One day a long time ago Simple Septimus, the stable boy, asked his master, ‘What is the sun?’
‘A great ball of fire,’ replied the master.
‘Where does it go at night?’ said Septimus.
‘Underneath to its golden palace where it rests and takes refreshment. Now get back to work,’ said the master.
I would like to see that palace, thought Septimus. The door to Underneath must be over the mountain there where the sun goes down.
Without another thought, for more than a single thought was rarely entertained by Septimus, he marched from the stables to the manor gate and out across the valley toward the mountain. When the sun dove behind the peak, Septimus had merely reached the foothills. He dug a trench and slept in it. He sat up puzzled in the morning, for there was the sun climbing up the sky way over there on the other side of the world from the mountain.
Ah, he thought, the sun leaves its palace to start the day over there, but enters the palace over here at the end of the day. I’ll get to the door over the peak before the sun does. I’ve got a good head start.
Pleased, he rushed up the mountain, resting only occasionally when he fell exhausted. At the top of the mountain, he paused and rubbed his chin.
I’ll need a boat, he thought, watching the sun sink at the far edge of a vast ocean he had never dreamed possible.
By the time 60 years had passed, Simple Septimus had become Septimus, the Sun Chaser. His long tangled white beard he wore in a braid thrown over his shoulder. His clothes were tattered, his feet bare. His eyes glittered strangely. Wolves brought him food, as did bears and villagers. Sometimes villagers asked him questions or made requests, for they believed him to be touched with magic.
Made bold by curiosity, one day a young girl seated on a gate by a meadow as Septimus passed by asked, ‘Sun Chaser, have you really visited the sun’s golden palace Underneath?’
Septimus paused, leaned on his staff, regarded the young girl with his glittering eyes. He smiled a strange smile, a smile of bliss, and said, ‘I have been there. It is wonderful. Wonderful.’
Then he walked on.