5 - The Rains of Lisparr

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The sun rose gradually as the day went on. It inched across the sky, golden beams tiptoeing toward the ravine floor where dew still clutched the rocks.

"Is this thing ever going to end?" Andrin swung his long arms loosely.

I shook my head. He bounced back from the attack quicker than even an Animaré normally could.

Koren kept on at a brisk pace, his boots crunching on the rocks. "It'll end."

"At least it's pretty today," Andrin said, as if Koren hadn't answered. "Look up there, the sun comes through those trees just right!"

Lylisia and I followed his gaze to the clifftop that towered above us. Andrin's approach was a little too positive for me—the walls, rippling with dappled light, were nice to look at, but they also boxed us in. Lylisia echoed my thought, but gentler.

"It's a great effect Andrin, but I'll feel better about all this when we're out of this gorge and can get away from Lisparr. Who knows how close we are after last night."

Nodding along, I let the others' conversation fade out with the whistling breeze and chirping birds. For the tenth time I studied the ravine walls, sizing them up, marking steps in my head. Like the whole rest of the ravine, they were too risky to climb. We would have to wait until it was shallower. It had been a couple hours of walking already though—who knew when that would be.

The ravine was a fissure that snaked through the Corvelen foothills, a wandering trench carved deep into the earth. Once the sun was overhead, it was hard to tell which direction it led after so many twists and turns, but we had to pray it wasn't straight south. Like Lylisia had said, we couldn't know how close we were to Lisparr, or how far away we needed to stay to not be noticed. A chill went down my spine as my eyes traced a path up the rock wall.

Don't think about them. Whatever those Lisparii things were. The bleary memory fought to unearth itself, writhing underneath layers that buried it. It was a long time ago.

The currents suddenly jumped, a shift that startled me from my thoughts. Something moved.

A strange feeling washed over me like cool water and I reached out quickly, trying to find the shift before it was gone, sifting through the dull little souls of woodland creatures and birds fluttering overhead. The cliff went on without an end, the animals scurried like nothing was wrong, and then—there.

It was an odd soul, like I'd never seen before, bright like a human but... misty, like age had fogged a windowpane with no one to wipe it clean. It moved again, down the cliff, away from us, and my eyes raked the rocky lip. It felt like it... galloped. My heart beat wildly in my chest. How long has it been up there?

All at once the misty soul melted into the currents like a ghost, swallowed by a fog I couldn't dig through. Did I just imagine all that? Where'd it go? I could see in the currents right where it disappeared, a healthy distance away but still close enough I shouldn't have lost it.

"Guys?" I had a wild moment of looking around for the others, with only the rocks staring back at me.

Then Lylisia poked back around a corner, head cocked to the side. "You coming?"

A rush of adrenaline sent fire through my legs and I practically bounded across the rocks to reach her. I couldn't help throwing glances over my shoulder. She tensed up, hand halfway to her concealed blade. Our Bond hummed with tension and I struggled to explain.

"Something was watching me, it was up there and then it was gone just like that, I don't know it—"

"What was it Sed, who? A Ska'al?"

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