Wolves at the Door (part 8)

“I – yes – um” Gil struggled to form coherent thoughts, let alone articulate them. But as his eyes adjusted to the light, he began to see that he had been mistaken. The snow-white skin and pale blond hair would have been at home on the son of gods, but this gaunt face would ill fit one renowned for a beauty that shone like the sun. Gil realized that the young man before him was surrounded by a soft glow of light, but was not its source.  In fact, the glow seemed to come from just about everywhere else – above, below, behind – but not from the one he had mistaken for a god, nor from any of the others gathered nearby. They seemed to consider Gil the day’s entertainment; neither afraid nor offended, they simply waited to see if he would do something interesting.

Sitting up gingerly, he rested his chin on one knee. He looked around, but nothing made sense. The people were dressed in all manner of outlandish styles. More milled around behind them, going about their business with no regard for the naked stranger nearby. The ground and sky alike glowed softly white, like an overcast winter’s day, but whatever covered the ground was not snow.

The pale youth had addressed him in almost a formal style, so now that he had gathered his wits, he responded in kind.

“I thank you for your concern. I am quite well, but I seem to be lost.” A few of the onlookers chuckled at that, and murmured amongst themselves. “Could you tell me where I am?”

“Well now, that is indeed the question. I would be rather curious to hear your theories on the topic. But the answer, I’m afraid, is no. At least, not in a way that would be helpful. This place has many names, but few that you may know, and none that would help you to understand it.”

When he saw Gil’s disappointment he quickly continued:

“Oh, do not misunderstand. To begin with, you are safe, and that is not nothing. But to name a thing and to know it are not the same, and I will help you with one by refraining from the other.”

His speech, while elegant, lacked clarity, and he must have seem as much reflected in Gil’s blank face.

“I can do far better than telling you where you are: I can show you. Come, my friend, for I suspect that you and I can help each other a great deal.”

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