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Beacon To Adventure
Written by Paul Landis Delaune

     Swiftly my horse gallops into the mysterious darkness as I flee the angry warriors
pursuing me.  A new and strange country in this for me, but it is my hope the night
will be my ally even if my knowledge of the surrounding terrain is not.  I came into their
village as a friend and was accepted as such.  However, one among them did not wish to
be a friend and sought to murder me in my sleep.  Nonetheless, his brothers will not listen
to my words, for their eyes will only believe the evidence of his blood spilled on the
ground and the weapon of his demise in my hand.  Yes, there in the distance, brightly
shining, is my star, my beacon to adventure - that beautiful light that is lovelier than
any mortal woman, more magical than any sorcery known to mankind.


 
 
    By the gods, it’s cold!  I have never experienced such frigid temperatures before.
Much of my body has become numb and I fear I will suffer frostbite if morning does not
come soon.  My pitiful fire gave little warmth and died quickly as the frantic flames were
buffeted and finally extinguished by the howling wind.  Savagely, the icy wind bites at my
bare face as it tugs at my clothing of thick furs.  Several times during this terrible night I
felt myself falling asleep.  Oh, how pleasant and comforting it would be to slumber soundly!
But in this cold such would surely hasten my eventual journey to the land of
Persephone’s sorrow.  Somewhere in the distance, brightly shining, is my star, my
beacon to adventure – that beautiful light that is lovelier than any mortal woman, more
magical than any sorcery known to mankind.

     The fog is thicker than I ever remember and it hangs in the night like a damp ghost,
blanketing everything in its midst.  The humid air is still and my vessel is dead with no
wind to fill its canvas.  The surrounding ocean, too, seems to be without life and it is
difficult to detect any motion in my faithful craft.  It has been hours since this mist came
upon me in the darkness, but since then it has choked all of the energy from the waves and
obscured all signs of the path I seek.  Fitfully, I sleep, always listening for the sound of the
ocean’s laughter and gazing into the intense darkness for the light I seek. Somewhere in
the distance, brightly shining, is my star, my beacon toadventure – that beautiful light that
is lovelier than any mortal woman, more magical than any sorcery known to mankind.

     I sit upon a narrow ledge, wondering at my good fortune to fall upon this precarious
precipice protruding from the sheer cliff instead of into the yawning gorge below.
When a loose stone rolled out from beneath my foot and I lost my grip, I thought I was
going to fall to my death.  What a deep feeling of relief I experienced upon realizing I was
not smashed against the rocks far below.  Now I must determine how to negotiate
the near perpendicular wall above me.  I have an idea, which should prove successful,
though it does have its danger.  However, I might require the wings of a bird if I am to
finish the feat before darkness descends upon me.  At least then, in the distance, brightly
shining, will be my star, my beacon to adventure – that beautiful light that is lovelier than
any mortal woman, more magical than any sorcery sknown to mankind.


 
 
     The sweat drips off my face, as if I just emerged from a shower, and soaks my clothing,
which smells and sticks to every part of me. Biting flies and mosquitoes continually torment
my bare hands and faceas I slap at each irritating pest.  Trudging through this seemingly
endless rain forest has sapped much of my strength, but doggedly I continue on, ever
swinging my razor-sharp machete to clear the thick underbrush from my path.  How can any
man or beast survive in such asuffocating climate?  Occasionally, I spy some colorful flora,
but itgives little respite from the physical misery I must endure to penetrate this steamy
jungle.  However, I voice no complaint as I anxiouslycontinue on toward the distant plains.
For there, after nightfall, inthe distance, brightly shining, will be my star, my beacon to
adventure– that beautiful light that is lovelier than any mortal woman, more magical
than any sorcery known to mankind.

     I hold a cup of tea, my left eyebrow raised in curiosity, as I ponder the game-board
before me.  My eager opponent sits across thetable from me, confident his abilities in
chess surpass mine.  He,indeed, has me hard pressed, but the match is far from over, as
my shifting defense evolves into a potent offense.  In a corner to our left, two city elders
hotly, but reverently, discuss some obtuse statement of the Prophet.  In the street to our
right, weary travelers, loud merchants, local citizens and more pass by in the afternoon sun.
Veiled women slowly walk by and, occasionally, I catch the glance of a lovely eye from
beneath the required head covering.  In a few hours it will be dark and I will again take
up my trek as there in the distance, brightly shining, will be my star, my beacon to
adventure – that beautiful light that is lovelier than any mortal woman, more magical
than any sorcery known to mankind.


 
 
     This desert heat is more intense than any I have ever known.  It broils one’s flesh,
while transforming the mind into thoughtless mush. To be caught in the midst of this
burning expanse without some means of transportation would quickly render one into
fodder for the vultures. Therefore, I continually look to the needs of my mount.  Thus, I
traverse this playground of Lucifer’s alive.  Maddening is such heat, but I keep a grip on my
sanity simply by not thinking and allowing mymind to slip in and out of a half-sleep.  Just
when I believe I can’ttake anymore of the sun’s awful scorching; the shadows begin to
grow long and dusk draws near.  Then I slowly dismount, care for my tired horse, and make
camp for the cool night, which is nigh upon me.  With relief from the day’s heat, I gaze into
the darkening sky, as there in the distance, brightly shining, is my star, my beacon to
adventure – that beautiful light that is lovelier than any mortal woman, more magical
than any sorcery known to mankind.

     The setting sun shines warm upon me as I slowly crawl from the water’s edge and turn
to sit upon a strange beach, while memory of the night’s events returns to my
half-drowned self.  We had been at sea but a few days when the storm, a vicious typhoon,
overtook our craft and hurled us into a hellish nightmare of lashing winds and waves that
shook our ship from bow to stern.  The mast quickly snapped and our vessel swamped
beneath a deluge.  I was swept into the black water and therein did I believe my days
had come to an end.  But the Fates smiled upon me and my unconscious body was
carried ashore.  How long I have lain here I do not know, but it must have been hours for
no sign of the storm’s black clouds remain.  Soon it will be dark again and then, in the
distance, brightly shining, will be my star, my beacon to adventure – that beautiful light
that is lovelier than any mortal woman, more magical than any sorcery known to mankind.

     It feels good to relax beside my campfire after a long day of travel upon this grass-covered
prairie.  No other sign of men have I seen in days, but there is wildlife in abundance.  I have
eaten and soon sleep will overtake me, but for now I enjoy gazing into the heavens
above.  The bright moon shines in all its glory, but it is to the multitude of stars I look.  Ah,
there are so many and the longer I gaze the more there seem to be.  However, there is only
one star in which I am interested, for there in the distance, brightly shining, is my star,
my beacon to adventure – that beautiful light that is lovelier than any
mortal woman, more magical than any sorcery known to mankind.