The Endless Horizon

Reads: 1726  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 12 (v.1) - Land of Rain

Submitted: June 29, 2019

Reads: 60

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 29, 2019

A A A

A A A

-12-

Land of Rain

 

 

Just days into our peregrination the sky took on a murky overcast. When the first drops of cool precipitation speckled our faces we feared the worst, but what followed shattered even our most cynical predictions. On the plains before us, the sky fell in an unrelenting barrage, rain pooling in every square inch of open terrain. The conditions only worsened from then on. There was no reprieve in the onslaught of rain and we were worse for the wear. Our gear and garb waterlogged, we had to force ourselves onward.

When we had found a small grove of trees standing alone in the turbid wasteland, we stopped for a brief intermission. I slid off the back of my steed and sunk into the saturated earth. Though the ground under the trees was muddy, few drops made it through the boughs of the oak, thick with foliage. The conditions wouldn't allow us to start a fire, but it would suffice for a night's reprieve. Just one night was all we needed. Any sleep I'd gotten in the last couple of days was when Cordella took over the reins, and even then, 'sleep' was a severe exaggeration.

I rummaged through the contents of the satchel and pulled out a thin tarp, sprawling it across the wet grass.

“The rain just doesn't stop,” I sighed as I collapsed on the tarp.

“It sure doesn't seem to.”

Although it felt like an eternity since we had parted with Samson in Chenglei, we still had a few long days of traveling ahead of us. With little else to do, I laid back and let my eyes shut.

In a hushed voice, I could hear Cordella soothing the horse before sitting next to me. “Are you positive there's not an outpost between here and Mochada? I'd welcome the chance to dry off, even if just for the night.”

“If there were I'd jump at the chance just as you. Just an endless stretch of wetlands best I can tell.”

Thrice I'd checked the map for civilization, each time with higher scrutiny than the last, but I was awarded the same disappointment each time. From what I gathered from Samson, Mochada was an extremely remote village. As it was built along a lake, they had most of the fresh food they needed to be self-sustainable.

For minutes now I had been in a state of relaxation when a jarring realization opened my eyes. “Do you hear that?”

There was a short pause before her response. “I don't.”

“Exactly,” I said, “the rain stopped.”

Not once since our arriving in this land had the rain ceased, but now it was somehow able to stop its descent in an instant. Even more noteworthy than this was the starlight emanating from overhead. If it had only just stopped raining the cloud barrier would still remain but instead, the night sky and all its celestial bodies were fully visible.

“I get the worst feeling that this weather stems from unnatural causes.”

“Typically I'd call you deranged, but given the state of the world, it doesn't seem so absurd. It actually reminds me of that ominous wind from back in the mine.”

That wind dissipated once we had felled the leviathan. This could very well be a similar case, but I didn't know whether to be relieved or terrified knowing that we were headed in the right direction. “Regardless, now that the condition has bettered it's in our interest to get moving before it storms again.”

She groaned. “Fine, but you've got the reigns this time.” Once more we both mounted the horses.

Come tomorrow, when the rain would again pelt us with its perpetual barrage, we'd be glad to have made the progress when we did. This is what I'd told myself despite the weariness of my eyelids. Several times I had let my mind give way to a split-second slumber, only to be near thrown off my horse as the slick reigns threatened to escape my grasp. The sun as my dwindling light source did little to aid in my struggle to stay alert, but I knew that when it finally set I'd have no choice but to stop for the night. I waited for the last shred of light to disappear, to tell me that I could finally give in to my drowsiness, but it never did. Instead, it hung there, seemingly suspended at the furthest edge of the horizon. I blinked my eyes to confirm what I was seeing.

“Cordella?” I quietly stirred her from sleep. “That light, what is that?”

She squinted and strained to see what I was so enamored by. “Is it not the sun?” she said, clearly upset at my waking her for an observation so mundane.

“No, not all. It has to be some kind of settlement.”

This jolted her into vigilance. “But you said there weren't any, and we're still well away from Mochada.”

If we were right in our estimates, and I in my map-reading, then this must be an unknown commune. Were I less tired I'd hesitate to spend the night in an unmarked village, but I was much too desperate to be cautious. This was our chance to replenish our supplies and let our clothes dry for the night. I expressed this possibility to Cordella.

“I have no objections,” she mumbled with her head barely above her shoulders.

I pulled the reigns enough to skew our course towards the distant hamlet.

The faint glow of the town grew more radiant as we drew closer. “We can only hope that this place has accommodations for the weary.” My attempt to spark conversation fell upon deaf ears, my comrade had once again fallen victim to her languor.

The dwellings encircled me as I steered us as far into the center of the village as I was able. Despite it having been the dead of night, the warm luster in which we were bathed in by the torches made the whole town feel equally so. I quickly spotted a hostel, its extra floor making it easily recognizable among the many quaint and indistinguishable abodes. Through the building's windows a soft light bled into the night. Before I could even get off of my horse I was greeted by the proprietor of the lodge. The doors behind him had not made even the slightest of sounds.

“I take it you come here seeking refuge,” he said with an energy that I didn't myself possess, “Would you like one room or two?”

I peered over my shoulder and back. “Two please.”

He nodded and wrapped a lead around the neck of my steed. “Take any of the rooms upstairs, I'll tend to your horse free of charge.”

I was much too exhausted to hold suspicion of the man. After rousing Cordella to a half-wakeful state we entered the building. The only furnishings occupying the space were the bar, across from which was a hearth with a log kindled within it, providing heat to the vicinity. It was devoid of pleasantries but cozy nonetheless. Half carrying Cordella to her room, we split for the night. I spent no time examining my quarters before collapsing atop the wide, blanketed bed. This bed, the town, it seemed too good to be true to have wandered into such a series of fortunate events, but it was a welcome change of pace.

...

Roaring claps of thunder and my own coughing eventually woke me from what was otherwise a night of restful sleep. Because of the cloud cover, very little light made it into my room. Removing the covers, I saw that I still wore the same clothes as the day before. As a direct result the bedding had been soaked through, and a damp residue was left on my skin. While unpleasant, I'd take this over being fully drenched any day.

While scanning the room, I found it to be much drabber than I'd first realized. The night's events were still something of a blur in my mind, so this discovery didn't come as much of a shock; a tired mind didn't lend itself to the keenest of observation skills after all. I got out of bed and pushed aside the curtains to peer the gray sky. The rain had resumed, holding the dreary town hostage to its monotonous downpour. I picked up my things from the for of the bed and turned to leave, but before I did I spotted a mirror. In it, I saw a near-unrecognizable face, tired and drained of color. Having been in the rain for so many consecutive hours had taken its toll, I'd was sick.

Cordella didn't respond very quickly to my knocks on her door. When it finally creaked open she pushed her head through the gap, likely concealing a lack of clothes. She had evidently just awoken, as her hair was in disarray. “Did you get enough sleep?” I smiled.

“I should be asking you,” she said with a look of surprise on her face, “Are you feeling alright Kaiser? You look sickly.”

I shrugged off her concern. “Just a cold, nothing to fret over. I'll be waiting downstairs come time to leave. You should take your time, seems to still be rather early morning.”

In the common area I sat on a low stool directly in front of the bar.

“Good Morning!” The chipper gentleman greeted me. “Would you care for anything to drink?”

After a miserable coughing fit I rasped, “Water.”

He set the brazen cup in my hands as though he'd prepared since before my waking. “Might I ask what brings you to Drysdan?”

Dysdan, this was the first time the name graced my ears. “Not a map, to be sure. It was only by sheer luck that we found this place when we did.”

“I wouldn't ascribe it to fortune,” he remarked blatantly, “We've seen troubled times as of late, and our minimum contact with outside lands doesn't help any. Bad as it may be for business, I can't recommend that you stay here long.”

“Troubled how?” The tumultuous storm all but drowned out my weakened voice.

“This tempestuous weather, it's drowned our crops and barred us from trade with Mochada. We don't have any woods or bodies of water nearby so we're forced rely on trade and farming to sustain ourselves. In the last weeks, however, we've not held contact with our usual merchants.”

Not held contact? If that were true then what had become of Mochada, were we already too late? “So how have you managed without them?”

“In short? We haven't. Only by the skin of our teeth have we been surviving. We've had to feed off of our last remaining livestock, and our resources are wearing increasingly thin.”

I grimaced. “I'm sorry to hear that. Hopefully this weather clears before long.” My sentiments were backed with doubt, as I knew we were the only ones aware of the truth behind the storm. When I heard the wooden steps creak I knew Cordella was ready to go, but I hadn't the desire.

“Are you ready to go?” she asked, impatiently tapping her foot against the floorboards.

With another nod to the man, I rose from my stool. We paid for the rooms and walked out into the dying village. When we had found our horse in its stable I checked the contents of the saddle bag to make sure everything was in order. Despite my best efforts to keep my new found information off my mind, I was caught up in worry, and upon noticing this Cordella pressed me for details. I came forward with the news.

“This village won't make it much longer.”

She was understandably troubled with the suddenty of my statement. “Whatever makes you say that?”

I spoke through grit teeth, “I was speaking to the owner of the lodge, they haven't the resources to keep themselves fed. What's worse is that I fear Mochada may have already fallen.”

“Don't say that!” she griped nervously. “You can't just make an assumption like that before we know the truth. All that we're sure of is that we have to stop this cursed storm, and we'll do just that.”

I quietly agreed and got back on the horse. We sped into the still-emerging light of dawn. What I had thought would serve as a nice distraction was instead the opposite, a reminder of the urgency of our objective. The hunt for the last arch had lacked the same urgency as this one, and the state of this hamlet exemplified that.
 


© Copyright 2020 Ignis Vulpes. All rights reserved.

Chapters

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments: