On the mountain in between the roots of two giant trees, sat a pool. By day it shone under the sun, by night it glittered under the stars.
The pool fed streams that flowed into the mountain, down the man-made tunnels of the tribe that dwelled within the mountain. Even in the darkness, the streams glowed, bringing light deep into the mountain.
Throughout the mountain, the tribe settled along the streams. They lived by its light and survived through its water. For many, the stream was the only light they knew, and that was enough.
But not her.
The elders talked about an endless chamber with no walls, of a great light that shone from the ceiling called sun and a glittering river that flowed on the ceiling instead of the ground.
She lived deep in the mountain, far from the surface. To travel all the way to the top would take her days, maybe longer. So she prepared, as much as she could, and when there was nothing else she could prepare, she walked upstream.
To travel was rare, so her unfamiliar face drew attention wherever she went.
“Where are you from?”
“Where are you going?”
In exchange for her story, they offered her food and shelter. For her, who didn’t know how long her journey would take, the offers were a great boon. She shared her story, and in the process learnt theirs.
As she traveled further upstream, she sent news back downstream of how she was, the people she had met, and the things she had learnt.
What should have taken days stretched into months, but finally, she reached the top of the mountain, and she saw with her own eyes the largest chamber she had ever seen. No walls, no ceilings, just endless space as far as the eye could see.
She drank her fill of the vast landscape, committing every sight to memory. This place, which had no end, was where she wanted to be.
She would return to her home chamber, but only to bid her farewells before returning to the surface.
And if anyone wanted to join her, well, the more the merrier.