The journey back was as, if not more, arduous as before. Arc faced all kinds of dangers, but experienced a new ease in handling them.
He went out of his way to expose himself to pain and sadness in order to see if his state of forced emotionlessness would last. And surprisingly, it held strong against the most excruciating and most bitter of memories. Fear was a thing of the past. He crossed the densest of jungles, alone, even at night. Happiness and sadness were just old friends, now estranged. They felt foreign in the few occasions that he did encounter them. Arc found that peace came easily to one who did not need to bend to the whims and fancies of his emotions. Life was so much better.
But Arc was still not entirely comfortable thinking about Feyn for long periods of time. Despite the absence of despair and regret, he still found that his walls strained with the emotional tides that those thoughts brought. When such a situation arose, all he had to do was stop thinking about his only friend. Simple enough. When, at last, he reached home, Arc was truly a changed man.
If Arc could have felt it, he would have been exhilarated.
But the walls he had built around himself did allow for such feelings. He went about his work as if nothing had ever gone wrong. And though the change did not go unnoticed, there was nobody who cared enough delve deeper. Arc’s conversations were no longer meaningless. Mainly because he had no conversations at all. His interactions with the townsfolk was the bare minimum. Any enquiry towards him would be met with the exact answers and nothing else.
However, Feyn remained an issue. He chewed over the thought for many days until he was fed up one day and decided that the best solution was a permanent one. He picked up an axe and set out to do something he would not even have been able to contemplate before his journey to the East. Hefting the axe onto his shoulder, he stood for sometime and looked at Feyn. A thousand memories ran through his head, but they were all unsuccessful in breaching the wall around his orchard. Then his eyes hardened and resolve solidified. With a single decisive strike, Arc severed Feyn’s shoot from its roots. Leaving the plant to fade to nothing, he walked back into the house, his demons assuaged.
Arc’s life fell into routine. He made hemp and sold it in the town. He tended to his house and carried on with his life. Though he sometimes indulged in kanab induced stupors, he led a life bereft of any distress. And any happiness.
Arc always spent his free time alone. During one of his kanab sessions, a sudden revelation came to him.
He took out all the seemingly nonsensical drawings that he had made during his time in the desert and saw them in an entirely new light. The separate pieces of cloth filled with meaningless curves were in fact parts of one complete picture. Arc laid them all on the floor and began arranging them in order to make some sense out of it. Slowly, but unmistakably, an image began to emerge. He was dumbfounded, the drawing before him showed a familiar tangle of branches and of beautiful flowers. The drawing before him showed Feyn.
Arc laid on the floor, curled up. And he wept. He wept terribly.