The cries of the E’Mortus faded with the coming sun. Its warmth broke through the cold, cracking the frost and ice left by the demons’ passing. I stumbled through the trees toward our camp, hoping that the others had made it as well. The silence of the forest around me made my footsteps seem louder.
I finally made it to the camp, finding the fire that had been roaring only an hour ago cold and damp from the frost. My eyes darted from the charred wood to the tree line, hoping that anyone had made it back.
“Gillan?” I yelled, “Sephora? Magnus?”
I heard a creak of wood behind me.
I turned to see Magnus, pale and bloody, carrying Sephora in his arms. Her arms folded in her lap as his tears dripped from the end of his chin.
“No,” Magnus cut me off, “she’s gone.”
“Gillan?” I asked.
He shook his head. “I heard his scream just after we broke out of the camp. I believe they got him too.”
I collapsed to my knees. Our happy roving band of friends suddenly cut in half by the E’Mortus. It had been the first time I had seen them. I had always assumed that they were nothing more than folklore and legends, but in the unnatural cold left in their wake I understood. They were death, pain, and suffering.
“I’m sorry, Oran, but we have to go now,” Magus pleaded, setting Sephora gently on the ground. She looked as though she could be sleeping. The muscles in her face were relaxed, and her eyes were closed. “If we stay, the E’Mortus will return. They only fear the sun, and will come back if we don’t leave.”
“What about Gillan and Sephora? Who will bury them?” I asked. “Would you have them eaten by the wildlife or the E’Mortus when they return tonight?”
“You know as well as I that we don’t have the time to give them a proper burial, but we could ring them with stone and wood,” Magnus said, his hand resting on Sephora’s.
Magnus began collecting stones as I stood and looked into the forest. My mind raced with questions that would likely go unanswered for the rest of my life. I vaguely heard Magnus say something, but I wandered away, in the direction Gillan had run, numb to the forest and the silence that now plagued it. I only knew two things at that moment. First, I had to find Gillan, and second I had to gain enough power to destroy every one of the E’Mortus that existed, no matter the cost…