It was getting later and darker by the hour. A torrential rainfall was only becoming more intense as we were trying to walk to the next town as soon as we could, but this proved to be an unrealistic goal. Our tunics and undershirts were drenched with water and the rocky path was becoming stickier, caking our feet and making the path more difficult as it elevated. The man who was traveling with me to Kings Bay, Fredorick, became irritated, demanding that we stop for the night as he was growing restless. He was hungry, tired, cold, and impatient. “Why the hell are we still walking through this swampy shitland, Gavin? We've already crossed through the damned mountain pass today, why do we have to keep going at all today? Night will fall soon, and we have plenty of time in the next few days.” Fredorick wasn't much of a traveler, but we had to make it to Kings Bay, and I couldn't have gone alone. He didn't have much of an appreciation for traveling or seeing different sights as I did, and he was much more of a homebody. But I was hoping this journey would be different, changing his attitude toward traveling. Realistically, I had a feeling that it would at least be a few more hours before we found anyone here at all, let alone another town to stop and lodge in, but we had to keep going.
While I was continuing to walk down the path, the other man called my name and said, “Come over here, I found something you might want to see!” I went towards him, picking up the pace in which I walked, careful enough not to trip over anything or get stuck in the mud. Fredorick handed me a golden ring, the most beautiful I had ever seen. It had an ancient, unknown script engraved on its inner part and on the outside of the ring itself. The script on the inside of the ring was worn and beaten almost beyond recognition, yet the outside of the ring looked as if it was brand new and perfect, to my surprise. “I found it attached to a finger on the side of the road which was all but bone.” To my assumption, this could have meant it belonged to a very rich man judging by its quality, or maybe even a king. Why was it attached to a dislodged finger? Did it belong to a thief? An exile? A dishonest or shameful man? I took the time to examine every possibility I could think of to determine the origins of the ring.
The ring, as soon as I started holding it, gave me the feeling of power transmitted and fused with every fiber of my being. Fredorick felt the same way, and suddenly he wasn't complaining of being tired or hungry anymore as soon as he picked up and wore the ring. When I put it on my finger, I felt as if I could keep walking all night. I didn't need water, I didn't need food, and I didn't feel too cold or too tired to go on. Fredorick said, “This ring... It gives me more power than anything I've ever felt in my entire life!” His look of previous despondency and exhaustion turned into an infectious joy and power.
Neither of us could translate what the script said on the ring, but we knew that it was unlike anything we had ever worn or seen before, judging by its luxurious and exotic qualities, along with the aforementioned feelings of power we felt.
We continued on for at least another hour or so, and we probably covered about 3 miles in the sticky rainforest before we found a potential shelter. I saw a light burning inside the window, so this gave me comfort, knowing that the home was most likely occupied and not a den for thieves or escaped outlaws. The house wasn't much, but it was enough for us, especially in the present situation we were dealing with. The rain had only become more intense as we moved closer to the house, but we used the power of the ring to keep us going throughout the journey. I edged to the door, knocking a few times to see if anyone would answer it. I was hopeful that someone would answer, but I had to wait for another minute or so. Suddenly, without warning, the door swung open.
I was greeted by a horribly aged, weathered man at the door. He was bald, but had a beard that could have nearly dragged on the ground. He wore a few cloths and a worn white tunic, and he was supported by an old wooden cane as he stepped towards us. One of his eyes was the color of milk, indicating his blindness in said eye, and the other one was filled with ferocity and life: a sharp contrast. He looked like he could have been a powerful, well-to-do man in his prime, but had been through a sudden, sharp, and tragic downfall that ruined his life and his health. At first glance of us, he looked like he was suspecting us to be dangerous and gave us a glance indicating that he was hesitant to let us in. The man inched closer and closer, and my heart pumped with a strange fear with each step, having an intuitive feeling that he could have been dangerous.
But as he came within a few inches of me, he smiled, with whatever teeth he still possessed. He asked with a raspy, throaty voice, “Travelers. You're travelers, I assume?”
Fredorick and I nodded our heads.
He pointed his cane inside the house and replied, “Come in, come in! I have a place for you to stay tonight!” We inched into his home slowly, and we found that it was surprisingly quaint for a man like himself, giving us the feeling that he had been wealthy in the past. His desk and his bed were in this main room, and there were two other beds in the other room of the house, which was separated by a straw wall on the east side of the home. There was a contained fire and a large black pot in the very center of the home, presumably where he cooked. He claimed to have crafted all of the furniture in the house, it was all very opulent and made from wood that was probably imported from a faraway country. Candles lit the entire home, which had a very strong smell of rabbit meat and cannabis.
The man saw that the rabbits were cooked almost completely, and informed us, “You came at a good time. I found three rabbits this afternoon for supper. Let's eat together, shall we, travelers?” We hesitated, but he smiled the entire time, nudging us to the benches that surrounded his fire. At first we were slightly hesitant, even though it meant a free meal with our lodging. But we realized that this was our best chance for food in quite a while, and we had to take advantage of it. We each started eating our rabbits, and we told him where we came from and our purpose for traveling. Fredorick decided to say, “We found a beautiful ring...” I immediately halted him from saying any more, as I didn't want the man to take the ring from us, but it was too late. His curiosity aroused, he looked at us slightly bewildered, with a deranged voice asking, “A ring?! WHAT RING?!” I was confused and slightly intimidated by his sudden passion for the ring, and I assumed that it could have belonged to him or someone else of wealth in the region. I showed him the ring, and he only looked at it. He didn't ask to wear it, and he didn't even ask to hold the ring for a few seconds so he might have a better chance to examine it. His face only molded into an expression of sadness.
I asked him, “Why are you upset? What's the story behind this ring?” He had to know something, he wouldn't have made an expression like this if he didn't have a reason. He sighed, and gave me a look of disappointment. “This ring belonged to Otto. He was the king of this region, in fact, one of the best kings we ever had.”
Fredorick and I looked at each other with joy in our eyes and our faces. We had found treasure! But this brought an overload of questions with it. What happened to the ring? Why did it end up in the middle of a rainforest rather than in royal hands? What was wrong with this ring? And, most importantly, why was it attached to a dislodged finger?
The man took a good look into my eyes, and seemed to know immediately what my questions were. “Ah, I know what you're thinking. You're two foreigners who stumbled upon this ring, not knowing about what this ring really meant to this nation and the former royal family. You want to know how I know who the ring belonged to, and how it ended up where it was when it should be in the house of the royal family. But we'll get to that in due time. Let me tell you the story of Otto...”
His left eye, milky as ever, suddenly looked like it had more life in the presence of the ring. His fiery, bright green eye on the right showed a twinkle. He didn't look like an ancient invalid anymore, he looked like a lively older man who still felt that he had plenty of life ahead of him, and nothing would stop him from living it. He kept us around the fire, and told us everything about Otto, from birth to the end of his tenure as king...ns 18.104.22.168da2