Yaway left all He knew in the barn by the lake and set out to explore the world. He walked into the sunrise at morning, then turned around as the noon shadow lay directly below Him. In this way, He would set out in a different direction every day and returned home by nightfall.
He did this three hundred and sixty times, each in a slightly different direction. Each time, He saw no living thing but the animals and vegetation. On His way home from His 360th time out, He realized He would have to approach his exploration differently in the morning.
At dawn’s next break, Yaway gathered a few days worth of fruit, filled a jar from the barn with water, and walked into the sunrise. He remembered that He had seen a road just ahead of where the half-day’s journey ended on his first day out, and He had never in the three hundred and fifty-nine other trips out seen anything like it.
When He came to the road, He stopped, took a deep breath, and thought: “This is the farthest I have ever been from home. If I continue, I won’t be able to sleep in the barn tonight.”
He stood there with indecision.
Yaway jumped back from the sound.
Yaway’s eyes darted frantically, looking for the source of the noise.
“Hey, down here.”
Yaway still did not understand speech, being scarcely over a year old and having never heard it before. When the serpent’s head rose from the underbrush, Yaway was not frightened.
“A lion’s head, you don’t see that on a lot of snakes,” said the serpent, looking as Yaway as he circled. Yaway simply blinked.
“You don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you?” The serpent glided slowly around Yaway. “My name is Wile. Wile.” The serpent’s face got very close to Yaway’s. “Why-ul… can you say Wile?”
“Pleasure to meet you, Yaway. I can’t help but notice all that food and water you have there… I’m thinking you and I might be able to help each other out.”
Wile whipped around to the bag lying at the base of Yaway’s body and stuck his head in. He came out with an apple in his mouth. Wile slithered over to the road and placed the apple down in the middle of it before winding his way back to the edge of the brush.
Yaway remained largely upright, head above the bushes. Wile wound his way over and pulled the hair on Yaway’s chin down with his tail. “Down, down.”
Slowly and quietly, Wile stalked to the edge of the road, near the apple.
Some time passed, during which hundreds of questions swirled in Yaway’s head, though they lacked any real significance to an intelligent or language using individual. Perhaps the most easy to grasp concept knocking around in there was a sort of question as to why an apple had been put in the road.
Around this time, a strange little creature made its way down the path and stopped to pick up the apple. Wile struck from the wayside and bit it in the ankle. The creature had not taken but a few steps before it keeled over, twitching, foaming at the mouth, face accented by pale, blue veins.
“Now, I eat.”
Wile proceeded to slowly but surely consume the entire carcass of the beast whole, leaving a large bulge in his body.
“Okay, now it’s your turn.”
Wile took out another apple from the bag and motioned with his head to follow him. After a little more goading, Yaway followed Wile to the road’s edge.
When a creature approached the apple, Wile nudged Yaway forward. Yaway clumsily pounced at the animal’s ankles, and managed to bite one of its hooves, but unbeknownst to Yaway (and to the entertainment of Wile), He had no venom. The satyr gave a startled yell and stumbled a bit, but when he looked down at the lion-headed snake that had lunged at him, there was only one thing his instincts told him to do.
The ash walking stick clubbed Yaway right where the upper and lower jaws meet. Yaway was knocked out cold.
When He woke up, he was still in the road, and the satyr He bit was standing over Him.
“Good, you’re awake. The snake in the grass over there tells me you’re Yaway. Is that your name?”
“Look,” said the satyr. “I should kill you right now. In fact… I tried, but you can’t seem to be killed with conventional weapons. I don’t know who you are, but I think you’d better come with me and stop hanging around with serpents… despite your appearance. You are the company you keep.”
Yaway stared blankly up at the satyr, confused and aching.
“Come on,” the satyr said, hoisting Yaway onto his shoulders. The bulk of Him dragged behind as the satyr carried Him down the road in the direction from which he had come.