“Crimson Legacies” Excerpt by Missy De Graff

“Crimson Legacies” Excerpt by Missy De Graff

Crimson Legacies
Promotional Material for Crimson Legacies

THE CRIMSON LEGACIES

The vastness of the wastelands are numbing. One could easily lose track of time and direction if it weren’t for the sun, the moon, and the stars to guide us. Since we rode through the night, the horses needed a quick rest by mid-day, but we wait until later to rest for the night. As the sun sets and dusk approaches, we look to settle down for the night. With no other options, we set up a small camp in the middle of nothingness. No protection. No shelter. Nothing.
It’s odd to layout, under the stars with absolutely nothing around. My heightened senses stay alert.
“I’ll take the first watch,” I say.
“Watch?”
“Yeah, we don’t know what nights are like out here.”
Garrett lays on his back and closes his eyes.
“Fine. But don’t wake me for several hours.”
He’s always grumpy at night. He enjoys waking early and getting to bed early.
Sven sits down, and I lean against his warm body. It’s chillier than I expected. A cool, crisp night, in direct contrast to the dreadfully hot afternoon sun. But, Sven keeps me warm enough.
I gaze up to the stars and recite the poems of lore about each. I say a quick prayer to the moon. And, then when yawns bombard me, I stand up and stretch.
That’s when I see it. In the far distance, glowing lights on the horizon. Shivers course up my spine and my nose twitches. Every part of my body tells me to run and hide. I look around, but there is nowhere to go.
I kick Garrett’s boot to wake him up.
“Hey,” I whisper.
“Just one more minute?” He whines.
I kneel next to him. “This is serious,” I whisper.
He sits up and follows my gaze.
“What is that?” He asks.
“I don’t know, but I don’t think I like it.”
We both remain awake and alert the rest of the night. Ready to take flight upon the horses if needed. By morning, the lights didn’t get any closer, so my nerves calm, and curiosity takes over.
“Do you think that’s a little village?” I ask
Garrett shrugs.
“Maybe it’s Alfred’s home.”
“Maybe.”
“We should go a little closer to check it out.”
Garrett takes a deep breath and releases it with force. “Fine.”
***
The lights are much further than they appear when illuminated. We ride throughout the day at a steady gallop and still haven’t come across anything resembling what we saw the night before.
“Just a little further,” I say.
“You’ve been saying that all afternoon,” Garrett moans.
“I know, but it looks like a small hill ahead.”
“Or, it could be tricks from the heat.”
“Let’s just ride a little further and see.”
“After you,” Garrett slows his pace to allow Sven to take the lead.
I slow Sven’s pace, knowing he must be tiring. Though, he seems to be enjoying this. I wonder if it’s just the freedom, or if it’s instilled in his bloodline to live like this? I would possibly equate this to that of a warrior’s lifestyle.
We must crest a hill, even if I didn’t realize it, because I see something I didn’t see before.
“Look! Over there.” I point to my right side. The sky fills with tar black smoke from a small pile on the ground.
“What is that?” Garrett asks.
“Great question. Let’s go find out.”
I tug at the reins to change Sven’s direction. As we near the smoking pile, my stomach churns. I swallow several times to keep lunch from coming up.
“What is it?” Garrett asks only moments before vomiting.
“It smells like death. Burning flesh.”
I look around and see more small piles with varying layers of smoke rises from them.
“Do you think this is what we saw last night?” Garrett asks.
I study the surroundings. If these were all campfires, then it could’ve illuminated the night as we observed. But, could we have seen these from where we were? I couldn’t see them until we breached that small hill.
“No, I don’t think this is what we saw,” I say. “But, whatever did this isn’t something I want to meet.”
“Agreed.”
I take one last look at the pile of burning ash in front of us. A charred head rolls out of the pile. Everything is burned to a crisp, there’s no way of telling from which realm it originated. Except, the eyes are hollowed and, in its place, a glowing green flashes.
“Let’s head back,” I say. “Something out here gives me the creeps.”
“No argument from me,” Garrett says.
I turn Sven’s reins to return us to our prior direction, and Garrett follows.
We ride until dusk and just like the night before, we set up camp in the middle of nothingness. This time, neither of us sleep. Once full darkness settles, goosebumps run up my arms. I continuously scan the horizon for anything unusual.
The seer’s warning plays on my nerves, and I stare into the moon. Then, the glowing lights illuminate the horizon, just as they did the night before. Only this time in the opposite direction.

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