Farkas recognised Sage immediately. Not only that but he found he could speak with her as fluently as with a human, probably, more so. Farkas and Sage headed for the Leleks, crossed Erdo’s walking bridge, and began the long walk to the North Country. Farkas had never been on the bridge before. He hesitated a moment but Sage nudged him on. He now knew where he had to go. Back to the pack. He remembered much in the next few weeks of travelling with Sage.
“It will be winter soon in the North Country,” he said to Sage.
“You will be alright, Farkas. You can use the abandoned hut. Galahad will get enough supplies for you from the Garden of Garourinn to last the winter. You will remember how to live there once we arrive. We will help you.”
After a short adjustment, Farkas settled into life in the North Country. For the first time, in as long as he could remember, he started to feel genuinely happy and relaxed. He loved the companionship of the wolf pack and the daily tasks of life. The harsh conditions did not bother him at all. He had fire, water, food. The pack would, often, bring him the kill to take what he wanted first. He did cook it! He could recall a lot about life in the pack, although, he had been a human for a very long time. Sometimes, he let the pack stay in the hut overnight but that was rare. He played with them often and laughed a lot. He found them very funny. They took a lot of pleasure from amusing him. The play was very healing for Farkas.
One day, close to the end of winter, Farkas went for a long walk over an adjoining mountain. He had not seen the pack that day which was unusual. After a few hours of walking in soothing, relatively warm sunlight, Farkas was getting hungry and so he turned for home. Once he turned, he realised that he had not noticed the mass of dark clouds which was fast approaching his way. It was not good. Once they were upon him, it would be freezing cold and difficult to see anything. He would have to trust his internal compass to get back home.
After half an hour, he was completely surrounded by cold, swirling darkness and had lost his bearings. He didn’t know which direction to walk and he was still several hours from the hut. Worse, his mind was starting to dissolve into a sea of disturbing images which were getting more intense with every passing minute. Everywhere he looked in the moving darkness were images of past hurts, people he felt had betrayed him, and a mass of sorrows and angers of every imaginable form. It was relentless. Who would think that we could hold so many grievances? Many of the people, he could not even recognize but they contributed to the throbbing, grey beast that was now hunting him from every angle.
Farkas found a ledge and sat under it, trying to protect himself from the bitter wind. He wouldn’t survive long if he just sat there but he did not want to go back into the tormenting gloom. He could neither defeat it nor even understand it. The image of a man appeared to his right. Farkas thought it was another of the tormenting images and he shuddered closer to the rock face. He tried to brush it aside but it wouldn’t move.
“I see you have returned,” said the stranger. The other images were voiceless. This one talked. “We have met before,” the man continued. “You once saved my youngest child and paid for it with your own life. In return, I gave you a different life – a human one.”
Now Farkas knew who it was. It was the Head Gardener from the Garden of Garourinn. He jumped to his feet both out of relief from being saved and, also, out of respect.
“We will walk together. You are not alone but you must do as I ask,” said the Head Gardener who had already turned into the multitude of gruelling images.
“I don’t want to go back out there,” said Farkas.
“It is the only way for you to get back home. All these images are of your own making. You made them and your anger feeds them and keeps them alive. You have given them all the power that they have. Walk through them and they will leave. I cannot do that for you but I can show you which direction to walk. You must do the walking yourself. Let us go or it will be night before we get to the end of them.”
Farkas did as the Head Gardener asked. He only slightly believed that it would work. However, as he squarely looked at each image and walked through it, it would disintegrate. It was, however, immediately replaced with another harrowing image. As he kept walking, he became more confident in the process. He felt he was getting somewhere and he detected a tiny bit of light in the blackness. Eventually, the conglomeration of images seemed to be thinning and, relieved and exhausted, he could see his home mountain in the distance. A small moving blur was heading from the mountain to where he was walking. It was the pack.
“I must return to the Garden now,” said the Head Gardener. “Remember, Farkas, every grievance you hold hides a little more of the light of the world from your eyes until the darkness becomes overwhelming. Everything you forgive restores that light. So ask yourself, who is it that you are really hurting?”