There I stood, atop the highest tower in the land. My feet stood upon sparkling glass that reflected the sun's rays into a thousand different colors, each one new to my mind. I stood in awe at the land around me. Emerald forests with a golden floor. Titans stood along the eastern edge of my sight, forming glistening, snow capped mountains. And other figures there were, busying themselves all around, in small towns filled with bread shops and blacksmiths and leatherworkers. I could see them clearly, their hands moving, crafting with a harmony that drew a tear from my eye.
Who were these people, what was this place, who am I? There were no stairs leading down from the tower. How did I ever get up here? How will I ever get down? Then I hear a voice behind me saying "follow me". I turn and see, for the first time, another person atop the tower. Green eyed, tall, dressed in full fiery armor and sword in hand he points to the center of the tower and a staircase opens before me. Without hesitation I moved myself forward to the steps when all of a sudden they vanished. A chasm opened before me, but it was too late, I had taken the step and now I was falling. Just as I was about to collide with the ground my body felt light, was I floating? Yes, some magic surrounded me and I floated safely to the ground.
I turn and and see the same green eyed man before me.
"You nearly killed me!" I shouted.
"Maybe. But then I saved you, should you not feel grateful?"
Grateful? I did not understand what was happening. I don't know why I trusted him the first time, but after nearly killing me I am supposed to be grateful?
"Yes" he said, as if he was reading my thoughts. "If it wasn't for me you would not even be here."
"Where is here, who are you, what is going on?"
It wasn't that I didn't appreciate the beauty of the land, the craftsmanship of the townspeople, the peace I felt as I stood atop the tower. All of it invaded my senses and overwhelmed me. But I couldn't shake this strange feeling which came as soon the green-eyed soldier appeared. Deep inside of me, somewhere that others cannot see and I only feel occaisionally, I felt loyalty to this green-eyed sodier, but resentment started to build as well.
"Follow me," he said again. So I did.
Each pace on the golden forest floor renewed my hope, gave me strength I did not know exsited within me. I don't know how long we had walked, but the next thing I know we were on the edge of a river. A light shimmered from its depths and a bright, slender figure walked out of the water. At first it was just water, in the form of a woman, but slowly the vision faded and I behled a moral form, tall, thin, auburn hair and piercing blue eyes. She gazed into my eyes, I was transfixed.
"Cross the river" the green-eyed man said to me.
I stood in silence, under the spell of the river-woman. Then she spoke, but her mouth did not move. He words came to my mind as clear as a silver bell on a crisp, cold winter night.
"You have rope in your hands, look." She said.
I looked, sure enough there was rope.
"Throw one end of the rope to the other side. It's magical rope, so as soon as it touches a tree it will weave a knot, then all you need to do is do the same on this side of the river. A second rope will come to you and you need to repeat the process, the second rope being tossed 4-5 feet higher than the first. The two combined will create a rope bridge that you can cross. Don't be afraid, I have faith in you."
I turned to the green-eyed soldier, he didn't seem to notice the river-woman.
"Hurry up and cross!" He yelled. "We don't have much time."
"I need to toss the rope, just as I was instructed," I responded.
"What rope?" The green-eyed soldier looked at me as if I was losing my mind.
This is strange, what is going on? I could feel the wills of this man and woman fight against each other, but each oblivious to the other's presence. I was drawn to the woman, not because of her beauty, but rather because of the way she treated me. She taught me, she uplifted me and showed that she had confidence in me.
I quickly made the rope bridge and crossed the river. The green-eyed soldier desolved into mist on the other side of river; the woman stood before me again and spoke.
"I always believed in you. I taught you to believe in yourself, that is why you crossed the river."
That was all I could say to her. I wanted to say thank you, ask who she was and why she helped me, but in my heart I knew who she was. My leader. She taught me very simply that leadership is when the leader believes in their subjects so that the subjects can believe in themselves, and they don't stop until each subject can stand on their own.
Her form faded once more into shimmering water, and slowly she merged once more with the river. My path before me was clear. A new power built up inside - hope, courage, belief. Whatever was beyond the emerald forest or the titan mountains, I knew that I could withstand the trial. I also knew that if I needed her, the river-woman would be there to guide me, teach me, and believe in me. She was my leader, I would do what she asked because I knew that she would only ask for that which I was capable.
The green-eyed soldier still visits sometimes, in the darker parts of the forest. He's never cruel, but he never emboldens me with confidence either. That I got from her, and now from myself.