The Monk continues to pace quietly into the darkness. The undergrowth he walks through is so dense it feels like the mud from the rain forests.
Every now and again he feels a snap under his foot and jumps in response, only to realize that he himself caused the snapping of the branch underneath.
He’s never been as on edge as he is now, venturing this far into the unknown makes him extremely uncomfortable.
Long journeys like this into unexplored dark territory were not his idea of a fun time. He had done some pretty menial work in his time for the monastery, but this quest was certainly pushing the limits of what he could tolerate.
‘I suppose it teaches me to put aside my fears for the sake of others; it builds character in that way’ he thinks to himself rather cheerfully. He always likes to see the positives in any particular situation, even when they’re inherently negative or harmful, which is how he’s lasted so long at the monastery.
Taking a deep breath in, he re-orientates himself back into his inner mind as his walking pace slows down slightly. His left arm tightly bound around the mysterious self-writing tome and in his hand his prayer beads are gripped.
He continues at this pace through the undergrowth as he notices the darkness taking on a new level of depth. With each new step he can feel his other senses becoming more in tune with the environment, as his vision gradually diminishes in use.
Looking up, he sees nothing but dark. He pauses to close his eyes, presses his palms together and breathes deeply. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.
Taking this time to settle, the Monk re-aligns himself with his spirit and the surroundings that he’s in. He calls to mind all the teachings of his monastery; life lessons prescribed to him as a young apprentice to see him through trials such as this. Through all the study and all the mental acrobatics to embed those teachings into his mind, his meditation reveals to him that he’s experiencing one of the most profound instances of fear that he’s ever felt.
Not your ordinary fear: a deep, primal fear that emanates from the core of his being. One that instinctively signals to him that he must retreat, but one that mentally signals to him that he must persist. He silently recites to himself the words of his old master for comfort:
“In times of extreme chaos or order, one must bring about the other in an extreme form to pursue the righteous path towards one’s destiny. To be comfortable with being uncomfortable is to be one with the nature of the universe”
The Monk feels his third eye vibrating, and he opens his eyes. He begins again at his steady pace with a renewed aura.
In the distance – about 20 meters away by his estimation – a twig snaps.
He stops dead in his tracks. His pulse throbs in his throat as he sweats into the darkness; his aura dissipates.
He’s being watched.