Days and nights have come and gone. Ixel was beginning to tire of the journey, yet she endured with determination. There was no turning back now. She came this far, and will finish what was started. Her waroth groaned, nervously side stepping before halting. She kicked it a few times with her heels and clicked her tongue to urge it forward. The waroth stubbornly refused her efforts to get it to continue any further.
"Move you stupid beast!" Ixel shouted, frustrated she threw her hands up, "Fine! We'll camp here tonight."
"Where exactly are we?" Jh'tarulash asked.
Ixel carefully examined her surroundings. The day had retired and it was now within the darkest hour of the night. The flames from the torches they carried with them cast a shadow upon the area around them. The dead trees' looked grotesque in the dim lighting, their limbs reaching out like claws and the trunks distorted into expressions of agony and terror.
"It doesn't matter, we will continue on our way come daylight." Ixel said hopping off of her waroth.
"This place is a bit creepy," Haraia mumbled.
The twins just glanced at each other without a word. The yellow sand kicked up beneath Ixel's feet as she breathlessly wandered over to an opening. The others followed and worked together to put up a covering to protect them from the night air. Temperatures were dangerously low, and the sky was dark.
"Val and Cal, go fetch some bark for the fire pit." Haraia ordered.
"Why do we have to go fetch it?" Cal started.
"Why don't you send Jh'tarulash?" Val added.
"Just go and do it," Ixel snapped, wary and not in the mood for their bickering.
"Fine," Val and Cal said simultaneously before wondering off into the dark together.
"Is my mat ready?" Ixel asked.
"Yes, Narkanai," Jh'tarulash replied as he had just finished putting down her last cushion.
"Good," she sighed as she plopped herself down, "I'm exhausted."
Haraia took her place next to Ixel when they heard it. Screams echoed back to their camp from the direction of the twins.
"That was Valulalith and Calalalith!" Haraia gasped.
Jh'tarulash jumped to his feet, nearly stumbling towards his waroth grabbing unsuccessfully for the weapons spilling them out across the sand. Ixel backed away from the opening of the shelter, squeezing a pillow to her chest. Seconds...minutes passed in silence with all three of them anticipating whatever comes next. Footsteps were heard trudging through the powdery sand towards them. Jh'tarulash gripped his sword anxiously, Haraia standing just a few paces behind him holding up the torch to give off light. CRACK! The crunching of twigs set Jh'tarulash on edge, his hands beginning to shake. Out from the darkness Calalalith emerged into the light falling to his hands and knees. His body was bloodied in some places, open wounds could be seen on his arms and hands. He even suffered a long cut across his face. Jh'tarulash dropped down beside him and wrapped an arm around him.
"Cal! What happened to you?"
"Where is Valulalith?" Haraia was the first to take notice of his absence.
"It grabbed him first," Cal choked on a sob, "I tried to save him....then it came after me....I got away, but Val...he-he's dead!"
To be continued...