Two pathways diverge in the woods. You choose
[[The path less travelled]]
[[The one which looks interesting and inviting and which you're supposed to go down]]
This path is less travelled because it's shit and really muddy and boring. Also I bet you don't even have your wellies.
[[I do so!]]
[[Maybe I should go back->Starting Out]]
You head off down a winding path. There's birdsong coming from the trees to your left but it's hard to pinpoint the source.
[[Stop moving but turn your head left and right trying to get a sense of where the bird might be]]
[[Keep going - there will always be more birds along this route->Keep Going]]
Fine. A bird poos on your head. Then you fall into a nettle patch and when you're rooting around for a dock leaf you plunge your hand into a nest of bees. How do you feel about continuing to follow this pathway?
[[I have seen the error of my ways->Starting Out]]
[[I want to continue in my folly, cheers.]]
As you press on the path becomes less "muddy" and more "swampy". You are sweaty and gross from slogging onward and your outfit looks terrible. You have brought this on yourself.
[[It's called shabby chic. I'm fine.->The Clearing]]
[[I'm ready to go on the good walk now.->Starting Out]]
Right, well you're in a clearing now.
[[Then I'll start a little campfire and warm myself up.]]
[[There's a field over to one side. I'll take my chances with that.]]
[[The woods look like a safe bet.]]
That's not how fires work in real life. It's not just finding flint and some sticks in your inventory and suddenly you're the ruler of fire. The twigs are damp and the flint turns out to be a lump of fungus. Enjoy that.
[[I would like to go home now.->Starting Out]]
[[I WILL. I LOVE BEING COLD AND DAMP AND MUDDY.]]
The field is a bog and now you're up to your waist in cold bog water. You can feel slithery creatures brushing your legs.
[[I'd like to go back now, please.]]
[[I love bogs and I love slithering creatures. This could not be going better.->Great time]]
You die in the clearing from exposure and also stubbornness. A kindergarten class finds you a few miles from your front door and laughs for a full half hour at your firemaking efforts. Your obituary is brief and boring and they spell your name wrong.
Well you can't. You're stuck in the bog and it's your own fault.
You sink into the mud and come to an entirely avoidable sticky end. Your body is preserved in mud and when the water finally drains from the bog people mistake you for a really boring scarecrow.
Sure. A safe bet. Right.
You get eaten by a bear. The bear is about your size so she puts your clothes on, takes your wallet and finds the address on your driving license. She fishes your keys out of your pocket and lets herself into your house. The bear then steals your identity. A few people notice but they think the bear is more fun than you ever were so they don't say anything. The bear is also better at following instructions when going on walks. Just saying.
You manage to get more of a sense of where the bird is, but it's only when it decides to move to a new perch that you actually see it - a robin! The bright chest seems so obvious now you've got an eye on the tiny bird but if you look away for a moment you seem to lose it again.
<img src="https://www.dropbox.com/s/xk6wmr4439dyfd0/robinwalk.jpg?raw=1" width="500" alt="Robin">
[[You stir yourself and start to move along the path again->Keep Going]]
You can hear the noises of the semi-rural route all around you. Birdsong is ebbing and flowing as birds go about their business, while trees rustle, sending down stray leaves, as squirrels bound from branch to branch.
[[A movement overhead catches your eye and you turn your head to follow it, shading your eyes with one hand.->Overhead]]
[[The low stone wall which runs along the path seems to glow in the low sunlight so you move closer, attracted by the textured gold.->Gold]]
It was a bluetit. It bounces from branch to branch, barely settling in one place long enough for you to get a clear look. Finally it pauses on a branch to have a little scratch, raking its little claws through the patch of fine feathers just above its wing.
<img src="https://www.dropbox.com/s/gebxcr29gv7fhrj/bluetitwalk.jpg?raw=1" width="500" alt="Bluetit">
Satisfied, it shivers to re-plump its plumage and then darts out of sight.
[[You shift your gaze down and amble forward.->Amble]]
The golden glow is from a layer of lichen which is spreading like a tide across the rock. Yellow scales ooze forwards, colonising the hard surface, while a crop of orangey, cup-like growths follows behind.
<img src="https://www.dropbox.com/s/nkfu33vglyb0jki/lichenwalk.jpg?raw=1" width="500" alt="Lichen">
[[You straighten up as the cold starts to creep into your bones and try to walk some warmth back into your body.->Amble]]
You make it a fair distance this time, just letting the sounds of the little wooded path wash over you. There's that characteristic autumnal half smell/half temperature in your nose where the warmth of decaying leaves fuses with the chill breeze. Fresh but fuggy. It's a smell which carries with it the appearance of fungus.
[[You start to peer along the sides of fallen branches.->Branches]]
[[A tree stump seems a likely candidate.->Tree Stump]]
Several have very delicate mushrooms anchored in sheltered spots along the bark. They reach outward and then curve up; little umbrellas poking out of the branch.
<img src="https://www.dropbox.com/s/a72q39plh0zti18/mushroomwalk.jpg?raw=1" width="500" alt="Fungus">
A few sycamore seeds helicopter down beside you and a telltale rustling gives away the presence of more squirrels.
[[You feel around in your pockets and lay some of your snack pack of pecans on a stump, then move a little way back.->Stump]]
Sturdy stems support caps that look more like chunky saucers. The top has an almost velvety texture and there's a pleasing heft to the whole fungus.
<img src="https://www.dropbox.com/s/cn0fzb35ct6zsqk/stumpfunguswalk.jpg?raw=1" width="500" alt="Fungus">
You can hear a sudden fluttering overhead as a bird comes in to land, followed by some chirruping.
[[You cautiously straighten up.->Goldfinch]]
The squirrel keeps a wary eye on you for a few seconds then hustles down from its perch. It's still cautious so it tries to keep to the far side of the trunk where possible and pauses every few seconds to check whether you've made any sudden moves.
When it reaches the ground it bounds over to the stump, its tail describing a sine wave as it goes. It squats on the stump and begins to devour the pecans.
<img src="https://www.dropbox.com/s/42zxvj73nmd800m/squirrelwalk.jpg?raw=1" width="500" alt="Squirrel">
You didn't have many to offer so it has soon polished off the mini meal and dashes back into the trees.
[[The light is starting to fade and the temperature is creeping down. You decide to head back home and warm up.->Home]]
A goldfinch has settled in the branches, showing off a streak of yellow on its wing before it hops the change position, giving you a better view of its red face.
<img src="https://www.dropbox.com/s/35x2kmviv06imhj/goldfinchwalk.jpg?raw=1" width="500" alt="Goldfinch">
It is soon joined by a second goldfinch and the two chitter in the same tree; near one another but not quite a pair. They only linger a few seconds, then fly off towards the gardens which back onto the woodland.
[[The sun is dipping lower so you decide to head back.->Home]]
This is the part where you can go and have a cup of tea and a cake if you have them in your real kitchen :)
Thank you for playing!