Gideon Aug 3, 2013 13:36:51 GMT
Post by ashenmoon on Aug 3, 2013 13:36:51 GMT
Summer, 2439 AS, Varantium
The farm waited for them at the road's end.
Four made it there, barely. Two men and one woman stumbled forward, exhausted, dusty clothes crusted with blood, famished eyes staring sightlessly. They took turn in pairs to drag a third man tied to a stretcher, leaving behind twin scores etched into the stony trail.
By the time the group crested the final rise, the beating Perchian sun threw their shadows long at their feet. There had been no branchings of the path since they left the main road north to Nazra two or three hours ago, nor had they seen any sign of human habitation in that time. When the decrepit cottage - long given back to wilderness - at last arrived before them, they met it with silence.
Gently a breeze rustled the leaves of cypress and wild-grown olive trees. The salt of the sea clung to the dry air. Martins arched across the sky.
Alypia sank to her knees, numb fingers clawing dark earth.
"We should..." wheezed Ecimer, dark voice issuing reed-thin and hollow from a parched throat. "Continue. Coast is not far. To Plutars and then south..."
"We should have stayed." Grey eyes flickered to Metellus', briefly resurrecting once-legendary pride. "Should have gone back for him. Not fled to yet another safe house."
Metellus exchanged a glance with Ecimer. Together they lowered Farrah's stretcher to the ground.
Alypia withered before their silence, gaze turned down. Her body shook. Black hair screened her mourning.
"What does it matter?" came her whisper. "It is over."
Metellus crouched beside her.
"It will never be over," he said firmly. "I will find a way to use it. Somehow, I will master it, not the other way around. And then... all this will be as nothing. I promise you that. But, for now, we will rest here for a few days. If my brother escaped he will find us here."
"And if he did not?" Ecimer rasped.
Metellus rose and turned. He looked back, back the many miles they had come, back to the terror two nights past in Baeduba and the years of hiding before that, back to the time before Shatterbridge, back to when there still had been hope.
He unsheathed his sword and drove it into the ground. It shone redly in the yard before the house.
"We will be ready for those who do find us."
The sun's disc touched the horizon. Cicadas celebrated the night's arrival. Alypia took off her sandals and began massaging once-soft feet.