• The_Ape

Titan part 2

After quite a hiatus, here comes the next part.

The smell of trees, grass and moss filled her lungs as she breathed in deep, further in to the valley she could hear the rush of water as the river wound its way through the mountains.

She took a few stumbling steps, then sank down in the grass and moss, her back leaning against a large grey boulder. Exhaustion washed over her, and it was all she could do to keep awake.

She slowly began removing the strips of cloth with which she had wrapped her hands, wincing as the stiffness and bruising began to set in. The wrappings were covered in blood and dirt and the skin beneath revealed cuts and bruises.

The climb had been grueling and her bruised and bloodied hands and arms were a sure sign of that. With pained movements she reached in to her bag and took out a sheet of linen cloth, and using her teeth she tore fresh strips from it to reapply to her wounds. With her wounds bound she let out a deep sigh and closed her eyes, letting the fatigue fill her. It had been close more than once on the climb down, looking back she shouldn’t have rushed, she should have taken the long route down. Her father would have had more than a few words for her had he been here, scolding of course but also words of advice and comfort.

That was when it hit her. Father, grandmother, home. She felt warm tears run down her cheeks and heard a tired wail escape her lips. It was as though the exhaustion had removed her from herself and she was watching from the outside as her head fell forward and she wept tired anguished tears. She saw grandmother as she had left her, legs crossed and arms folded, perched against the cliffside, forever looking upon the bones of a dead god. She could smell the flames and hear the screams of the villagers as she fled the only home she had ever known, the old woman in tow. And finally she could see father grabbing her shoulders and holding her tight, his green eyes filled with pain and fear, but underneath an iron resolve. Love she thought as a sputtering raw sob escaped her.

The grass beneath her head was wet with dew as she awoke with a groan, painfully getting up off the ground and rubbing the sands of sleep from her eyes. She didn’t know how long she had slept but could vaguely remember crying herself to sleep, curled up beneath the boulder.

Birdsong filled the air and hunger groaned in her stomach. She looked around her, the first time she had really taken stock of her surroundings. The valley was wide and through it cut a thick forest of pines and other evergreens. She could hear the river churn somewhere within the forest and beyond the tree line she saw the steep sides of grey mountains reaching far above the valley floor, their peaks hidden beyond the clouds. She was standing in a grassy meadow, the air around her alive with insects flying from flower to flower, and far to her left she saw the silhouettes of a flock of deer grazing at the forests edge. As she looked to her right she could see the massive calcified bones leaned against the side of the mountain as they disappeared in to the clouds far above, the lower part of the ribcage the last thing visible below the wisps of white cloud. It was the better part of days walk away, and so she resolved to get going.

She slid down the muddy slope and stopped at the waters edge. The rivers flow was gentle as it meandered through the valley and she could see the telltale shadows of trout swinging calmly near the river rocks. She leaned down and plunged her bruised and battered hands in the cold water, the immediate sting of pain quickly replaced by a sense of relief. After a numbing her wounded hands she drank deep from the cold water, the feeling of cold fresh water pouring down her throat was the best she’d felt in a long time, she drank deep and interrupted only by the occasional gasp for air. After drinking her fill she sank down in the mud, leaning against the sloping riverbank and sighing deeply. Warm sunlight drizzled through the leaves and she could feel her eyelids begin to feel heavy as the sounds of the forest, the churning of the river and the dancing light lulled her to sleep.

She awoke with a gasp, a feeling of falling lingering within her for a brief moment. It was dark around her, moonlight and stars reflected in the water and beneath the trees dense shadows lingered. She crawled up the muddy slope and wiped herself as clean as possible, cakes of mud flung to the ground. She cursed herself for falling asleep. She should have been stronger than that, to fall asleep without fire and next to a river at that. Who knew what animals wandered these woods. Father would have scolded her for such carelessness, and she would have deserved it.

Suddenly she saw in her periphery a flicker of pale light through the trees. As she turned she saw it. On the other side of the river and a hundred paces further still, something was looking at her.

It was hard to see it well from this far, but she felt an icy chill in the pit of her stomach as the… thing observed her. It was tall, twice her height at least, with long slender limbs and from its head protruded a pair of curled horns, like those on a ram. Its form was as black as pitch, and she could only see it by the faint cold light that danced around its edges, creating an eldritch outline against the shadows of the nighttime forest. Suddenly it disappeared and then reappeared fifty paces to its right, and for a few seconds it seemed to phase in and out of existence. She stood perfectly still, barely daring to breathe. It must be some sort of spirit. But for one to be visible like this, to the naked eye. Perhaps this close to a god…

The spirit reared up and tilted its head back, it did not make a sound yet she could feel it reverberate through her. Terror filled her and she turned and ran. Branches whipped against her face and body, several times she almost tripped over roots and rocks. What was this thing? She did not even dare look behind her for fear of what she might see. She slipped and fell, rolling through the underbrush and almost without missing a step she jumped to her feet and kept running, clearing the edge of the forest and emerging out on to a large meadow. Above her the sky was clear and full of stars, the crescent moon casting its pale light across the valley. And far in the distance she could see the bones of the god leaning against the massive peak, its head clearly visible in the cloudless sky and impossibly high up the side of the mountain. She stopped and her heart beating so hard in its chest that she feared it might burst she dared look behind her.

Nothing. Behind her was nothing but the dark wall of trees from which she had just emerged.

As she turned towards the dead god she could see the same pale light, like a thousand tiny lanterns moving around the massive bones, fear once more gripped her heart.

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