Chapter 38 - Out Of Time
Two hours later Ezekiel and his brothers had to admit, even to each other that the trail had gone dead cold.
Ezekiel knew that his father and his brother had in fact lost track of the mysterious attacker a half an hour into the chase, but had continued to chase shadows and sounds just a little longer before they had admitted defeat. All through the chase there had been little time for chit chat, so once Mantilo lead his sons back to the bloody rotted fields, Ezekiel tried to get some information from him.
Once more they glossed over the area of dead moose, this time at the behest of their father none of the Guardians dared to touch any of the carcasses that had anything black smeared on them. The siblings continued looking for any clues as to what it was they were fighting, this time all of them remaining together, but the search remained as fruitless as before. And the beast that had attacked made no other appearance. The night burned away, until finally Ezekiel moved away from his brother and pulled his father to the side.
“Dad....earlier....I got the feeling that your know something about all of this. You’re telling us to stay away from the black fluid and you were checking me for cuts like you already knew that that thing had claws.” Ezekiel recounted his behavior back to him.
“From that look on your face I think you might know exactly what did all this. Are you going to tell us what you’re so anxious about?” He asked gently, even though he wanted to pry or possibly even demand the answer.
Mantilo growled at him, but not in aggression or irritation, it seemed like he growled more out of unhappiness. “Ezekiel.....” His father sighed looking out on the field, then up at the moon, his brown gaze stuck in a glare of thought that he kept to himself.
“I don’t know what I think yet. I have a guess, but my hunch feels like paranoia. I am sure that this situation.... It’s not good.” Mantilo hesitated. In that second of silence between them, Ezekiel sensed that his father was disturbed and terribly conflicted. So instead of digging at him Ezekiel nodded as if he understood and looked up into the lessening moon light.
“It’s late, and for now we are all frustrated and unsure about what we’re hunting. We should return to the house and regroup with Erin and Drin.” He said to his somber father.
“Fine....lets pull back.” Mantilo patted him on his shoulder solidly. “Give me a little more time to think before we discuss my suspicions.....” Mantilo explained after another brief hesitation. “I want to do a little more research, before I admit, even to myself what I think we’re dealing with.”
“Ok.” Ezekiel agreed, and his father and brothers moved together and discussed things of their own. But for some reason Ezekiel pulled off to the side. He walked a few feet away from them and it was there amid that random, insect infested spot that he spotted something in the grass.
Ezekiel stayed still for a moment deeply disturbed by the current turn of events and not really knowing why. Then in the grass he saw it. A glint, a shine. Not blood, not flesh....metal.
Ezekiel attempted to pick it up, but as his eyes focused on it harder he realized that the handle was smuggled with a slimy cover of black liquid. Fluid that his father demanded his sons never touch.
Ezekiel went down onto his hunches once more suffering the bug bites that assaulted his legs and hands and instead of lifting the blade and risk touching the black fluid he lowered his head to the earth and examined the item that seemed so far out of place among the ripped up body parts and moose blood.
It was a simple blade, long and sharp, with a black grip. The steel of the blade smeared with black fluid and blood. Ezekiels eyes began to glow as his curiosity began to expand.
Why does this look so familiar to me?
He felt a niggling in the back of his head. There was blood on the blade so Ezekiel turned his head sideways and getting as close as he dared he sniffed the blood and instantly he realized what it was that he held. It was the blade that had stabbed him. The blade that the intruder, that the mortal, had nearly killed him with.
How did it get out here? I found the mortal miles away from here?
Not a half dozen hours ago Ezekiel had been trying to find evidence that the mortal had been running from something or someone. But, now in a completely different place deep within their lands he had discovered this new piece to the mortals puzzle. And in the process of hunting down a moose killer he had discovered that there was perhaps a beast roaming around that troubled even his father.
Suddenly a sharp cold slug slithered over his head.
Ezekiel....What are you doing? Let’s get going already.
Landers voice rumbled over his thoughts.
The icy pain of his invasion obscuring all of Ezekiels other thoughts.
Caught up in the odd mystery of the blade Ezekiel didn’t even get upset as his brother once more invaded his mind, but as the cold faded and Ezekiel looked up and realized that his family was already a few feet away he knew that he had to catch up.
Not sure what conclusions to even draw at the sight of the blade, and unwilling to grasp it against his father’s advice, Ezekiel stood up to follow in his siblings wake. His mind abuzz with confusion over the blade and the mysterious beast that had attacked them.
And inevitably the mortal who’s time was running out.