This is what comes from telling stories all my life. I can no longer remember what was true and what I made up. I would tell stories in each village I passed through, for food, ale and somewhere to sleep. Then then the women came to me in the night, looking for a further taste of the adventure, mystery and love my stories had promised them. I told them stories too. I told them of the world beyond their village. Often they had been no further than a few miles down the road, sometimes to the local town, or even city if they’d been brave enough.
But most of them had spent their own lives in the village and thereabouts. Some had not even ventured into the dark woods and forest that covers the land beyond each village and its fields.
They were dangerous times. As all times are and always were as far as I can tell. Some of the stories I stole from other places go back in time further than any living person can remember. They go back to the times of monsters and dragons, and the times when the old gods walked the earth and took mortals for their pleasure.
But stories tell too much. They give the familiar names to mountains and rivers you see all around you. They name other mountains and rivers you will probably never see. They tell stories of heroes and heroines you will never meet, all doing things you will never do.
Stories open up a part of the heart that maybe should be kept closed. Maybe it is dangerous to see too much and then end up wanting it.
Sometimes those women came to me in the night, looking for more stories and a chance to know someone who’d seen more than they’d ever see.
I’d travelled that was true, but only down those roads between the villages. I’d never been to those far off lands that lie beyond the silent sea. I’d never been to the Summer Islands, even though I told many tales of their princes and princesses, demon, devils and genies.
In my stories, I’d been everywhere. That was why I wandered from village to village, sleeping with whichever woman wanted more than the narrow life of fields and labour would ever bring her.
I too was just as corrupted by the stories as them. I too wanted more. I too wanted to go beyond my life of wandering down dusty or muddy tracks past the dark woods where bandits and other dangers lurked. I’d only ever seen the sea once and I was in awe of the size of it. It seemed impossible that there could be other lands beyond it.
I spent some time in those costal villagers, hearing the tales brought back by that sailors who told tales the like of which I’d ever heard.
Some of them are my stories now. I tell them to myself as I trudge down these lonely roads, dreaming of perhaps one time having the courage to sail out to sea, much like those women who say they’ll come with me when I leave their village. That they’ll leave with me the next morning for the life of the road, but somehow they never do.