He chose to walk. And think. The sun had faded behind the horizon while he slept, but the night was clear, and stars were bright and the moon glowed, it was a good night for walking. A good night for thinking. The stream played softly in the grove, it was a moment he would remember for the rest of his life, he made sure of it. Branch focused on everything, how the grass felt on his bare feet, the freshness of air in his lungs, the feel of cool night air on his skin, he sprouted goosebumps, and felt a liveness – a tightness- in his steps.
Branch followed the stream, it led out of the ravine to the south, once out of the grove he would be in the forest. The Timberlands, though the towering evergreens lived a little further north, closer toward the Rangforne mountains. Sure, there were dangers that roamed the forest during the night, but he wasn’t worried. He had mastered the moving, and the breaking, though he wouldn’t need the breaking. The moving was enough, it was an easy thing for anyone who attended Mageform. It was the first of the magics taught.
Even though, in fact everyone in the world could do the breaking. It was more of a form of thought, of focus than anything, it took no skill. It could even be done with magics. So first, the moving was taught, how to interact with the world without breaking. It had been easy for him.
He left the grove, it was a place that he could call his own, even though it belonged to the world, he innately felt like its keeper, its caretaker. A silent suspicion that the grove felt the same way about him pressed itself into his thoughts.
Light and softly he walked, the aches that had greeted him when he woke were gone. In fact, he felt more alive than any other time in his life. Maybe through the giving of growth he also received some. Fascinating. His thoughts played around there, drifting between what had happened, what would and what was. He let his focus drift, he had spent most of the day forcing it to a focus.
‘Your thoughts are like a sword, they can cut both ways, or they can pierce.’ Something Trent had said often. He had been full of sayings. Branch wondered if all mentors had a slew of sayings tucked away. Waiting for the right moment to frustrate apprentices and students. A small smile spread to his lips, remembering all the times Trent used one from his seemingly endless reservoir.
Frustrating then, sure, but a sense of gratitude was left later. That seemed to be the way with a lot of things.
His mind truly wandered.
Tall maple and birch trees towered over him, they weren’t so dense as to blot out the faint lights of the clear night, but they tried. Moonlight shone down in bright steaks until it landed softly on the moss and dirt covered forest floor. The forest had a soft feel, from soft lights. It was quiet, the kind of resonating quiet that really held an unimaginable amount of sound in it. The sounds just happened to be right on the edge of hearing.
His footsteps were soft, being barefooted, but more because he took his time. ‘The pace you walk, is the pace you think.’ Another saying. Terrace, his home town, was not far away, a few hours to the north west. He walked toward it, thought-filled. He had in his years been able to move from the tower of Mageform. Finding work as a mason mage. It was redundant work, moving after moving, every now and then a breaking when the stone didn’t feel right.
But it had given him the freedom of thought while he worked. He didn’t despair at the work, though some days its monotony wore heavy on him. He hadn’t gone to Mageform to become a mason mage, he could have done that without the years spent careening through the corners of his mind. He could have just become a mason, some folks who left Mageform could teach the breaking, he could have learned all of that.
Now, in this moment, while he walked beneath moon and starlight, a radiant raspberry bush that grew in the grove behind him, made it all worth it.