October 19, 2015
After their battle with the Dead God, the group was beyond weary in both mind and spirit, but none of them wished to rest in The Valley of the Headless Gods. Despite the sunrise, the lands stayed dark. Grey clouds rolled overhead. Their lead colored edges churned like swirling mists of pure chaos. Their presence threatened to reenact the storm that cost them two members of their party when they sought shelter.
Jack paused between two headless statues that loomed over him like twin towers. He glanced up at the ancient stonework and saw that no two of the statues were the same. “I know everyone is on their last ebb, but let’s press on. I see a forest beyond these plains. If we can get past this open area we should be alright.”
No one answered him, they just kept marching. Vel-Linna remained in a daze. She might have rescued the party, but that hadn’t changed her lack of expression and staring eyes. Every hair on her head had turned white, and despite her beauty, she looked more like an old woman as Huth helped guide her through the tall grasses.
Tynilia walked between him and his fellow Yig worshippers, she looked up and gave him a wane smile, but his lover appeared to be the most exhausted of them all. Shadowknife moved like a silent specter behind Huth, and Stalker, as always, brought up the rear. The tall Tezcatlipoca worshipper had been avoiding them as much as he could after he had left the rest of them to their own fate below.
Jack kept expecting another disaster to strike. Perhaps the Dead God might have found a way to survive the hundred tons of stone they sent down on his head, or maybe a new horror would erupt from the sands below their feet. Each headless statue carried the threat of its colossal form somehow beginning to move. But instead of these imagined threats the group only faced more miles of walking.
Sometime, long past midday, the group made it to the edge of the forest. Jack sensed at once the malign nature of the valley diminishing with each footstep deeper into the woods. Rocky moss covered stone, mixed with thick virgin trees and Jack drew in a long breath of sweet scented air.
Soon however the going became more difficult. The game trail was covered with fallen trees, which the group had to climb over. After spotting an overhanging cliff, Jack called for a halt and no one complained.
The damp wood resisted attempts to make a fire, until Stalker threw some sort of powder onto the branches and they burst into flames. After settling in, they used what little remaining Ki they had to heal themselves and heated up some of their rations.
Not much conversation took place. No one offered to go hunting and the group wondered off to find a place to bed down one by one. Huth had laid out an animal skin for Vel-Linna, but she ignored it. Soon only the traumatized young woman and Jack remained up.
He threw a wet log onto the fire. It hissed releasing steam. “Can you hear what I’m saying?”
“Can you tell me what happened to you?”
Her haunted eyes gazed forward. Unblinking. Unknowing.
Around him even the forest stayed hushed, like they feared the ghosts that clung to his party. Only the gentle drips of water falling from the Cliffside competed with the crackle of the flames.
“Crap, this is going to be a long night,” he mumbled to himself and threw another long onto the blaze.
To be continued next Monday