As he lay unconscious on the floor of the small cabin, The Philosopher dreamed he was in a different, far off land, a land of dragons where he was the only human who walked upon the earth. He felt a wave of water upon his face.
“Wake up! Wake up.” The distant sounding voice called to him. “Who are you? What are you doing in my home? Where did you get this book?”
The Philosopher was still groggy from the blow to his head. Another wave of water fell upon his face.
“Wake up. Wake up. Do you hear me?
The Philosopher now left his dream of the dragon kingdom and slowly began to focus on his current surroundings. He looked first for his staff in order to defend himself should he be attacked again. He saw it leaning against the wall over in the corner of the cabin. Then he searched for the door which was now fully opened. The bright glare of the setting sun coming through was almost blinding. He looked for his backpack but could not find it anywhere in the small room. He tried to move but could not. He was tied to the chair. He arms and legs completely immobilized.
“Why are you here?”
The Philosopher lifted his head and tried to focus on the figure standing in front of him but the brightness of the sunlight permitted him to only see a shadow.
“What are you doing here? Where did you get this book?” The shadowy figure asked again.
The figure in front of him was holding the book which had mysteriously come into his ownership. As his head cleared, he was able to discern the figure from the shadow. She was a woman.
“Where did you get this book? What are you doing here? Answer me!”
“I do not know how the book came into my possession. Two days ago it fell from my bookcase. I had never seen it before that day. The librarian in the Village of Xis agreed with me that the book was under a spell. She recommended I search for the Wizard of Swansea. A dream showed me the hidden path and the path brought me here. I have never been to this part of the forest before. The door was opened. I called but there was no answer. I mean you no harm. I am The Philosopher.”
“The Philosopher.” The figure said out loud.
He felt his hands and feet being untied and slowly turned to see the woman standing behind him.
“I apologize for my intrusion. I should not have entered your home uninvited, but I mean no harm. You spoke as if you know me.”
“I only know of you. Some years ago my father went into town to return some books to the library. It was after the governor had proclaimed an end to all magic in the realm. My father did not know such a proclamation had been passed. We live here in the forest and rarely go into town. He was being accosted by a gang of thugs because of his wizardry when you came out of the library and with only your staff fought them off.”
“I remember that incident but after my encounter with his attackers, I could not find your father. He took off. I assumed he was frightened and did not wish to stick around.”
“He returned home and placed an invisibility spell upon the path so it could not been seen by anyone to keep me and our home safe from possible intruders.”
“Then your father is the Wizard of Swansea, the one I seek. Is he here?”
“Yes, my father is the one you seek and no he is no longer of this realm. I am his daughter Upashna. My father must have sent you this book and revealed to you the path to our home. How else could you have found me? But why?”
The Philosopher was now conscious and able to see Upashna fully. Although she dressed in the common robes of the local folk, he could see she was beautiful. She was in fact the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She moved with the grace, style and the lightness of a vision. Her eyes were two bright stars against a dark background of space. Her hair was the color of a full moon night with streaks of light and curls flowing over her shoulders and back.
Upashna returns to the book resting on the table. “We must find a way through the Labyrinth. Upon completion of our journey we will be in the other realm where we will find my father.”
“But I thought you said your father was dead.”
“No. He is not dead. Wizards do not die. They transform. My father is in the other realm. He sent you this book because he believes you to have a pure heart and therefore are the only one worthy of its message. We must leave first thing in the morning and complete the assigned tasks before the next full moon in three days. You must rest now. The journey ahead will not be without peril. You will need all of your strength. I am sorry I hit you with my staff. I took you for an intruder.”
“That is not a problem. I was trespassing. You have the right to defend your home.”
Upashna responded, “I have soup and fresh bread. We should eat and retire early. Our journey begins at sunrise. I know you must have many questions and they will be answered along the way. I assure you.”
Upashna went to the pot hanging over the fireplace and filled two bowls with soup. Then divided the bread between them. They sat down at the small table and ate. The Philosopher had not imagined a book falling from his bookshelf would lead to such an adventure. Although he had been searching for his true love most of his life, he had never before seen a woman of such beauty as Upashna. After their supper, Upashna brought in some hay for The Philosopher to make himself a bed near the fireplace. He wrapped the book and returned it to his backpack. That night he once again dreamed of dragons. Dragons, dragons everywhere.
…to be continued.