The HIDDEN PATH
They say the Hidden Path can't be found. Because it's hidden. But that is not quite true. It is only hidden from those who can't see it. Otherwise it's there, clear as a shaft of moonlight through the trees. So it was said to be. And so Gareth believed it to be. For he was sure he had caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of his eye once or twice, though when he looked more directly it was not there. Life was like that for Gareth, always catching glimpses of things, hints of something just out of sight. Or snatches of music or soft whispers that his ears soon lost the sound of. Gareth also thought there was someone or something else in the woods that he had glimpsed through the trees.
It so happened that there was someone else in the woods and she too thought she had seen the path and caught glimpses of things and followed enchanting sounds that always eluded her. And she too thought that she had caught a glimpse of someone or something else. Her woods were some way from Gareth's, though they were both part of the same forest. Gwenno was her name and as a child she had always thought of herself as flying through the air like a bird because her name was nearly, but not quite, gwennol which was the name in her language for a swallow.
So they wandered, each of them, in a different part of the forest, following paths that looked inviting, getting to know the ways through the trees, always hoping to find the Hidden Path, sometimes even thinking they may have found it for a while, but not for long. Neither of them was unhappy for they loved the woods and always thought of them when they were not there. When they were there the sense of something enticing always called, though it was always just out of reach.
One day, when the Autumn had set the leaves aglow with different shades and there was an intensity in the air that called to each of them in the same way, they both decided to pack some food and spend all of the shortening daylight hours in the woods. So each of them walked further than they usually did and found a path that seemed to lead into a mysterious part of the forest. It was then that each of them saw someone or something coming towards them. What did they see? Neither knew but the path seemed to bend away as if it went to somewhere else, not the forest they knew, but still it was a forest. Each of them saw a figure beckoning but could not make it out clearly. They followed the figure because there seemed to be no other choice.
The figure beckoned. The path beckoned. Gareth followed, thinking that he was alone. Gwenno followed, thinking that she was alone. The path and the figure; the figure and the path : which of them beckoned? Gwenno soon realised she was lost. Gareth soon realised he was lost. They were lost. The afternoon passed to evening. The colours on the trees darkened as the light became thinner and began to fade. The Hidden Path led them to a hidden place, across the Ford of Forgetting where the stream tumbles away all thoughts of the world. There was no world. There was only this place. Night had fallen and Gwenno sat by a moonlit pool. Dawn had broken and Gareth saw the water in the pool brighten as the sunlight filtered through the trees. No time that they knew of had passed. Who was there to mark this difference?
The figure they had followed cast aside a veil and it was dark. The Dark of the shade of a yew tree grove beneath a clouded sky under the stars. The figure turned and they followed by sixth sense rather than sight. A thick mat of rotted yew needles carpeted the ground. Some red arils had fallen. Some remained to fall. They could see these in the darkness, but not with their eyes. They could see the Hidden Path clearly now in the same way, winding through the tangled knots of roots. Gwenno saw the figure beckoning and followed Gareth along the path. Gareth saw the figure beckoning and followed Gwenno along the path. They followed each other along the path and the dark shape before them led them and followed them into a dark place so deep that is was Void ... Nothing ... Nowhere ... not even dark anymore, just empty.
Gwenno was alone; Nothing was there.
Gareth was alone ; Nothing was there.
Nothing was not alone; Gareth and Gwenno were there.
Each of them knew what they had always known, that the Hidden Road led to Nowhere.
Is there a way back, and would they take it together? For now there is no answer to any question. There is only the Dark.
Light is another story.