When the snow settled, we found ourselves in the midst of an abandoned town. Rocky hills surrounded the buildings and scrub trees grew between them. There was pure silence around us. A silence undisturbed by neither insects nor animals.
Some of my new friends were still shaken by what we had witnessed the day prior when Bram and Aron suffered their obscene fates.
We were not a curious group, not after what we had survived in the Hollow thus far, and so we set up a small camp in the center of the dirt and dust road. Our meager lunch was eaten in the oppressive silence, and we sat in what little shade we could find.
After a short time, I stood up and walked among the Akatuyians, seeing how they fared with the long traveling. I could feel the tug of home deep in my gut, yet I suspected we were some distance away.
It was as I thought of this that the first strains of music reached our ears.
The sound was high pitched, as though it came from some sort of flute, and a moment later, we saw that it was.
A musician walked out a slim alley up and to our left, a flute to what had once been his face. As he strolled towards us, he played a lilting tune, one which belied his ravaged flesh. When he was a short distance away, I drew my Colts and waited to see what horror he would attempt to visit upon us.
He came to a stop and lowered his flute.
“You’re a Duncan.” The man’s voice was as pleasant as the tune he had been playing.
“I am,” I replied. “Have you a message?”
The musician shook his head and laughed. “No. I am music, though your mother would have had it otherwise. She disagreed with my playing and sought to teach me a lesson.”
He gestured to his face.
“Did she?” I asked.
“No.” He raised the flute to his ruined mouth, turned, and left the way he had come, the music filling the air.
The Hollow is a hell of a place and the wreckage left by my mother is the saddest I have seen.
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