“Where did your lady go,” Raytch asked, staring his one-eyed stare.
“She went home,” said Enoch. “Home to Goodhope.”
Raytch just nodded, as though he understood completely. “And what will we find in the west?”
“I don’t know,” Enoch admitted, “but I am anxious to discover it.”
“Even if it be death?”
That stopped Enoch, and sent a chill through him. Might it be death? Then, he shook his head, and said, “no, it will not be death, for I am in love, and protected by it.”
Raytch sighed, clearly not believing it. “I hope you are right, Sar Enoch. I would hate to lose a good friend, especially one who claims to have found love.”
“Which way, Raytch?” Enoch asked. Raytch flew from his shoulder to follow the sun, and Enoch followed his friend.
Enoch and Raytch walked for two days, ever westward. By morning guided by the bird’s unerring sense of direction, and by afternoon by following the path of the sun.
On the morning of the third day, Raytch flew his accustomed reconnaissance, and returned to say he had seen a tall tower, a single structure, half a day’s walk away.
“That is it, friend Raytch,” he told his avian companion.
But Raytch doubted it. “We are not yet at the horizon, Sar Enoch.”
“Nor will we ever go so far as that. I do not believe I was ever meant to reach the horizon, for as our experience has shown us, it recedes ever before us. We could walk until our feet were stubs, or your wings broken from the effort of keeping up with me, and never would we get there. I believe that I was set such a destination to teach a life lesson.”
“Really?” Said Raytch, and what lesson is that?
“I’m not sure I can put it to proper words, my friend, but I think it has to do with setting realistic goals in life. I could never walk to the moon, any more could you fly there, despite your great strong wings. But keeping your eye on a good and distant goal can do much, I think, to keep your mind off of the little problems that get in the way day after day.”
“Is that it, then, do you think? Does that mean we can stop? For, while I will follow you until, as you say, my great strong wings falter, I would not mind finding a place to call home, perhaps even with you in Goodhope, should you return there one day.”
“Return I will, my friend, for she is there, my sweet Elsyn.”
“Ah,” said Raytch. “She told you her true name, then?”
Enoch nodded, but found himself wondering. “You knew her name?”
The bird nodded in his odd way.
“And you never told me?”
Raytch stared, one-eyed, at his friend. “It is clear that I never told you. Sometimes you ask very odd questions.”
Enoch sighed. “I meant to say, why did you not tell me?”
Raytch shrugged. “You never asked. It was not my business to interfere with you in this matter.”
Enoch sighed again. “Is there anything else about this journey you’ve been keeping from me?”
“Well, Sar Enoch?”
“Well and be damned! What is it?”
Raytch pointed his wing at the distant tower. “That is your final task.”
“What is?” Enoch was getting frustrated, and felt a little betrayed.
“You must go to that tower to meet a man.”
“What man!” He yelled into the day.
Raytch stepped back, as though afraid for his safety. “The man in the tower, Sar Enoch. Please do not be angry with me. I am not like you, nor do I think like you. I meant you no harm by withholding information. My curiosity is different from yours, and it never occurred to me to tell you more.”
“I am sorry, dear friend. I am just sad, and tired, and unsure of how this will all end. I had not thought of death being the end of things, and yet I know it is the end of all things.”
“I trust you will prevail this time, as you have every step of the way so far.”
“I hope you are right, Raytch. For I have a reason to return to Goodhope that I did not have yesterday.”
“Elsyn?” Raytch asked, and Enoch nodded.
Steeling himself for confrontation, Enoch started walking to the tower.
By mid-day they stood there, looking up. The tower was tall, but strangely familiar to him. It was as though he had spent time there before.
“I know this place,” said Enoch. “Or at least I believe I do. There should be an entrance on the western side.
“I cannot go with you, Sar Enoch.”
“What? Why not?”
“I do not know, but I know as well as I know my name and that I can fly, that I cannot ascend that tower with you. This last part of your quest you must accomplish yourself.”
“But, alone?” Enoch was shaken by his friend’s unexpected words.
“Yes, alone. I would have given my life for you any time along this long road, and would now, if it would help, but I cannot enter that tower, and I do not think I will see you again when you come out, if you do. For something calls to me, and I cannot withstand the pull of it.”
“It breaks my heart to hear this, my friend. Can you be sure I will never see you again?”
“I do not know, Sar Enoch. I can only hope we can meet some day. But for now, you must go, and I must stay. Get thee up that tower while your courage lasts, and hold your sword at the ready as you go.”
Enoch wished his friend had arms and hands so he could embrace him, and shake his hand, but that was not possible. Instead, he drew his sword and saluted his friend, then sword held high, he walked around the tower, found the open door, and the stairs within, and began to climb them.