(Part 21) For a complete list of this series, please go here.
Aerissa could hear her heart thumping within her head. A sense of dread washed over her, chilling her, as she emerged from the cave. Locke generally did not stay too far from her for long, and was quick to return at her beck and call. Aerissa stood slowly, placing her hands against the outer cave wall to aid her balance. Closing her eyes, she tried to focus her mind and silently call for him.
She sighed, leaning heavily against the cave wall. Then suddenly she doubled over, retching into the grass. Aerissa's eyes stung as she spit and coughed, clearing her mouth of bile. “Ungh,” she groaned as she wiped her mouth. Her stomach had been feeling more and more uneasy lately.
She waited outside for about an hour. It didn't appear as though Locke would be returning this evening. Aerissa decided it would be best to go back inside the cave for the rest of the night. Before doing so, she gathered a few sticks and twigs and made a small fire. The flickering of the flames mesmerized her as she lay staring at the fire. Eventually, she fell back to sleep.
The fire died out as the morning sun bathed the entrance of the cave, warming it up nicely. Aerissa was still alseep, her arms wrapped tightly around herself. Her head rolled and face twitched as she dreamed. A painful searing in her mind woke her with a start.
Aerissa sat up, covering her head with her arms, hoping to make the pain stop if she applied pressure to her skull. The pain began to fade to a dull throb.
Aerissa peered around the cave, but didn't see anything. Quickly she went outside. Placing her hand against her forehead, she shielded her eyes from the sun as she surveyed the woods surrounding her.
“Hello?” she called out.
That time she felt her name by a familiar voice: Locke.
Excitedly, she thought back to him, Locke! Where are you? I've been so worri-
Then the connection faded. A seemingly bare branch off to the side of the cave caught her attention out of the corner of her eye. Aerissa's brows knitted as she concentrated on the branch. There was something stuck on it. Quickly she rushed over to it. Grasping the branch she bent closer to examine it.
There was a tuft of fur snagged on the branch. Aerissa tilted her head, puzzled and concerned. Then she saw the red drips leading away from the bush. Her heart flipped in her chest.
“Oh no… oh no!” she cried out. Aerissa grabbed her bow and dagger from the cave before setting off to follow the trail.
* * *
Aly gave Krizkix a look of disbelief. “Grom'gol? Why in the Nether would she want to go there?”
“The zeppelin?” Krizkix gave her an exasperated look.
“But she's wanted. The zeppelin would take her to a major city. That's just stupid. Anyone trying to hide goes somewhere they….” She trailed off, staring at the log, “….won't be found. Of course! It all makes sense now!” Aly clanked her mug against Krizkix's then gulped down the last of her ale.
“It does?” he looked at her, fidgeting nervously in his chair.
“Yes! Go where no one would expect you to go. She's headed to the last place I'd search for her. Brilliant!” Aly smiled widely. She was happy enough she could almost kiss Krizkix.
She shook her head. No, that had to be the ale talking.
“It does!” Krizkix grinned mischievously, nodding his head vigorously, making his ears flap. “Payment?”
Aly sighed, his persistence for payment snapping her out of her happy moment. Glaring at him, she slammed a gold piece down on top of the parchment as she rose from her chair. “I have a flight to catch.” And with that, she was gone.
Krizkix continued to sit at the table, smiling smugly to himself. He placed the gold piece she left between his back teeth, biting down twice. Nodding with satisfaction, he stuffed it into his pocket. He looked down at the flight log they'd been pouring over. Grasping the parchment in the middle, he scrunched it up into a ball. Giggling to himself, he slurped the remainder of his ale. Krizkix's eyes were glassy as he weaved and swayed towards the door. When he reached the doorframe, he paused, tossing the parchment ball in his hand. Thinking better of it, he threw it into the fireplace, then left, giggling and muttering to himself.
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