With the thunder booming over head, lightning streaking across the skies and the ocean waves crashed beneath. Elias stumbled to his feet with his stomach fighting the nausea that tried to get out. He pulled himself to his feet, soaked to the bone and numb from the chill. Attempting to gain his balance on the deck of his thrashing ship, he jumped to the helm attempting to ride with the winds without much luck. Elias grabbed various ropes trying to pull in the sail and run bare poles. A bolt of lightning struck the ship splintering the mast. Nearly immediately after his hull was torn apart as the waves crushed his ship against the rocks. Elias launched into the air with the splintered debris and then the waves swallowed him. As he sank to the depths of the tumultuous blackness a flash of light consumed him. He could barely make out the vagueness of a woman’s face
Elias jerked forward from his restless sleep gasping. His heart pounded from the startling nightmare. He took in his surroundings in a split second then leaned forward with his head between his legs he caught his breath. He inhaled deep to calm his heart and took inventory again. He acknowledged his dry sand ridden mouth when it struck him, he could see! He opened his eyes again and studied his surroundings again. He could see the thick heaviness that weighed him down. It wasn’t falling, or floating, or blowing away, it was just shifting subtly. His first concern was breathing in this foreign matter, but it was just as unaffected by him as it was the wind.
Trying to stand his legs gave out. He quickly caught himself but only with his left hand. He sat back, reminded of his wound he pulled his arm up to inspect it. He discovered there was no wound at all. For a second he considered his nightmarish travel in the blackness as a figment of his imagination. No, he assured himself, it may have been a nightmare but not the sleeping kind.
Elias recounted his previous experience. He considered how he had ended up on the beach, his wounded arm, the creatures he was sure he had sensed moments before collapse. Confusion met him at every turn. Then he recalled the voice. It rasped in his memories… Elias, Get up. At least he knew his own name. He cast the hallucination aside returning to his wound that was gone. He stretched out his arm and looked over his tanned skin again. Not even a blemish or scar marked his skin.
Despite his restored state he still felt very sore. Elias decided to use his time on the ground to stretch. Elias grabbed his boot’s pointed toes and leaned, even though he was sore he felt little resistance in his movement. Fluid motions took over as the muscle memory returned and he pushed and pulled into familiar stretches. He quickly realized, even if his memory was gone his body seemed to remembered.
Once he was limbered up and his circulation returned use to his muscles, he stood up and did his best to rid himself of all the sand. He took into account his belongings, sturdy boots, leather greaves, pants, a tunic, and his leather chest piece. Suddenly a rush of tension filled him. It burned and twisted his gut. When it dwindled he was strangely aware that he was without a weapon. His hands felt naked without something to draw. He blinked, looking down into his palms, what a strange sensation he thought.It was settled he would be meeting this need first.
Whoever had tended to his arm had left tracks. He leaned down noting that only a few hours and they would’ve been gone blown away by the coastal winds. Elias looked down both direction of the beach. A feeling similar to the one inspiring his search for weaponry seemed to pull him down the beach a little further. The Miasma cut his vision short, he could only see twenty strides before any shapes or forms were consumed. But, it was light and that was something to be thankful for. Elias scrutinized the waters while he treaded the sands. There! As soon as he spotted the debris he was put to ease.
A swollen dark red form bobbed on the waxing waves. Elias walked to where the flotsam was floating closer. As it got nearer her could make out soggy folds that struggled to stay afloat. When it was just out of arms reach he stepped into the water and pulled the swollen package from the ocean.
It was a smallish chest with a soaked folded cloth strapped to the top. He set the chest down in the sand and pushed down onto the cloth draining as much water he could to lighten the load. Elias had no urgency to open the chest or unfold the garment. It was only two feet in length, a foot deep and wide. Instead of tearing into it he grabbed the leather straps and slung it over his shoulder setting out after the tracks.
Elias climbed over several dunes before he reached the foot of a plateau. He was met by a ghostly scene. Columns of eroding wood jutted out of the ground like tombstones, and whatever filled the air made the scene even more eerie. The thoughts and emotions inside struggled between confusion and the strange nervousness that directed him. He knew he needed two things, to quench the strange sensation in his hands that caused him to clench them unconsciously, and to figure out how he ended up in the state he was.
The trail Elias followed was generally straight forward, but he encountered a few breaks where logs and debris filled the path. Elias noticed a pattern, the footsteps were rushed, and after each obstacle there was a spot in the sand where the runaway had landed after tripping. Elias concluded the person must’ve fled in the night, and if it was as dark as he remembered he was surprised they made it as far as they did. Elias could see the remains of structures, he placed his hand on a pillar of wood and it splintered off.
Haggard grass started to sprout out of the hard dirt, replacing the wooden beams. Elias listened carefully, he could hear trees rustling. The wind caused his arm hairs to prickle and stick out. Rubbing the cold bumps on his arms his brow furrowed out of irritation. The thick fog was becoming an annoyance, and he was ready to crouch in front of a fire for a bit. His eyes searched the barren grounds for resources he knew weren’t there. The time traveling wasn’t wasted, Elias took note of how far he had travelled as well as the diameter of his field of vision. He could see fifty feet before any shapes were completely consumed by the fog, and the resistance from the fog wasn’t enough to slow him down.
There was a slight incline now. Suddenly Elias could see an incline come into sight. He knew the trees he heard were just out of sight. Walking up the dirt hill he was faced with a wall of clay and hardened mud with a structure atop it. Elias searched around and looking up inspecting what appeared to be framework from a cabin jutting a foot over the cliff. He could hear voices but they sounded well out of sight, he gauged the height and tossed his chest to the right of the cabin. Taking a few steps back, he bolted towards the wall and up, grabbing a plank of wood. He hoisted himself up against the cabin with the cliff to his back. Elias grabbed the corner and stepped to another plank that snapped. He gave thanks quietly that there was no one inside and swung himself around the building and onto ground.
Elias scanned his surroundings, there was another building to his right but no one was present there either. Looking back at the cabin he had clung to, he couldn’t figure why it would’ve been built over a cliff. He picked up the chest, hoisting it over his shoulder and crept along the side of the cabin.
The immediate most needs were filling his stomach with food and water. Elias peaked around the corner of the building, seeing only the bases of trees and unlit torch posts he slipped into the cabin. The inside was dark and cluttered. It was small and without any windows Elias relied on the slivers of light coming through the cracks. Elias scavenged without a sound. There were clothes and tools, empty bottles of an aromatic stench, and a soiled bed. Nothing of use to be found until his boot sounded on something different. He looked down and could see a small metal ring attached to a little door in the floor. After opening it he was pleased to see packages wrapped in paper, and the faint smell of seasoned meat made his parched mouth salivate again. He quickly found a satchel hanging on a post in the wall and filled it with the packaged meat. Elias froze, he heard shuffling and footsteps approaching. He donned the satchel and closed the door without a sound.
“Bruce you’re not gonna make something of yourself if you keep on with Vincent and his lot,” a woman’s voice spoke.
“Ya don’t know anything,” slurred from a late night at the tavern.
“Listen Bruce,” the footsteps stopped outside the cabin, “I can’t have you coming to the tavern when you’re on duty. It ain’t right. You’re a good man but ya can’t be passed out when you’re supposed to be guarding against the Veran. Get some sleep.”
“Always taking care of me, ya spoil me Sarah,” Elias could hear him turn and he pushed through the door.
The footsteps left and Bruce, a massive man dressed in a worn green tunic made the small cabin seem even smaller. He fumbled with his belt that had a sword slung to it, having difficulties he jerked on it until it came loose and threw it on the ground beside his bed. The sound of breaking class made the man jump back, looking down the remains of a glass bottle scattered the floor. Rubbing his head Bruce slumped into the bed, pulled a thick blanket over his body and was snoring a few moments later.
Elias listened to his breathing. It had settled into a deep rhythmic pattern accompanied with snoring. With Bruce asleep he stepped down off the small end table in a particularly dark corner of the room and slipped back out as quietly as he came.
Back in the light and fog, Elias searched his surroundings again. He resolved to staying out of sight while he was here, Bruce’s skin was a pale peach, his own skin would immediately stand out. Not knowing if this was a small or large establishment made him cautious, he wanted out as soon as he could. The cabins were networked with trails leading in one general direction, away from the coast. It was safe for Elias to assume the further from the coast he was the more populous the village got. Elias skirted the cabins, staying as close to the exterior of the village as possible. Watching for any water source as well as people. He rounded another cabin, this one inhabited, and peaked around the corner. The next cabin was probably twenty or so feet he estimated after hearing the door shut and footsteps depart.
The fog made it easy for Elias to maneuver between the cabins. The new cabin has a second story attached, he quickly closed in then up into the second story window. He pulled the wooden shutter open and found himself inside another dark room. This one was a simple living space with a bed and a dresser against the wall. This time he took a moment to rest, he was feeling the exhaustion having used most of his energy thus far. He needed water, Elias clenched his teeth from the soreness of his dry, cracked tongue. Refocussing he went through the bedroom door that was ajar. The stairs led to a larger space that was comprised of another sleeping area as well as a floorboard similar to the one in Bruce’s cabin. Elias grabbed the metal ring and pulled the cupboard open, his heart was pounding with hopes of water. He thrust his hand into the hole with excitement pulling out two animal skins generously filled with liquids. He put one into the satchel and the other he untied and started guzzling. Water escaped the sides of his mouth as he drank with ferocity.
The door creaked as it opened. Elias was furious with himself for acting so frantic and not paying better attention. He stood and turned to see a young woman standing in the doorway. She wore a brown cloak and was holding a satchel like his own. Her gray eyes widened seeing the stranger in her house. Elias wiped his mouth calmly and reached down for his chest while he watched her. She had curly locks of strawberry blonde hair and a swollen eye that stood out starkly against her fair complexion. The girl appeared to be frozen, she wasn’t even breathing.
She was between him and his escape, she blocked the door and was standing next to the stairs. Eliasknew she was no warrior, but was concerned about who her screams would call running. He put both his hands out front where she could see them and took a slow step forward. This seemed to wake her up, Elias’ movement made her jump. She spun around and fled into the fog. Only a second later Elias growled and bolts up stairs as he heard her screams.
“Caligas! There’s a Caligas here!”
Light on his feet, Elias was upstairs and without breaking stride he planted a foot on the window seal and leapt out into the forested outskirts.