Historical setting: A dark age on the Shore of Gaul
This footpath leading into the wood from the ruin by the seashore is an easy path kept clean by someone. It is carefully cleared of brush and briars and branches. It appears to be used often — this path into a graveyard. It tells of the living whose grief is fresh. And in this direction out, it must be for the trudge back into the other world, the world of living, but of the particular living ones who must now walk into unknown days of constant grief.
It ends at a piled stonewall marking the border between the what was, perhaps last season’s garden or a farmyard and this relentless, unkempt new growth of underbrush. I hear children’s voices or squirrels’ chatter…
Oh, now I’m being pelted with rotten roots – turnips left too long in the earth, rutabaga by another name. Big ones, stinky ones, old black cabbage root, flying in oozing hurls from behind the stone stacks!
“Wait! I come in peace!”
A courageous and raggedy child stands up behind the wall, “Go away soldier-ghost or we will send legions of wild boars to eat you up!”
Yes indeed, I do hear the snorting and groveling of wild pigs behind me, and I look. They’re coming from the woods foraging for these missiles of parsnips and turnips.
“I’m not a soldier ghost, I’m just a human living man with a meager white tunic, which maybe makes me appear ghostly. You don’t need to be afraid of me! I step carefully to avoid the feeding frenzy nearing my human and likely to appear meaty feet. More large round roots are hurled toward me, and the wild beasts again, come near to snatch the earthy morsels. “Please, couldn’t you feed the pigs in another direction? I really mean you no harm.”
The courageous child ducks again behind the wall and conspires with another, or perhaps several more children all a-chatter with very young voices.
He stands and speaks again. “Very well, you can come in and tell us why you are here, but if you walk through the wall we will know you are a ghost and surely the pigs will eat you up.”
Wild boars eat ghosts? I guess I’ve never heard that story.
I don’t even choose to climb over the wall; I walk around from the back where there is no wall. There, in a heap against the front wall fortress is a huddle of four children.