I walked behind her, exited the cabin through the rear door, which I had noticed earlier was so narrow and short that I needed to turned sideways and crouch down at the same time to fit through.
Once outside, I didn’t see her but what I did see surprised me. There was now a white flat marble tile pathway that after fifty feet turned sharply left.
Assuming she went that way, I followed. After close to thirty minutes, I realized I was utterly lost except for the walkway. One more sharp turn, this time to the right, and I saw her. Her hair was now loose wavering like it might if there was a breeze. But the air was quite still.
Her owl again sat on her shoulder and watched my approach, its gold eyes not blinking as I stopped where she stood waiting.
Shaking my head slightly, something I felt I needed after locking eyes with the owl, I stood before a stone archway perhaps fifteen feet high at the center, eight feet across. The stones were old speckled gray granite intricately carved with a language I didn’t recognize and animals and flora both real and mythical with much I could not identify.
I glanced at her, but her eyes were closed as if she was meditating. After waiting several minutes, I asked, “What is this?” I attempted to speak calmly, but a quiver of excited anticipation had my heart racing and came though with my words.
Finally she opened her eyes and stepped close enough to touch. “This is the first of many you need to see. For now know this as a portal.”
“I don’t understand. A portal to what or where?”
“That depends on your needs and desires. And you should know that both of those may not be what you consciously think they are.”
Trying to focus on what lay through the archway, I believed I saw a primeval forest beyond a wavering cloud of mist just dense enough to make recognizing anything nearly impossible. All I could see with certainty were massive tree trunks, some close enough together that they seemed to lean against each other.
On both sides of the archway where we stood, and elsewhere in the forest around us there was no sign of mist or fog. The sun was setting, but its illumination remained brilliant and penetrating.
“Why do you show me this?” I didn’t turned to look at her since I was a bit mesmerized by the tree trunks. I felt a strong urgent drive that I then understood was as much fear as excitement.
“A person in this life is driven to find purpose.” She waved a hand and shrugged as if the idea was either confusing or meaningless to her. “After what it seems you’ve experienced recently, you might consider seeking purpose where it truly exists. Your world,” she paused and this time waved her arm as if to encompass the planet, “is inhospitable to humanity now. This is known to happen, but when so many are lost so rapidly it becomes ethereal, not an event the mind can accept. And then purpose stumbles fatally and shifts into dormancy.”