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The Wanderer

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Not all who wander are lost

 

It wasn’t easy at first. To follow in Peter’s footsteps, Martin had to let go of a lot of things that he didn’t even realise he held dearly. It wasn’t just familiar relationships that he had to cut off, but most day to day interactions in general. The small platitudes he would share with the barista in the coffee shop had to stop. The polite smiles he offered to people who held doors open for him became barely there glances. Interactions with other members of the Institute ended up as clipped, mostly one sided conversations, with Martin doing his best to get out of them as soon as he could. Only with true solitude would he be able to wander. That part became easier, after a while. It became a routine, a game he was playing. The first time that they walked into the realm of the Lonely together, Peter cast an imposing figure to follow. The wispy tendrils of fog that seemed to roll in from nowhere clung around their ankles like icy fingers wrapping around them. Peter never left his side in those early visits to his Patron’s domain. He never would have been able to truly serve, had he been abandoned there so early on. Though Martin was lonely, he was never alone. Not then, anyway.

 

Not all who are lost wander

 

The more time Martin spent in the lonely, the easier he found it to pass time there, and the easier it was for him to slip between the two domains. That of the real world, and that which belonged to Peter’s Patron. He couldn’t say that it was his. Not yet at least. However, he did often find himself slipping adrift when he was sat up in Elias’s office while he worked as Peter’s assistant. It was a good place to find the isolation and peace needed to slip through in his early days, but then it became a routine. He spent more and more time there both during the work day and late after hours, cast off and adrift, with fog curling around his ankles and spreading across the floor like a smoke machine at a bad disco. He became accustomed to the chilliness more easily than he had originally thought he would when Peter mentioned it. His usual wardrobe of thick sweaters provided a welcome barrier against the dampness, though it did play havoc with his curls. 

 

Not all who are lost are lost

 

Martin grew to like the Lonely. It was like it had always been a part of him, in a way. It had just been the last year of his life that had driven him further into the domain. The calm quiet compared to the bustle of the busy Chelsea streets was something he found himself drawn to more and more. It was easier now, to distance himself from his colleagues, and it wasn’t as if he had been dripping with friends outside of the Institute for a long time. It was especially easy for him now that he knew Jon was included in under Peter’s protection of the archives team. Even with the prolonged periods shrouded in mist and fog, he didn’t feel like he was adrift. Not yet. He could often hear the distant sounds of waves crashing as he sat in his newly claimed office. He could smell the catch of salt on the breeze as he roamed the streets between his empty flat and the Institute, but Peter had explained that this was fine. It was all as it should be. All normal. The realm of the Lonely came with the feel of endless beach and ocean, even when you were seemingly nowhere near it. It had been a little disconcerting at first, but Martin had soon gotten used to it. It had surprised him how quickly he had gotten used to it. His mother’s death and Jon’s assumed death helped this fact, he supposed. In the end, it didn’t really matter how he truly felt. Just that being in the Lonely meant that the people he knew were safe.

 

Lost lost lost lost lost lost

 

It was in a fit of rage that Peter had thrown Martin deep into the Lonely. He was deeper in than he had ventured before, either with Peter or on his own. He had heard mention of the Forsaken before when discussing their shared Patron, and he had a feeling that’s where Peter had attempted to send him. But it didn’t really matter where he had been sent, or how far away he was from where he had started. He couldn’t get his bearings at all - it was just miles upon miles of bleak, washed out beach seascapes. The ocean sounds were there, but Martin knew somewhere deep inside him that he could walk for hours upon days upon weeks without ever coming across the shoreline. The landscape had no distinguishable features, and Martin sank to his knees. He dug his hands into the sand, though he could barely feel the texture of it as it moved over his skin and clung under his nails. He was dimly aware of the feeling that the knees of his trousers were soaking through with the moisture of the sand, but he barely registered the sensation. Pulling himself to his feet once more and dusting himself off, he picked a direction and began to walk. He didn’t know where he was going, or even really what he was thinking about. He just knew that staying put was not an option. This time wasn’t like when he had been in the Lonely at any previous time before. The feeling of connection that he had to London, to the Institute, to his friends was gone. Completely severed. Martin had been lonely before. But he had never felt this alone.