion serves a multitude of reasons. By the end of the day his back and arms are sore and tired, but he falls asleep quicker and gets temporary relief from the ghosts of his past.

After the sun has broken through the clouds the sad man has taken his shirt off, which tells more about him than does a month of conversations. He has scars from battles long fought, and tattoos covering his arms that will never fully allow for him to escape his past.

Long has he studied and long has he searched for the one thing that could bring him peace. In the ancient texts of the Wise Ones he has only found more questions to ponder. In the lush green valley in which his village sits he has looked under every rock, climbed every tree, in search of that which has always eluded him.

The longer time stretches forth, the deeper his despair infects him. Though he shows courtesy and kindness to all who have the pleasure to meet him, and though he does his daily tasks unfailingly, still his soul is not free. Long has he known that which he seeks is out there waiting for him.

Still, the decision to leave his home and all he has ever known is not an easy one. The choices are simple really, to waste away here until sweet death comes and takes him, or to venture out into a world known for its cold and cruel ways and lethal creatures.

The fear of the unknown is strong upon his mind, but it is nothing compared to the horrors that lurk in the darkness inside him. The choice is made; he could make no other. He will journey to the ends of the world and that of time, if necessary, in search of that which has always eluded him throughout his life.

"I hope you find what you are looking for, brother."

"Thank you, sister. At last I have the will. I just hope I can find the way."

"You have always had the will, my brother, now maybe you will be shown the way."

The goodbyes are long and sad. He hugs the few who still care enough to do so. He shoulders his pack with the supplies that are meant to sustain life. He straightens his sword, which hangs at his side, and he centers his bow, which he carries for food and the unknown.

He glances back once at his loved ones and his home. It is all he's ever truly known. He heaves a sigh as tears begin to well up in his eyes. He quickly turns his back and looks down the long road ahead of him. It is long and well traveled. Fortune has it that it heads towards the rising sun in the direction where it all once began.

Two leagues down the road and he finds himself wishing, "Man, I wish I would have taken one of the two horses the village had to offer. It would have made my journey easier, but they are plow horses and are needed in the fields." Plus he did not undertake this trek because it will make his physical world easier. He embarks on this quest to quiet his screaming soul.

"Once I reach the city of Trididium, which should be before too long, then I can find temporary work until I can buy myself a good horse. A war-horse if possible." From his earliest childhood memories he always wanted to serve in the army.

Upon his seventeenth birthday he journeyed to Trididium to join the Valley Guard. It was the furthest he had ever ventured away from his village. When he got there they told him he could not join their ranks because of a childhood disease he had contracted at the age of fourteen. They considered him disabled.

It was all he ever wanted. It was the beginning of the end for any hopes of making a life worth living. From that heart shattering defeat his soul began to spiral down at an astronomical rate. If he would not be allowed to be an honored soldier, then he would be a disreputable outlaw. A person's militancy will find a way to assert itself. A decade later he sees all too clearly the flaw in his thinking at that time.

Even though his denial into the army was crushing, he always took something with him from his first trip to Trididium. He remembers the many and vastly different people he saw and met there. For Trididium stands at a major crossroads. Towards the east opens the vast plains of Krinsaton. For thousands of leagues they are rumored to spread forth into rolling hills, and eventually into a desert. He has never seen a desert.

"I hope my journey takes me that way."

To the north lies the great Sea of Serenity. It is only a little over a week's travel from Trididium. "Perhaps I will travel there first." Towards the south, barely visible on the horizon, rising heaven bound, more daunting than the largest of the wild dragons, stands the Dandum Mountain chain. It is said that it runs the length of the entire southern border of his kingdom, Liladintum. Of course, to the west lies the little farming village of Flosom from which he hails.

The city of Trididium stands like a knight of honor at the gates of the valley known as the Sleepy Dragon. He doesn't know how it got its name, and he certainly searched high and low for any dragons, but he never found any. To tell you the truth, he didn't even know if they really existed, or if they were just bedtime stories told to wide-eyed children by their mothers.

Even though he has let his life slip away until now, when he finds himself thirty-three he hopes to discover the many wonders of his dreams now that he is going forth searching for that thing that has always eluded him ... Peace.

It is a three-day journey when walking from his village to Trididium. He is barely past the halfway point of the first day. You know it is odd, but he always seems to find his thinking impaired in one fashion or another. Before he began this journey, which he is now romantically calling his Life Quest, he rationalized that he would travel so far and hard during the day, that come night he would be so tired that his haunting thoughts would not keep him awake until the early hours of dawn.

Instead, he finds that along this long and lonely road, besides the occasional traveler heading back up into the valley to one of the many villages there, his only companions are his thoughts. The very things he had hoped to escape. How often had his life turned out just that way? The funny thing about Hell is that it is not afraid to follow you into the light of day.

The source of this story is Finestories

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