Day Twenty-three: 1,100 words (25,094 total.)
The sun had set six times and yet again another camp was made. The land was colder, but life was still scarce. Talau would often send warriors out into the forest for samples of the plant life. But nothing new was found. The journey so far had been uneventful.
Beroel, Rekas, and another warrior were out in the forest. The sun had almost set, but they continued to search. They had only found a handful of berries and a few red petals. Both plants they already found in the Mainland village and they weren't of much use, but had a sweet taste.
"It's getting dark. We should probably head back." the one warrior said.
Rekas followed him, but Beroel kept looking into the trees, "I'll meet up."
He walked deeper into the forest. Why was it always so barren? The animals must have traveled somewhere, but how much further could they go? In all his life, he had never traveled this far, but still, it was not far enough. He trudge through the same trees and grasses, and dirt he saw for the past six days. It bored him.
But as he looked out deeper into the woods, he noticed something. He inched closer. It was a campfire, but who could be out here? Without making a sound, he tiptoed closer to the light to get a glimpse of what it could be. It didn't even seem real. What he saw were large men that must have been twice his size sitting around a campfire with armor and weapons made of metal. Were these the kanigits that he read about?
Beroel wanted more than anything to enter their camp, bow down, and beg to become one of them. But would they even accept him? They'd probably kill him on the spot for trespassing in their lands. And what of the others? They would seek them out and kill them too. He felt regret as he snuck away back to his camp. He hoped that maybe he'd find them again one day.
As he walked back, he felt a rush of air fly by his arm. On the tree next to him, a thick arrow jutted out. They saw him. He search around with his eyes, but saw nothing and heard nothing as well. It must have been a warning to stay away, he thought. He continued onward to his camp, even more enthralled with the armored men.
When he reached the campsite, a fire was already blazing, tents were already set, and Rekas and another warrior were out in the ocean water. Beroel was tired and sat down next to the fire and adjacent from Talau. Her eyes had bags under them and she'd had a fixed frown for a few days now. The stress had gotten to her.
"Find anything of interest?" she asked.
He shook his head, "Nothing important."
She glanced at him, "But still something?"
He tried to play it off, "I thought I found something, but it was just shadows playing tricks on my eyes."
She continued to stare at him as if waiting for him to confess, but he was silent, and soon she gave up. She stood up and went inside her tent. Beroel almost felt guilty for not telling her about the men he saw. She had become so sad as she watched day after day the warriors return empty-handed. Just to know that someone else lived out in these woods would be enough to restore her faith. But her tent was securely closed and it was too late.
Two more days and the group encountered a mountain pass. They stopped to construct rafts to sail around and continued their trip by sea until they reached a cove. They set up tents, but the land was barren and they found no trees for for firewood. They considered burning their rafts, but decided against it in case there were more lands they needed to sail around.
By the time of the tenth day, the warriors were tired. Many were unable to sleep. The journey was taking it's toll, but Talau did not wish to turn back just yet. This cove was different from anywhere they'd been before and she insisted her warriors take large samples of everything they found. There were no trees, but there were large bushes scattered around the land with beautiful large flowers in shades of yellow and orange.
As they searched, they saw a tower on the horizon. Talau was excited. Could this be a civilization? Maybe they suffered from the same illness and had already found a cure. It took half a days trip to make it to the tower. But as they got closer, the plant life became more and more shriveled up until the land was barren once again. The ground around the tower was sandy and dead.
Talau rushed around the tower to find a door, but the tower was solid and impenetrable. She was devastated. At long last they had found something, but it was a false hope. They made camp and sat around the fire wearily. There was something strange about the cove, but no one could understand what exactly.
A scream came from one of the tents. Talau quickly crawled outside the check. The warriors surrounded the tent. The man inside burst out and continued to scream. Rekas chased after him and they were gone into the distance. The people remaining stared at each other.
"What happened?" Talau asked.
Everyone shook their heads. They waited for the men to return, but they never did. Beroel decided to go off to find them. In the meantime, another one of the warriors began screaming. It was apparently at nothing, but the fear in his eyes was immense. They others tried to shake him out of it, but it was of no use.
Meanwhile, Beroel had finally caught up to Rekas who sat by a bush panting. The other warrior was passed out beside him.
"I don't know what's wrong with him." Rekas said.
"Things have been strange since we found the cove. There's something not right about this place."
Rekas agreed. They were worried that the lands would continue to get stranger as they traveled. Whatever was haunting their men and causing them to feel such fear was unknown. As soon as all the warriors returned and had time to calm they continued back towards the coast. They did not sleep until they were at the beach. The sun was rising but they did not care, they slept on the beach, tired and desperate.