"We're here", said the old man. The walk up the hill, through the incredibly dense and varied botanical garden that extended for about nineteen acres behind the house on the beach, had come to an end. They had left the white, quiet building right before dawn and walked slowly and silently without any artificial light to help them keep the path. The old man just knew the way by heart.

The young one had arrived two weeks earlier, finally ready to take the final step in his long journey and seeking for the guidance of one who had been the keeper of the Shrine for who knows how long. Nobody even remebered a previous one. Anyone he had the chance to talk with in regard of the matter, seemed to only know of this one guardian.

The cave entrance was an almost  perfect semi-circle that opened from a smooth, pearl coloured wall of stone. Right above the arch, two oval holes. All around it, an intricate pattern of ivy reflected the first light of the newborn day in a burning emerald green.

"Am I going to know where to go?" asked the young one. The elder looked at him with the comforting, peaceful expression that only left his face when giving room to his warm and somehow childish smile. "You've come this far. I am sure you will know how to reach a little further ahead" said the old man.

"Once you arrive to the Shrine" he continued "you will know you are there. Just keep calm, put the Key beneath your tongue, and lie down. Sing the prayer in your mind, let it resonate in your soul, call the name. If you are sincere, It will answer, It will come or, rather, you will have the way open to go to It. Whatever you see, wherever you roam, don't fight it. Accept to disappear, embrace light and shadow. Time will stop and if you try to climb back before reaching the bottom of the well, you will fall. Let go."

The young one walked inside. After a few steps, he stopped and turned to look at the world he was leaving for the last time. Now, with the light of the rising Sun coming through them and creating contrast with the darkness of the cave, the big arch with the two oval windows above it, looked like the face of a giant with its mouth and eyes wide open, vomiting the blinding light of a wall of flames dancing within. That reminded him of how afraid and full of doubt he really was. It was then that he heard the voice of the elder say: "Fatti non foste a viver come bruti, ma per seguir virtute e conoscenza".

 He faced the dark throat of the mountain again, and kept walking.

 

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