The Philosopher placed the tome on his desk and studied the intricate pattern of the raised labyrinth on the cover. Once again he thought his eyes were deceiving him because the pattern of the labyrinth seemed to change when ever he peered too closely. He decided it might be best for him to get some rest and confront the issue of the book in the morning after a night’s sleep. He went over to his cupboard, took out a bottle of brandy and poured a small amount into his coffee cup, added some hot water and went to his bed. His bed hung against the wall during the day to provide a little more living space to his enclave. He pulled it down, set his toddy on the nightstand, removed his clothing and settled in between the cool sheets.
He took a sip of his toddy, set his mug back on the table, reached over to turn out the light and was asleep almost before his head even reached the pillow. That night he dreamed he was walking along one of the forest trails. It was a familiar trail which he had walked many times before. He knew them all like the creases and lines of his aged face. The Philosopher paid close attention to his dreams. They revealed to him solutions to problems, the next line to a poem he might be writing and always seemed to be in compliment with his life. Except his dreams would never reveal to him his next true love. He walked past the beaver damn and followed the creek to it source where he stopped to take a drink. As he lifted his cupped hands to his mouth, he noticed a path he had not seen before. It was well hidden by the overgrowth of brush but it was at least at one time a path. He looked at his reflection in the stream and then woke from his dream. It was morning.
The Philosopher walked into town to show his book to the local librarian. She had a photographic memory of every book written during the last hundred years but could not identify this volume. She agreed with the Philosopher that the book was under a magic spell, but magic had been outlawed in the country under the last governor for fifty years. She told the Philosopher of an old wizard who once lived near the head of the creek. The locals referred to him as the Wizard of Swansea. “But he must be dead by now,” she added. “That was years ago.”
The Philosopher thanked his friend and headed back home to his enclave. During his return journey he recalled his dream and the hidden path near the head of the stream. He wondered if that trail might lead him to the wizard’s home. After returning to his own home, he packed the book, some trail mix and a water canteen into his backpack, grabbed his walking staff and set out to explore the trail from his dream the night before.
His dream was true. He located the path near the head of the stream. As he began to walk along the path, he noticed a change in the temperature. It had cooled considerably since his earlier walk to the trailhead and the sky was much darker. In fact the sky appeared as early evening when it was only a little before noon. The Philosopher continued to walk for another three miles. He was not aware this part of the forest even existed before his dream last night. He comes to a clearing. The sunlight is now bright again. The air is warm. He sees smoke coming from the chimney of a small cabin up ahead. He thinks this must be the home of the Wizard of Swansea and proceeds to the door which is partially opened. He knocks. Then calls out. No one answers.
He pushes the door farther open with his walking staff and calls out again. He enters the small cabin. Someone is obviously living there. There is a fire in the fireplace and a boiling kettle of water on the stove. On the far wall he notices dried herbs hanging from the ceiling and a table filled with apothecary jars. He realizes he has entered someone’s home uninvited and turns to leave when he is struck from behind and falls to the floor.