“We have to sort some things out with you first,” the Still Small Voice continued. “We’ll get to the homestead in a bit. Turn right, go through the arch and follow the hall. Open the last door you come to, it will be the chapel.”
I turned on my heel and started down the hallway. There were doors on my left and windows on my right. I counted as I went. One door, two windows, two doors, four windows, and so on. Finally I came to a large door, as large as the arch on the other end of the hall, and finding it ajar I pushed it open.
The chapel was nice; simple, but nice. The ceiling, like in the foyer, stretched up two stories and followed the roof to a peak. Six great, wooden beams supported the roof and two more ran from one end of the hall to the other, supporting four chandeliers. These were entwined with vines that came in through the roof and shed light on the whole room. The pews lined up before me and faced me.
Beside me was thick wooden table. It was really more of a slab of tree supported by four big stumps. The wall behind this was beautifully decorated with carvings, but beyond this there were no markings on the wall; just tall windows stretching both stories at even intervals. I stepped forward, hearing my footfall echo against the back wall.
“Welcome to the chapel,” I heard above me. I looked up to see Luath, my Ionat sitting on one of the beams in the ceiling. He twitched his tail.
“What goes on here?” I asked.
“Well, it hasn’t been used much lately. Quite frankly, you haven’t been around too often.”
“But, what is this place. How could I not have been around if I don’t know where I am?”
“This is getting a little ridiculous.”
The cat stood on the beam, arched its back in a stretch and jumped to the ground, springing off a beam on the way down.
“This house is your heart. These rooms are your thoughts and how you connect with things and people around you. This chapel is Meon’s canvas. He paints here, just for you. He paints the world. He paints the universe. Here in your heart, he draws out his ideas. This is the chapel.”
I looked around. “It’s very simple.”
“You are young.” The Ionat said, turning and weaving through the pews. “The plans are simple.”
I looked back at the animal. “Mine or Meon’s?”
“Come, I must show you the rest of the house before you must go.” He said, avoiding my question.
The cat walked past me and through the doors I had just come through. I turned around to follow but something caught my eye. There were words carved in the side of the wooden table. I walked over.
“It is finished,” I read.
“Come along!” I heard on the other side of the door. I followed the voice, still staring at the words on the table.
Pushing through the door I walked down the hallway I had come through before. Luath was ahead of me.
“What are these rooms?” I asked.
“They are offices,” Luath replied, not looking back. He had almost reached the foyer. “Friends of yours who are investing in you, teaching you, guiding you.”
Suddenly a door opened ahead of me. A Tÿr walked out, put down a couple suitcases he was holding and closed the door behind him. He was a dear old friend of mine, someone who had taught me many things, who had brought me a long way.
“Are you leaving?” I asked.
“Ah Fâyth,” He responded, looking up. “I had hoped to see you. Yes, I have to unfortunately leave this grand home of yours. I have enjoyed our time together immensely, but I feel you must go your own way and I go mine.”
“But why?” I asked. It was much too sudden.
“It was bound to happen sooner or later, it’s just the way things work. We grow up, and out. I have a calling elsewhere where you can’t follow. I pray that, in time, you will find your own.”
I suddenly stood alone. There was no one there. I sniffed back tears. I remembered that instance in my life. It was a year since my old friends started going their separate ways. They were all mentors, they all occupied an office here, now most have left. Dusty. This house was dusty because it was almost vacant.
I shook my head and looked down the hall. Luath was sitting in the foyer staring at me. He got up and walked out of view past the stairs. I quickly trotted after him. Reaching the foyer I turned right, walked past the stairs and opened the door there.
I found myself suddenly in a living room filled with Tÿrren. The alchas was dazzling, I had to step back a bit. No one noticed me enter. I stepped forward, pushing through a group conversing at the door. There were groups here and there, talking of distant subjects. Alchas streamed between each member of the groups, binding them together. Some were drinking beverages, others were eating snacks, some sitting, some standing. Looking over the shoulder of the Tÿr next to me I could see the food looked delicious, except in rather small portions.
I walked through the throng, confused at the sudden change of surroundings. A door opened on the opposite corner of the room, revealing a scruffy individual carrying a tray of more delicacies. I made my way over to him. He set his tray down, nodded to a group close by and went back through the door. I followed.
Closing the door behind me, I found the next room was a kitchen, though it looked like more of a store room. Two other doors exited the room, one to my right, and one in the opposite corner that had a window that looked outside. There was a great stone fire place on the wall opposite me, a window to the right of it, opposite the door. In it was one big fire with a large pot over it and little piles of coals to one side with other pots and pans over them. The smell was amazing. A big table was in the centre of the room with various tools on it. Two strings laden with herbs were hung over it. A larder was on one side of the fireplace; so full it couldn’t close. More tools hung on the wall beside me. Another fire contained by stones was to my left with different kinds of meat hanging above it at various heights. Sacks of grain and rice were beside the larder. Logs were piled up against a wall. Everything was spotless. It was fantastic. So much so I didn’t see Luath sitting beside the man I had followed in.
“This house is strange,” I said finally.
“You’re strange,” the cat said.
I looked down at him, frowning and shaking my head. “You’re the strange one…”
“If you were wondering about the room you were just in, it is welcome to anyone and everyone you meet. It is your acquaintance room, filled with people you’ve met or run into recently. Perhaps you had a good talk, or exchanged personal likenesses.”
“I thought some of them looked familiar. How come no one noticed me?”
“And this is the kitchen, but you probably already figured that out.”
“Why are you avoiding my questions?” I asked, throwing my hands up.
“This is where you keep your knowledge,” Luath continued. “Your knowledge is what people taste when they meet you in that room.” He nodded to the door behind me.
I looked around the room again. There was a lot of food. Did I really have all this knowledge?
“I saw the food, it looked delicious,” I said, pointing my thumb over my shoulder. “Why were the portions so small?”
“Your questions will be answered in time,” the scruffy Tÿr said, looking up. I finally noticed him. He was cutting up vegetables and herbs on the table. He had a ruddy complexion. His hair was curly, tangled and red, and a stubble of a beard framed his chin. His clothes were simple but well made; Long sleeved shirt rolled up his forearms, capris, and an apron.
“Oh yes, you’ve met this man before,” Luath said. “He looked a little different.”
The Tÿr laughed. “Much different. My name is Íosa.”
“Should I know you?” I asked.
“You will,” He replied.
I threw my hands in the air again and walked over to a chair by the table.
“This is all very interesting,” I said, sitting down, “I suppose I’ll just go along with it.”
“Good,” the Ionat said. He stood and walked through another door beside him. “This way.”
“I just sat down!”
Íosa chuckled and took off his apron. “You’d better follow him, he has orders.”
I nodded grimly and rested my elbows on my knees. “I just wanted to sit down and talk.”
“Me too,” replied Íosa. “But this is for the best.”
I heard a hint of sadness in his voice. I looked up and saw him leaning against the frame of the door that led outside. I saw concern and genuine empathy in his eyes. Big brown eyes. His pupils dilated and he looked away quickly, shoving out the door. I stood up and saw the door close behind him. Walking over to it I looked out. The forest thinned out at the back of the house. The portico and porch was wider as well. The ground fell away a stone’s throw from the porch revealing a ravine and the wooded hills of Meona. A path wound its way through the trees. Íosa was no where to be seen, all I noticed was a golden figure running along the path away from the house. It was a lion.
“The Great Lion?” I asked, astonished. “Íosa?”
“Coming?” I heard coming from the door that Luath had gone through. I turned and walked across the kitchen, picking up a couple of apples off the table as I passed. I pushed through the door, munching on one, still very confused.
The next room was a dinning room. One table stretched the room, seating about ten. It was fairly simple, mostly dark colours and lots of windows looking over the ravine. A door was in the wall to my right, and judging by where it was, it guessed it went back into the living room. Plenty of carpets on the floor and hanging on the walls. I could only take in so much before a Tÿress that was sitting alone at the table stood up to greet me. She looked familiar.
“Fâyth,” she said. “I hope you don’t mind me dropping in. I just need some help with this thing ahead of me.”
“What thing?” I asked, motioning her to sit down. I walked over and sat across from her.
“I’m feeling really run down, like I’m not going anywhere,” she continued. “There’s a test coming up. I haven’t been able to focus at all.”
“Why do you think Meon gave you the test if you’re so exhausted?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I’m wondering that myself.”
“Maybe he wants you to learn from the journey, not the end result?”
She looked at me and nodded.
“I mean, Meon would never set you up to fail,” I continued, remembering my own past tests. “Think about where you were when you started to feel this way. See how far you’ve come. It’s all about the journey.”
“Yes,” the Tÿress responded. “Yes, that’s right. I have to keep focussed on the journey, not the test.”
I rolled the other apple I had across the table. She caught it and looked up at me.
“Something to munch on,” I added.
She thanked me and walked out the door into the living room.
“That was close,” I heard behind me. I looked around to see Luath coming out from behind a rug. “She came in right after me. I figured I stay out of sight, some Tÿrren don’t like house pets.”
“Well, you’re not exactly a little kitty are you?” I asked, standing up.
“I have my moments.”
“Not with those fangs.”
“I do tend to rip things apart sometimes don’t I?”
“And put them back together painfully slow,” I rolled my eyes.
“Well, I’m sure you’ve figured out what this room it,” Luath continued.
“A place to eat?” I asked.
“We’re on our way,” The Ionat chuckled. “Let’s get back out through that throng of people in your living room and head upstairs.”