In several ways she found the idea of being in the water somewhat refreshing. They had snuck to the river bank where there had been few shambling corpses. The water looked clear though the colour looked strange thanks to the red tint of the sky the group weren’t phased, Meredith watched it for several minutes.
“It looks safe, let’s get in and go!” Gilnar said and started walking down towards the water, Meredith looked back at Primela who was looking at her intently, the way a cat watches a bird that hasn’t noticed it yet then Primela looked away and followed Gilnar into the water.
“Shouldn’t we watch it a bit longer?” Meredith forrowed her brow again and bit her lip her fingers and calfs tensed.
“Don’t worry!” He yelled, Merediths eyes bulged and she looked down river to where the black figures of walking corpses seemed to dance, she held her breath but it seemed they hadn’t been spotted. She looked back at the water as Gilnar slipped into the perfectly calm water, Primela followed him in and looked back at her with a look of irritation. “Come on, we’ll leave you behind!” Gilnar laughed and Meredith looked again at the figures in the distance. Then she took a deep breath and followed quickly, the cold sensation as the water soaked through her cloves sent a shock through her body and it occured to her that the days had been strangely warm for autumn, she looked at the suns hanging low in the sky and the forests that circled the city and thought back.
“Let’s hurry it up.” Primela growled, Meredith nodded and began to paddle down stream past the meandering hoards, there was a bridge half way and she held her breath as she passed by it there were rotting corpses on both banks of the river that seemed to be sniffing the ground. Red eyes glowing sometimes it seemed like the eyes left trails in the air their strange glow permiating reality itself. Meredith’s eyes caught on one wearing dark clothes a lizard like snout and glowing blue eyes instead of the normal red one of its arms had been replaced by a half dozen wriggling snake like appendages each one ending in a different tortourous implement or bizare body part, razors, spikes, grapples, hooks, mouths of silvery teeth, a finger, an eyeball. She looked at the thing longer it had bat like wings made of skin, in its other arm it held a spear, its legs were wrong somehow and then as she looked it over once again it dawned on her. A flash of realisation across her face and she held her breath again and looked dead ahead at the other two as they drifted ahead.
“Never fear, this is the way the Lord wants it.” A fragment of a memory? A new memory? The words in an alien tongue, a voice like no voice should ever sound. Ela.
Meredith panicked driven into a corner in her own mind the world went black, she felt the cold water envelop her an inky blackness pressed in noises drained from the world a feeling of being chocked.
“Descend the tower of God for he will remake the world!” Meredith’s eyes opened and the world flooded in and she gasped loudley. Primela was hunched over her looking down emotionless glassy black eyes like the infinite water depths of an abyss, sharp white teeth like needles, Meredith blinked.
“Oh, you are still with us.” Primela said, a tone of dissappointment in her voice as she backed away. Meredith’s whole body ached, wincing she looked around to survey the situation they were in it seemed that she had washed up on the river bank futher down stream there were bits of drift wood all around and she seemed to have sunk into the otherwise smooth silt. Sitting up she could see the fortified city in the distance a foggy haze seemed to had settled in around it and she looked back at the others who had walked up the smooth bank and were sitting on an upturned tree talking and eating something. She let out a sigh and then clambered up the bank leaving deep muddy foot prints wherever she dragged herself and she sat and rested her back against the tree.
“Good to see you in one piece Meredith, I thought we may have lost you there and that just wouldn’t do!” Gilnar laughed and ate what looked like jerky. He then offered her a strip which she eagerly took and started chewing on the meaty saltiness spreading through her mouth making her feel jsut a little bit closer to being herself again.
“She’s a bit like a cockroach I suppose, never doing the good thing and just dying.” Primela glared. Meredith winced and ignored her.
“Now that’s not on, we’re all one team, we’ve got to get back to the capital and tell the commander about what’s happening here!” Gilnar expressed loudly leaning forward.
“And then what will she do?” Primela tilted her head and asked pointedly sitting up streighter than before.
“Raise the arch mages and the priestly orders of course! Set forth with a mighty army to crush this maddness.” Gilnar said proudly with a broad smile.
“Your cherpy merriment is starting to grate on me, everybody is dead, this whole land is dead and here you are after what we have seen declaring proudly that the Kingdoms army stands a chance? Oh yes they can no doubt send the shambling hoards flying, but the real monsters. The mountains of flesh driven by God to crush all life on this world?” Primela’s speech turned into a tumbling of words that left Gilnar with no room to speak and less to think. He leant back and frowned.
“Then what else should we do? Should we lose hope and accept the inevitable allow ourselves to be crushed beneath a wave of monstrous indifference that sees us as little more than parts to be pulled apart and put back together to satisfy their mere fancy?” Gilnar articulated with his hands and a mild speech.
Meredith blinked and frowned watchign the two. “This is a most peculiar conversation.” Meredith stated with a look of confusion on her face. The other two stopped their debate and looked at her.
“To right! Sorry I don’t know what came over me!” Gilnar scoffed and stood up. Primela nodded silently and also stood. Meredith joined them.
“We should find the road and get to Icini.” Primela said as she started to walk in the rough direction of the path through the forest they had originally entered on.
“You know, I wonder if that was even Florens.” Meredith questioned
“How so?” Gilnar asked as he walked along side her.
“Just everything has been so strange since we left Icini” she thought back to the temple there and frowned. “Maybe even before then.” Then she remembered the river. “Did you see Long when you were going down the river?”
“Can’t say I did, did you?”
“mmm yeah” she answeredand then stared in no particular direction, Gilnar seemed to frown.
“How was he looking?” He asked as he pushed some branches out of his way.
“Not great, probably missed a few meals.” She sighed.
“Ah that Long eh? He never could look after himself properly.” Gilnar let out a half hearted chuckle.
“Did you see Bedros?” Primela asked.
“No, just Long.” Meredith ducked under a branch.
“I suppose not.” Primela sighed as they came across the mud track.
“Do you think this is the road?” Gilnar asked, they looked up and down and Meredith walked over it looking at the now warn tracks in the hardening mud.
“I think so, when we came up it it was wetter and more freshly torn up.” She knelt down and ran her hand over the surface she could make out all kinds of different indicators of travel towards the city all of it probably weeks ago she stood up and pointed away from the direction of travel. “That way should be home.”
“Why do you think they all headed inwards and not away?” Gilnar asked, Meredith’s brow furrowed again.
“Sometimes it’s as though you can read my thoughts!” She fained a laugh, “My first guess would be some kind of summons or family fealty.”
“That seems reasonable, but then why everyone, surely many would have just fled?” Primela pointed out. Then Meredith’s face was a picture of dread as she stared ahead.
“Because many of them thought they were running away.” She let out a shuddering sigh and looked back up the road. “So why would we be any different.” She then said quietly to herself and clenched her fists into balls.
“Ah we’ll make it Meredith, maybe because we managed to flee the big one a bit like when you resist the spirit lights, maybe you become able to see through them.” Gilnar offered as an explanation with a strange lobsided smile.
“I suppose that must be right.” Meredith said with a shrug too tired to continue thinking about the subject.
They carried on walking time draining forward and backwards seeming both to never end and again to never start Meredith wasn’t ever really sure when she was awake or when she was asleep, the sky was always dyed a merky blood red whenever she took the time to notice it. The other two acted as nights watch and Meredith spent much of her time thinking of what they would say once they reached the capital.
The three of them stood on the road when a loud cracking noise rang out from the forest to their right.
“What the hell was that!” Meredith exclaimed drawing her daggers and looking into the trees.
“I don’t know, it sounded like a tree being snapped in half.”
“I think we should probably move.” Primela advised drawing her spear and looking in the direction of the forest momentarily.
Meredith looked up and saw the familiar black birds that she’d witnessed several times before, they seemed to circle looking down at the small group of desererate compatriots as they began to run away from the noise. Another lowed snap followed by another in the tree lines they could see as trees began to topple the grounds rumbled beneath their feat and a loud roaring noise gained on them. The sound of a tree snapping close behind made Meredith look back for a moment where she could see what looked like a giant black and red millipede baring down on them, armoured body sections, bone like pointed legs, sharp huge mandibles jutted from a deforemed human face tufts of har sprouting from the top of its head, out of its eye sockets had sprouted stalks atop of which were eyeballs that were focused clearly on Meredith.
Her mind went black as it bared down on them. “Iris protect me.” she may have whispered or thought as she looked back ahead and redoubled her efforts to run to catch up with the other two taller runners. “shit”