The road had been long and hard, but now, standing at the base of the Black Mountain, is when the rest of the journey seemed daunting to Catherine. Her eyes traced the stairs and paths that made their way up and across the mountainside. She could hear her heartbeat in her ears and the pain of loss along the way. She closed her eyes, centering herself for a moment before she felt a calloused and familiar hand slide into her’s.
“It’s okay, you’re not alone now,” Amanda said, her voice was soft and strong, washing over Catherine like a warm blanket that made her feel safe.
Catherine couldn’t stop the tears that came with the relief. Amanda stood before her, bruised and battered. Her arms flew around Amanda, pulling her close as she cried into her shoulder.
“I thought you died,” Catherine bawled.
“It’ll take more than a few dozen of those beasts to stop me from getting back to you,” Amanda said, gripping her tight. “We’re almost there. Let’s keep moving before something else finds us.”
Catherine released her from the embrace, but refused to let go of her hand. They took the first step up the mountain together. They traveled quickly, following the paths hewn into the stone by generations of crafters thousands of years ago.
After two weeks of traveling, hiding, and sneaking the pair crested the peak, seeing the small shack they had sought throughout their journey. Their arms and legs were sore from the hard travel and little to no sleep. They could hear the creatures following them when the night came.
Amanda drew her sword and approached the door cautiously. She rapped on the door and waited. A light shuffling could be heard from inside for a moment and then the door opened.
“Put that weapon away, child. There’s no use for it here.” Mother Justine said as she motioned for the pair to enter. “This place is guarded by more than just the mountain.”
Catherine and Amanda walked through the door, following Mother Justine down into the belly of the mountain. Through a maze of tunnels into their bedchamber where they collapsed into beds. They had made it home, safe from the hordes of ‘men’ that plagued the countryside. They would have a story to tell when the morning came.