I spent the next few years travelling. Being dead I had no need of food or rest and could therefore keep walking for as long as I wanted. At first the experience was brilliant; I had no need of money and didn’t need to pay the tithes that were imposed at city gates. I could go wherever I wanted and no-one could do a thing to stop me.
But, on the other hand, I couldn’t eat, drink or sleep which made things rather dull but the great feeling of freedom far outweighed the disadvantages. However, I soon began to miss the company of my fellow men. It wasn’t as if I didn’t see anyone, for I saw dozens of people everywhere I went. No, what I missed was being able to communicate, to join in conversations and to feel the heat of people sitting around me, talking to me and laughing when I made a joke or simply being able to sit there in companionable silence with my fellows.
Soon, this lack of conversation started to depress me and I started avoiding populated areas, keeping to the smaller roads rather than passing through a city. Not long after that I began to go further afield, deliberately choosing a winding mountain path that met only a few small hamlets rather than the faster route through the town and immediately walking away when I came across large groups of people. After about a year I avoided civilisation altogether, keeping to the deep forests and high, lonely crags of the mountains where I knew no-one would go.
I soon learnt the lay of the land, knowing every road that lead anywhere and knowing the name of every town or city I saw, but I never entered them. The moment I saw a large town in the distance I would veer off the road and disappear into whatever wilderness lay beyond. I soon grew used to this new way of life and eventually even the frustration of the lack of company seemed to ebb, but I could never really forget it. On the rare occasion I actually saw a group of people and saw how they talked to one another, how they nudged each other’s ribs and how they leant against each other when tiredness overtook them, a dull ache would start in my heart. To think that I had once had the ability to do that, to think that I had taken it all for granted and had never realised what life was like without it, made ghostly tears spring to my eyes.
Even though I’d never really had any friends in life, I still missed that feeling of being wanted, even if it only ever had been to help sharpen a sword or shoe a horse. I soon came to detest my ghostly existence and wished I would just fade away into non-existence. Surely even an eternity of oblivion was better than this.