Well, again as more time passed and more travelers came through his village Pio decided that this time he wouldn't turn back on his journey to see the world, no matter how strong his fear might be.
So the day came and he set out once again with his meager belongings and few coins he'd saved. When he had gotten out of sight of the village he could feel the familiar fear returning but instead of giving into it, he focused his gaze on the road in front of his feet, one step at a time. And eventually the fear passed.
And as he again approached the magnificent walled city, the fear again reappeared but he kept moving forward, focusing only on the strange and exotic foliage and birds along the road. Soon he came to the city gate and, as he prepared to enter, the fear came back, stronger than ever. Suddenly, there again was the Black Rider he'd met on his previous journeys. And as before, the rider offered to sell him something that would take away his fear, this time a pair of magic boots that would carry him to safety.
But just as Pio was reaching into his purse to buy the boots, out of the city gate emerged a beautiful young woman who smiled at him and, taking his hand, bade him to let her show him the city and its many wonders. He was so overwhelmed by her beauty and friendliness that his fear quickly vanished. And when he turned around the mysterious Black Rider was gone.
She said her name was Elise and that she lived with her father who owned a shop that bought and sold the finest quality goods carried by passing traders from all over the Earth. Led by Elise, together they sampled exotic foods, listened to strange music and observed the many varieties of races, languages and costumes of the city's denizens.
After spending the day together exploring the city, Elise brought Pio home to her father's shop where he was warmly welcomed by her father who was very interested in hearing of his travels and life in his village. As it turned out, he needed someone to help him in his shop and offered Pio the job along with a room in the back of the shop to live in. Pio readily accepted and, as time passed, quickly proved himself to be a very knowledgeable and adept trader while still finding time to explore and delight in the endless myriad of things and places the great city offered.
Well, of course, because this is that kind of tale, Pio and Elise fell in love and married. And not only did they continue to enjoy the city's many treasures, they often travelled out of it to explore the faraway places that passing traders spoke of. And every once in awhile they would travel back to Pio's old village which seemed smaller with each visit.
And the mysterious Black Rider? He never returned. Well, if you haven't already figured it out, it was THEFEARMONSTER. The goods that he sold to Pio to take away his fear only led him to go back home rather than facing and overcoming his fear.
So the moral of this story is (because these stories always have one) that we overcome our fears by facing them. Avoiding fear only makes it stronger but if we keep moving we get through it to the other side. And, as Pio discovered, what's on the other side was well worth the journey.
Next Time: OUR FRIEND THE AMYGDALA