The water, as expected, had begun to recede and once again slowly but surely, the cobbled stoned path was revealed. No one truly knew where it led to, even with the tide fully out the path’s end could not be seen. The popular local belief had everyone thinking that it just went on for miles under the sea only to come out at some godforsaken place that no one knew or had ever heard of. This way of thinking had begun and bred all the local superstitions about the true nature and origin of the path and the surrounding coastline; some five-hundred years ago the town’s people had referred to it as the ‘path to oblivion,’ nowadays it was simply called ‘the path.’
Whoever had built the path or for what purpose no one knew, it had always been there since its discovery by a group of settlers. The main attraction of the path was the unknown element, the curiosity, the ability of the mind to fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle. Everyone in the newly formed village had a take on what the path meant or where it led to, but no one was ever brave enough to put their own theories to the test and walk it.
It took many years but it was eventually learned that the water did not behave with the usual tidal movements associated with any ocean, it displayed strange behaviour, strange patterns which defied the power of the lunar cycle and its gravitational influence over the world’s seas. From these observations something important had shown itself, every ten years the water would subside and ebb away like the movement of any other normal tide, and once that happened the path could be seen to stretch out way into the distance until a vanishing point was reached. The vanishing point was highly moot and produced much speculation as to what exactly lay beyond it? But just like before, all the people were prepared only to talk about the answers rather than actually seek them.
The people of the village had already invented their own mythology about the origin of the structure, and had built upon it to such a degree that whoever was truly responsible for it had been elevated to, and granted a godlike status by all the local scholars. After years of study it was concluded that no one was ever meant to understand it or traverse it without the threat of extreme peril or incurring the wrath of the gods for whoever tried to. The scholars declared it as sacred and therefore out of bounds to mere mortals, and that’s how it remained down the centuries until one day a new generation of children who had grown up began asking deeper questions of the scholars as to origins of the path.
And that’s when Imogen came onto the scene.
Imogen was a very bright young lady, and at nineteen had surpassed all of her peers in school and graduated with more honours than any other child in the history of the village – or town as it now was. She had argued with all the scholars in all her classes in all her lessons ever since she became a pupil. She became known, in secret by the scholars, as Imogen the argumentative, and they literally dreaded holding class with her in it. She would dismiss all their long held beliefs about the path and categorically state that any mystery known to science placed an onus on the scientist studying it to seek the truth and thus advance oneself and society in knowledge and not follow the path of ignorance which the scholars seemed hell bent on doing. This way of thinking did not go down well and Imogen was warned against such heresy by the master of the college.
Imogen being Imogen took absolutely no notice, and in fact increased her campaign for truth, exploration, and discovery. After her graduation she told her parents that she would embark on a journey but she needed their blessing before she could fully commit to it. Her mother and father knew exactly what she meant by ‘journey,’ her intention was to walk the path at the next low tide; the next low tide had already arrived and would remain that way for several weeks.
Imogen’s parents knew that there was no power on earth to stop her doing something once her mind was made, so with very little choice they both gave their blessings and hoped against hope that their daughter would return safely. The proposed journey created much talk and activity amongst the town’s folk, it seemed that the majority felt that the journey would be fraught with unknown dangers and that Imogen was unlikely to return. Others warned her never to look into the eyes of god and accept things the way they are; Imogen told them politely that she didn’t feel that way about it and all she sought was answers to questions which had held sway for over five-hundred years.
The big day had come when Imogen was to set off on her quest for truth, the whole town turned out to see her off and her parents held centre stage. They gave her food and other supplies which she placed in a back pack and, they told her not to let stubborn pride rule her heart should the journey go bad and to come immediately back home; this they made her promise.
Imogen stood at the very beginning on the path, turned round and gave one more smile to her parents and waved to the town’s people. With no further ado she set forth on her venture. As she walked farther and farther down the path she would occasionally look back at the receding figures of her parents and town’s people until they appeared as tiny black dots. Her mood was positive, her heart was light, and somehow she just knew that the end of this journey would be life changing – not only for her, but for the town as well.
“If nothing is ventured, then nothing is gained.”
This being one of Imogen’s favourite maxims kept repeating over and over in her mind, and as she considered this a new one suddenly forged itself into existence. . .
“A journey into the unknown, can only lead to knowledge.”
Imogen liked that. She laughed and increased her pace along the path, and wherever it eventually led she knew that the Imogen of tomorrow would be very different than the Imogen of today.