Finding Peace - Cover

Finding Peace

Copyright© 2015 by Allan Kindred

Chapter 3

For being exiled from a city, Tracer isn't doing too bad. Best of all, the boots fit perfectly and they are comfortable. Tracer throws his old ones on the ground and leaves them behind. Perhaps he thinks later that he should of held on to them in case he needs a strip of leather or something, but throwing them away was a symbolic gesture of leaving the old torments behind and moving on into a new life.

Unfortunately it's never that simple. Many times in his life he vowed to start over and forget the past, only to find that the past would not forget him.

The relationship between the past and who you are today is a vague if not definite one. Does that sound confusing to you, too? Who you are today is made up of all your past experiences. You are the sum of your past. But in the same confusing breath I can say that you are not controlled by your past.

You are not who you were in your past. In fact, you are not who you were yesterday, or even a minute ago. With every experience good and bad, external and internal, you evolve. It is your choice how you choose to use those experiences. The hardest part isn't knowing how to use those experiences, but to realize that you do have the choice.

As Tracer gets older, or maybe it's just that he's getting wiser, he's not sure which, he finds that he's becoming more aware of his surroundings. All his life he felt that he did not belong, or that he was at odds with everything around him. It's not that he necessarily feels any different today; it's just that he sees beauty in other things more easily.

Whether if he tolerates or hates himself is irrelevant, all that is important is that he is more amiable towards all other forms of life. That is no easy task. Especially when considering humans and the other sentient beings that inhabit this world are not always nice. That is the test of one's mettle.

Take now, for example, as Tracer is riding through this gently rolling plain heading towards the Dandum Mountains. Here the gently swaying grass is still completely green, even though spring is in full bloom. Once, maybe, he would have noticed the change and perhaps marveled at the beauty of it, but today he finds that he cannot take his eyes from every aspect of it's wonder.

He can feel a connection with the grass, the soil and the air. Every little patch of golden flowers exhilarates him. A flock of birds flying overhead makes him gaze skyward. Here within lies the irony. How, if he can feel so connected at times, can he still feel so lonely and tormented? Perhaps, that is the true question he is seeking on his Life Quest.

His excitement and trepidation both are growing as his journey lengthens. For nearly ten years now he stayed in his valley, in fact near his cottage, never venturing out further than what was needed to do his work and survive another day. He basically became a hermit, withdrawing from family, friends and the life going on around him. Even though everybody told Tracer that he needed to get out and be amongst people.

If you were to ask him he would tell you this, "In the ten years I became a recluse, I hadn't hurt anybody." He has only been venturing out into the world for a little more than five days now, and he has already killed two people.

Philosophers, and other people who think they have life figured out or just see things more clearly than others do, might make the argument that if he hadn't ventured out the innocent girl may have been killed or worse. Tracer understands the theory and he is glad he was there to help Tammara, but it does little to ease his guilt. At home he was lost in his torment and suffering, most likely he reveled in it, but his pain was his own.

It's about midday now, and he can just see the creek up ahead that signifies that he is at the boundaries of the Valley of the Sleepy Dragon. The Merrit Creek, as it is known, flows from out of the foothills that separate his valley from the Dandum Mountains.

Even though on a clear day you can easily see the Dandum Mountains, that does not mean he is close to his destination. The fact that he can see the mountains at all only speaks of their endless vastness.

To his right he can see the Valley of the Sleepy Dragon slowing rising until it becomes indistinguishable with the Tatum Foothills. Even in the city of Trididium he knew he was still in his valley. Even if it was at the very edge of it, he still felt that security that you feel in knowing that home is not too far away.

Now, however, the feeling or knowledge that this will probably be the last time he is going to set eyes upon it this close up, and that he will definitely never set foot upon his native soil again, is starting to wrench at his heart. It's hard to leave something, even if that something has mostly been chaos and pain, if it's all you've ever known.

As Tracer nears the creek and prepares to stop for lunch, even though he didn't have a chance to get new supplies in Trididium he still has some travel rations left, his mind wanders to the many depths of the word chaos.

Now chaos, while a horrible thing, if you live with it long enough you can find its black folds comforting. Sometimes Tracer felt in his recovery that it was one of the hardest things to get past. What I mean by that, is that a life of renewal or recovery is all new and uncharted territory. He knows that he is not alone when he says he has experienced the sensation of fear from the unknown of a different life. Not knowing what it holds or where it is going. At least in the state of chaos, both mental and physical, he knew what to expect from it. Yes, it was pain and misery, but it was familiar.

Tracer doesn't know if it is intelligence or a psychosis that makes him see all aspects of a situation, and henceforth to beat it to death over and over again in his head, but he is amazed it has not driven him insane.

The sound of running water can be so meditative. As he sits at the edge of the creek watching it, he is amazed or perhaps envious of how easily it washes away the old and replaces it with the new. Continual motion is the act of being alive, of existing. Tracer sighs deeply at how his mental masturbation can be more physically tiring than the hardest day's work. "Oh man, I hope I find peace soon."

Tracer looks over at Rambunctious, or Ram as he is now calling him, and gazes upon him with wonder and delight. He isn't sure if he should tie him up or let him wander to feed off the grass and drink from the creek. Tracer figures he has been a prisoner of his life for so long that he would not wish to inflict that upon another living creature. He lets him run loose. Of course, he wouldn't be happy if he runs off, and in truth Tracer probably would chase him halfway across the continent to get him back, but it is a nice thought anyway.

His worries are for nothing, because the horse seems as content as one who has the chance to fulfill his destiny. A shining black warhorse he is, eighteen hands high, he stands with pride.

You remember Tracer's sick sense of humor and mind I was telling you about earlier? Well, it never seems to let him down. As he watches Ram the thought comes into his head that Ram is black on the outside and alive on the inside, and he is just the opposite. Whatever!

With a few clicks of his tongue and the sound of his voice speaking his name, he comes right to Tracer. Tracer mounts the beautiful creature and they wade across the creek.

"Dandum Mountains, whatever adventures you have in store for us, bring it on."

You never truly understand how far something is until you undertake the journey yourself. It's weird, but the closer Tracer gets to the mountains the further away they seem. They must truly be huge.

After three days of riding, Tracer finds himself deep in the Tatum-Di Foothills. The Tatum-Di Foothills are an arm of the Tatum Foothills that reaches out across the continent like a finger being held out, telling you to get ready for the harshness of the wild mountains. They parallel the Dandum Mountains all the way down the continent.

Tracer and Ram have been climbing steadily after the first day. Though they are at a height the mountains would scoff at, barely five hundred paces high in elevation, the spring nights are still chilling. At times the mountains disappear behind the foothills, only to reappear when they make their way around a bend. The trail is well traveled, but long and rough, for it conforms to the contours of the land. Rarely does it go straight for more than a few paces.

Tracer knows from his studies that there is a massive precious metals trade business in these mountains, and the fact that he has yet to run into any fellow travelers gives credence to what the guard told him about trouble brewing in these mountains.

Wildlife has increased exponentially with the elevation. Mostly birds, deer, rodents and reptiles, but the sound of wolves howling in the night is growing increasingly frequent and closer. Tracer assumes Ram has never been in combat or dangerous situations before, but he is handling all this with an eagerness that both frightens and exhilarates Tracer.

Trolls, Ogres and Minotaurs that are said to live in these mountains are rarely found this low. Trolls and ogres, though they can be highly aggressive, are solitary beings, and rarely involve themselves with men unless they are threatened or hungry. The Minotaurs are much more intelligent, and while fierce warriors they often socialize with humans for better or worse.

Tracer once met a Minotaur in the valley. He was riding with a foreign group of outlaws, so Tracer's band fought them and chased them off. Actually, the Minotaur was the only one to survive, and after killing three well trained and highly armed warriors he was finally captured. The others in Tracer's band set to killing him right away, but it seemed wrong to Tracer, so he put a stop to it and released him.

"At least I thought it was a he."

In doing so it almost got him killed. Not from the Minotaur, but from his own comrades. They weren't happy with him at all. It was in the waning days of his life as an outlaw, and he had already seen too much death and horror in his young life.

It just seemed wrong to kill such a magnificent creature. It almost knocked Tracer off his feet when the Minotaur rasped out a thank you in Tracer's own language. Tracer gave him his horse; one he had borrowed from a fallen foe, and told him to go.

After several of Tracer's fellow outlaws tried to kill him and failed, he began his long walk home. As it turned out his last, for he never returned to that life and remained in his village for the next decade. Tracer was twenty-four.

Tracer is well into his fifth day, nearing the boundary where the foothills take shape and become the mountains, when he first sees fellow travelers. From the looks of them these are no normal travelers. They are refugees. There must be two hundred of them. Most are walking, but some are riding on horses and in carts being drawn by horses and cattle. Nearly half of them seem injured in one fashion or another. At first they are wary of Tracer until they see he is human, but even then they watch his approach with frightened alertness.

Tracer holds up his hand in peaceful greeting and says, "What has happened here?"

An elderly man comes forth and replies, "The Mountains have turned to madness. The ogres, the trolls and even the minotaurs have gone on the warpath. There are creatures we have never seen before. They hunt us like prey. If I were you, son, I would turn around and ride back with us. There is nothing but death in these mountains."

The source of this story is Finestories

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