Chapter Two
Anthony awoke with no idea where he was or how he got there. For a few blissful seconds it was nothing but a mystery. Until a bell rang out, clear and sharp, sounding very much like a church bell and everything came crashing back with the force of a sledge hammer. He was in Everbright, wherever that was, sent by Epoh, whoever that was, and his only way home was through The Way, whatever that was. Well, shoot. Was about the least offensive thing he could think. As much as he wanted to, going back to bed was not going to get him home. He was just standing when a knock sounded on his down and Katrin entered a hand over her eyes, “Pardon me, pardon me. I hope you’re decent.” “If you were that worried about it you would’ve waited until I answered to open the door.” Anthony pointed out. Katrin lifted her hand and threw him a wink. “That was for your benefit not mine. Now.” In her other arm she carried a bundle of linens. “If we’re going to go traipsing all over Everbright in search of The Way, you are going to need a change of clothes.” She tossed him the bundle. “I’ll wait for you downstairs.” Like Katrin’s clothing, what Anthony now wore was simple cotton. Practical and comfortable. It made Anthony feel like he was wearing pajamas. Katrin was kneeling on the hearth stone, tending to the fire when Anthony joined her in the cottage kitchen. Tired and confused as he was he’d neglected to get a good look before and looking around now he saw wherever he was it was definitely medieval. There was nothing in the way of curtains or tablecloth. There was no sink or cupboards. What little dishes and cutlery there was were stacked on a shelf beside the crooked window. A few dented pots and pans were hung over a fire place that doubled as a cook place. The only furniture was a rough hewn table and a couple lopsided chairs. Over to the far side a small doorway led to what Anthony assumed was Katrin’s bedroom. “Grab something to eat,” Katrin said without turning around. “Then we can get going.” Eating sounded good. He could do with a hefty serving of bacon and eggs but all he could see was a misshapen bread loaf and a few bruised apples on the center of the table. He settled for a slice of bread. Katrin stood and brushed the ash from her knees. “Right then, come with me my boy.” She waved her hand and walked out the door without another word. Still chewing, Anothony hurried after her. “Wait, Katrin…” Katrin was waiting for him on the porch, a wool cloak over her shoulders another in her hand. “Here, you’ll need this.” She said, handing it to him. “It helps keep out the damp.” Anthony looked out over the cottage yard. It was surrounded by a stone wall at about waist height. A few skinny chickens pecked their way through the scraggly grass. He couldn’t see them but he could hear the lowing of a cow and the sharp brays of a donkey. The heavy mist and fog from the previous night persisted still. In fact, if the bell had not woken him, Anthony would not be convinced that it was day. He shivered, pulled the cloak over his shoulders and turned to Katrin. “So, about me getting home…?” Katrin nodded, “Yes. I will help you find The Way. Though I must be honest. It’s very existence is myth, it’s location even more so.” “I’ve got to try.” Katrin nodded. “Of course. Follow me.” Anthony followed her down into the yard and around the house where there stood a small brown cow and a knobby kneed grey donkey. The donkey was tacked up with a halter, lead, and what looked like well stuffed packs for a long trip. “I’ve already taken the liberty of packing for our journey.” Katrin said by way of explanation. “Journey?” “To find The Way, we need the help of those closest to Our Epoh. We must go to the Sisters of the Sun.” “The who now?” “The Sisters of the Sun.” Katrin took up the donkey’s lead and began to head towards the front gate. “The Handmaidens of Epoh.” “This just keeps getting better and better.” “Watch your tone my young friend. The Sisters are a noble order. They are Keepers of Epoh’s words and tenders of Her people. If anyone can help you find The Way, it is them.” “Okay,” Anthony relented, walking beside her, “How long will this take then?” Katrin chuckled, stopping at the gate and turning to him, “Why? Do you have somewhere to be?” “Yeah. Home.” “Beyond must be a wonderful place, given how impatient you are to return there.” Here Anthony hesitated. It was home yes, but wonderful? Finally, he shrugged, “Yeah. I mean. It’s all I’ve ever known.” “Oh? And haven’t you ever wanted to know more?” “You have no idea.” Katrin opened the gate and led the donkey through, then turned and held it open for Anthony. “To answer your question. The Sisters are in a hidden location, known to very few. It is several days walking. The road is dangerous and uncomfortable. I cannot guarantee your safety, nor can I guarantee that we will even be successful. But, it is the only chance you have of getting home. What do you say Anthony? Will you follow me?” Home had its moments, but anything would be better than this place. Anthony tightened his cloak and stood straighter. “Lead the way.”