48/366 – The Broken Monolith

Continued from 47/366 – Blackwater Lake (Cont.)

The light grew steadily in the morning, filtering through the forest around them as the barrier Koldian had set up faded, exposing them to the chill in the air from the night before. A slight frost had set in overnight but had stopped where the dome had started.

“That was more comfortable than I thought it would be,” Master Scaine said, stretching.

“It’s a wonderful spell,” Koldian said, standing as well, “Makes it possible to sleep soundly through the night, even when you’re alone.”

“What’s the plan?” Jaque asked, pushing himself to a sitting position. “What are we doing today?”

“I think we’re going to go to the place Morn told us about last night,” Helem replied, getting up.

“If anyone doesn’t want to come along, I understand,” Morn said, sitting up. “I think I can make it on my own as long as I’m far enough from the lake.”

“Like I’d let you go alone,” Celeste said, getting to her feet. “I just told my father off to stay here.”

Morn smiled up at her.

“I don’t know that we are all necessary any longer,” Koldian said. “I think that I’ll head back to the town and make sure things are going okay there. I can help with teleporting people out if nothing else. Would you care to come with me, Jaque? I could teach you about teleportation circles, at least in principle.”

“We did come out here to get the people to return,” Jaque said, standing, “It makes sense to return now.”

“I’m going wherever Morn goes,” Helem said. “I’m not going to risk losing him now.”

“I’ll stay with him as well,” Master Scaine said.

“So then it’s us four,” Celeste said.

“If we take two horses, it will leave you one shy on the return trip,” Koldian said. “Would you mind?”

“It’ll be fine,” Master Scaine said.

Koldian picked up his bag and slung it over his shoulder, “Stay safe.”

“Safe travels,” Master Scaine replied, watching Koldian step out of the clearing.

“Hurry back to the town,” Jaque said, “I want to make sure that you guys are alright before I leave.”

“Of course,” Morn said with a nod.

“No more fighting zombies,” Celeste joked before giving him a hug, “If you see anything, just keep moving. Try your best to outrun it.”

“Koldian is with me,” Jaque shrugged, “I’m sure that we’ll be fine.”

Morn watched Jaque follow Koldian into the trees and get on a horse. He sat there watching them until they got too far away to see. He felt a knot in his stomach about separating. He didn’t like it.

“Are we ready to get moving?” Master Scaine asked. “Do we know how long it’ll take to reach our destination?”

“It’ll probably take a couple hours,” Morn guessed. “We have to stay so far away from the lake and follow the stones to the one that’s missing. I think it’s a few miles at least.”

“After you, sir,” Celeste joked, bowing to him.

Morn got to his feet and stretched.

“Everyone should eat something. We have to keep our strength,” Helem said, holding out small wrapped packages.

“Thank you,” Master Scaine said, taking one.

“It’s just some bread, meat, and cheese. It’s nothing special,” Helem said.

“Thanks, Mom,” Morn said, taking two and handing one to Celeste.

“We should leave the horses here,” Master Scaine said. “The path ahead gets thinner, and they will slow us down.”

“Gordean did say that he hadn’t seen anything since he made it here. Maybe they’ll be okay,” Celeste said.

“I’m fine with that,” Morn said. “If we can fix the stone quickly, maybe we can get back here by nightfall and only have to spend one more night out here.”

“That’s optimistic,” Celeste said, glancing up at the monolith next to them, “You think it’ll be quick to make one of these?”

“I don’t know,” Morn said, following her gaze. “All I know is what I heard.”

After ensuring that the horses were tied closely to the stone, the group began their journey through the woods. They ate as they walked, picking small bits of food off as they kept their eyes open for potential threats.

Morn felt something change when he stepped away from the stone. He could feel tiny vibrations through his shoes in the ground beneath him. As though something was following him. He didn’t know what it meant. An hour into the walk, when his mother and Master Scaine were further ahead, he caught Celeste staring at him with a concerned expression.

“Everything alright?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” Morn said. “I can feel something under me. Like we’re being followed.”

“You think it’s something that will attack us?” she asked.

Morn shook his head, “I don’t think so. It feels like when I touched the stone.”

“I think Azariah may have been wrong,” Celeste said.

“About what?” he replied.

“About you being a sorcerer,” she said, “I don’t know much, but I saw the look on your face. Your mother gets the same look when she makes fire.”

“You think I’m a sorcerer? Azariah is a deity,” Morn said, “how could they not know?”

“Azariah didn’t know about your mother’s elemental stone,” Celeste said, “gods are just way more powerful than us. They can make mistakes.”

Morn nodded. He knew he couldn’t argue the point with her. Azariah had admitted that they hadn’t known.

“You should talk to your mom,” she said. “She might be able to help you figure it out.”

“What are you two doing back there?” Master Scaine called from far ahead of them. “Hurry it up, we should stay together. There’s another stone coming up.”

Morn followed Celeste as they ran to catch up. He could see another monolith through the trees ahead. When they stepped into the clearing surrounding it, he could feel the pulse of energy of it like rolling thunder, vibrating every part of him.

“Mom,” Morn asked, looking up at the runes carved into the stone, “when did you know you had magic?”

“I was young,” she said, “I could feel the draw of the fire. I could hear it when it spoke. I knew what it was feeling, and when I touched it, it never hurt me. Why?”

“Celeste thinks that Azariah may have been wrong,” Morn said. “I can feel the stones here. I can feel the magic pulsing through them into the ground. I’m not sure what it means.”

Continued 49/366 – The Broken Monolith (Cont.)

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