We had suffered through several storms well before midday, and as the last finished, Isaiah and I agreed that it would be beneficial for all to rest for a short time prior to continuing.
I joined Bram, and the two of us scouted ahead, searching for a suitable, defendable position where we might eat with a limited effort regarding keeping guard. There was a slight opening in a natural rocky outcropping ahead of us, so we entered it and followed an ever-widening path that curved to the right, hugging the side of a steep wall of what looked and felt like granite.
When the path opened onto a small plain, Bram and I stopped, shocked by what we saw.
A swath of bodies spread out before us, and a pair of armed men stood near them.
The men saw us, and without readying their weapons, approached. Neither Bram nor I moved. Instead, we waited to see what it was the men wanted.
The strangers stopped a short distance away, and peered intently at me. They murmured to one another, nodded, and then the man on the right spoke.
“You’re Duncan Blood.”
The speaker gestured at the bodies. “She left them for you.”
A chill stabbed my spine, and hatred left a bitter taste in my mouth. “Did she way why?”
The speaker nodded. “She said she killed them because they looked like you.”
The speaker motioned to his companion, who opened his mouth, revealing the still bleeding root of what had once been his tongue.
“And this one,” the speaker added, “sounded like you.”
“Anything else?” I asked.
“Yes.” The speaker flashed a smile of rotten teeth. “She’s going to kill you.”
As the words left the man’s mouth, he and his silent friend exploded, throwing Bram and me backward and covering us with flesh and bones and innards.
I managed to get to my feet first and then dragged Bram to his. Whether my mother was still close or if she had merely set some magic in their flesh, I didn’t know, nor did I want to find out.
She’d been angry for two hundred years and her mood showed no sign of improving.
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