At times the Hall to Alquoran had been very busy, but most often it had been very sparse. There were always those that endeavored to carry their petition to the Hallowed Throne, full of fire and determination to see the long walk through, but over time raging passion cooled, and each traveler fell off the route at some point or another. And none of them had even tried to come from as far away as Tammath had.
Indeed, Tammath had witnessed souls who embarked on the path to Alquoran only one year from their destination, a distance that was no more than a drop in the bucket compared to his own long walk. Yet those souls continued forward the shortest time of all, no longer than two weeks! Paradoxically, the farther back from the destination one started their journey, the longer they would travel before giving up on it. And only Tammath, who had come from the farthest distance of them all, had had the resolve to see it through to the very end.
Of course, in all these years, Tammath had had time enough to consider this paradox, and eventually he had come to understand the situation perfectly. He realized that his “curse” of having been born so far from the end of the road was actually a blessing.
He realized that for all these other people, the journey to the Hallowed Throne was but a chapter of their lives, a way to try and smooth things out for when they returned back home. Which meant, of course, that their minds were still preoccupied with the lives they had left behind. Every step of the way they daydreamed of the places and people they had left behind, envisioned their old wants and desires, and longed for familiar comforts. Eventually it eroded all their desire to continue, and they felt that this strange road was taking them away from that “real life” that they had left behind. They fled back to it.
But Tammath was not burdened by any thoughts of “real life” outside of this walk. He had set out on this journey knowing that it was a one-way trip. If he obtained his desire, then he would not have enough years remaining to make it back home before he died. Thus, this was not a chapter of his life, it was his life! And having accepted that, to continue his walk was only to continue living.
Yes, when Tammath began this journey, it had been in a fit of passion. But before that flame had gone out, he had managed to find the quiet conviction that had kept him on his way for all the decades since.
There had been one setback, though, that had almost caused Tammath to give up the entire expedition. It had come after the first two years, when he began to doubt whether he would even survive the journey. He was still so far from his destination that there were no estimates for how much longer there remained. Back then it really had seemed like that the hallway could very well continue on forever, coming to no end at all. Was it possible he was taking a long walk for no purpose at all?
But then, too, he had been able to find a quiet, reassuring answer. He would not walk for the destination anymore. He would walk for the walk, and if he did happen to reach the Hallowed Throne, then that would only be an added blessing. And so, he settled into a mindset where he could appreciate the quiet shuffling of footsteps for their own virtue.
Then he had ceased to measure his rate of travel. It did not matter to him if it took him an hour to travel a mile or a day. He went along just as quickly as suited him in the moment, knowing that the journey would be what it would be.
And now, fifty years later, he was not even pulled out of his tranquil state by the knowledge that he really would reach the Hallowed Throne. About two years ago was when the murmurings of the Hallowed Throne became so prevalent that he was sure he would make it there. Even aside from his conversations with guardsmen and other wanderers, he had sensed that the very air was pulsing with a spirit of finality.
“I will bow before the throne while I yet live,” he had calmly said to himself. “I will make my appeal.”
And so, it was a quiet affair when Tammath finally did see the very temple before him. There was an uncharacteristic rise in the cobbled walkway, slowly curving up, and so continuing for miles. Higher and higher he rose, until he started to duck his head for fear of bumping it into the stars. And then, after many hours, the rise began to level out, and as the road descended beneath Tammath’s line of sight he saw the columned entrance waiting for him in the distance.
Immediately Tammath stopped where he stood. This was a sacred moment, and he turned on the spot, looking behind to make sure that he had utmost privacy.
From the top of the rise, Tammath was able to see the land sprawled out beneath him for hundreds of miles. The hallway extended from him like a cord stitching the entire land together, with the red and orange rock dunes to the left and the yellow sands and seashores to the right. From here it seemed to Tammath that all these countries and landforms, even the entire world, were but decoration to the Hallowed Throne. All of it had been made to lead up to this point, to be seen from this view, to be understood from this context.
And much to Tammath’s pleasure, there wasn’t another soul anywhere to be seen. Everywhere that he looked, he could not make out either smoke or light of any distant city. The solitude was so complete that he almost felt as if he was the only soul upon all the world, as if every community and individual he had met in the past were only parts of a dream, and all these millions of square miles had in truth only been made for him.