At World’s Edge – Chapter 6

The basin was home to monolithic stone structures, high towers of rock that grasped at the sky. They were eerily smooth at the base as if a vast river had once pooled around them, or as if a lifetimes worth of sandstorms had peppered them. Atop the structures the odd plant grew around a more uneven, rougher surface. It was as the magician had seen, or at least part of what his far sight had told him. The band weaved between the bare stone forest for what seemed like hours, but as they furthered their journey forward, they became more common. There were several in sight at all times now. The towering rocks became denser in quantity, and as their numbers rose, so did the crackling tension of the group. A weapon could be fumbled and dropped, and the resulting sound would have made all but the steeliest of warriors jump. But they were all shaken, impaired by the scene that Mahofon had made the night before. And most had made the conclusion that these towering piles of stone would be something related. They feared what they could see, yet not understand.

The sun began to fall from its perch in the boundless blue expanse of the sky. It sank to be pierced by another stone monolith, with the sky shifting from orange to blood red. Now the structures casted dark shadows across the landscape. Finally, the sun crawled below the horizon, and the remaining rays of sunlight died out. The warriors soldiered on, although their packs became heavier, they stumbled more often, and the feet bled in their weary boots. Night set in a dark water that flooded the ravine; it pooled just out of reach, seemingly impenetrable, claustrophobic. It was from that darkness the giant’s fingers, stretching for the sky, appeared, their tips forever shrouded, despite the moonlight, by their mystery.

The silence now was unbearable. Yumipon quivered in the cold, and shook to think of what had turned the magician temporarily mad. The air was icy, however, and that was a distraction. For many hours now he had pondered the purpose of these towering blocks of natural stone. How natural were they? He was aware that Cescar would have the best idea, but he felt like he couldn’t ask. Mombulu planned for camp to be set soon, but this wasn’t before another tower grew from the darkness ahead of the band. This one, Yumipon noted, appeared wider at the top than it did at the bottom. For several minutes, Yumipon felt himself trembling before it. He would break eye contact, and then when he looked up it seemed to have lurched closer. After an hour of feeling disconsolate, he was able to make out the structure. It was by no means a simple rock formation, but a Karmen battle tower, fashioned from the twisted rock structure. What filled the archer with dread, however, was the damage the building had sustained. Swords were scattered throughout the wood and stone; arrows and spears also tarnished the surfaces that created it, but they were old, rusted – nothing the Cefiras had used for decades. Atop the tower was crowned some mangled tree, stout and dead. But hung from it was a beehive, as bone grey as the parched wood. Yumipon could hardly redirect his eyes, despite his terror.

(Cont.)

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