6 5 Journey to shelter pt.3
Now weakened, the storm that was once loudly roaring and flooding the plains, is now nothing more than a mild steady rainfall. The three children, with their sled, finished, begin to start their trip to take the injured man laying on the wet ground to a safe place. Peering around or listening out to the plains around them, they scout their destination before leaving, making sure nothing else is out to attack them.
Brisk winds roll over the plains and embrace them in a bone-chilling cold. With their clothing soaked through, their bodies shaking from the cold water touching their skin. They wrap their arms together to keep some of their body warmth. The heavy payload makes their minds wander with uncertainty. Zeais looks over to the girl, who is still looking off into the distance. She feels his gaze. Her head turns in his direction, an eyebrow raised as if questioning why he's staring at her.
[Zeais: Do you think he'll flip over?]
[Girl: He should be fine, I think. The bottom side is pretty sturdy.]
[Zeais: Okay, good. Who should pull in the back... Um, little one, what's your name?]
The small child staring at the wet and lightly wrapped man turns his head to look up at Zeais, he loudly proclaims,
[Small Child: I'm Nova!]
The girl smiles at his enthusiasm.
[Girl: Nice to meet you, Nova!]
[Zeais: Alright Nova, You should take the back. You're close to this man right?]
[Nova: Mhm, he's my uncle]
[Zeais: You should be in the back then, just let us know if you see him in really bad pain, okay? We don't want him to hurting too much.]
[Nova: Got it! I can do that!]
[Girl: Good let's go then, I'll---]
A distant deep rumble far away grabs their attention. The feeling of vibrations throughout the ground and howling winds make them freeze in place. Alerted to the sound they stare off into the distance where the rumble originated from. The girl turns her gaze away from the distant echoes and rushes to pick up the end of the rope.
[Girl: Let's go! We don't want to deal with that right now]
Zeais wriggles at the thought of the creature and says,
[Zeais: Stupid worms.]
Zeais and Nova take their place at the rope. Nova in the back closest to his uncle and Zeais in the middle. The three look at each other, with a nod of agreement, they start dragging the man through the slick grass. Already they can feel just how heavy he is. They haven't even moved a couple yards and it becomes apparent that the task at hand may be tiring.
Gaining distance little by little, it begins to get easier to pull his weight with every step. The three groaned at the force needed to start but finally gaining momentum, it became easy enough for them to walk at a constant pace. Looking into the distance and around them, they cautiously and steadily push forward.
Through long stretches of field and the constant rain, it would take a while to reach Rigas. Their short bodies and makeshift sled don't make for an easy trip, but it's all they can do. The shirts and blanket tied together were wet and soaking, wrinkling their hands as they walked. The cold wind and cloth chilled their fingers and watered their eyes. The hard work was giving their bodies needed warmth as they trudge through the wet plains. The three try to preoccupy their minds, thinking about food, a nice bath, what they want to do once back they're back home. All distant thoughts to get their minds off the cold.
Their walking speed had improved and an hour and a half had gone by. The children weren't having much difficulty, taking short breaks from time to time let them catch their breath. The only real problem for them is the odd silence, not even their thoughts could take them from the awkward silence. The rain was still pouring, sounds of insects croaked and clattered throughout the plains. Still feeling their wet clothes cling to their skin, their shoes and boots filled with water, they push on. Taking steps across acres of short grass and through hidden muddied puddles.
Pulling an adult body behind them through for so such a long time was tiring but was not awful after they became accustomed to it. Only concentrating on the goal of reaching the closest town, not much was said amongst them. Nova worrying for his uncle's safety, occasionally glanced back to make sure he was still breathing and not in too much pain. Zeais with his mind focused on the environment around him listens for any threats that might be hidden in the darkness.
Eris lets out an almost inaudible eek sound. Feeling the rope suddenly pull downward, Zeais stumbles but quickly catches himself. He looks quickly at the ground in front of him, he sees that the girl had tripped slightly on a small rock hidden in the grass. She stands up and looks behind her in embarrassment.
[Girl: Sorry. It's pretty dark now Hehe]
[Zeais: Its fine, I can't see anything at all anyways. Everything good?]
[Girl: Yes, It really is dark now, and the moon isn't out because of the rain.]
[Zeais: If only we had a night light or flare, that would be great.]
Nova feels for his pockets but nothing is there.
[Nova: Sorry. If we had my marker, we could of… I had hoped someone would help us]
[Girl: You did right to use it because we came to help right?]
Hearing the girl from the front, he looks to his unconscious uncle. Watching the rise and fall of his chest, he smiles briefly.
[Zeais: How did you notice it?]
[Nova: Notice what?]
[Zeais: The marker. Oh, sorry Nova, that was meant for her. Actually.. what is your name, Ma'am?]
She turns around, her wet hair spins and splashes water onto his face. He doesn't react with his skin already so cold.
[Girl: Ma'am? I don't think either of us has introduced ourselves yet.]
[Zeais: Now that you mention it… Well then, my name is Zeais. I'm from Brights.]
[Girl: Nice to meet you. Eris is my name, I'm from… Don'te.]
As soon as she says her origin, she looks in the direction of her town. Her face makes a brief look of sadness. Zeais doesn't notice her quick expression.
[Zeais: I thought so, I had a feeling you knew about the forest that I said I was walking from.]
[Eris: There are a few shops there that I frequently visit there, but I've never seen you before.]
[Zeais: It was my first time visiting there. I needed to get something fixed that helps me out during travels.]
[Eris: Is it a bag or something? It doesn't seem like you carry much. You were from walking all the way from Brights.]
[Zeais: No, I didn't want to bring it. Stupid reason but I did bring a bit of food with me. I ate it all before I got there and didn't have anything to trade for more on the way back.]
[Nova: I have a jerky left if you want it!]
Rummaging through his pocket, he attempts to pull out the jerky he spoke of with his free hand. Zeais shakes his hand behind him toward Nova.
[Zeais: No no, keep it. I'll be fine, I got some decent sleep instead. And you should be the one to eat with how small you are, this is pretty tiring.]
Nova looked saddened at the decline of his offer, he ceases looking for his ration. Zeais looks back at him and sighs that he cut the boys determination to help.
[Zeais: If worse comes to worst and I'm really hungry, I'll gladly take it.]
Nova gives him a smile.
[Nova: You got it!]
Zeais turns back to his front, he looks at the back of her black sweater and remembers her coat is being used as a dragging mat.
[Zeais: You didn't wear a pack either?]
[Eris: No, I actually forgot it back at a school in Brights.]
[Zeais: A school? There's no… aah. You must mean, the big round metal building right? That's not a school.]
[Eris: Yes, no wonder I didn't see any adults there, but there was an automaton that looked like a dog and lots of children around. I was only the there to play with the younger kids but why would such a building be used as a place for children to stay?]
[Zeais: That building, is Mr. Wave.]
[Eris: The automata dog?]
[Zeais: No, the building. Well both.]
Eris looks behind her at confused, as if she heard an alien language.
[Zeais: Mr. Wave is a big automata that's… stuck in the ground. At least that is what the adults tell us. I think its true though because he glows whenever he uses the automata dog to speak. He speaks just like a real person too, but he just sits there watching over the children all the time through BYTE, that's what we call the automata dog.]
Eris takes in the outrageous words spoken to her. Having never heard of such a story before, her bright eyes light up at the thought of its existence. Realizing that she looks a bit too excited, she simmers down and puts on her usual poker face. Nova was listening to their conversation and was wide-eyed in astonishment. He waited for more details and tried to focus more on the conversation taking place in front of him.
[Eris: Why haven't I heard of such a tale before? Is it a secret?]
[Zeais: No, not really. We just don't know much about it. The chief says he has been there even before his time and it only started speaking half a year ago. The village just didn't fell a need to let the world know and it would be suspicious if we tried to hide something so big. So we just accept it and let it be. So it's not really a secret, automata are really old anyways and most don't work.]
Nova takes in the story and imagines all sorts of possibilities. Eris only looks to the west toward Brights, hoping she could see some sign of the automaton.
[Eirs: Hmmmm, how strange, I'd love to go back to see it and play with the smaller children again.]
[Zeais: Did You only go to Brights to play with the little ones? That's a far trip just to play around.]
She shakes her head and looks back toward Nova with a smile. Nova looks at her with a confused look.
[Eris: I really like playing with the younger children, they're so cute and eager to do everything. Plus they love to learn! I got distracted and ended up playing with them when they ran by me, they were trying to catch each other so I jumped in too.]
Taking her gaze away from the little boy she looks at Zeais.
[Eris: That's not why I went there though. I was looking for someone who sells weapons.]
[Zeais: What are you trying to hunt that you can't kill with a knife?]
There is a silence. Eris's eyes darken a bit as she looks at Zeais. He looks into her cold stare, feeling an eerie sensation go down his spine. The sound of wind blows lightly but as clear as day he hears her words,
[Eris: A murderer…]
Zeais stares intensely, about to ask the question anyone would ask when presented with such a statement.
[Zeais: A pers…]
Interrupted mid-sentence, there is a large shake in the ground. Not too far off behind them, off in the distance, is a high pitched screech. Sounding like an out of tune stringed instrument, the screech pierced the children's ears.
The storm clouds in the far away from where the screech was let out from part ways. Letting moonlight enter, the rays of soft light touch the ground, coloring the distant plains and trees in white light.
Eris sees them, the giant grotesque three-legged creatures that roam the plains. Only appearing when there is a heavy abundance of wet soil around, they appear.
Creatures made of hundreds of thousands or even tens of millions of slithering creatures like as worms and centipedes. It gives no regard to what it hunts. No consciousness or thoughts through its mind, they feed on anything it can find. Almost as if born from rain, the thirty meters high mass of wriggly, squirming mater, takes its form in countless places on the outer most ring on Circinus. Having no eyes or sense of smell, just like any dirt bound animal uses the ground and vibrations to sense where prey are.
Unlike animals, humans cannot pick up on bad omens or natural disasters. Just like a nightmare for the children, animals hidden throughout the darkness had already taken their leave, not lying in wait to be devoured. The loud rumbling is slightly closer, Eris sees the large legs move in their direction. She is sure that it's coming after them.
Thud….Thud…..Thud…. Taking more than four seconds per for just one of its legs to move forward, it's an enormous monstrosity.
[Nova: Noo, no, no, nono nononono, is it coming after us?]
[Eris: Calm down, we can make it, we only have a little more than a mile to go. See, right in front of us. You can see some of the light! Just above this hill.]
[Zeais: Just up this little hill, just a little bit further and we can rest easy Nova.]
Nova looks back and sees its heavy large legs slowly lift into the air and slam back down, creating another huge shake in the earth. Turning back wide-eyed, scared, he looks back at the two older children.
Zeais looks into the boys scared green eyes, then looks at the man being dragged. He ponders over why exactly he put himself in this situation.
[Nova: Please, let's hurry!]
[Eris: Were going pick up the pace!]
Eris begins to pull strongly as they start to ascend the hill. Felling a much different amount of strength needed to pull, they struggle. Pulling as hard as they can and pressing their footwear into the ground, they try and gain leverage, the children turn around to pull backward.
The grass slick and wet from the constant rain makes it hard for Eris to pull back farther. Trying to put more back into he pulls, she feels her feet slip and gives underneath her. She falls onto her rear and the rope slips from her hands. Feeling the heavier load Zeais struggles to keep the man from sliding down the hill, wanting not to lose the small progress they had gained.
[Zeais: Urrrgh! Way too heavy!]
[Eris: Sorry! Don't slip and try not to pull back too far.]
She gets up quickly and grabs the rope. Giving her strength back to the struggling Zeais and Nova. The girl glances up to see how far the creature is but sees the worst thing for it to do...
[Eris: It's picking up speed…]
Thud…Thud…Thud…Thud. What was once four seconds for one leg, was now two quick second per step. Hearing this, the children begin to hurriedly pull the man up the hill. With no shorter alternative to reach the village around, it becomes a heart-racing struggle for them to keep cool and get up the incline without dropping the man.
The hill, only a mere 150 meters high to the flattest part, the children had managed to get up a third of it. Raggedly breathing and shortness of breath they, continue to slowly gain more progress.
[Zeais: This was much easier - when it was flat...]
[Eris: If this was a - deer or something - no one would ever - go up the hill - willingly.]
Out of breath along with the older two, small tears fall down the little boy's cheeks.
[Nova: I'm - Sorry - We wouldn't be doing this - If I never said - I wanted to try and - hunt for the first time.]
[Zeais: No one - can predict the - Future! - We only just - try and do our - BEST!]
Thud…Thud…Thud…Thud…Thud…Thud. Hearing another increase in speed, the children begin to get nervous about the thought of such a monstrosity charging at them. Zeais feels bits of adrenaline and puts even more force into his pulls.
[Eris: It's not like - it's your fault - it's much better - then being dead. That would - make me sad - that I couldn't - Save someone - who was so close by!]
Also feeling motivated, Eris gives more power to her pulls. Nova, sobbing at the thoughts of his two rescuers, tries his best to pull more weight on his own. With the three of them doing their best, they managed to get even closer to the flat of the hill. Eris looks behind her and sees light from the village's homes and street lamps. Her head peaks over the hill. Turning around to pull with her hands behind her back, she gains more forward momentum. She can see Rigas, the village made "in a bowl of soup".
[Eris: JUST - A BIT - FARTHER!!!]
Eris takes her final steps, just over the last few degrees of incline, she tries to run forward. Zeais sees the slight difference in color of light behind him and gives the final ounces of his strength. Nova sobbing puts his best effort into getting his uncle to safety.
Eris was now fully on top of the hill. Not a second later Zeais and Nova make it to the top as well. Giving their last few tugs to pull Nova's uncle over the hills finish line.
The man's head, laying in the ends of the coat lifts off the ground into the air and falls down with a quick release of the rope.
Sounding as if there was a heavy person running through a house at full speed, the creature was moving at such intense speed that it wouldn't take even 10 minutes to reach them. Not even time to celebrate their small victory, they breathe heavily and try and catch their breath. A bit rested, they were ready to keep going, their battle set downhill.
[Zeais: If we push him down - Ugh - He might flip over and just fall down the hill.
[Eris: We just need to keep him leveled - Phew - With the rope on our shoulders. Let's just go we don't - have time.]
Pulling the rope over their shoulders they start to journey downward. If they keep a nice pace, it wouldn't take long before they make it to Rigas. Trying not to fall over, they make slow steps and keep the head of the sled off the ground to keep the man from shooting down. The grass slippery though, Nova beings to pick up speed and slips. His small body falls onto Zeais's legs.
Tripped up by the small boy's weight, Zeais falls over to the side so he doesn't cause Eris to fall with them. But this only makes him turn over and with a hard kick, he accidentally strikes Nova in the head.
With a tight grip on the rope, Eris feels the quick release of losing two people and falls forward. The thuds get closer and closer. Louder and louder, the intense weight of the legs slam into the ground, it wasn't far from them.
Eris catches herself but soon see the two boys and a large man's body, sliding and tumbling by. The sled base still attached to him but no one on the ends, he tumbles downward at high speed. Watching them roll quickly down toward the bottom of the hill, she thinks that the plan has failed. Feeling that there was no way they could possibly get the man to the village easy along with Nova looking hurt.
She peered into the village for anything, anything that might help them at all.
She sees it. The bright eyes of a boy and the silhouette of a man on guard in a tower. Gathering all the breath she could muster, with a loud and powerful voice she yells.
The two in the tower look out to the source of the sudden cry. The boy notices bright orange eyes and three rolling bodies speeding down the hill. Eris waves her arms, her eyes frantic with panic. They make eye contact and Eris gives her through will of word.
[*Eris*: There's an earth walker after us, please, please help us!]
She sees the child relay her message to the man. The man runs to the railing of the tower and yells down to someone on the ground below. Two large hidden doors open near the side of the tower. What looked to her like a mob of fifteen people, run out from the gate. Men and women all of the various ages, rush out the gate and sprint toward the children. Hitting the bottom of the hill, the man wrapped like a mummy in Eris's coat had stopped rolling.
Nova slowly came to a stop, he laid flat on his face, unmoving. Zeais stopped himself with his hands and come to a stop on his own, a few feet away from the unconscious Nova.
Eris starts to run down the hill and feels the large pulses on the ground behind her. She looks back and sees the top of the large monster's body peering over the hill. Frantically running the men and women reach the two children and the wounded man on the ground. Three of the largest men pick up the injured man and two others separately pick up Nova and Zeais. The women all go past the men and hold crystals in their hands, pulsing bright red. They throw past and over Eris's head, scattered around the hill as she runs down.
Eris running at full speed, the tilt of the hill gives her enough speed to run past the women.
They all begin to run toward the opened gate of the village. The crystals thrown by the women give off a loud whistling sound and erupt into several fiery explosions. The explosions were not only loud and bright but they made a deafening high pitched screech. Everyone covering their ears, reach the inside of the village and throw the children and man to the ground,
The monster felt the intensity of the heat and the vibration of the ground wobbled its legs. Almost as if arguing with the artificial screech, the monster lets out a screech of its own in return.
Backing off instinctively, it turns with loud steps and begins to storm off. Its slow thunderous legs pound the ground, moving opposite of the direction of the village. Inside the village, their hearts beating fast and short bursts of adrenaline fading, they all let out breaths of relief.
[???: It was a good thing we put out a watch today for the rain, they don't usually come all the way to the village. Lucky you.]
Eris out of breath from her sprint.
[Eris: Thank - you.]
Zeais released from the men sits on the ground rubbing his shoulder.
[Zeais: Finally - shelter.]