It was not, technically, the first time that Gil had made the trip between worlds alone. He had no memory of that first time however. He had, after all, been under the moon’s influence, and yet to achieve even partial integration of that side with his conscious self. Even if he could remember, it would probably be of little help. He had been fleeing for his life, less concerned with what lay ahead than what might be coming for him from behind.
Every time he had made the crossing since then, it had been in Alfvin’s company. Though they had talked little during the demanding trek, there was always something reassuring about not being alone. Gil feared for a moment that he might set out on the wrong line, but the direction he needed to go in was unmistakeable. Though there were no landmarks to guide him, he could no more be confused about his bearings than he could about which way way up a hill and which was down. You didn’t need to be able to see to know that.
Travel in one direction was blatantly more difficult than others, and so that was the way Gil bent his footsteps. Pausing frequently to catch his breath, Gil wondered how he had made the distance that first time. The beast – Gil still thought of it that way, even though he had begun to accept it as a part of himself – the beast was strong, but not patient. Then again, he should not discount the motivational effect of a pack of hostile wolves on one’s tail. Perhaps the beast – he – had just barrelled through, carried by the momentum of his flight. That might explain why he had collapsed almost immediately on reaching the other side.
Gil might have been more patient than the beast, but he had his limits. The slow, stop-start progress grated on him before he had gone half way. Unlike Alfvin, he knew no poetry he could recite to keep himself occupied. It didn’t help, knowing that within the hour he would have to turn around and make the return journey. At least he would not be alone for that part. That was something.
Eventually he saw the outline of the stone doorway ahead, and before long he was through it. There was no sign of Alfvin nearby. More patience needed. At least it was easier to breathe now. And there was something to look at besides clouds.