by thefourpartland

The seventh and last installment in a new short story, one of three from the upcoming Splintered Lands: Volume One.

Once Ellgis had healed sufficiently to use an axe, he set about building a raft, while Fryca organized their notes and belongings. Once both tasks were complete, they set out in the skiff, towing the raft north and hoping to find a village where they might stay.

Their trip was long and arduous, for both Ellgis and Fryca grew ill at various points along the way. Only the supreme luck that sickness did not affect both of them at the same time allowed the technologists to continue their journey. Many days they made little more than a mile’s distance in the swamp, for they had to navigate around fallen timber and the deadly animals that dwelt in the pools of open water.

Meals were few and far between, only what little food could be hunted or scavenged. Water they boiled when they could, and strained through layers of cloth when they could not.

When at last the skiff bumped against the shore, they sighed with relief, staggering to their feet with the strange gait of one who has spent too much time upon the waters. From there, the technologists scouted the area, stealing a horse from a farmer in order to carry their belongings to the nearest village.

Instead, Ellgis and Fryca found Abboddóm, the seat of Baron Inswán, and a place that accepted them without compunction. They were given an empty hovel, a remnant from when the town had been populous. Now it was but a shadow of its former size and glory, and weeds grew upon the streets.

The first task the partners undertook was to restore the horse to its owner, for they could not deprive a man of his livelihood. They left it staked outside his house one night, none the worse for the use it had seen.

Ill news circled the town when the experimenters returned. A vulture from the north, a bastard by the name of Iudas, had come south, bandits and soldiers at his command. The townsfolk of Abboddóm had been ordered to pack their things, for if Baron Inswán was unable to halt the foe, he would at least buy his people enough time to flee.

The worst came to happen, and Ellgis and Fryca fled with the rest of the town, into the swamp.


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