The Field of Storms
Alone in the field you could see the Stranger, looking feeble against a backdrop of black and grey—black and grey because the vast stretch of sky was filled with angry clouds straight down to the horizon. His head was upturned, scanning the clouds for anything unusual, but there was nothing to see. A deep rumble sounded in the distance. It was all the Wanderer needed to egg him on.
The Wandering Stranger began at a brisk pace. A drop fell on his face. One was soon followed by another, which soon became a steady drizzle. The Stranger quickly looked back to see if anyone was following.
There was none.
Again, the Wandering Stranger picked up the pace, to keep in time with the rain, which was soon turning into a steady downpour. It didn’t take long for them to run. The sky belched thunder once more, and then again two seconds later. It then became dark. All that could be heard was the roar of the rain, followed by the crash of thunder. Overhead, a spear of lightning arced across the sky; another one followed it, this time splintering in three different directions.
The Stranger let out a guttural shriek. His foot had gotten caught on a rock; a split second later and he was down on the ground rolling in the muck. He slid down a shallow hill into a small stream. Coughing for air he struggled to lift himself up, which he did, after struggling for a full minute and a half. With his heart pounding he began his pace anew. He was teary eyed, although he wouldn’t admit it. During his brief struggle, the wild thought of drowning had strayed into his mind.
To drown in a stream would mean a miserable end. But it would end this curse all the same. It was, after all, the curse which had forced him to leave his home, abandon his name, and wander forever.
It was also the curse which had given him a new name: the Wandering Stranger.
His reverie was quickly shattered. Lightning struck the ground ten feet ahead of him; even from a short distance he could smell the charred earth, and feel the crackling energy in the air. He veered off to the right in his mad dash. What he needed, more than his name, more than anything, was shelter.
Something in the distance caused him to squint his eyes. In the gloom he could see a copse of trees up ahead. He felt a gush of relief.
For what seemed hours he ran, slipped, and fell on his way to the copse. When he finally reached the shelter of the trees the Wandering Stranger let out a triumphant yell. Looking around he noted that the copse consisted mainly of birch. The trees still glowed white in the gloom. He could hear the rumble of a nearby river. At this point it would be swollen. He leaned against one of the trees, feeling its smooth trunk on his spine; every part of his body ached from exhaustion, and the cold only added to the pain. There was nothing he could do about it, as usual.
It was his curse.
A surge of red hot rage surged through him; it came and went. He would wait out the storm here, even if it persisted all night. No one would look for him in such adverse weather. Any trails left behind, any scents, and any signs would be washed with the passing of the storm. For now, he was safe.
The Wandering Stranger closed his eyes.