Prologue - Part 1

"Life; It all is created and endures in abidance with the hallowed Sanctity. From the soaring harrier far overhead to the tiniest frolicsome bee drifting through the cottengrass, we all exist on Its behest."

This was something that my grandmother had told me ever since I was a little girl. Her stories about the miraculous phenomena that surrounded us were as boundless as my fascination was for them. For as long as I could remember, I would wait on bated breath for every word to every sentence of every tale. My grandmother was as great a storyteller as they came, but as I grew further into my adolescence, I recognized these magnificent and heroic fantasies as nothing more than what they actually were: an accomplished way to lull to sleep the overly adventuresome imagination of a young child.

My grandmother and I lived in a small, unsophisticated cabin isolated out in the heather moorlands. The vast emptiness of these grasslands and rolling hills had forced me to create my own amusement day by day. As a child, I would run around the moorlands for hours exploring every knoll, shrub, and stream until I had created my own whimsical world where I would reenact my favorite of grandmother's stories. However, as immeasurable as the moors felt, they still could not pacify a growing curiosity within me. Every day I saw the distant mountains looming on the horizon and I questioned what lie beyond them.

As I grew into a young woman, my grandmother's health began to gradually decline, and out of necessity I found myself taking on more and more of the responsibilities she no longer could attend to. One such obligation was fetching provisions from the sole village within the moorlands. The village was perhaps best described as simple and uninvolved with the rest of the world, so much so that the village had no official name. To its citizens, this village was the world, and a tightknit one at that. Most importantly, the village was unified, and this unity stood strongest on the belief that outsiders were not welcome here.

On one blustery afternoon, I began walking down the dirt path that led to the village. Wrapping myself in my overcoat as best I could to shield myself from the wind, I looked out at the mountains. They had become silhouetted by darkening clouds. It looked like a powerful storm that was developing, one uncharacteristic for the otherwise calm spring we had been experiencing. While I usually found the walk to the village rather tranquil, I had it in mind today to get home quickly, before the storm descended upon the moors.

I had walked a considerable distance along the path, my body warm from my heightened pace, when I heard it:

"Excuse me," a voice rang out tenderly. I stopped dead in my tracks, glancing around at the land surrounding me, devoid of anybody else. The wind had grown considerably since I had started my trek; perhaps it was the one playing tricks on me, I thought. I released the breath I had not even realized I was holding, and began my quick strides again. I tucked my chestnut hair furthered into my tattered hood as I walked around the bend of a small hill, the wind growing heavier by the minute.

"Excuse me, miss?" I heard again, this time more distinct. A man's voice. Once again, I froze in place before laying my eyes on him. A man I had never seen before approached me from near the top of the hill.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you," the man said. Standing perfectly still, I stared at him guardedly. He was a younger man, perhaps only a handful of years older than I. While a noticeably handsome man, he had a disheveled appearance about him. Dark, uncombed brown hair that was beginning to curl at its ends, and a carelessly attended to beard suggested he normally was far more dapper when it came to his appearance. His clothes wore loose on his body, and looked weathered as if he had been wearing them for several days, while the large bag he carried on his back had various rips and holes that one had attempted to sew shut. I glanced at his waist, recognizing the hilt of a knife protruding from a sheath attached to the waistline of his denim pants. He noticed my gaze.

"Oh, please, don't worry about that," he said, detaching the sheath from his pants and placing it in the dirt between us. "Take it, if you want," he continued as he stepped back a few small, deliberate paces as if he were trying to calm a wild animal. His blue eyes stared back into mine, undaunted by my standoffish reception to his presence.

"My name is Adrian Loránd," he said, waiting for me to state my name in return, however, I stood in silent protest. He smiled, much to my surprise. "I know you don't trust me," he continued. "Nor would I expect you to. I just want to ask you a question, if I may?"

"Where are you from?" I asked. Without question, this man had startled me; however, I did not feel afraid of him. I felt some of the tension in my shoulders relax as this man named Adrian smiled again as if honored to answer my question.

"I am a philosopher from Earth," Adrian said, placing a hand on his chest as if to identify himself further. I felt my eyebrows crease in confusion.

"Earth?" I asked.

"You haven't heard of it, have you?" Dean asked with delicate composure, though this also seemed to intrigue him as his heavy eyebrows shot upwards. "Earth is another planet, just like this one," he continued. I quickly learned that Adrian was astonishingly perspective to my inaudible reactions to what he was saying. None of this made any sense to me, and he knew it. "I'm guessing you've never left your village before, have you?" he asked.

"My grandmother tells me that there is nothing to see beyond the village," I said without thinking. My intrigue was consuming me on the inside. Adrian took a second to process what I had said.

"Well, your grandmother is right to an extent. There isn't much out here," Adrian said with a small chuckle, gesturing at the moors all around us. "But, do you honestly believe there is nothing else to see outside of your provincial village?" I took my eyes off Adrian for the very first time, and looked at the faraway mountains I had looked at every single day since I was a little girl.

"No," I said quietly. I returned my gaze back to Adrian. "I do not."

"There is so much to see out there, you know," Adrian said with a glimmer of empathy in his eye. I felt my heart pounding with excitement from talking to this outsider.

"You have traveled extensively?"

"All over the solar system," he responded.

"And why is it that you travel?" I further inquired. This time Adrian did not answer right away. Instead, he directed his attention towards the sky, a contemplative expression on his face as if the answer was floating somewhere among the blanket of clouds above us.

"Because," he finally answered, "I don't ever want to wake up having dreamed of a thousand new paths to follow, yet find myself walking down the same one every single day."

Everything about Adrian was so foreign to me; however, I could not help but be captivated by him. He returned his focus onto me. "What is keeping you here?"

"I cannot leave," I replied. "I must care for my grandmother."

"But you want to leave, don't you?" Adrian asked. And, for a reason I cannot adequately explain, I smiled.

"You are a truth-seeker," I stated. I realized all of my apprehension was gone and that I was oddly comfortably talking with Adrian.

"Yeah," he snickered, "I suppose that is what you can call a philosopher."

"And what truths have you come to seek here?" I asked more boldly. "There is very little to understand out here in the moorlands."

"More than you might think, actually," Adrian said, ruminating on a thought. "I have come to find that oftentimes conformity can suppress an inquiring mind. Secrets exist all around us and, sometimes, in the most unexpected of places."

"I do not understand," I stated, though fully consumed by his words.

"Are you aware that your planet is home to the most transcendent known clairvoyants throughout the entire solar system? Beings that are so connected with a spiritual realm that regular humans like myself could never possibly fathom. Can you imagine the answers they could possess?" Adrian asked zealously.

"I am afraid I do not know," I said, unable to relate to such earnestness. Adrian seemed to recognize this too, and took a deep, calming breath, composing himself once more.

"Well, that makes two of us then," he said with a sudden despondency in his voice. In that moment, however, I recognized the dejection that Adrian was incapable of suppressing as the same I had felt many times before knowing I would likely never fulfill my own childhood ambitions. At first glance, Adrian and I were nothing alike, yet fundamentally, to some degree, we were incredibly similar. It was such a foreign feeling for me to relate to anyone like this, let alone an outsider. And perhaps it was this same unique feeling that restrained any hesitancy or indecision I otherwise had about offering reciprocity to discover more about Adrian and his knowledge of the outside world.

"I may not be like the clairvoyants in whom you seek," I began, a vitality pumping through my veins, "but I have lived my entire life within these moors and dare say I know them better than any. Whatever it is you are seeking here, I can be of help; if not through my own knowledge, perhaps by the folklore of this land passed down to me by my grandmother." Adrian had focused all of his attention on me as I spoke, and in the brief silence that followed seemed to question the legitimacy of my words.

"You would do that?" he asked graciously.

"Yes," I said, my hands quivering with trepidation or excitement, I could not be sure which.

"Okay," he said nodding his head optimistically. He took in another deep breath. "Tell me, have you ever come across the name 'Dōmandresil' before?"

"Dōmandresil," I repeated quietly to myself as I closed my eyes. I concentrated on the name as I brought to mind as many of grandmother's stories as I possibly could. However, the name was just as unfamiliar to me as was everything Adrian had spoken of. I opened my eyes, disheartened.

"I am sorry," I said, meeting Adrian's equally as discouraged gaze. "I have not." From the distance, a large clap of thunder echoed across the land announcing that it would not be long before the storm would be upon us.

"It's okay," Adrian said with a noticeably compulsory smile. He let out a heavy sigh as he looked to the sky once more. "Well, I think I should probably get going before the storm gets here," he said, grabbing the sheathed knife from where he had placed it in the dirt and returning it to his waistband. "You should probably get home too."

"Yes, I believe that to be wise," I agreed reluctantly. I did not want our conversation to end.

"I want to thank you for your good will," Adrian said, placing his hand on my shoulder gently. "I can only hope to meet others here as benevolent as you." As Adrian began to walk off the dirt path and into the moors, a strange sadness overcame me that prevented me from looking away.

"I wish you safe travel Adrian Loránd of Earth!" I impulsively yelled. He turned back around, matching my gaze one last time with his cordial grin.

"Do you mind if I ask you one last question?" he asked, to which I smiled back in accordance. "May I at least know your name?"

"Ophelia," I responded. Satisfied, Adrian turned around and began traversing across the moorlands towards the mountains faraway in the distance.