Had I wished it, I could have departed whenever I desired. A shackle is by no means an impediment to one such as I. But as it was, at the time, I had felt that my efforts were best spent converting the poor misguided souls that inhabited the plateau. Whilst the woman charged with being my captor believed herself to be my eternal tormenter, I in truth pitied her greatly and merely played the role of a humble servant to ingratiate myself with the community, so as to better facilitate their eventual conversion to the true path.
Before I had entered the community, they were no better than debased cannibals, ignorant of all things Natural and subsiding on rotting food stores, spoiled meats and the occasional traveler. Had not my skill and benevolence put them straight on the Correct path and guided them to a feast of Natural Bounty? Had I not been responsible, although perhaps subtly and with humility so as to not aggravate their initial close-mindedness and hostility, for imbuing them with precious knowledge regarding Nature and her gifts and how to survive in this blessed New World?
Yes. And so it was. And I truly felt my work was progressing rather splendidly, although perhaps a fraction more slowly than I would have deemed optimal. Nevertheless, my heart knew at once upon glimpsing the motley, hopeless, bewildered and rather unkempt group that crossed the bridge that night, that I was indeed neglecting my true vocation by selfishly focusing my energies on the obstinate villagers.
Here before me were those in need of true succour. This group of four hopeless creatures quickly became ingratiate to my heart. For I knew that without me they were no better off than mindless worms trapped upon unforgiving stone, pinned beneath an emblazoned sun. Yes, no doubt without my guidance they would be very short for this Earth.
So as they pleasingly, and without my own initiation, approached me of their own accord and withdrew me from my chains, it was with great happiness that I guided them down the steps into darkness and the wilderness below. For the village above, as it burned and hopeless women and children screamed pitiably, I felt only little remorse. As I mentioned, I felt I had done all I truly could to enlighten them to the ways of Nature. Mine is not to prevent Fate but to share knowledge and to clean up the wreckage of Man. Had they been worthy pupils, my teachings should have provided them with adequate skill to bandage and poultice the charred appendages that no doubt resulted from the violence of the unforgiving fire.
Of my new companions, the one who is like a giant in stature is perhaps the most receptive towards Nature’s Knowledge and the gifts it imbues. The one who is like a dog in appearance is yet a mystery to me. The one who is like a dullard and deviant in manner and action may yet have potential despite his obviously limited mental faculties. The one who is silent and filled with anger and whose eyes hide despair, is perhaps the most in need of saving, and yet perhaps as well, my greatest rival.
Seeing as it has been some time since I have been in the forest, I am looking forward to feeling the grass between my toes and the sharp rocks against my calloused heels, and tasting the sweet dirt of fresh roots. Yes, every day I feel younger and younger and my bones and muscles grow in strength and resilience. Soon I have no doubt that I will achieve my former strength, as followers come to follow the true path and worship me as the God I once was, aeons ago. I feel the centuries flow off me daily. My rebirth from the roots of the Earth hastened by the blessing mortals fearfully call the Night of Fire will surely lead to the vindication of Man.
Yes. But for now it is pleasing to me to play the mortal with humility and taste sweet pain and hunger and agony and witness the trials and sufferings of the intriguing creatures around me. Yes, I will play the simple Old Man, for now.