Any day can go from bad to good, and good to bad. Today, today was the latter.
We had come to a stop around midday, and I was enjoying sausages and fresh bread while the sun melted the last of a surprise snowstorm which had temporarily stopped us. In the past week, I have gained a mastery of this Russian that my Akatuyian friends speak, and I have begun to enjoy the idiosyncrasies of their language.
As Bram was speaking of the murder he committed – and subsequently, the one which had him sent out as a prisoner – we were interrupted by a pair of older women who told me that while they were looking for quail eggs, they had come upon a small structure and a woman who lived there alone. She spoke only two words that they could recognize.
All my new friends stood to walk with me to this stranger, but I shook my head. I had no desire to see any of them die on my behalf, and quite frankly, it would be easier to fight without worrying over them.
I was told the general direction, and I set out immediately to learn who it was who wished to speak with me.
A short walk of perhaps a quarter-mile brought me to the home and to the speaker.
She eyed me from top to bottom and rested on the shovel she was using to widen her entrance. After a few moments, she spat on the ground and grinned at me with jagged teeth.
“She’s coming for you.” The woman’s accent was old and bitterly familiar. It was the way my family had spoken when I was a boy.
“Who’s coming?” I dropped my hands to my Colts and loosened them in their holsters.
She chuckled. “Our mother, Duncan Blood. She’ll find you soon enough if you stay in the Hollow. I suggest you find a quick way to your home.”
Without another word, she went back to her work, and I went on my way.
It wasn’t until I got back to camp, and my friends pressed me for information that I understood what the stranger had said.
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