Allman finally decided he was going to leave home. He could no longer stand to live in this place; it was time to follow his dreams. For as long as he could remember, he had wanted to leave. He had always hungered for something more, always wanted to explore the world outside, and see for himself if any of the stories he heard while growing up were true.
Those stories had captured his imagination as a child, and as he grew into early manhood, their pull on him had grown. Stories of the wealth and beauty of the sprawling cities of Desire, Wealth, and Pride, and of the people who lived in those places. The kind of people who would never think of visiting a place like Average, let alone living there.
There were the occasional whispered rumors – rumors that few gave any credit, yet the few that did insisted they were true. More true, in fact, than anything else. These people believed and spoke of strange things – of a world beyond the Shadowlands, of a dragon who enslaved the people of the Shadowlands without their knowledge, of a far-off land where a great King ruled in the city of Peace – a King who would one day return to the Shadowlands and claim it all as His own. The people who believed these crazy things insisted that the Shadowlands had not always been the Shadowlands, and that when the King did return, there would be a great Restoring of the Shadowlands to what they had once been – a wondrous Garden.
None of it made any sense to Allman. But all of it captured his imagination.
His heart yearned for something more than Average.
He constantly day-dreamed of something different. He spent hours in his mind, fashioning elaborate fantasies of what his life would be like if he lived in Desire – the adulation and awards he would receive, the desires he would see fulfilled, the desires that he would stir in others. The love he would experience. All of his yearnings satisfied.
And Wealth – he could picture thousands of people following him, looking to him for guidance because of all that he possessed. He could see himself ruling a large portion of the city, if not the city itself, with all the things he had ever wanted and done without out. Vast vaults of gold and precious gems would be his. He would deny himself nothing – he could have it all. He imagined himself returning in triumph to Average, showing everyone what he had made of himself, and perhaps even rescuing his parents from what he saw as failed lives.
But then Pride captured his thoughts as well. Pride was a special place, a city of great rejoicing. Most of the inhabitants of Pride had spent years in either Desire or Wealth, and then moved to Pride where they could display their accomplishments and their accumulated possessions to the greatest advantage. Pride was a place where each mansion was its own neighborhood. Allman saw himself retiring one day to Pride, basking in all that his life had become, and showing the other inhabitants of the city how insignificant they were in comparison to him
Every once in a while, though, a tiny voice whispered to him of the city of Peace and the King. It often caught him unaware, as he looked up at the beauty of the night sky or the glow of a sunrise. In those moments, he wondered what it might be like to serve as a knight in the King’s service, battling the Dragon. But thoughts of Desire, Wealth, or Pride would come floating back, and his mind would go there instead.
Enough of wasting time in dreaming and thinking and wishing and yearning, though. It was time for action – time to get what he had always wanted.
Early on the morning of the day that marked his promotion to adulthood, Allman got up, dressed, packed his few meager possessions, and said good-bye to his parents and siblings. Then he set out on the road to Wealth.