The Cartographer looked up from his table and stared out of the window, even though it was early afternoon the light was fading fast and he could see the first flakes of snow starting to fall.
He got up and walked over to the fire and added another log to it and listened as it started to crackle; he then lit several candles and walked back towards his table. He stopped suddenly certain that he had heard something, a faint noise just on the edge of hearing. He listened again and thought he heard it again, a soft plaintive noise like a cry but then it was gone.
As he worked, he thought about the noise and started to worry; he lived at the edge of the little town and the woods backed on to his land. He started to worry that someone was lost, and he knew if they did not find shelter by nightfall they were likely to freeze to death.
Each time he looked up from his work the snow was getting heavier and deeper as the last of the day faded away.
He heard it again, this time it was softer than before.
The Cartographer rose from his table, lit a lantern, put on his boots and a cloak and stepped out into the bitterly cold evening. He was uncertain what he would do if he found someone but decided he would do what he could; he searched and found no one and no trace that anyone had been there and as he searched; he occasionally heard the soft little cry.
He returned to his house. It was a warm and comfortable house but somehow it had never felt like home. His job had been his life, a wonderful life filled with adventure but he had always felt something was missing.
Then he heard the noise again, it sounded fainter than before but nearer to his house; he opened his door and stepped out again, lit the lantern by the door for extra light and looked around for the source of the noise.
Something glittered and he saw a slight movement to his right, he turned and walked towards where he had seen the movement and stopped; holding his lantern high he stared at every square inch of ground and could see nothing. Then he saw a slight movement again and this time there was two small eyes peering at him.
He crouched down and looked back into the small eyes, one was blue the other was gold, and as he moved his lantern a little closer he could make out the outline of a very small cat, painfully thin and shivering.
The Cartographer held out his hand and the little cat limped slowly towards him and stopping just short of him it sat down; alone in the world and on the edge of death it looked up at him.
He could see the little cat had come as far as it could, so he scooped it up and holding it close took it back into his house.
Once in the house he could see that what he had was a most likely a kitten, he placed it carefully on his chair and went to fetch a blanket which he folded up and placed on his hearth rug near to the fire and then he gently placed the kitted on it. A little later he warmed some stew and placed a small bowl of it next to the blanket and watched as the little cat carefully sniffed the stew and started to eat, it looked up at him from time to time; and then when it had finished eating the little cat limped back to the blanket, curled up and went to sleep.
The hours passed and the fire burned low, so the Cartographer added more logs and the little cat slept on; he sat in his armchair and smiled as he watched the little cat sleep and thought how much his house now felt like home.
The map used as the feature image for this story is the property of Jonathan Roberts of Fantastic Maps (http://www.fantasticmaps.com) and is kindly provided by Jonathan as a free map under Creative Commons Licence CC-BY-NC-SA.
If you are interested in creating maps for any purpose I highly recommend you spend some time on Jonathan’s site; it’s an excellent resource where you will find Tutorials, How To guides and Videos et cetera. Essentially everything you need to know if you want to design your own maps.