In a land far from here, there is a forest of smoldering trees. The forest floor is covered in a thick blanket of ash and the sky is perpetually clouded with smoke. Nothing lives there save for a lone pygmy. Those who have seen him usually think him the keeper of that forest, but that is not so. In truth, that lone pygmy is waiting, for what or whom, I cannot say exactly, but I can say with absolute certainty that he is waiting for something. How can I be so certain? Why, because I asked him, of course.

Yes, he is waiting, and is completely devoted to his task, for he does quite literally nothing other than sit in the middle of the forest in a posture of meditation. When I initially asked him what he was doing, he didn’t respond at all. It was only after several more attempts that he simply replied with the word “waiting.” When I asked what it was he was waiting for, he didn’t answer, and no matter how many times I asked after that he would not say another word.

After trying to ask him a few different questions and receiving no response, I left him there in the ash. When I stopped a little ways off to look back at him, he did give me one brief look of acknowledgement and then resumed his statue-esque posture. Not knowing what to make of that, I stood there for a moment then continued on my way back out of the forest.

Later that night, I dreamt of the pygmy, sitting in his forest of ash and embers, and in the dream went up and asked him the same questions I did earlier that day. He answered the first question the same, and the second with the same silence. However, when I asked him what his name was, he answered that it was Sóm’Unláf. I then asked what the name of the forest was, and he said it was Uferra. I asked more questions, but he did not answer these, and so I left him there in the dream.

I went back to visit him that next day, and told him of my dream. He did not say anything when I had finished, but did start writing with his finger in the ash. He did it so quickly, writing a few words then wiping them away and writing new ones repeatedly, that I was unable to catch most of how it read. When I asked him to slow down, he simply stopped and looked at me. It was rather unnerving, and so I quickly apologized, but he made no further response, and after a while of standing there dumbly, I turned around and left once again.

That night, I again dreamed of Uferra and Sóm’Unláf, and just like in the first dream, I walked up to him and did as I had earlier that day, telling him of that first dream. This time however, he did not write so fast, and I could read all that he wrote. At first he wrote the words “those who ask” and then wiped those away and wrote “what they” then “already know” and then “are d--” which was where he stopped, as that was where I had asked him to slow down before.

When I asked him to continue in the dream he said the words “wake up” and suddenly I was awake. I immediately prepared myself and then made my way to the real Sóm’Unláf. Again, just like the day before, I told him of my dream, and again he started writing, though slow enough for me to read. The sentence formed by all the words he wrote was “those who ask what they already know are doomed to repeat their lessons.”

After I’d left him for the last time, I found myself feeling more than a little perplexed and unsatisfied with the whole business. Despite this, I made up mind to never return to Uferra, as I was certain that if I did I would go mad with Sóm’Unláf’s cryptic answers. It was only later that I realized the significance of those names, and only now that I have only a slight inclination as to what the pygmy is waiting for. Unfortunately, I truly doubt that his waiting will be rewarded, as such things are not in the nature of men.

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