It was late as Kane made his made his way through the woods, towards his home, outside of the Village.
The air was cold and getting colder with each passing day. Winter would soon be upon Terrasylvae and the now dull colors of Autumn would be replaced by a stark white. Things were settling in and it wouldn’t be long before these vibrant halls of nature would slumber for a time.
The fallen leaves crunched beneath Kane’s boots as he continued his march, lost in thought.
It had been a long day.
Although Winter was a time of rest for most of the Villagers, Kane found Winter to be even more exhausting then the rest of the year.
“Why is that?” Kane asked himself. “It’s not like I mind the cold or grow weary from the lack of daylight. I’ve experienced much harder winters.”
It was true. The winters in Woodland were relatively mild compared to those he’d been through in New France. There freezing rain and wind that could cut like a knife were common place. Snow mounds taller than a man would frequently form after blizzards blew in from the cold Atlantic sea. There were even times when weeks would go by before the sun could be seen through the clouds. Those winters could drain a man of even his will to live.
As Kane reminisced on a land far away, he finally arrived at his home. Resting against a small rock face, it was hard to tell it was even a dwelling in the dark of the night. With a familiarity that has surpassed the need of sight, Kane unlocked the front door with a key from his belt and stepped inside, locking the door behind him.
Still in the dark, Kane moved deeper into the small room and knelt down in front of a stone alcove cut into the rock face. After a moment and an orange flash of light, a small fire began to burn and grow. The infant flames leapt and clawed at the dry twigs Kane fed to them, growing in size with each morsel. Soon the flames were large enough to be satisfied with a small log Kane pulled from the pile a few feet away. In return for the meal, the fire crackled and emitted a orange glow to fill the dwelling and a warmth to chase away the cold that had settled in while Kane had been away.
With a sigh as he stood, Kane deposited his satchel onto the table and hung his sword belt next to several other swords on hooks by his bed. He sat in one of the wooden chair beside the table to remove his boots before flicking them across the room to fall haphazardly next to his bed, one after the other. Leaning back in the chair, Kane let his body slump. With his eyes closed, Kane breathed in the faint smokey smell mixed with the familiar scent of his home.
It had been a long week.
A minute passed before Kane opened his eyes again, but he didn’t move from his seat at the table. Instead, he looked around the room, surveying the things scattered around the space. To a casual observer, Kane’s home could be considered in disarray. Things laying here or there, seemingly out of place. Not to Kane, though. Yes, things were not put away per-say, but there was order to the chaos.
On the table were several books and journals that were currently being reviewed or written. On the shelfs lining the wall were items and curiosities of Kane’s travels: a eagle’s feather, several tools, and various bottles containing unmarked contents. By his bed was a small pile of wood for the fire and most of his fencing equipment. At the foot of the bed was a large trunk, locked with three separate locks he’d received from his father. Piles of paper could be found stacked on flat surfaces around the space. His traveling pack was hung next to the door, ready for the whim that began every adventure.
Yes. Someone could consider it in disarray, but Kane liked it this way. It was a physical representation of how he thought and lived.
Next to his hand was a small brown book, bound in unassuming leather; Kane’s journal. Kane couldn’t bring himself to write in it tonight, but he pulled it closer to him and flipped it open.
A good portion of the pages were marked with black ink. Little sketches were scattered amongst the wavering lines of Kane’s own handwriting. Just like his home itself, the journal was jumbled and chaotic. There weren’t any long blocks of text, but more like little thoughts compressed into a single volume. Each little note was an idea or an event that was tied to a memory and the book itself was meant to be perused. Not read.
Kane spent the next several minutes reliving the past through his notes. It wasn’t until he closed the book, filled with nostalgia, sadness, and hiraeth, did he realize how truly exhausted he was. His muscles ached. His mind was spent and his soul was weary. Every movement was sluggish and required a conscious effort. He thought he might just sleep where he sat, but his bed called to him from across the room.
Rising from his chair, Kane took heavy steps until he was close enough to flop into his bed without slowing his fall. As he wrapped his blanket around him, he slid closer to the stone wall next to his bed. With only a few inches separating his face and the rocky surface, Kane was enveloped in a cocoon created by the cool stone on one side and gently burning fire on the other. It wasn’t long before his eyes slid shut and Kane settled into a deep slumber.
It had been a long year.