Fate changing chance meeting

I was hiking in the woods, when I got lost. (I know, rookie mistake.)
I was used to these paths, been hiking here since a child, and never strayed off the known paths, but today…I got lost.
Don’t ask me why, or how, it simply happened.
I was happily humming, enjoying the nature surrounding me, when I realised, that this isn’t a place I recognise.
I didn’t panic.
This wasn’t terrible yet, I just had to find a path that was familiar to me.
So I wandered, trying to find the trees I recognised, the little river I always passed by, and so on.
Well, I didn’t succeed.
I fumbled across the densely packed trees, which I never saw in my life, until it started to get dark.
That’s when my heart started to beat a bit faster.
I was experienced, but hell, I wouldn’t want to spend the night in a forest, especially in parts unknown to me.
That’s when I found a hut, in a small meadow.
I went up to it hopefully, that it’s either empty or someone friendly lives in it, and upon knocking on the door, an aged, yet warm voice answered “Enter, it’s open.”, which relieved me somewhat.
“Excuse me, and thank you…”
I said, entering the hut.
Inside, I found a small fireplace lit, sending warmth in my cold, old bones.
There two armchairs in front of it, and a table in between.
On one of the armchairs sat an old man.
He seemed ancient, and young at the same time.
His clothes were not from this age, yet his skin was smooth, his eyes extremely clear.
His voice was aged, yet his air pitch-black, long, as if a lion’s mane grew on his head.
“Welcome, I rarely have the pleasure to have visitors, please sit.”
He said.
I thanked him, and after taking my damp coat off, I sat on the armchair.
“Please, drink some tea.”
He said, giving me a cup of tea.
I gave it a wary look.
“Haha! Good to be wary, young man, but don’t be afraid.
I have this habit, to brew more tea, and prepare two cups all the time…for old time’s sake.”
He said, smiling and sighing.
I felt…pity.
The old man must have lost his friends, given his age, he might be the last one alive amongst his friends…
“Thank you.”
I said, sipping from the cup.
It was delicious, calming, soothing, and sweet.
“Fancy playing a game of cards with me?”
He asked.
I hesitated.
I just wanted to warm up a bit, then ask directions…
But, what could a game of cards take?
I was wrong.
We played for hours, and I spent the night on that armchair.
In the morning, the old man was nowhere to be seen, yet a boiling tea kettle woke me up, and the table has been set with fruits, toast, and bacon.
I looked around, searching for the old man, and I found in the window a letter.
“Thanks for accompanying a silly old man.
You can leave whenever you want, no need to care about the hut.”
It wrote.
I didn’t have the nerves to eat.
It all felt too strange, and I have been away for too long, my family must be worried.
I went back home, and my wife, kids jumped on me, as if seeing me after decades.
“There was a landslide on the road where you usually come home!
And the weather was strange, a random lightning bolt lit up a part of the forest, the fire was contained and small, but it scared the animals deep in the forest, sending them out!
You could have met bears! Wolves!”
My wife said, as he tightly hugged me.
And I paled.
Had I had not played with the old man the game…
I would have been in the middle of all this…
This chance meeting with the lonely old man…changed my fate…

Published by omnithenerva

Wannabe fiction writer. In love with mythology, and fantasy themes.

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