Diego was sure that he was on the right path. He had remained on the old cobbled road eastwards until it gave way to the well worn dirt pathway. When he came to the crossroads he had deliberately taken the fork that kept the mountains to his left. So why was the trail taking him into a dark woodlands? The Abbot had not mentioned that anything of this sort should be part of his journey.
The sun was dropping low in the afternoon sky and he needed to make a decision. Should he go back to the crossroads and try again, or push onwards?
In the end he said a prayer for guidance and then felt compelled to continue on the route he had already undertaken. The papers he carried were vital to the Order, and he could not risk a delay.
As he journeyed into the ever darkening wood, he felt as if he was being watched. Then at the next turning, a black-clad figure sat on a stump cleaning his pointed nails with a dagger.
“Greetings Brother,” the man said without looking up. “Welcome to my wood.”
“Your wood, Señor?” the messenger asked.
“Why yes, my wood indeed.”
“Then Señor, can you tell me, am I on the right path to San Sebastian?”
“No, I am afraid you are not,” the fork-bearded stranger said, giving a cruel smile.
“Which way should I go then?” Brother Diego asked pleadingly.
“That Brother, is up to you. If you hand the papers you carry over to me, I shall show you the way. If not, I am afraid you are on your own, here where the wild things are.”
“Never,” said the holy man.
Suddenly the dark figure vanished, as did the trial. Diego stood alone in the wilderness.
(299 words – 23 minutes)