We stood for a long time at the shore of the unknown lake and stared out at the two wrecks we could see. They were a strange sight, for they were obviously ocean-going vessels, yet there was no way to get to the ocean – or any ocean for that matter – from the lake.
What bothered me more than this, however, was the fact that I could still smell powder in the air. The ships had been sunk recently, but there where were the bodies? Where were the survivors?
As Isaiah and Bram spoke in low voices beside me, a terrible thought entered my mind and would not leave me in peace.
In a calm voice that belied my growing discomfort, I asked a single question that silenced both men and all those near us.
“What if they are automatons?”
Bram shook his head as Isaiah replied, “There can be no such things.”
I turned and looked at him. “Where are we, Isaiah?”
“Gods’ Hollow,” he replied at once, and his eyes widened. In a whisper, he added, “And who is to say what can and cannot be in a place such as this.”
As the words left his mouth, the earth shook and the water around the ships churned and it seemed as though they had been listening to us.
I and every man and woman of Akatuy thought as one and ran.
There was nothing else to do.
The ground trembled, and the grinding scream of metal against metal pierced my ears. A glance back showed massive beings standing tall in the water. The pair of machines advanced to the lake’s shore but did not step out onto dry land. Instead, they fired a few flares but nothing more.
In the curious stillness of the Hollow, I heard a sound I never thought I would be happy to hear: the loud, dull click of firing pins on spent brass.
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