The Hollow gives as much as it takes away, for such is the nature of the place. There is neither rhyme nor reason. It is chaos personified, deified, and – in the end – it is a duality that is too terrifying to ponder for long.
This afternoon is a perfect example of the strangeness of the Hollow.
We were moving slowly through a wooded area, the scent of the ocean unmistakable on the breeze now. Isaiah and I were discussing where we should make camp when one of our scouts cried out in surprise, never a pleasant sound in Gods’ Hollow.
Today it was.
Three men approached us, one who was young, the others were older and heavily bearded. When the two older men saw us, they stopped and let out cries of surprise. In a moment, those around me did the same.
The Akatuyians rushed past me en masse and embraced the two older men, and in a heartbeat, I knew why.
I was looking upon Bram and Aron, the two men who had been slain, buried, and devoured before our eyes.
Yet they were not the same. These men were obviously older, and we had witnessed their deaths only a few days before. When we sat down to break our fast and enjoy our meager meal, they told us their tale after we told them of how recently they had died.
They shook their heads and marveled at the difference between worlds.
For them, it had been nine years since the day of the women in white. And it had been the rest of us, myself included, who had been captured and slain by the women. They had tried to save us, Bram going so far as to strip my Colts from my corpse and firing them – a truth he confirmed when he unwrapped them from his bedroll – and when that did not work, they had fled.
During all this time, the young man remained silent. I had watched him and saw there was a strange familiarity about him.
Bram nodded, and the young man straightened up, offering me his hand.
“I am Marcus Blood,” he informed me as we shook hands, “and I am your son.”
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