Mortis Custos Part 26



This is a continuation of the Mortis Custos Part 25 by @lex-zaiya.
To start at the beginning of the story please see the links provided at the end of this post!

Viewer discretion is advised due to gory violence! Undead! Swords! Death! Beware!


Part 26

The sky started to lighten up.

Magna's uncle roused exactly an hour before the sun made it's weak appearance. By that time, Magna and Mortis had managed to get the fire to a passable heat and she cooked a basic breakfast of camp bread, corn and what she was assumed was squirrel.

Derric was not so easy to wake up and was grumpy, mumbling something about there being too much sun.

When they mounted the horses, Magna looked around and realized just how grey everything looked. It was as though the sun did not fully penetrate into the swamp to warm it up. When they had been in the forest, the daytime was warm and full of life. This was almost the opposite.

But not quite.

There was life, but it was strange, queer-looking animals. Everything was just a little bit... off. The surroundings looked out of focus when she looked at things more than a few feet away from her. There were frogs that sat haunched in the mud. She managed to look at one closely before it dissapeared into the blur. It had three eyes and an stubby leg sprouted from its back.

There were crows that cawed and circled them a few times and then dissapeared into the mists. When they did, it seemed that they were just checking to see if the party was dying or not.

I wonder why they think that we would be dying?

“The crows seem to think that we will eventually become food.” Mortis said. It was like the knight had read her mind. “Do they usually do this Adiran?”

Magna’s uncle peered around them for a while and spotted one of the birds floating through the mists. When it was out of sight it made its call.

“Scouts.” Adiran muttered. “Come, we better hurry. We do not want to stay in one place for too long.”

“What is it uncle?” Magna asked.

“The mist is obscuring their vision as much as it does ours.” Adiran sped up the nightmare he rode. Some of her concealment wore off and Magna could see that the mythical horse was drooling red-hot saliva which steamed where it fell on to the swampy dirt. “Keep close to the mare. We need to hurry!”

The mage spurred his steed forward. In response the nightmare snorted in annoyance and this bellowed steam into the air.

Magna and Derric followed closely and Mortis drew up behind.

“I do not like this one bit.” Mortis said.

They followed the Mage while the Nightmare led them through the rough terrain. Mostly she seemed to be choosing dryer ground to travel through. Once the steed insisted on travelling through a shallow pool instead of the firm seeming ground next to it. Mortis threw a stone at the ground and the rock as swallowed up by the earth.

There was a crow call in the distance, further away now, then another call further still. The second call seemed more insistent. Then they heard it. The whole party stopped as a roaring howl tore through the mists in the distance. There was a sound of dashing and then a scream of an animal.

In the silence that followed there was more flapping of wings and cawing of crows as they converged towards the kill.

“They got a kill.” Adiran said softly. “They should not pursue us for a while but that does not mean you should make a noise.”

“What in the hells was that?” Magna hissed.

“The crows have a symbiotic relationship with the hunters.” Adiran responded. “They call the hunter over and then pick off the scraps left behind. It is not unlike the honeybird and the badger of the western lowlands.”

“I think what your niece is trying to find out.” Mortis said drily. “Is what manner of beast it is that is out there? We have only seen the crows.”

“This is not the time for this.” Adiran grumbled. “We need to get out of here. If you see something moving on the ground then say something!” The mage then turned his attention to the Nightmare that resumed her picking through of a route that took them away from the sounds of carnage in the distance.There was a crow call in the distance, further away now, then another call further still. The second call seemed more insistent. Then they heard it. The whole party stopped as a roaring howl tore through the mists in the distance. There was a sound of dashing and then a scream of an animal.

Derric sniffed the stale air of the swamp. She whispered at her neck. "There is blood."

“I should think so. Something screamed just now. Probably dead.” She whispered back. “Anything else that you can smell?”

Derric continued to sniff. Tentatively, Magna tried to breathe in deeply but it was just regular stenches. Nothing other that swamp. Stale water and slimy mud. There was the smell of spice that wafted over from her Uncle.

Whatever it was, it was not magical in nature.

“There is a smell of… fur… wet fur… and the smell of a lizard… a big lizard.” Derric said.

“You are sure?” She asked him, look around at the boy’s serious face.

“I know what lizards smell and taste like.” Derric smiled. “They are yummy!”

Magna grimaced. “Must be much bigger lizard then.”

She turned her attention to the path before her. Briefly, she thought she had seen something small and furry in a gnarled tree on the size of the route they were taking. She looked around carefully but saw nothing again.

She focussed on Adiran’s back.

Why does this mage always have so many darn secrets!



Your turn @lex-zaiya!

Here is an explanation of Chain Stories and the current Chainstory Library

Mortis Custos Parts:

by @lex-zaiyaby @zakludick
Part 1Part 2
Part 3Part 4
Part 5Part 6
Part 7Part 8
Part 9Part 10
Part 11Part 12
Part 13Part 14
Part 15Part 16
Part 17Part 18
Part 19Part 20
Part 21Part 22
Part 23Part 24
Part 25You are here!

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