A Tour of the World Between Worlds
Lerato may have told me his life’s story as we made our way through the grey world. He walked all the way through his early childhood to his early adulthood with every possible little detail. Even if I recalled that much information about my own life, I would never share it so freely. I got the sense that he was just happy to tell the stories to a new person; I imagine the others had already heard these stories countless times.
We found our way to the shore of one of the world lakes as he explained his dream of being a hero.
“And one day, I will be the kind of hero my grandfather will be proud of!” Lerato said.
“Does he know you are in this world?” I asked. He nodded at my question but took a second longer to reply than I would have expected.
“He passed away quite a few years ago, though I do like to imagine he is watching my exploits from beyond,” he replied with a hint of somberness trying to infect his otherwise cheery expression. I made a ‘hmm’ but didn’t reply fully as we walked past the shore of the world lake. I hope I didn’t remind him of some unfortunate memories, but it was hard to tell with his cheery persona. Lerato continued to explain the details of his grandfather's passing.
“He had been getting up in the years, and his time came. It was a sad day for sure, but it was even more painful that many with ill intent came out of hiding almost immediately. My grandfather was the kind of hero that kept villains at bay just by being around. I fought bravely but was severely injured and was tossed off the edge of a cliff to my death.
“How did you survive?” I asked. His story had taken a new turn.
“Well, you see, that is the strange thing. I sort of fell into this world. I’m not completely sure about how it happened, but the next thing I know, I washed up on the shore of my world lake. My bones were broken, and I was a bloody mess; luckily, Orrin found me quickly; otherwise, I would have been a goner! It took months before I was fully healed!”
I recalled my own experience of waking up on the shore. I suppose I came out of my world similarly, but was there a cause, or was it random?
I had to put my pondering aside as Lerato began to tell the tale of his exploits in the world between worlds. Apparently, the only other inhabitants were Orrin and his master when he came.
“After I had been here for about a month and a half, it was Enas’ turn to wash up on the shore,” Lerato continued, “You should have seen that guy. He was stuck up and arrogant, saying, ‘I’m a superior being. I don’t have to listen to you!’ I think it was a combination of Pythagoras showing up and the master continually beating him in fights that made him loosen up a little!” Lerato laughed as he reminisced.
“What happened to Orrin’s master?” I interrupted.
“It was simply his time; Casey never got the chance to meet him either. We buried him in a small cemetery on the other side of the world; Orrin will show you if you like,” Lerato explained.
“I see,” I replied. A cemetery implied there were more buried in the world than just Orrin’s master, but I kept the thought to myself.
Whoever this master was, he seemed like quite a character. It was a shame I would never get to meet someone Orrin and Lerato seemed to hold in high regard.
“That’s enough talking about sad things, though! Do you have anything you are wondering about?” the friendly hero asked.
I had lots of questions. Ones pertaining to who I was and where I came from. They were all things I needed to find out on my own. I just shook my head to indicate ‘no’ as a reply.
“Well, if you ever need to know anything, just let me know! I might not be as smart as Pythagoras, but I’ve picked up a thing or two over the years!”
He spoke with a strong confidence and a happy smile. I nodded to show I understood but kept my mouth shut.
The conversation lulled as we continued to walk further out. We remained silent for a moment as we passed by more grey trees and foliage. Lerato seemed like he wanted to say more but wished for me to initiate the conversation. I think he was trying to let me be more active in the dialogue, but I had nothing on my mind to say.
Still, he was trying to avoid doing all the talking. I suppose I ought to say something since he was being considerate, but my lips remained pressed together.
It wasn’t until we broke through the trees that I came up with something to ask.
“What’s that?” I said, pointing to what was in front of us.
We had come out by a blue world lake, but the sight was not too unusual. What did strike me as odd was a wall of mist and fog that stretched endlessly in both directions. There appeared to be trees within the mist, but they had lost their leaves. The branches looked like they flailed out in agony as the fog surrounded them. The wall climbed high above the trees and blended into the grey sky, making it impossible to tell where the wall ended.
“Ah, that is the myst—spelled with a ‘y’ instead of an ‘I’—since it is both a mist and a mystery. It is what makes up the edge of this world, as far as we can tell.”
“That name sounds like the sort of thing a child might think up to sound clever,” I replied.
Lerato looked at each other. We nodded in unison and spoke simultaneously:
“Orrin came up with it.”
“You already have him figured out!” the hero said through his chuckles.
“If we are at the edge already, does that mean this world is rather small?” I asked while looking around the grey scene. We hadn’t walked all that long.
“Ah, no, the world is actually huge,” Leratop began to rub his chin, “I’m not sure I know what to compare it to so that you understand, but we think it is as big as one of the larger countries on some worlds.”
“Is the base by the edge?” I asked.
“No, it’s hard to explain, but this space allows you to move through it quickly without realizing… this is more of a topic for Pythagoras…. Basically, if you have a destination in mind, you will be able to walk there in short order, and if you don’t, the world seems to put you where you ought to be…. It is easy not to notice when you go through the woods, but sometimes things seem like they are jumping out in your way.”
I wanted to press Lerato more about what he meant, but his furrowed brow told me he was already trying his best to explain the phenomenon.
“I think I understand,” I said to let him ease up a little. A smile seemed to suit him more than a furrowed brow.
Still, the hero did not change his expression right away; he only did after issuing a warning:
“Anyway, don’t try to go into the myst…, and if something comes out, run and tell us as soon as possible.”
“Something comes out?” I repeated. What sort of things would come out? Did I really want to know?
“It happens from time to time,” was all Lerato replied with. His face slowly turned back to a happier expression as he gestured that I should follow.
I stared at the myst a moment longer as we collected some things that fell out of the world. Afterwhich we turned back to the base camp.