Part III - All That's Left is Blood :: 82
Cyrus stared at the horizon in awe of the impartial beauty of the dying sun, its last gasps sending purple waves across a sky filling with stars. The splintered silhouette of a tree broke the light display but only ended up adding to its appeal. Dead and hollow, the tree was oblivious to the explosion of color occurring around it.
“Life goes on, but everything dies,” whispered Cyrus, echoing a line in the song his Brisa had once sung him on a particularly difficult day. The song remained in his heart, as loud and painful as it had ever been. Killing Parton had not given him peace. Now, he was a wanted man, running from the pending rush of bounty hunters and revenge seekers that would be coming for him. Peace was a fleeting hope. He wondered when he’d die and by whose hands that death would come.
A chill came to him. Fall would be here soon and the sooner he made it out west with its warmer temperatures, the better. As a man on the run from his own deeds, he had no luxury of making camp. He simply slept in trees, bushes, burnt husks of barns, whatever he could find.
The shivers had come to him again, sitting beneath the crop of trees just North of the burnt skeleton of a farm house, three days to the west of the Chop. He reached into a pocket and pulled out a small strip of parchment. Leona had handed it to him and wished him luck. She had always been kind to him and he had always felt undeserving of the kindness. She had no idea what he had done or was capable of doing. Maybe she knew now. maybe she didn’t. It didn’t matter either way.
He squinted in the failing light of twilight. He couldn’t really read them, but he had memorized them anyway.
“Cy, seek your peace far west. Seek the END. The Crone flies high there, arms outstretched and welcoming. Gareth.”
He folded the strip of parchment up and shoved it back into his pocket. He’d have to burn it the first chance he came upon a flame. It was too incriminating. He had no clue who the Crone was or why they would welcome him with open arms. But if that’s where Gareth said he could enjoy his peace, he trusted it.
Far in the distance, he could barely make out the outline of Mount Hewn. Beyond it, from what he knew anyway, lay the cracked plains, a cluster of fertile grass lands that were nestled on craggly hills that overlapped each other. The folk tales said it was from a large battle between Chamatri and Humboldt where the strength of the combatants pushed the layers of land up at angles and on top of themselves. He highly doubted that was the real reason.
Beyond the cracked plains? Well, no one really knew. All those that had ventured there had never returned. Map makers, adventurers, curious settlers. Not a single one had returned over the decades. Not even the Orcs knew.
Perhaps, Cyrus thought, the Below lies just beyond the Cracked Plains.
No easy death for me, he told himself.
My journey’s end will come from a thrower’s barrel.
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