The first place we went into must have been a clothing shop.
"How can you tell?" Cian asked when I said so.
I pointed. "I can see wires shaped like a woman. That's what my mom uses when she makes clothes for me; it's tightened to my measurements."
He nodded. "I don't see any stairs so I guess they didn't live above their shops."
"That's different," I commented. "So, you've described what the creatures look like, but what do you expect to find in these buildings?"
"Anything," he answered. "But I feel like we should find some homes instead of businesses."
We peered in where windows or doors once were until I found one that looked like a home. I led the way in. The bottom was just one big room that they must have separated into different sections.
"They have some stairs."
"I'll go up," I said.
"I don't know, Viveka," he said quietly. "It may be dangerous."
I lifted my skirt as I stepped over some fallen beams, ignoring him. The stairs creaked under me and I climbed carefully in case they were too weak from the fire. They managed my weight, though, and I emerged on the upper deck. It, too, was just one big room. A beam had survived the fire, though, and I saw little holes. They must have hung a sheet to separate rooms.
One of the makeshift bedrooms only had a wire bed frame. I couldn't tell what was in the other room. Disappointed, I started back down the stairs. I had forgotten they were weak, though, and screamed as the wood gave out from underneath me.
"Easy there," Cian said, catching me before I hit the floor. "I told you to be careful.
"Sorry," I breathed.
Our eyes met and my heart skipped a beat. His eyes lowered to my lips and I noticed he was getting closer. I cleared my throat and he blinked a few times, putting me on my feet.
"Er... I don't think there's anything here," he whispered.
"I don't either," I said and told him what was upstairs. "Let's find another one."
He led the way out. "It doesn't look like a very big village," he commented.
"At least as far as buildings go," I pointed out and he nodded, leading the way into another building.
This one was a home, too, and had two stories.
"I'll go this time," he said with a smirk. "Don't want you to scare yourself again."
I crossed my arms and popped my hip out. "Okay."
I watched with a smirk as he climbed up carefully. As I suspected, he was too heavy. I laughed as he fell through the second step.
"Oh shut up," he snapped, "and go investigate while I look around down here."
I snorted but did as he said, being careful to not put too much weight on the third step as I stepped over the hole. The second floor was completely barren. There was something drawn on the floor and I frowned.
"Hey, Cian?" I called.
"This room hasn't been touched."
"Maybe everything burned."
"No," I said and bent over the side of the floor where the steps were. I held my arms down. "You have to see this. Come on; I'll pull you up."
He rolled his eyes. "Like you could lift me."
"Just shut up and come on."
He scoffed and took my arms. I pulled with all my might and he smirked.
"You ass, help me out."
He snorted but looked around. He put one foot on a stair and his other foot on the stair below it.
"Do not move," he said. "Keep a good hold on my wrists."
"Okay," I breathed.
His face became focused and he pushed with his feet. Before the stairs could give out, his feet hit the wall and he pushed again, flipping over me and onto the floor.
"Impressive," I said and he smirked.
"Now what did you- Oh," he breathed.
I nodded grimly. Not only was the room barren, it hadn't been touched by any kind of fire. There was a chalk outline on the floor.
"Do you recognize these runes?" I asked.
"I think it's a seal of protection," he answered. "They must have run up here and drawn it."
"Then why didn't they survive?" I whispered.
"I don't know."
I shivered. "Let's leave."
I walked down carefully and he swung down from the part of the room that jutted out.
The third home we entered was the hardest for me. It was one story but, at the very back, was a cradle. Cian was rummaging through a dresser that had survived as I walked over to it. It had similar runes underneath it. Inside was a dirty baby doll. I picked it up and cried quietly.
"Viveka?" he whispered. "What did you find."
I sniffled. "A-A baby doll," I said.
"Oh." He walked over and looked at it over my shoulder. "Put it back."
"It will only cause you pain, Viveka," he whispered and took it from me gently.
"A little baby was in here!" I cried.
Hesitantly, he put his arms around me. I leaned into him, sobbing into his chest.
Then, somewhere outside, we heard a blood curdling scream.