The Paths We Take - 3

Ah, my old friend! This marks the fifth visit here for you, right? If we need to take it slower today, I completely understand, heheh.

We have quite the path ahead of us.


Within Level 730 resides a picturesque forest hiking trail. The skyline always sits at dawn, and the weather is a refreshing 24°C/75°F. The songs of unknown birds make for the ambience on your travels here. Take a deep breath in, and then out again. Allow yourself a moment to relax; to breathe. You're okay. You're here. You're safe.

It's funny. I feel like I've seen you at every turning point in your life. What plagues you now is not what plagued you when we first met, and yet… you seem comfortable with it. Like you have accepted it.

We all have to start somewhere.

When you first arrive here, you will have stepped out through a crack in a giant, hollow tree. It stands big and tall amidst the rest of the forest. This is where everyone starts.

Fresh water trickles down a winding river here. Are you thirsty? Go ahead and have a sip, it's safe to drink. There's a log stump you can rest on. I can only imagine how far you've come to be here now.

Feel free to wait here a while. They'll come meet you soon to take you on your way.

Gosh, I swore I would get better at making it on time. Here I go once again, distracted by the land! I'm ever so sorry… I assure you I'll be punctual on your next visit!

After this point, the path is up to you. Where will you go? What will you explore? The forest is vast and stretches wide. The path shall go on for however long you need it to. Most importantly, you're not alone for this walk. The guide will make sure you're safe and out of harm during your journey.

Want to climb up to the peaks? Wade down the streams? There's some nature playgrounds scattered about, and many more little gems to find. The guide knows all the nice places to visit here, so feel free to ask them to show you around!

Heh, you ask me about myself every time you come here. And I will always say the exact same… do I feel lonely, waiting for people to arrive?

Heheh… You know I don't feel those kinds of emotions right?

It does get quiet sometimes, I will admit.

The Guide

An artist's interpretation.

The guide is the only other soul in the forest. True to their name, they travel with the wanderer from the start of the path to the very end. They hold a wealth of knowledge on nature, and remember every face they meet — as well as their story. Sometimes, its as simple as travelling off the beaten path of the Backrooms. For others, its narrowly escaping an untimely death.

Everyone gives the guide a new story from a different land: a shaded glade in a valley of flowers, the corner of a quaint bookstore, a mass of charcoal within an endless pit of fire, a city of alleyways, a sea of rooftops where they'd slipped and fallen right into the forest's entrance hollow, and many, many more tales of wild and wonderful locations the guide could share for hours on end.

As well as a travel companion, they also act as a counsellor. They have heard troubles of many kinds during their time within the forest. They will happily listen to a wanderer vent their frustrations — even encourage them to do so.

The guide knows a wealth of meditative exercises, and will gladly teach them to those who care to learn. In spite of their alien appearance, they are an excellent teacher — somehow, the techniques settle easily in the minds of even the most forgetful and careless students. This tutelage is, perhaps, aided by an anomalous power concealed within the guide's mysterious seeing-eye hand.

It's interesting really. That is not something that crosses my mind often because… well, I don't think I'm capable of such! But you humans — that's one of the main things that trouble you. Most of the time people are scared of it. Or of the hurt that may come with it…

But that's not how you feel about death, is it?

Notable Locations

Below is just one page of the many landmarks scattered throughout the hike trail, transcribed from notes provided by the guide:

Notable Locations

Location Name:
Date Found:
Found By:
Area Type:
The Crystal Waters 18/07/23 Owen Sightseeing A tall waterfall. A small cave sits behind the water that reflects the light inside and lights up the ceiling, making for a beautiful lightshow!
The Great Stump 23/07/23 Viktor Rest Point It… honestly never crossed my mind that no one had named the stump yet. Well, that sure has changed now!
A Giant Was Hungry 30/08/23 Sophie Sightseeing An open geode of an unidentified green gemstone protruding out of the mountain. A small piece from when the wanderer who named it somehow chipped it off.
Titania's Throne 04/09/23 Emily Rest Point, Playspace A dead tree with flowering vines growing upon it, and a hole in the middle allowing for one to seat… to varying levels of comfort. Named after a universal folklore from wanderer's old home.

A wonderful phenomenon that occurs in this place is that no matter the path, no matter the trail or distance— if you wish to visit a place the guide has noted down, then the path will take you there. The land twists and morphs itself so that the wanderer will always be heading exactly where they need to go.

Ah, the bow… It's a shame really, not many wanderers are curious about this place. And yet, this shows up on the walks where death is on the guest's mind. I remember when you named this one, all those years ago!


Of course, all journeys must come to an end eventually. They will take time, of course. Sometimes, too, things have changed about you by the end of it. But you can never leave too early. And you'll never leave too late. The land knows when you are ready— when your mind is truly at ease.

It's time to go…

When that time comes, your path will end at the mouth of a cave, beyond the overgrowth of fern and bush, past the dense and verdant forest. The guide cannot follow you beyond this point— They are unable to leave their land. Besides, they've already done what they need to do. You feel better now, don't you? Do you even remember what brought you here in the first place? If not, then this place has already worked as intended— to help you, to ground you, to give you a place to breathe, far from all that may trouble you.

When you walk into the cave, it will be dark at first. But then you'll see it— that light at the end of the tunnel. It will light the way for you. All you have to do is follow it.

We're glad we could help you, for what time you were here.

Well… it's time! I'll miss you, dear friend. I'm glad to have been of help to you after all these years. I'll never forget the wonderful discussions we had.

. . .

I actually do have one more request for you. I… do think you can tell my time is running short, yeah? Can we go back to my bow?

Oh? We can certainly do that, if you don't wish to go just yet.

I… won't be leaving won't. This is where I- Please. Fulfil this one last request for me, my dear friend.

… Oh. I understand now.

. . .

Certainly! I can sit with you until it's time.

Place me by one of the trees holding up the bow. Maybe… if there is something up there, the bow will send me right where I need to be. Just as you guided me… no matter where I had to go.

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