I wake up. Everything is quiet around me. I’m not used to such a quietness in the morning, I’m not used being alone in my own room. Plenty of light is already brightening the walls, making me eager to rise. What I see of the sky seems pretty clear. I open a window and inhale the chilly morning air. I get dressed and start heating some water to prepare a coffee. I take the loaf of bread and slice a few pieces, and I fetch the butter and the cheese from the fridge, eager to eat. Breakfast is my favorite meal. While I chew on brown bread with butter on its top, I let my thoughts fly over the still slumbering town.
Smoke is lazily curling from many chimneys. Flocks of crows occasionally circle in the air before taking refuge in clumps of trees. The lake shines in the distance, still blanketed by a thin layer of mist. The mountains are visible, huge masses of blue and violet and pink crowned in white at their top. It’s still the beginning of fall, but apparently here summer has long departed.
I take a sip of coffee. It’s still too hot, but I like it this way, almost burning my palate. Yesterday I’ve just bought some provisions, lacking the energy to properly visit Eincyg. But today that’s one of my aims. I end up my breakfast with some jam on a piece of bread and leave my room to start walking on the cobbled streets. There are two lakes actually. The one I see from my window is called the lake of Cyg. The other one is lake Farrayne. The lake Farrayne is much larger than the lake of Cyg, and I decide to head toward there. I cross several squares with quite a bit of animation, people going out to do their shopping at the market stalls that have invaded the streets. I head south and west, until I go down the hill where the city center is built, toward the port on lake Farrayne. There are many ships from all size, varying from the small fishing boats to the huge containers carrying wares from the other port cities of Modry, in particular Kastelturf, the large port town where I had arrived before taking my train to Eincyg. The lake Farrayne is so large it could be mistaken for the sea, as I don’t even see Kastelturf on the other extremity of the lake. I see however other mountains that are quite impressive, perhaps the tallest I’ve ever seen, and one of them is blackened at the top instead of the usual cap of snow other mountains bear. That must be a volcano, I reckon. From the other sides of the lake, there are unimpressive hills, the ones I crossed by train.
If you’re reading my words, it’s quite probable you’ve never heard of Modry. And I wouldn’t fault your geography knowledge for that. Modry is a place that lies between worlds. It has one foot in our world and its other foot in another realm about which I know very little. If you look for Modry in the world around you, you won’t find it. Before reaching Modry, before hearing about it even, you need to be in a particular mindset. You need to be ready to leave all what you’ve learnt and known behind you. Einyg and all of Modry is a place of transition, and yet it doesn’t at all look as such a place. It’s as much alive as any city on Earth, and it’s finely built. In a way, Modry reminds me of Switzerland where I have lived a couple of years.
I’ve heard about Modry for the first time about one year and a half ago, almost two years. It came as a vision of a place, a bridge, between worlds. But that vision waned and it left me without an inkling of how to retrieve what I had briefly perceived. Did this place that would allow me to become more than I ever thought really exist? A place that would eventually free me of material constraints and not only. A place where what I felt within would be more in alignment with what surrounded me. Was my vision true. I had not the least idea. I went on with my life, I continued to be a stranger, almost an alien, in all the places I lived in, and my longing for Modry increased, my longing for a place that would help me grow into myself. My restlessness grew until I decided to leave everything and start a journey. Where to, it didn’t matter. What mattered was the journey in itself. The not worrying, the trusting, the discoveries I’d make along. I sold and gave away everything I could not carry with me, in a pack, and left. I wanted to say farewell to my closed ones, to my family especially, to my friends. But I couldn’t. I felt too empty within, too detached from everything to care. No that’s not true, I cared truly, but my acts didn’t reflect that. If I had gone to see them, to say goodbye, they would have felt my emptiness because it would have reverberated on them, on our bond. Our bond would have seemed empty and false. But in the deepest part of my heart I know that is not true, and I hope someday to retrieve all the people I love, one day when I’ll feel comfortable enough with myself to love them truly. So I left, along with my pack, and a few letters sent to the people I cared about, explaining to them in bland words that I was going away and didn’t know when I’d returned and hoped them to fare well.
I left and started journeying the world without a clear plan in my mind. I took a train there, ended in another country, settled to live for a few months in a village, spent many nights outdoor in the summer to save the money I had, but also to immerge myself in nature. Many months passed. The journey was not always pleasant. I missed having a place to call home, always dry and warm and cozy. Moving constantly tired me. At the end I settled in a small hut deciding I won’t move further from there, except if I knew where to go. I was done with exploring cities and country sides. I spent a couple of months there, behaving as though I’d live all my life in that hut. I sowed seeds in the small patch of soil in the back of the hut. I cooked every day, regained some forces, rested, meditated. Until it came to me with another vision, or strong intuition. I needed to go to ********. I can’t remember the name, because it’s one I cannot reveal, and it’s been erased from my memory for now. It is a small port city that acts as a transition between our world and Modry. I had to go there and ask for a boat journey to a certain place in this world. Except the boat would never go there, and instead travel between realms. Without hesitating, I bought my passage on that boat and started my final journey. All the questions I asked to the sailors were answered with brief replies that left me as ignorant as before formulating my quieries. It frustrated me, but at the same time I knew I had to be patient and see by myself. There were no other passengers on the boat but myself, and I understood that these people were having some sort of commerce with Modry. I asked them how was Modry, what was Modry, but they couldn’t even reply. I didn’t know if it was a country, or something else entirely. After eight weeks of navigation, including the passage through a gate between worlds, we arrived close to Modry. You may be curious on how it felt like passing through this gate, but I didn’t feel anything, and the landscape itself didn’t change. The ocean was still the ocean, the sky still blue or cloudy. I have no idea of how the mechanism behind this gate works, and I suspect that the sailors knew almost as little as I did. Eventually we arrived but landed of a tiny barren island at some distance from Modry. Modry was only a vague form on the horizon when we got there, and soon afterward another boat arrived, and I met the first Modrians who looked suspiciously like humans. For a moment I worried. Had I been fooled by the visions. Was Modry simply a remote island of our world. But no, it wasn’t. One of the modrians came toward me and told me that I was to follow them if I was seeking the passage between worlds. I nodded, thanking him, but it took me a moment to realize the strangeness of his words. He had spoken to me in perfect Italian. Did they speak Italian in Modry then? I came closer to the sailors and the modrians, listening to their bargain. Everyone was speaking in fluent Italian, and their deal seemed to involve some kinds of metals. French, but the sailors surely didn’t speak it! The modrians were very courteous and quiet, and the sailors didn’t try to negotiate as they would have done in our world. Then, it struck me. I was hearing their words in French, but each were probably speaking their mother tongue. Except that in Modry people who spoke different languages understood each other, because they heard the words other spoke in their mother tongue. That was a refreshing surprise.
The deal was soon set, and the sailors unloaded all the crates they had in their ship on the modrian boat. And they came back with stuffed sacks. I was curious to know more about these wares, but nobody was speaking, and I didn’t want to shatter the silence. I just focused on the sound of the ocean. There was a bit of grass and a few shrubs sprouting on the island among the throny rock formations that went into the sea, creating protected coves where the boats could moor. The constant here seemed the breeze that blew. The sea wasn’t particularly rough, but the wind sufficiently strong to fill my ears with its music.
Finally, they were done, and I embarked on the Modrian ship, wondering what other surprises I would find. Apart from the language, I found none that obvious. Modry was obviously an industrialized country. Their ship used coal or some carburant of the like which trailed a cloud of dark smoke just like the boat I had previously journeyed with. There was no conversation ongoing on their ship, and no one sat idle, so I just let the sailors do their work without asking all the questions I burnt to ask. The next day we arrived in Kastelturf which I understood to be Modry’s largest city and port. I landed there with no inkling about what to do next. I strolled in the town that resembled all the towns I have known, except that it was cleaner and there were no cars, making it considerably less noisy. All the people were afoot, but there were also carriages pulled by horses, donkeys, bikes, and a silent tramway. I found the contrast strange, imagining European cities in the beginning of the twenthiest century, the pictures I had seen of them, the texts I had read. I looked for a coffee place and found one, glad to put my luggage on the floor. The cloths of people were slightly different than mine, without that difference being too striking for my unexerced eyes. I saw no jeans for instance. Men wore more traditional trousers, and women were split between trousers, gowns and dresses. The differences were enough to set me as foreigner.
The bartender who was working alone in his small bar came toward the wooden table where I had sat. He asked me what I wanted and I ordered a tea to start with. He told me all the varieties of tea he had, many I did not know. I picked one that was perfumed with kamchata, which seems to be quite an important flower in Modry, but I’ve not seen how it looks like yet. In Modry, there aren’t nearly as many printed images as there are in our world. On some technological aspects, they are very advanced. But it seems that mass production hasn’t influenced their society as much as it has influenced ours. There’s no plastic for instance, no supermarkets, everything is sold in bulk and you’re expected to go there with your own jars and bottles.
In the coffeplace, I was just starting to notice these differences, as I asked the bartender for a menu and he started telling me all they could prepare. I was quite hungry, and I asked a sort of porridge with fruits. Again, we could understand each other as I heard him speaking in Italian, and he heard my words in Modrian. After a while he fetched me the dish which thankfully was quite generous in size, and as he didn’t have other customers I asked him if he wanted to sit at my table to tell me a bit about Modry, as I was freshly arrived. He asked me from where I was, and I told him that I came from Italy, Sicily more precisely. He squinted his eyes when I said Italy, as though trying to remember where he had heard that name. Finally he asked me where that was, in perfect Italian. I said it was in Europe. Then a small smile lit his face and he concluded I came from Earth, adding that nowadays it was quite unusual to see people from Earth. His words seemed to intend that in the past the bonds between Earth and Modry were stronger, and also that travelers from other places came to Modry too. He then asked me why I had come all the way to Modry. I’m looking for the gate between worlds, I replied, half-earnest and half-embarrassed, as all the persons I knew would have laughed of my words. A gate between worlds, what was that? But the bartender nodded, saying that I needed to go to Eincyg then, to the Ghost Bridge. I thought of detecting a note of grimness in his tone, and I asked him why it was called that way. He replied that it was because the people who step on it never returned, and he left without giving me more explanations.
I ate the crumble which tasted heavenly, and drank the tea which was as good as the crumble, and rose to pay, wondering if the bartender would accept my euros or if he’d prefer my dollars. But he made a firm motion with his hand, telling me I owed him nothing. How that, I insisted. He said firmly that he wouldn’t take money from someone going to the Ghost Bridge. His expression denoted a hint of superstition.
Soon I realized the bartender wasn’t the only one refusing to take my money, when they knew when I was headed. People didn’t grunt or begrudge me, but they simply wouldn’t accept to be paid. Some looked at me in awe, while others were frightened, and I understood that the Ghost Bridge played an important role in the local culture, and that many legends and stories and superstitions were told about it, and it would be quite hard to untangle the truth from the falsehood. That didn’t scare me though. I trusted enough the inner voice of my intuition to listen to it no matter what. I knew this voice would guide me in due time.
That’s how I ended up taking the train between Kastelturf and Eincyg. They told me that I could choose any empty lodging in Eincyg for the time I needed, before stepping on the Ghost Bridge, and I wouldn’t have to pay. There’s no internet in Modry but there are phones, and strangely everything is easier than on Earth. I called from Kastelturf to Eincyg city office, and the gentle woman who replied asked me what I wanted. I replied I was coming to Eincyg and was looking for an accomodation, that I was there for the gate between worlds. She asked me what kind of place was I looking for and I said that I needed a small room that would be bright, with a nice view on the landscape. And she told me she had something for me, and that after visiting it I could always change my mind if I didn’t like it. And that’s how I ended up settling in the small bright attic room where I am, immediately feeling at home there.
Things are definitely different on Modry respect to Earth. Modernity has not corrupted the natural gentleness of people. They live slowly, they listen to you. And they welcome you open armed once they hear you’ve come hear for their infamous bridge. But I need to discover more about it, about Modrians, before I make a decision and move. Time is not pressing after all, there’s no reason to hurry, especially now that I’ve landed in a place where everything is taken calmly, slowly. They told me I wouldn’t pay for my room, and that I could stay there as long as I wanted. I suspect that respecting and helping in-between worlds travelers is a very old custom of Modry. They somehow know that these people are authentic and are truly suffering to undergo such a journey.