The Walker Maps have been sacred archetypes throughout history.

Across the world they are symbols recognized as the tool that guides us. These maps generally give external directions from one external location to another, but what about an internal map to guide us to our true selves, our true potential, and our destiny? With an external map in hand, Gaspare Walker, a young man setting out on a journey to discover his true power, vigilantly stares into the horizon as he shares farewells with loved ones. His external destination is to find the secluded lodging of the Red Witch named, Rhowan. Stories of this woman, who is believed to be elderly by now, have circulated throughout his village and surrounding villages for decades. The stories spoke of a woman who knew how to harness the wind and fly, mirror metal and never be pierced, simply stare and kill. They called her a witch, but Walker, as he prefers to go by, and his friends called her a wielder. Instead of a sword, it was her mind, instead of a fist, it was her emotions, instead of an arrow, it was a piercing glare. She had the power to harness and wield her inner elements so that the external elements conducted themselves accordingly. Why is Walker compelled to find Rhowan? It is widely understood in the villages that destiny speaks through dreams to give each individual direction; it’s said to be a Calling. Walker has dreamed the same reoccurring dream ever since he was a child. In the dream there is only darkness to begin with and somewhere within that darkness a woman’s voice speaks fighting commands. “Left hand up and block; turn to the right turn and block.” Soon Walker calls out to the voice to come forward. A cloaked woman emerges with a snake in hand. She charges at him suddenly, clasps her hands around him, which are now bird claws, then the snake slithers down and bites his arm. He panics because he can feel the venom spreading though his veins; he’s dying. He collapses onto the floor while holding his arm trying to trap the venom. He looks up at the woman in disbelief feeling more deeply wounded by her betrayal than the wound on his arm. Things begin to fade and he begins to wake up but as he does, the woman says, “You’re not dead, you simply died. How you think isn’t what you think. The verse is only valid because of the melody.” Walker always awakes clutching his right arm in pain. The way to determine if a reoccurring dream isn’t just that, but actually a Calling, is through having a physical spot show up on the body that is in the same place as what happened in the dream. At 10 years old Walker had a spot on his left arm discovered by his mother. She knew what it meant and asked him to tell her his dream from last night. He told her about the woman with bird claws and he’d been bitten by a snake and the spot on his arm was exactly where the snake had bitten him in the dream. After discovering that this was his Calling, his parents sent him to the historian of their village to find out about the witchy woman. The historian said she was called Rhowan, the Red Witch but why that’s her name isn’t exactly known. There are many different written accounts from supposed eye witnesses. Some said her hair was red and that’s how she got her name, others said her eyes were red, others said she had a red scarf around her neck and yet another said her house was built on a mountain of dead rowan trees. Walker wasn’t sure what to believe, but he felt at the core of his being that he needed to have his own eye witness experience to then know the truth for himself. His hope was that then she would teach him all he’d need to know in order to conduct his inner elements to affect the physical elements. He believed that he was part of something big that would help with the rebalancing that was prophesized to happen in the coming year. His village wasn’t a poor village by any means, but there were still hardships place on it by what was going on in the rest of the planet. Everyone was looking for the ‘cure.’ Now what was the aliment? Luminous pollution. No one knew its origins or who was behind it, if anyone, but for the last five years

there had been a foreign light taking over the skies and not allowing pure darkness, the void, the night, to hover. The seasonal balance of light and darkness, void and dawn, light and dark had been distorted. Some worshiped the second sun of new light; other feared it, some ignored it and others fought against it. Walker wanted to find where he stood on the matter. Many were confused and as a result more affected by the light, some grew weak, others ill and some died, while in the shadows a growing group of individuals were banding together to restore order through violence. In a way they were being more harmful to the community than the light pollution itself. Walker didn’t feel that his current options (worship, fear, ignore or attack) were in harmony with what his destiny behest of him. He felt that Rhowan, the Red Witch would have the answers he sought. He’d hoped, at least. Everyone in his village hoped along with him and prayed for his safe return that would be full with insights that would help save them all. On this day, all of his friends and family are offering last minute encouragements and say good bye. With a fatherly slap on the shoulder the historian gives Walker and nod of reassurance. “I hope you find what you are looking for.” He said. Walker thanks him again for the map that he’d entrusted to him. The map had been drawn by a vagabond who said that when he was passing through the villages a witch sold him a bag of bones for protection. No one knew if the map he’d drawn was valid or not, because no one in the village had seen Rhowan in over 30 years. It was now believed that she’d become a bitter old woman who attacked any and everyone who intruded upon her sacred space. Walker waves widely to include everyone in his final goodbye wave; he then turns and starts walking. Walker walks. He did not look back and his steps did not waver. He was on his journey…. According to the map, Rhowan, The Red Witch, dwelled in a small cabin beyond the forest on top a mountain. It took Walker a two day hike through the forest because of the uprooted tree roots blocking his path. The second light was retarding the plant growth. Everyone feared that soon nothing would grow. Finally, he finds what the map’s, marked by an X, final destination should be. An old cabin in the distance on top a mound of dead red trees looms just beyond the distance he can walk before needing to make camp for the night and sleep. He is still on the sleeping schedule enforced by his village to keep more from going insane, getting sick and dying from lack of rest; it was a strictly followed curfew for everyone, old or young, rich or poor. However, Walker is no longer in the village and was becoming a man. He could make his own decisions on what would be best for him. Walker pauses and thinks on how easy it was to find the cabin and how close it actually is. The realization of its close proximity makes Walker abandon the sleeping schedule. There would still be light for him to see after all. He climbs for what feels like hours. When he finally reaches the top and jumps over the last dead branch, he’s greeted unexpectedly by a vacant yard with a dying garden and abandoned cabin. “Hello?” He calls out. There is no answer. Seems there is strangely no sound on top the mound of dead trees. The wind blows, but there’s no whistle, the animals move but there’s no scampering, water drips but there’s no pitter-patter, the cabin feels inviting but there’s no one to say welcome.

It’s getting really late Walker realizes. He pulls out his tent that has thick quilts his mother made to block out the light. He decides he’ll have a better look around once he’s rested. For the moment it is satisfying enough to have simply found the external destination he was looking for. Walker wakes refreshed. He slowly unzips his tent. The brightness of the two light sting his eyes as they adjust. At first he assumes that his eyes are still adjusting and that the big rock in the background isn’t actually moving. He crawls out of his tent, stands up and looks harder. The gray, bumpy rock becomes visible before his eyes into its true form. Walker gasps. “Rhowan?” A cloaked person stoops perched on top a old tree stump, 30 or so feet away- not moving, just THERE. “My name is Walker. I come in peace from the small village beyond the forest. You’ve called me to you through my dreams. I know it is my destiny to be here. PLEASE, make me into a master of the elements like yourself!” The person doesn’t respond or even move. The silence causes his ears buzz or was it the adrenaline rushing through his veins as he pondered if things would play out like his dream? Walker begins to wonder if this figure in the distance really is Rhowan. “Are you the Red Witch, Rhowan? Please, I need to save my village. Will you not train me? Anything…anything you tell me to do, I will do exact and completely. I wish to be your student.” A minute or two pass and the cloaked figure remains absolutely still with no response. Walker waits patiently for a gesture, sigh, response, anything that will be indicative of an acknowledgement that he’d been heard. Half an hour passes and Walker’s stomach begins to grumble and his throat to grow parched. “Oh, how rude of me! I shouldn’t expect you to do anything on an empty stomach. Do you want me to gets some water from the well and make breakfast?” No response from the figure so Walker assumes that she is okay with it. He’s not sure so he hesitantly starts to move closer to where she stooped to pick up one of the clay jugs resting against the cabin. He cautiously watches the figure as he moves, expecting at any moment to be smote by Rhowan’s power; however, she or whoever it is, doesn’t move a muscle. Walker picks up the jug and locates the well at the back of the cabin. He gathers the water then brings it to the front to share with Rhowan. As he places the jug down he then sees 8 more empty jugs lined up. They hadn’t been there before. Walker is excited. He feels this is Rhowan’s way of saying she’ll take him on as a student. “Is my task to fill all the jugs? Yes! I will do that right away.” He fills all the jugs and lines them up nicely. The figure still doesn’t move. Walker stands and waits patiently. He doesn’t know if he’s done it right or not and what to do next.

“Oh, I forgot. You want me to cook breakfast. I will go gather berries and some seeds; I saw a bird’s nest with eggs on the way up. I’ll grab those too. May I use your stove? Does it work? I’ll have to chop up some wood also to feed the stove fire. How’s that? Um, well don’t worry I’ll cook it all up for you and then we can begin my training.” Walker waits for any indication that he isn’t supposed to do anything but silence is the response again so he hurriedly carries out what he said he would do. After everything is prepared he cautiously takes step after step to hand it to the figure he feels is Rhowan. It takes about 15 minutes for him to make his way to her and place the plate of berries and eggs on the ground next to her. He then walks backwards from her, keeping his eyes on her. There is no thank you or even a twitch. Walker starts to get nervous, but he is too hungry to decide what to do. He picks up his planet and eats. Hours later and Walker is finished but the figure hasn’t moved and he’s just been observing her. That if it is even a HER. He has no idea who he or she is or what he or she wants. Sitting silently isn’t getting him anywhere so he decides to try again. “Um, please master Rhowan, please speak to me. Tell me what I need to do. I’ve come all this way. I know you have the power to teach me how to fight off my foes and protect the weak. I want to make a difference. Am I not good enough to be you student? Please, PLEASE! I can’t go back with nothing. I must, I must gain something from this trip.” Just then a crow flies down and lands near the plate of food. It begins to pick at the berries and seeds Walker had prepared. “HEY! Get out of here! That is for my master.” He shouts at the crow. The crow grabs some seeds and takes off, as it does the cloaked figure’s shrouded head rises and watches it fly away. Walker stares intently, hoping to see a face. Part of a face emerges. It appears to be human and a woman. “Who are you? Why won’t you speak to me?” Walker asks. Just as if nothing had been said or done, the figure stands off her perch and picks up the plate. She then takes a jug. Goes into the cabin and closes the door without a word or nod to Walker. He doesn’t know what to think or do. His mother had told him when you don’t know what to do to just be patient and wait because the next step would make itself clear eventually. He shouts to her in the cabin. I’m not leaving until you tell me to! I’ll wait as long as I have to for you to train me!” Evening comes and Walker has eaten the rest of the berries and the last bit of food his mother had packed for the trip. The cabin door hadn’t open and nothing could be heard from the cabin. Walker stayed seated in his tent waiting for Rhowan to come out and give commands. Nothing happens, though and eventually he inadvertently falls asleep. The next morning he wakes up with a start. He panics realizing that he made have missed Rhowan or upset her by not being awake and ready. He crawls out of his tent. To his surprise Rhowan

was stooping on the same perch and the empty jugs were lined up all across the dead garden. He leaps to his feet and stretches strongly. “Does this mean you are training me? Thank you! What do you want me to do with the jugs?” No response. Walker thinks on a code he can create to help Rhowan out. Maybe she was quite weak and couldn’t speak. “Tell me if I’m wrong but I feel you want me to build my stamina. You want me to run and jump over the jugs, right? If I’m right say nothing, but if I’m wrong raise your right arm.” No response. “I knew it!” Walker lines up in front of the jugs and breathes. He counts to three then starts running back and forth, back and forth, back on forth over the jugs until he’s forgotten how many times he’s run and jumped the course. Once he’d moved his legs until they couldn’t move anymore and he could barely breathe, he looks to Rhowan to see any expression of approval. “Did I do it right?” He gasps. The still cloaked figure’s head slowly rises. It happened quickly; not too quickly that Walker did not witness it though. A glint of a red eye flashes underneath the cloak (it IS a woman) as the figure slowly dismounts from the perch. No words are spoken, no additional gestures of recognition made; the figure just dismounts and walks into the cabin closing the door after. Walker is too tired to acknowledge his dismay, so instead he stumbles over to his tent and falls asleep. The following day he awakes to a rooster crowing. He steps out and the figure is perched again in the same spot. “Good morning Rhowan. I’m sorry I did not complete the task yesterday to your liking. Be that as it may, I’m refreshed and determine to not let you down today. What would you have me do?” Walker’s question is met with the same response as always…nothing. The jugs have been moved, however. The rooster is pecking across the jug-cleared garden. Walker stomach grumbles a reminder that he hasn’t eaten since the day before last. Maybe that was it! He was meant to catch the rooster and kill it for their meal. “You are a wise woman, Rhowan. You’ve surmised that I need to continue to build my endurance and focus. I will catch the rooster and we will feast tonight.” Walker spends the whole day chasing the rooster. Eventually he collapses but doesn’t want it to appear so. “I’m just giving the rooster a break, master. I don’t want its last moments to be one of panic.” The rooster makes its way into the cabin through the open window. The cloaked woman slowly dismounts and silently goes into the cabin. She closes the door and window quickly and silently. The next thing Walker he’s is a slam and the absence of the rooster’s claws against the ground. Walker smiles to himself.

“Well,” he thinks to himself, “at least I tired it out for her.” He then closes his eyes and rests for a moment, but it turns into a full on nap. He awakes maybe 2 hours later with a plate of chicken soup set next to him. He wolfs it down. For the next few weeks each unique day plays out in the same, unusual fashion. A typical day is one where Walker wakes to find Rhowan perched on the same stoop that is place perfectly to oversee the entire space, and then there is a task Walker has to discover and interpret. Rhowan never speaks a word but has a task lined up every day. Walker, of course, deciphers the complex task each day and carries the task out with true precision from pure willingness to focus his energy into bettering himself so that he can then better the world. There’s no encouragement or praise afterwards from Rhowan. She simply eats and retires at the end of the day into her cabin. Walker has started to define his muscles, hold his focus for elongated periods of time so he is more alert, his lung capacity has increased, and his endurance can finally be called just that, endurance. Today though, as Walker carries out his task he mulls over how long he’s been gone. He feels ready to at least start his quest to finding out where the luminous pollution stems from and who was controlling it, if anyone was. He had asked Rhowan a few times what she thought of the second light, but got the usual cold silence. He had grown to enjoy the silence. He felt telepathically connected to her. And that gave him great joy to have such a strong connection to his master. But still he did feel a uncharacteristically unease today. Night came, the second sun usually shone and eclipsed the moon but tonight as Walker readied himself for sleep and stretched backwards with a yawn, he noticed that the moon was shining through with a green haze over the second sun. “Rhowan, look!” He shouts. “What does this mean?” A loud crackling is heard followed by a more recognizable sound of thunder. IT BEGINS TO RAIN. It hasn’t rained much in years. The drought started along with the appearance of the second sun. “Yes, yes, this is good. I wonder if it is a sign. What do you think Rhowan? Should we celebrate?” Walker asks with a smirk on his face because he knew a woman as old as Rhowan, had her partying days behind her. Out of nowhere, in unison with the thunderous boom, a bolt of light falls from the sky and crashes into the forest with a deafening impact. “What the hell was that?” Walk runs to the edge of the mound of trees and stares down. A fire has started. His first thought is his village. “Come on Rhowan, we have to save the others!” Walker rushes over to his things and packs them up. He ties it to his pack and begins to climb down the dead trees when he realizes Rhowan is still perched. He’s baffled for a moment. Does she care? Maybe she was just a hateful old witch who didn’t care about anyone else. Perhaps she couldn’t hear him over all the pitter-patter and thunder. He runs over to her and tries again. Rhowan, my parents live beyond the forest and might be in need of help. Please come with me.” He outreaches his arm, but there isn’t even a turn of the head as if she was considering it. Walker loses his sense of reverence and steps out of himself; he reaches out to Rhowan and shakes her. “ What’s wrong with you? TALK!”

The cloak falls to her shoulders to reveal a young woman. Not an old, gnarled, ugle woman. Walker stares back in utter shock. He’d spend months training with….with just a girl. “You’re not, you’re not the ancient witch, Rhowan. Who are you?” The young woman looks up at him. The rain hits her face and makes it appear that she is crying but Walker knows she is not because her eyes are dull with lack of emotion. For the first time he hears her voice. “I am just a woman who stumbled upon this cabin and have been living here ever since.” “Why didn’t you say? Why didn’t you say that when I first came?” “You just showed up one day. I didn’t know who you were or what you wanted, or even if you were going to harm me or not.” But, still after, after all this time you could have… Why’d you pretend to be the master I sought? “Because you needed me to. You needed me to play that role for you, the role of teacher to student. You needed someone to look up to. Look at you now, though! You’ve grown so much. You did it! You didn’t need this Rhowan, and never did. Intuitively you knew what you needed to mature your body and mind.” Walker tries to fight off the anger but succumbs to it. “What do you know? You’re just a girl. I’ve wasted months training under a figment of my imagination. How pathetic.” “Don’t see it that way.” “I’m not talking to you!” Walker barks. After weeks of silence and begging for her to talk to him, he was now ordering her to be silent. “Now, I have to return home with nothing…nothing but shame.” “The fire will not get to your village. Did you forget that it is raining? It’ll go out shortly. Don’t worry.” She says and pulls the cloak over her head to shield from the rain. Walker sighs and sits. “Now what? I guess it doesn’t matter anymore, anyway.” “It’s sad to see you giving up so easily. Didn’t you come here to get stronger? Are you not strong, now…faster, smarter and by all accounts better? Don’t let my not living up to your expectations discourage your from continuing on your path. What was the next step you anticipated once you got trained by this person you call, Rhowan?” “I was going to head towards the direction of second light to find its origin and hopefully destroy it at its core and reverse the damage it has been doing.”

“Let’s go then!” “What? Now?” “You’re all packed. Why wait? Let’s go. I’ll join you. I have no family left and nowhere I’m supposed to be. What do you say?” Walker looks down at the fire as it gets smaller and smaller from the rain, then back at the cabin and all the power he thought it held, then at this girl in a old cloak who he’d once revered. She sighs and sits next to him. “Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to kill your spirit through not saying I wasn’t your master and taking away the magic you saw things in. Let me make it up to you, now though. I’ll be your compansion along your journey. “Can you fight?” “I can gather food and keep your company.” The fire in the forest goes out. The thunder and rain continue. The moon shines on. “What do I have to lose? We’ll have to be careful, though. Since I really haven’t been trained by anyone and you don’t know how to fight, we could easily be taken over by the Turned who fight to keep order around these parts.” “We’ll stay in the forest so that we don’t attract any attention from the roads. What do you say? I wanted to leave days ago but I didn’t because I felt that you needed me. I just didn’t know how to break it to you. For that I’m very sorry.” “My mother used to say that there is not use crying over a goat utter that is dry, because after the tears dry, the utter still will be. Let’s go then! Maybe, we’ll find Rhowan along the way.” The two climb down the mound of dead trees and head in the direction of the second light. It is just Walker and his companion; with no external map in hand, only the external map of the heavens guides them along this journey.