The waterfall crashed into the lake below, creating a foaming layer on top. The Traveler watched it with interest but soon got bored. He had seen the same sight across many planets, across many times, and across every dimension out there.
"Now a waterfall made of dense neutron matter, that's another thing!" he quipped to himself and jumped from the rocks to the depths below, smoothly gliding under the surface. Below, he found his goal, an underground water passageway. If it truly led to Sotam as he had believed, that was anyone's guess.
Nevertherless, Traveler made his way under and squeezed his body into the tight opening lined with sharp stones. A few cuts and bruises later, he found himself swimming with the current toward his destination. The tunnel twisted and turned and went on for miles. Far longer than any unequipped human could last but for the Traveler, it was nothing.
He breathed easy in the watery environment but regretted swimming with all of his robes on. They weighed him down and several times made him miss his turn. How did he know where to go? That was anyone's guess.
The passage halted suddenly as it entered a large chamber which held a good deal of air. Traveler surfaced and took a deep breath. The walls were carved and painted splendidly and a few holes bore their away through the ceiling all the way to the surface, like tiny endless wells.
"I would hate to drop my keys into one of these," his voice echoed loudly, "Why do I keep talking to myself?
"Urgh, there, I did it again."
He studied the paintings but could not discern any details in them. They resembled complex fractal structures but none that he could easily recognize, and he had taken a good deal of math at the Academy.
When he dove back into the water but he found his journey quickly at an end of another waterfall where the passage finally ended. Below him stretched a golden city with spires the height of ancient trees above-surface. The sky-trees that, as their name suggests, reached up to the sky.
He flew through the expansive green paradise that surrounded the city until he found the gate. Looking above, he noticed the thick glass layer up top that opened up to the sky.
"But I saw no such thing above-ground!" he protested.
"That's because it's one-way," someone replied. The Traveler looked ahead of him and noticed a guard walk out toward him through the thick brick wall that surrounded the city's outer limits. Beyond them stood golden houses and streets that lead to the center wherein the tallest of the tallest spires seemed to merge with the glass top.
"What do you mean?"
"You must be a stranger in this land," the guard said, "Though I find your clothing akin to ours. I would have guessed you come from the Ward of Crystal, is that not so?"
The Traveler shook his head, "I come from far away and my clothes read minds."
The guard nodded, "I've heard of such things. I believe it's the new fashion in the Ward of Center."
"Yes, yes. Ward of Center. Will you let me through the gate? I went for a walk through the gardens and to the circular river--"
"The River of Osam, yes. Beautiful this time of year."
"Yes, and I would like to go back to the city."
"But I thought you came from far away?" the guard retorted.
"I am visiting."
"From the other Golden Cities?"
The guard stared the Traveler down but could not imagine why the man would lie. Whatever he hid, he would surely pose no trouble to the city. The guard moved aside, waved his hand and the bricks of the wall slide aside to create an arch opening for the Traveler to walk through.
Inside, the Traveler quickly made his way to the center of the city. Once surrounded by the tall spires, he found the square where the city inhabitants often made speeches. The man revealed a staff he hid in his coat and lifted it high above his head.
"Hear me now, people of Sotam!"
Heads turned and several people stopped to listen.
"Your decadence disgusts me."
"What decadence?" one of the bystanders called out.
"That's right, wrong city," he paused, "People of Sotam! Hear me! I came to speak about your millenia of hiding! It is time to leave the traditions behind and embrace the world above!"
"The world above is full of death," someone else called out. The crowd slowly swelled in size.
"Death? Death! Death and life! While you sit here and wear clothes of gold, and build your spires, the people above worship trees of old that put your creations to shame. They visit waterfalls unfathomably tall, and now, they wish to go to the stars."
"They still worship? How silly of them!" a man called out and left. The crowd laughed.
"Perhaps they have faith--"
"You mean they believe lies."
"Let me ask you this," The Traveler put down his staff, "Do you believe in crushing the impossible?"
"If it is possible," a woman up front and center said, "it was never impossible."
"Do you find impossibility in life then?"
"Not even in the divinity of trees?"
The crowd laughed as if at a joke but the Traveler's face did not even twitch from its serious demeanor.
"The trees are stationary creatures. Nothing divine about them. I could sit my whole life in front of them and they would not even lift their finger to help though, how they would lift anything beyond soil and rocks is beyond me."
"Perhaps then," The Traveler said, "I shall show you divinity and break your impossibilities."
"Make a tree dance for me then! A real tree, not a hologram!" the same man yelled out. The crowd agreed.
The Traveler waved his staff and a tree sprouted between the golden bricks on the ground. The tree's roots tore themselves from the soil and started moving rhythmically. The branches waved.
"If it is possible, it was never impossible," the man called out though the crowd watched closely.
"The trees above have slept," the Traveler started again, "And now they are waking. Rejoin them above."
"Leave your spirituality behind Traveler!" a woman called out.
The Traveler lifted his staff and pointed it at the glass, "You have been stuck in your facts but facts are opinions only."
"There are laws, Traveler, there are physical laws. You can't simply state they are opinions, they are fact. And if the fact is wrong, than the new fact has been right all along."
"But what if," the Traveler started, "The fact changed inexplicably and constantly to the point where your opinion of the fact decided its reality."
The Traveler waved his staff and floated above ground, "Below me the gravity equations is different."
He tapped the staff, "Now it's not," and he floated down.
"Above me, the gravity equation will yield a value double or triple its original meaning. And only because I allowed my mind to believe it."
The heavy glass dome started to crack. The crowd started to slowly scatter. But The Traveler did not relent. His staff extended above his head and started to grow bigger. It sprouted branches and those branches sprouted leaves and fruit.
The bottom of the staff started to grow too toward the ground where it split into a multitude of roots.
The Traveler let go as the first large shards of the dome fell to the ground and the tree grew to topple a spire and escape its underground prison.
"Was this in the realm of your possibilities?" The Traveler called out maniacally.
He ran across the city toward the outer river where he jumped in. He knew the river emptied into a lake far down the mountains where this golden city hid. The river took him down through tunnels which scratched and scraped at him until he bled.
In the lake, he finally stood up and his clothes dried automatically. He reached out his hand and his staff appeared there.
The Traveler held up the staff in front of him horizontally and a scroll unrolled. It had numerous tasks listed.
"Imbalance the Sotam/Indigenous unspoken balance.. check!"