They’d been marching through the day and exhaustion was setting in a large black tower seemed to cut into the sky in the distance and the forest had given way to a large open plane with rolling hills lined with bushes and shrubs.
“Flacidious this doesn’t look right.” Gilnar said as they slowed to a walk.
“What the hells?” Primela cursed.
“Surely we should still be in the forest?” Erek put his hands on his hips and started to dawdle as the suns began to set.
“Or reached that village by now?” Meredith wiped her brow as she looked towards the tower in the distance and began to stare queitly.
“This is indeed not correct.” Flacidious said looking out towards the road that stretched out before them.
“Did we go down a wrong path?” Primela growled.
“I didn’t see any turnings.” Sial said, pointed yellow teeth forming a fetid scowl
“It’s like we’re being toyed with.” Gilnar said punching his palm with a clenched fist.
“Could it be…” Flacidious said a moment as he stroked his goatie with a frown then looked down.
Meredith turned to him, “Could it be?” she parroted.
“Lylos, God of Roads.” He paused and looked out into the distance.
“Shit!” Primela shouted and looked fit to kill.
“Come now, the Pantheon is hardly likely to take an interest in the exploits of us?” Erek boasted.
“And if they were they’d have done so long ago.” Sial said turning grim all of a sudden.
Gilnar slumped to the ground and put his bald head in his hands “Fuck me.”
“It’s either gods or some form of magic, which comes back around to gods in the end again.” Meredith looked as though she’d accepted the notion of Lylos being involved.
“But why?” Flacidious seemed to have great doubt. He looked down at his pouch.
“What do you know about the God of the Roads?” Meredith asked.
“He’s neutral in both heavenly and earthly matters alike, his acolytes preach that all must walk their own paths and all paths are walked alone.”
Meredith knelt down next to Gilnar and offered him a drink from her flask. “Then maybe this is just the path we have to walk.” She shrugged as Gilnar took the flask and drank from it.
“Sometimes you really show your age.” Gilnar smiled and she helped him to his feet.
“What do you think that tower is?”
“Some kind of watch tower?”
“That would make sense, how far away is it.”
“Gods know. The suns will have gone in an hour or so, we should set up camp.”
“Do you think we’ll be safe tonight?”
“Well we’ve not seen any corpses since we fled the Florens so I’d hope so.”
They all agreed and set about setting up camp, the weather was cold but still, they decided to operate in two watches and they let Meredith sleep through the night. Primela managed to catch some rabbits to eat and they ate a bitter soup with herbs from the general store to keep their strength up for the morning. They let the fire go out once they had finished and spent a little time camoflaging the site.
As the night wore on and Primela and Erek took their positions on the second watch a pair of large birds flew past far over head, red eyes barely noticable, Primela held her breath and tracked them through the sky they seemed to let out a hellish squark to each other as they got futher away then as they were almost out of site the sound of something running from the tree line. She turned to look, a dark humanoid figure was running, they were panting and stumbled on something. Primela and Erek both watched in silence as the figure exhaustedly tried to lift itself back up as they tried the sound of the bird squarking in the distance became closer, the figure seemed to look up at the birds and one of the birds broke away and flew back over the camp and towards the now slowly stumbling figure.
The figure began to stumble into the bushes as though to hide, the figure got closer to the camp, a moment of realisation as the moonlight caught the face of the exhausted figure. It was Charles. Erek tensed and Primela shook her head at him. As they did something large moving at a ridicoulous speed came out of the forest, it stood as tall as three men, as wide as two wagons and as long as one but it walked on a dozen or more legs. At that moment the air left Erek and Primela.
The vast thing looked like an amalgamation of corpses screaming faces covered it’s gore soaked hide, bones turned to spikes juted out from it, a single huge mouth of bone white fangs as big as a fore arm. Dozens of mouths from the flesh that formed it cried out as it scurried into the bushes.
“Gods, no! Please no! Not me!” Charles’s exhausted lungs cried, tears streaming down his face as he collapsed again. Within an instant the thing was upon himm, he let out a shrill cry and an arm made out of dozen corpses grabbed him by the leg and swung him upside down. He was still trying to shriek but more huffing, hyperventelating his eyes wild as though he’d been driven mad as the thing craned it cavenous mouth upwards and opened it wide, Charles hung above it flailing for a moment, “Mummy!” he cried, then it let go and Charles tumbled into the mouth which snapped shut, and leg was flung into the air and blood spreyed as it began to chew. A few more muted shrieks from the creature that may have been Charles before it was drowned out by the chorous of agonised wailing from all the other mouths.
The beast roamed for a few moments before heading back into the forest. Erek and Primela stared silently unable to breath or speak or move. Erek had literally pissed himself and still laid there doing nothing until the suns began to raise hot tears running down his face and a look of sheer terror on his face. Primela hadn’t faired much better. As the sun came up they both stayed laying there, seemingly unable or unwilling to do anything at all until Meredith walked to their positions, she looked at them and then walked back to the camp to get Flacidious, Sial and Gilnar.
“Hey, what happend?” Flacidious asked they both slowly seemed to come to and looked around.
“We have got to get the fuck out of here Flacidious, right fucking now!” Erek exclaimed a look of maddness about him.
“Hold on, we don’t know how!” Gilnar exclaimed exaserbated.
“He’s right, right now, we need to get out of here” Primela added to Erek’s statement.
“What was it?” Flacidious asked brow furrowed again.
“A mountain of corpses ate Charles!” Erek hollared, Flacidious looked at him again and noticed the moist patch on his trousers.
“Wait, Charles wasn’t with us.” Gilnar looked confused.
“We saw him last night, he was running, then, then this mountain of fucking corpses ate him!” Erek expained hurridly with frantic motions.
“A mountain of corpses?” Flacidious looked for confirmation.
Primela nodded again.
“I don’t know how to describe it, it was a mountain of shrieking, horrofying corposes that picked him up by his foot and then ate him alive while he cried for his mother!” Erek looked fit to break down.
Flacidious looked at the tree line, “Gilnar go take a look. The rest of you drink a coffee then pack up the camp, then we’ll try and get the fuck out of here.” Flacidious looked shocked and concerned as Gilnar returned.
“There was somthing big, and I saw a leg, looked like it was probably from Charles.” Gilnar said quietly. Flacidious gave him a look. “The clothes and Charles had a shitty tattoo, the leg had the same.”
“Fuck me, what the living hells is going on.” Flacidious covered his mouth and stared ahead.
“Maybe that exactly.” Gilnar stroked the scar on the side of his head and gave Flacidious a look. Sial came up along side the both of them.
“So now it’s not just shambling corpses but fucking monsters as well.” Sial said looking over at the other two.
“What now?” Gilnar asked.
“We’ll head for that fucking tower.” He paused and then looked at the two of them “Unless you two have any bright ideas?” He said irritably, they both shook their heads. “Maybe we’ll find the next piece of this wretched puzzle there.”
“It’d only be fair.” Gilnar went back to the camp and packed his own bag.
Flacidious sat down and pulled out his book for a moment and read a section, then put it back in his bag. Meredith walked over to him.
“They’re in a bad way, but they’re killers and they know the best chance of survival is together.” Meredith said quietly.
“For now.” He said looking over at the four of them.
“For now.” She nodded.
The six of them headed towards the tower, they had to trek through hedgerows and over the hilly terrain, occasionally there were small creeks or streams. Within an hour the land changed, from a liverly green to mottled browns and yellows a smell of mold and fungus and then the land started to transform into a fetid swamp. Large black birds sat in dead trees and watched the group trudge through the first ankle deep then knee deep rancid water.
After several hours of trudging and dragging one another through the foul swamp they could see the tower clearly though they likely wished they could not. The building was the tallest building they had seen and it looked as though it had been sculpted out of flesh and bone. The group stood in mute disbelief that such a thing could exist they all checked their weapons and looked at one another.
“So, I guess we all get to die today.” Gilnar said morbidly. As they looked at the tower again and then at each other.
“I couldn’t think of a worse place, nor a worse group to die with” Primela answered and took a deep breath.
“Yeah, has to be said it isn’t looking to promising for us” Sial nodded.
“Maybe nobodies home.” Meredith chuckled.
“Well little Mere would that be a blessing or a curse?” Gilnar laughed.
“Ah I didn’t like home much anyway.” Erek shrugged.
“Well, let’s go pay the keeper as it seems our credit has run dry.” Flacidious said with a smile and with that they turned to face the tower and began the final walk before an inevitable long climb and almost certain doom.