The road through the countryside was much more pleasant than the forest for only one reason, sunshine. The silence from the forest carried on in the open country and there wasn’t so much as a breath of air to create a breeze. Though the day was warm it wasn’t overbearing and the sunshine made everything just a bit more cheery.
I walked on following the progression of the sun as it moved across the sky and finally touched the spires on the castle. I had hoped to reach the castle by dark, but the distance was greater than I had anticipated. As the sun drew closer to the body of water I began searching for the cheerful fire and tent from the night before. To my dismay nothing materialized.
I became uneasy and nervous. Something about this place at night was not right. I began looking around for any kind of shelter and noticed a small path breaking off from the road. I eagerly took the path and after rounding a small hill discovered a tiny cottage.
I approached the door carefully looking for any sign of inhabitants. Finally I knocked hoping the people were inside and they were normal people. Nothing happened. The sound of my knock seemed to echo through the hills. I knocked again, silence.
The light around me grew more and more dim with each passing moment. Finally I reached out and tried the knob. It turned freely in my hand. I stepped inside and felt the urge to shut the door behind me. The light outside failed as the door clicked into place.
A fire crackled in the small fireplace giving very little light to the room. I looked around for a lantern or candle, anything to brighten the place and my mood. After a thorough search I discovered a candle that looked like it had been sitting for years without anyone disturbing it. I took the candle to the fire and lit the wick.
It came alive quickly burning off years of dust in an instant. I then searched the main room of the cottage until I discovered a holder for the candle. With my handy light I searched the cottage thoroughly. The search took approximately two minutes.
The cottage was a small two room building for one person or even perhaps a couple. There was one four-poster size bed in the bedroom and a tall wardrobe. I opened the wardrobe half expecting to find another magical kingdom, but only discovering a few ragged dresses and a thin, worn overcoat.
After searching the bedroom I re-entered the main room. It was a combination of a kitchen, dining room and living room in a ten by ten space. The table was pushed up under the window and with two chairs in their proper places. A pretty checkered table cloth adorned the table with a small vase of daisies. Everything was coated with dust.
Across the room near the fireplace was an old fashioned sofa and easy chair. Both looked well used. I moved next to the fire and reached out to feel the warmth. It was even colder than the fire in the forest.
I looked around the room in wonder. It looked like the inhabitants had kept loving care of their tiny home, but where were they? Why weren’t they here? What happened to them? These questions filled my mind and an even stronger desire to find the answers filled my chest.I knew it wouldn’t be wise to leave the cottage until morning so I took the blanket from the bed and curled up on the couch for the night.