Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Berserker Part 29

Jarn awoke in a muggily hot creaking box, he muzzily looked over to see the sweating pale form of Seryan against the weak light coming through the wagon’s canvas walls. The poor man tossed and turned, groaning and wincing in his sleep. The long cut on his left arm had been well bandaged, but was now stained black with old blood and could no longer hold back the unmistakable odor of putrefying flesh. A smell that Jarn had become regrettably familiar with in the previous weeks and months. Outside he heard the laughing and yells of children at play. Strange, such a differing combination. The joy of those who were coming into the world and pained sounds of those leaving it.

He sat up, not sure anymore if the creaking was from the wagon or his joints due to the crates he had laid on. Stretching out, he lurched around boxed wares and other items which would undoubtedly be sold for far too much in some distant bazaar. Upon reaching the front of the wagon, Kyle, who was at the reins, gave Jarn room to sit, smiling amiably.

“Glad to see you up and about”, Kyle said.

“I don’t know what happened back there”, Jarn lied.

“Are you sound now?”, he asked anxiously.

“Yes, how did you solve the wagon problem”, Jarn said, doing his best to change the subject.

“We didn’t”, Kyle responded with the caution of a men testing thin ice.

“What do you mean?”, Jarn asked, still too foggy to work things out for himself.

“We had to leave another wagon behind”, said Kyle.

“Oh”. In his mind, Jarn was slowly going over the story Millienya had told. Was he the reason all of his people had been attacked? Would he be doomed to constantly face one monstrosity hell bent on destruction after another?

“Thankfully, we’re low enough on food that we didn’t really it much”, Kyle continued, braced for impact.


Kyle recoiled in surprise, over the time they’d been together, Jarn was never one to take bad news well. Especially when it came to eating.

They continued on in monotonous silence, watching light clouds slowly cross the sky.

“How long was I gone?”, Jarn asked dully

“Half the day is my best guess”, came the reply.

“Oh...What about the Gnoll?”, he asked shivering slightly. If all the things that are best left to themselves have dreams such as that one, then we are in serious trouble.

Kyle coughed in embarrassment, “Well, about an hour later it awoke fighting and yelling that it must go. Strangest thing, after a while it started yelling at us to go faster. Tyrel walked over and told it to shut up or help pull the wagons.”, Kyle stopped because he was chuckling too hard to continue. “It volunteered.... to pull the.. wagons, so... it is” By the end he was howling with laughter slapping his leg and even bringing a slight smile to Jarn’s lips.

“How did it do?”, Jarn asked, trying to break his own foul mood.

“Well enough, well enough”, Kyle hooted. “We found that the horses are spooked by it, so we tethered it to the first yoke. Works the horses up a treat.” Despite the humor in this, a few moments later, Jarn was reimursed in his own depressive mind.

Thus they rode. Dully registering the ground as it came and went, the slowly thinning trees, and the sun making its daily lap of the sky. If they had not been in such somber moods then perhaps they would’ve seen the beautiful world around them. A wet blanket of white wrapped its tendrils around the earth, creeping along the ground with an unearthly intelligence, cloaking the world in silence. What would normally have been just another musty half-day caused by the dome of plant life over them was shattered by inumberable shafts of light from heaven, piercing the deep fog, creating the perfect moment. Too bad the worlds or man and those of reality don’t often collide.

Hours passed, as the sun neared it’s bed, the caravans rounded a curve in the trail. Jarn stirred from his sullen revelry. In front of him was a wide rolling plain, covered with wild grass sweeping in the wind and a few errant acres that man had beaten into submission, forcing crops out of it year after year.

“I can see smoke”, he reported to Kyle. Pointing straight ahead, to a spot almost on the horizon. Nearly muted by the blazing red and purple collage that heralded the sultry coolness of the night, sat the walled town of Halfway.

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