The trail leveled out as it descended, and soon I was tromping through the woods. The path continued, in a little poorer repair, beneath the canopy of trees. They were mostly pine, and those still had their leaves. Their shade cast the floor into a gloomy shade of blueish-gray. I was tired, cold, and just realizing how hungry I was. I felt like I had run a marathon, and then been denied sleep for days. I stepped off the trail, and crouched down next to a large trunk. Positioning the book I my lap, I opened it in the middle, flipping through the pages as I looked for a map. I the daylight, the writing looked even redder than before, and slightly raised. Was this some primitive form of ink? The pages were thicker than normal as well, kind of an ocher color, and leathery to the touch.
Lots of strange writing, in a close nit and detailed style, opening up every third page or so into some crazy illustration. The lighter, more normal environs, and maybe even a second wind, were all kicking in, and I started to look at this in a different light. This book was probably some obscure religious text, and I had made an incredible find! I had never heard of anything even remotely like this. I'd be famous! Maybe even rich!
The next page opened up onto a map of sorts. The same map I had seen inside, the one with what I assumed was the loch. If it was, and the squirrely contours represented elevations in the terrain, the X was my former location, and this dotted line was the trail I was following. I could place where I was!
Then I noticed, not far from what I assumed was my present location, was an even bigger X. It was in the woods, but the dotted line of a different trail led to it. Should I check it out? Once I got back to civilization, I doubt I would get the chance. There would be a huge hubbub over the book, investigators would come out here, and it would all be out of my hands. I felt a little better. Drained, but capable, and I knew this could be something I regretted for the rest of my life. Standing up, the book open in the crook of my arms, I wandered down the path, carefully looking side to side.
About twenty minutes later, and I think I had found it. The contour lines seemed to indicate a hill, and the woods rose into one on my left. The trees opened slightly into what could only be a trail on my right. I decided to chance it, and ventured off the path, shuffling down through the fallen leaves and onto a trail that might only exist in my imagination.