It was winter once again. Every stone and tree were covered in a thick layer of creamy snow, and icicles crawled slowly through the air, aiming for the ground. Mother Nature cared for her guests, lulling them into hibernation with a white down. Occasionally, she would blew a kiss towards the town of Horsehead, but other than that it was all quiet.
The door to Thomas Althorp's antiques shop flew open with a bang, and a stream of cold air swept through the room, tickling the very bones of the store owner.
"Shut the door!" Thomas yelled from behind the counter. "Shut it! Or I'll make you buy something!"
Billobi fought through the white mist and finally got inside the shop. He closed the door with what little strength he had left in his frozen arms, and sat down on the floor.
"Oh, is it you Bill?" Thomas said and smiled. "Bloody weather, eh?"
Billobi nodded with his mouth open, and crawled over to the hot stove.
"You'd thought that..." he said while slowly thawing, "you'd thought that with all these...all these...more or less magi...magical things...you'd thought that at least one...at least one of these...could keep a cons...a cons...a constant heating in here..."
"Well, that's the irony; being magical doesn't mean it's useful!"
"You really shouldn't...shouldn't tell you...your customers that, Thomas..."
"No, I know. Speaking of useless items", Thomas said and disappeared behind the counter, only to return with a large, white foot. "It's made of marble, I think. It's heavy as my grandma, at least."
"That's why you're a reporter, Bill!" Thomas said and laughed. "Quite right, it's a foot. I got it from a sturdy gentleman the other day. Oh, look!"
Billobi stood up and looked around, but didn't notice anything remarkable.
"There!" Thomas said and pointed. "You don't see it? The footsteps?"
"Well... Don't you mean over here?" Billobi said.
"Over there? My dear friend, the cold has made you delirious. The trail is going from my counter, through the shop and out the door."
"No, it's going from the stove, through the room, and into the room over there."
They stood in silence for a second, wondering if they both gone mad at the same time. After a moment, Thomas said: "Ah, well, never mind. It's gone now."
"So, what does it do? Besides footsteps?"
"Well, the sturdy man said that the previous owner promised him that the foot would give him opportunities to change his life. So, when the footsteps appeared for the first time, he followed them."
"And he walked right in here! He was furious, since he thought that he would find a pot of gold, or so. I traded him the foot for a dowsing rod."
"Well, one could say that it changed his life. There it is again!"
"I don't see it", Thomas said while searching the floor. "Where does it go?"
Billobi followed the vague footsteps on the floor. They started at his feet, but turned around immediately and disappeared through the door. He walked over and looked outside, but could only see the first couple of steps before they disappeared in the white snow mist.
"Well?" Thomas repeated curiously.
"I don't know", Billobi said and opened the door, "but I'll come back and tell you later!"
Billobi followed the vague footsteps through the streets of Horsehead. He had to keep a steady pace, as they faded quite fast. The snow clouded his view, and from time to time he felt completely lost, even though he knew Horsehead by heart. He had to rely on the footsteps on the icy ground.
Eventually, his journey came to a halt. The footsteps passed through a gate he recognized all too well, and continued through the small garden where he had spent many warm summer days. He didn't need the trail any more; he knew exactly where he was: the childhood home of Thomas Althorp.
He walked up to the front door, and noticed the footsteps disappearing through it. But why here? Thomas moved out a long time ago, and his parents left soon after that. He knocked on the door, not knowing what to expect or say. He heard footsteps approaching, and when the door opened he suddenly understood.
"Why, good day to you, Bill!" the girl who opened said. "I didn't expect you, although I'm pleased to see you, of course. Come in! I was actually just thinking about you."
"It's nice to see you too, Ana", Billobi said and smiled.
Small but heavy marble statues carved to look like feet may very well contain a Trail of Agnes, a magical fate compass. Whenever there's an opportunity for anyone in its vicinity to change their life drastically, it will show a trail of vague footsteps. These trails are personal and will only be visible to whom it concerns.
Neither the statue nor the trail will force its viewer to follow them. They are only there to give a sense of direction, and will fade as soon as the moment (opportunity) has passed.
The 2016 Cartographic Review!
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