Secrets and sacrifices

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“…Thousand cries muffled,

Spilt crimson upon a parched mouth,

A wheel turned, lives spent.

Lambs slaughtered,

Seeds forgotten, bile fostered.

Hunger cannot be contained,

scorned love cannot be denied,

hither it comes, courting anew,

waiting dark in the void sky.

Covenant made, invert the world,

Hands together upon the blackened earth,

To see tomorrow with a smile and die.”

“That’s it?” The soothsayer held his chin high, arced an eyebrow and fidgeted. He eyed Simid’s betlpouch.

“Nice poem.” He slurped his ale. “Heard same one two days ago, but ended with ‘a whore paid to in my bed lie’.” Simid said mockingly, gesturing quotes with his fingers.” Beat it, you’re not getting a copper.”

The man furrowed his brow. “You asked me what was the word on the winds. I do this for a living, you know.”

“You heard it somewhere else. Been hearing this for over two weeks now. Soothsayers all over. That's too many fish's guts telling the same story, pal.” Two men stood up, taking the fortune-teller’s side.

Two minutes and a would-be poet with a nose broken. Three other people on the floor. Simid, Borin and José stood there, stared at the quartermaster and shrugged. Drinks on the house.

The group stumbled out of the small camp to join the rest of their team on the other side of the hill. In the small valley beyond it, lay hid their cobbled-together airship and the more conspicuous members of their rag-tag band.

Simid nodded to them. “Sugie, brought a pitcher.” Sugnir grinned and hopped to the ground. The others mumbled in protest. “Sorry freaks, better work on your image next time, if you want ale.” He chuckled and sat down to eat. A stringy hare and two starved pheasants, all well done.

“Were these at least alive when you caught them?” Simid asked suspiciously. “Hare was dead already, not that it slowed it down. Damned undead critter, tried to nibble me to death! Looked OK, though, not much rot or anything yet. Should taste good enough.” Thelgar munched down on it, with no worries in the world.

“Stop picking at it. You’ll sap over and get all sticky again.” Sylrah scolded. Corvus let go of the scabbing bark that covered most of his arms now. He had to wear a long cloak with a deep hood to hide his face, which now has a decidedly green tinge to it. “It itches like hell, what do you want me to do?” “Soak it in water, maybe it’ll grow roots! Ha!” Glim had been cracking one after another. He even volunteered to trim the leaves, which made Corvus jumpy every time he drew a knife.

“We’re taking off after we finish the ale. The road is long, freaks. Snow is coming anytime now. We need to find ourselves a patron before we starve or die of exposure. After that, we have a few errands we need to run.”

The immortal man stood on a high cliff above the swirling waters of the Wyrdwell. He had been shown the future of his kind, and he did not like it.

The old, old man fell on the granite floor, despair written across his face. “How are we going to stop this?”

“You will find a way.” rumbled a voice that shook the immortal and made the wind change direction.

“It was your decision to emancipate your fellow apes. Now they can think for themselves, and are taking matters in their own hands.” another one stormed. “Despite the means, their intentions are quite commendable.”

The man, countless lives though he may have lived, could not possibly be prepared for this. “How can they risk such a thing? They are out of their minds… Help me, please!”

The three goddesses looked at each other and smirked. “They are your children. Your students. Your doing. And they are putting us all at risk. See where this might lead to…” The waters of the well swirled, and the old man saw the unmaking of the world. He gasped. “You’re going to stop this! You- you-… You’re not going to let the world end?!” he wore now an almost half-crazed grin.

The unearthly women didn’t seem startled in the slightest. “There is still time to teach you apes a few lessons. With this much at stake, it won’t take long before our people find exactly what you’ve done. I’d get your apes straightened out as soon as possible…” one of them said mockingly. “But don’t worry,” the red-haired one said, leaning down to face the man “Mother doesn’t give in so easily, He has tried before. She is ready. We are ready. Unfortunately we cannot guarantee your survival in such a battlefield.”

The immortal man turned, and left. He knew what he had to do. Destruction was on his mind.

No deference, no respects paid. Simply walked away. The goddesses allowed him. After all, he had already paid his toll for the well’s knowledge. “The sacrifice of his son will haunt him and give him purpose. That was a good idea.” She said, nodding at one of her sisters.

“Now, onto the real problems. Someone wants to die. And end the world with it.”