A week passed from beginning the extended rooms and courtyard until I realized one morning that I should find the old path from the house down to Cairn Valley. There had to be one. I needed for there to be one. My pack was running low on rations, and I had dug out all the easy-to-find spring vegetables from close to the property. Also, dragging up what little was in my farmhouse would be easier with a mule than passing through the game trail. It would be nice to bring the herd up, but that meant more coral systems.
The day before I set out to find a path, I took time to clean out one of the livestock barns and patch the bullpen. It would have to suffice for keeping the sheep from exploring the mountainside and losing themselves. The cattle. Well, the cattle might make it up, and I could possibly pen them in amongst the apple trees. I would have to revisit that thought. There were caretakers responsible for them for this year “until I had the Warden’s Cabin built.”
Resigning myself, I closed up the house, shouldered my pack, and left the property to hunt a road. A full circumference of the house and outbuildings yielded a potential result. Not quite the result I had expected. I found a large navy blue sign buried under thorny rose brier and a couple feet of detritus. The Bavarian Bed and Breakfast on The High Road to Taos Est. 2045.
I wasn’t sure what Bavarian meant, but a Bed and Breakfast sounded like a Friends Stop. The building had just been established three years before the Great Upheaval. That summed up for me why the house was so big; it was to host Friends, travelers on the road. I wondered after the vegetable garden and orchard. Maybe the owners had created the building after an old one had gone beyond its usefulness.
The sign proved to be of great use to me, other than providing me context of its intended use. The massive pipes the sign had once been hung upon were buried into cracked concrete above pea gravel. That gravel led into an overgrown section of the forest that had younger-looking trees than the surrounding. Young-ish looking when they were well beyond a couple hundred years old compared to some of the other pines and cedars climbing the sides of Eden.
Following the trail heading south and west would hopefully dump me out into Cairn. Whether that be my village, or one down the road, it mattered not. With a quiet slingshot and a dressing blade, I’d have hare or bird by nightfall if needed.
The trail came and went under the trees between drainage gravel and shattered concrete. It twisted back and forth, near in on itself as it traversed the woods leading down the high mountain. Soon enough I ran into offshoots that looked to be as masterful as the one I directly traveled on. Some had posts where old signs once designated streets.
Three days passed, and I suspected I was well out of reach of Cairn when I stumbled upon another valley just as promising as Eden. It too lay empty. Deserted of any human breath. Crumbling structures under mounds of prickly pear and more apple trees in bud tumbled away down the gentle slopes. That was when I decided to turn around and see where the other side of the road led.
I spent an evening once more in my own house and sufficed on wild rocket and a pair of fat turtledoves. The next morning, warm in my bedcovers, I reflected on my expedition into the valleys. Mayor Shutlz had told me to find a location for a new village. He had not told me to find locations for more townships. This boded well.
The trail that led up further into the mountainside, the one that felt counterintuitive for getting back down to Cairn Valley, did indeed deposit me into a town three over from my own village. Navigating back took little effort on my part, and having a Friends room in each village was a pleasant reprieve from my sleepsack.
Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.
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