This is a continuation of the post @zakludick posted earlier in the week. Be sure to read Part 38 before continuing.
Warning, gruesome descriptions and occasional undead!
“Enough old man!” shouted Kern from the back of the pack.
Wearily Adiran turned and was met with his entire group’s exhausted faces. They desperately needed rest, rest he couldn’t grant them, not yet. As if reading his mind, the warrior woman Kern threw her trident as he turned to start running again. It was a good shot. It had managed to stake the hem of his robe to the ground. He looked at it and realised he himself was exhausted. He needed to rest as well.
“Fine.” He muttered as he dislodged the trident.
“And you will explain yourself…” started Kern as she pushed herself to the front of the group.
“Hold.” Whispered Noxus as she came to stand before her.
“How are you two so calm about what is happening?” roared Kern, “Aaron is dead! There is a walking talking heap of decayed flesh. A werewolf…”
“Child of the forest.” Snapped Derric as he rounded on the woman.
“Werewolf!” Kern yelled back, “How are we not taking the child and running?”
“Because if you do, my niece dies.” Said Adiran as he sat down.
Exhaustion had settled on him heavily and now that he had stopped moving, he didn’t think that he could get up again. Helga got off of Derric and turned to the Initiates.
“Look, I don’t like this anymore than you do, but we are now stuck in this mess together.”
“What mess? The mage over there hasn’t bothered to explain anything. He only stated us being stuck here is your fault and started running again. Now I am not taking another step from here until I get an explanation.”
Gorox rolled his eyes and grumbled some obscenity under his breath. Noxus raised the same hand to him and said, “Don’t you think we deserve some kind of explanation?”
“Yes, but…” he turned to look behind him. “I sense something from where we came, and it isn’t good. It’s poisoned.”
Adiran looked in the direction that Gorox pointed and sadly sensed what the marauder had. It was starting to stir. His head ached, and all he wanted to do was sleep, but he couldn’t risk it. He would need to cast another spell later to keep himself conscious. He slowly cast his eye up to the quiet revenant who had tied Magna’s forearms together so he could carry her easier on his back while her arms were loop went over his head. How much power did he had left? How much longer could Magna hold out? It felt as if someone was squeezing his heart and he clutched at his chest and tried to bring his breathing under control.
Helga, seeing his distress came to his side and whispered instructions until what appeared to be an anxiety attack seemed to pass. Once Adiran could take a breath without feeling a stabbing pain in his chest he spoke.
“I have seen only one person not ripped apart by a Gallopod.” He looked up to Magna again, then corrected himself, “Well, two. The first…she…”
He closed his eyes and struggled with the mental image of the last time he saw her. It haunted his deepest nightmares and there were a few nights a year he would scream himself awake from what he had seen.
“Have you ever seen a caterpillar with eggs on its back?” he continued.
Gorox stared at him stupidly as he sat down. Kern shared his confusion, but Noxus nodded her head.
“When I was a child, I reared butterflies. Sometimes, parasitic wasps would get into their enclosure and lay eggs on the backs of the larvae.”
“Did you even wait to see what those eggs did to the caterpillar?”
“Once.” Noxus shuddered.
“When someone is taken by a Gallopod alive it isn’t because of mercy. It is looking for a host for its young. Young which need to leave and find a new home, as Gallopods abhor sharing living space. They will be fed for a while by the parents while they grow accustomed to their new host. Once the host is ready, and the young are wired into their brain, they take the host to populated areas to infect new hosts. This why we run. The new host will be looking for you three as it is what he knows. The young will use his memories of places you have gone to, and they will know that the four of you need to leave at the same time. Don’t think that me taking you under my wing is an act of mercy. If that abomination should find us, I will leave you behind to slow it down.”
The three initiates looked at each other in shock. Kern collapsed where she stood, and for the first time since meeting her, she showed a different emotion to fury. Her anguished screams split the silence as Noxus teared up and Gorox refused to look at anyone else.
“We will rest long enough to get our strength back. Once* I* am ready to leave you can decide if you want to continue traveling with us. Understood?”
The Initiates didn’t say anything.
Mortis didn’t need to rest like the rest of his group, but he needed sustenance, and he was running low on his blood supply with all the running they had done. He needed to eat and soon. He watched as the rest of the party passed around what meagre food supplies. He had refused to partake, they needed it more than him. He wanted to rather concentrate on the bond he and Magna shared. She hadn’t woken once today, and he was concerned about her own needs for sustenance. Right now, the girl was curled up in his lap as he held her.
“Can she take liquids?”
The question startled him, and he looked up at the purple-robed Initiate. She stood with a cup in her hand.
“I…I don’t know.” His voice wavered.
“I have heated some water and added a few drops of honey and some healing herbs. It’s not much for an empty belly, but it will give her some strength.” She held the cup out but kept her distance.
He wanted to tell her he didn’t bite, but the healing wound in Magna’s neck was obvious to see through the burn that had stopped the bleeding. He reached for the cup and grasped it. Noxus backed away quickly but didn’t move far as she watched the knight try to feed the child. Mortis tipped Magna’s head back before bringing the cup to her lips. He slowly tipped the contents into her mouth. He first thought she was going to choke, but instead she weakly swallowed. She only managed a few sips before she coughed violently. Once she had recovered, she half yelled, “Adrian!”
Adiran was startled and turned to look at the knight. He had a pained expression on his face but said nothing as he looked away again. Noxus stepped forward, now no longer fearing the knight, and put her hand on Magna’s head. She closed her eyes and knelt before muttering under her breath. She remained silent for a few minutes before she whispered to the knight.
“She sleeps and dreams. She has great fear for her brother.”
And now it is up to Zak to give the next exciting chapter! Hope you all enjoy.
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