Mercy looked at the blood dripping down her hands in small rivulets, trailing lines of red down her tan skin. She wasn’t sure if it was her own blood or the rain. All she knew was that her forehead and her shoulder burned, but not as much as they should have from such deep wounds. It could’ve been that the cold was seeping into her bones, making her feel numb all over. But, she knew the venom of the creature that attacked her was really what stopped the pain. She also knew that she shouldn’t be as cold as she felt; she was slowly bleeding to death. While the thought should have panicked her, death would at least give her a chance to close her eyes.
The clouds were the color of a slowly healing bruise, dark purple and pink. The eerie red haze hung beneath them, showing that the sky was still bleeding. The black sand of the beaches was a pleasant contrast to the red earth that she saw while she was fleeing from the jungle. At least here she couldn’t see the blood on the ground. But the lighthouse in front of her, once clearly a vibrant white stone structure, was now slicked with a red splattering of blood. It was a bad omen, but Mercy was too weary to care. Off in the distance she could see the city of Concord sprawled out along the beach in a tightly packed hodgepodge of different types of buildings. It hardly seemed to matter since she didn’t have enough energy to limp into town.
As Mercy stared ahead of her, she saw two men silhouetted by the mirrored flare from inside of the lighthouse. Their forms looked red from the crimson seeping down her forehead and into her eyes. One nudged the other and pointed in her direction. They leaned slightly over the railing on the side and shielded their faces with their hands, shouting something she couldn’t hear over the sound of the wind. Mercy sank to her knees and the two began rushing down the stairs. Their forms became clearer when they opened the door at the base of the lighthouse.
One was a tall man with a strange complexion. It might’ve been a trick of the light, but his skin seemed light blue in coloration and his hair looked teal. She wiped her eyes and saw that it must’ve indeed been a trick of the light. He had brown hair and very pale skin. He wasn’t heavily muscled either, hinting that he might’ve been a scholar or at least someone who didn’t spend much time in the sun.
As Mercy’s eyes locked on the second man, she wished that she had the energy to run away. Just the sight of him was enough to make her want to flee back into the jungle, even if it meant that she bled to death on the way. He was tall, but didn’t look lanky. His muscles were spindly, hinting at an agile build, but his thin and strong frame wasn’t what worried her. It was his ashen skin. His skin was gray like the ash of a volcano, only slightly lighter than the grayish black sand beneath her feet. His hair was the cherry red of volcanic magma, and his eyes were an eerie shade of blood red.
Mercy thought, miserably, as she felt her body falling on the sand beneath her, “I’m sorry, father. I guess I have no choice but to trust one of the Ashen Folk.”
Mercy fought against the blissful pull of unconsciousness as she watched the two men running towards her, kicking up sand behind them. She could feel worry and concern coming from them in waves, which was a good sign, but the Ashen man was fighting against his feelings of suspicion and mistrust. The feeling was mutual on her part as well.
As her eyes began squinting shut, the one with brown hair said to her in the common language, in an odd accent that she couldn’t place, “Hold on! We’ll take you someplace warm. Don’t give in. Just hold on a little longer…”
The rest of what he said was lost. She felt as though she was floating away from the conversation as the pain and bitter cold overtook her body.
Her last conscious thought was, “I need to remember why I came here. Oh, Spirits of the Forest, please help me remember.”