That night the chamber was full in the cottage, not a snatch of floor was free from cushion and listener to hear the tale. The hearth was stoked, his flagon filled and his tale then resumed.
The moon road was easy to see, the blue glint of cloud shoulder was now pavement stone laid out before me. The first step off the mountain top took all the courage of my warrior soul, but I found it and the pavement was strangely hard beneath my boots.
I held my pack in my arms, inside the box, inside the limed cloth, inside every tale ever told which I had gathered up from hearths just like like this across the ages. I took a second step further out, then another and another.
The soldier then slipped his beer as if to taste the trail he had once walked out from that mountain peak.
Soon my footing was confident, I began to stride with the white moon my taborer. Further and further I pitched forth, hour after hour with strength of the gods in my arms and legs. As if there was wind in my sails and wings on my shoes, but as the hours passed, so the moon began to droop in the sky. But I was not shaken, I picked up my pace faster, now at a yomp, for I could well see the path I must take. But it occurred to me that without the moons guidance, the road would be much harder to pick. Little did I know at that point how much I needed the moon at my elbow. So faster I went, my life's work resting on this one task and worrying whether I could or should have struck out sooner.
Lower the moon went in the sky, and behind the dawn began chasing her out, but the arches of the towers were visible now before me, goading me on. The pinnacles of those mighty gates sped my pace still further, as fast I could now, with the weight of my pack and every tale in the world upon my shoulders.
I could see the majesty of those gates properly now, they were of moon silver, silk and ice, as if spun by spiders and moths, part cloud part ether. But the pink hue of the sky was at my heels and I could feel the moon road now spongy under my feet. On I ran to those towering gates, wide open and beyond my homeland attainable at last. But the trail now felt like wet grass and very step I took the pavement seemed weaker, it was dissolving, the waning moon now but a smudge in the pink morning light was loosing its strength. The moon was not the illustrator of the path, it was the architect and catalyst, without the moon, there would be no moon road.
Then the first rays of sun bit the tops of my trail and the pavement became like river mud, soft and sucking. My goal so close at hand, and I could see people, my people beckoning me on from the other side. But my run was fumbling, my legs waisted from the journey began to fail me and I started to stumble. The road felt like glue, clod-heavy and the sun bit down upon my trail and sanctuary.
But barely twenty paces now separated me from passing through, twenty paces and each like the wall of a tumbling sand dune. Ten paces and the sun rose higher, eight paces and the moon weakened further. Seven paces and I could see the eyes of those on the other side, beckoning me on, but they could not help me.
Six, five, four and amongst those gathered, I saw both my father and mother, tears in their eyes. Three paces, and their outstretched palms waited to grasp me, hold me, welcome me home after all the trials I had endured to get here. Two and the heat of the sun dissolved the cloud pavement away. Just one more pace, and their palms almost within reach when the moon road slid from beneath me and I fell.
And as I fell the pack on my back blew open, and out the limed cloth, and from the cloth every tale ever told which I had walked the earth to collect. Every tale scattered out like may blossom on spring winds, like a flurry of snow to be whipped about the earth and then seed every home, every hearth, and every brow within.
The fire sputtered it's last in the dying embers, the soldier drained his flagon and the greatest tale of tales ever told was now in brows of young and old alike.
Later the mother wrote the tale down and tucked it into a small limed cloth along with the others.