My horse was skittish for a while. Not sure if it was the lingering scent of death or apprehension about moving forward. With each step farther from the battlefield, I could feel strength and power growing inside me. The Unknown Angel giving the Faceless Demon his blood. And now I was something new.
My horse took me away from the battlefield and toward the timberline. Once I was surrounded by trees, I could hear whisperings. Each time I turned my head to see the source, my eyes saw nothing and the noise would stop. I nudged my horse to move a bit faster.
I was very nearly through the trees when I finally saw black smoke tendrils dancing in the tree tops. Strange smoke creatures with reddened eyes looked back at me. Weird dog-shaped creatures that had clawed feet. They talked to each other in whistles and clicks, a language I was unfamiliar with. They moved almost ghostlike between trees just to reform ahead of me and watch me pass. I keep my eyes upward, watching them as I rode past. They didn’t seem malicious even though the sight of them was unnerving.
Once I was through the thicket, I turned my horse around and looked back at the wood. There were hundreds of them crawling all over the tree tops, their red eyes luminous. “You don’t frighten me,” I stated in a clear voice.
The murmurings stopped and they all stared at me. Then they hissed. I almost drew the sword I had at my side, when I realized they were laughing. They were laughing at me. All of them in unison, shaking the trees from their amusement. Why was I funny? And who were these things?
I turned my horse away from the tree line and rocked forward in the saddle, encouraging my horse forward. There was only one place I knew to start looking for answers. And that was home.