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The liar

You had met him upon chance one day, he was walking from door to door, weaving these wondrous stories about the outside world, his hands flying up and down, gesturing beyond those mountains that loomed so high above your town. His voice was smooth, silvery, like flowing water, pleasing to the ear. He told tales of great kings, valiant warriors in battle, fearsome beasts that roamed the land, the majestic dragons that ruled the skies. He built majestic palaces and spires out of words, brought figures of the past to life, like a puppet master behind the stage. He went from door to door, trying to convince the people to go on a journey with him. However, to your surprise, not a single soul heeded his call. It appears that all the people around here are quite acquainted with him, and none wanted any business with the journey he was speaking of.

Out of curiosity, you approached the mysterious man, and struck up a conversation. He seemed ecstatic at your arrival, and dragged you to a bar for a drink, introducing himself as Hart, a traveling merchant, and offered to tell more. With a sly smile, he pulls out a vase from the bulging pack and introduces it as an artifact he traded from an earthen dwarf. With increased vigor, he grabbed items one by one and showed them to you, overflowing the table you were sitting at. Intrigued, you decide to ask him about the journey. He then described the plan for travel in detail, and you hesitantly agreed. It was unknown what pushed you across the ledge to go with him that day, perhaps it was your desire for adventure, perhaps it was the electrifying gaze he gave you after he finished talking.

The very next day, you sold your house off for a pouch of gold. The two of you made your way through the winding paths of "Erdvark Forest", as he called it, and past the mountains peaking into the sky. What greeted you on the other side, was shocking to the extreme. A simple piece of farmland was nearly as large as your entire town. You could see people in the distance, scuttling about like little ants. Sometimes you can even glimpse a castle or a city beyond the obscuring mist. Hart, however, always steered clear of others, observing them from afar. He excused this behavior as cautiousness, as sometimes bandits and robbers would prowl the lands near, and made up for this with wonderfully colorful accounts of various landmarks, fully satiating your interest.

The local residents were friendly enough, although dull and downcast. In the brief encounters with other traveling merchants to seek supplies, you overhear some other stories, not as bright and awe inspiring. They were mainly focused on the raging wars in the west, where barbaric orcs are seeking more fertile lands for their cattle. You had confronted Hart on this topic, and he simply shrugged it off, “Not our worries,” he said.

Ever since that day, he taught you swordsmanship with some crude wooden swords you carved for fun, quite the swordsman, he was. His fluid movements seemed inhuman, the style of battle was indecipherable, and his attacks were sharp and merciless, It was almost alien, the way he conducted himself. After gaining quite a few welts on your arms and legs, you grew rapidly with the right mentor.

“People,” he stated. “Are nasty beings, even the most charitable and compassionate. Everybody has a speck of hatred, fear, or evil inside of them, hiding. Think of all the violence in this world. Stay away from them, stay away.” It was indeed true. You distinctly remember the time where you caught a merchant eyeing the pouch at your side. His eyes glinted with intense greed and jealousy as you promptly left the tent, fearing for your valuables. You thought about all the great wars that Hart told you about, thousands upon thousands of innocent lives claimed, just from one man or woman’s interests. From that day on, you heeded his advice, turning people away in fear of danger.

He left quickly last year.