“Please do not be alarmed,” said the monk standing next to him. “It is a great gift to be selected by the Witch.”
“Excuse me?” said Aldric.
“Your vision. It was a gift from the Witch. A revelation of the future.”
“I don't know what you mean....” Aldric stood up gingerly, reassured that his sore muscles seemed to be the worst of his injuries from the fall. “It was exhaustion, I'm sure. Thank you for your concern.” He gave a quick nod to the monks and started the brisk walk back to the inn, to his tiny room and the senile inn-keeper who smelled of split-pea soup.
As Aldric slept that night, his eyelids twitched with the rapid movements of a dream. His brow creased with a troubled thought and his body shivered, although the room was warm and his blankets were wound tightly around his body. He awoke suddenly, gasping as if he had been drowning. He took a few deep breaths, turned over, and drifted off into a fitful sleep.
When the morning arrived, Aldric found himself fatigued, wearied by the night's phantoms that he couldn't quite remember.
Nevertheless, he would rise early to prepare himself for the day's journey back home, to give his report to the Council. He would regret partaking in the Inn's complimentary breakfast and spend the majority of his time on train in the lavatory. Despite the unpleasant trip, he would arrive back home safely and reassure the Council that nothing was amiss in the countryside.
* * *
The monk placed the cloth in a bowl of warm water and rung it out. He folded it neatly and placed it on the man's forehead, frowning with worry. His temperature kept rising as the hours passed and the monk was uncertain if he would live through the night. He sighed and returned the cloth to its bowl. Wiping his hands, he picked up the Witch's Book and continued his ruminations on the prophecies, pausing every few verses to check the man's pulse and to wonder why, exactly, the witch would choose this man, instead of one of her devoted followers, to make the Journey, to pass quietly into the After Realm. The man's eyes moved rapidly behind his lids, hinting at some sort of otherworldly exaltation. He was slipping beyond, to a place that no monk had yet earned the right to visit.
Alas, thought the monk, such is the way of the Chiroptera.