If my newfound knowledge was an honorable truth, these four newly acquired quills upon my desk will finish the tale. Then you, and I, will finally discover the truth of what happened to this beloved woman.
I must inform you that I do not consider myself an author. I am a historian. Tis’ the reason I took it upon myself to discover how and why she disappeared and left the countryside in such deep despair that they deemed it “The Reign of Drought.”
Hence, I traveled this side of the globe gathering bits and pieces of her existence from contacts with perfect but willing strangers.
If the old woman in the cottage was correct, that she was indeed the last to see Katrina the Great Storyteller, then, according to her, these four newly acquired quills she gifted me will guide my weary hand without waver or indifference to me.
Yet, they remain untouched on my desk.
Yes, I stall to pick up the first of the four. I have traveled too far and if disappointment awaits …
I allow my mind to stray from the quills. I think of the nameless old woman with the silver hair who rocked to and fro in her chair, her thin hands folded on her petite lap, the oil lamp dimly lit in the corner of her one room cottage.
“Please ma’am,” I had said. “I have traveled many paths for an answer and carried with me many questions. Your path is my last. Will you unburden me?”
She peeled her eyes away from her lap and looked at me for the first time. “My dear Mr. Kent,” she said in a whisper of age yet one as clear as a robin’s song. “There is never a last path, nor a last road. Only a last breath.”
And then, she gave me the box.