I didn’t want to tell her that I could hear her whispering to herself atop that wagon all night long. Vetia didn’t wake anyone up for another watch, because I would have heard it. I don’t think I slept at all because I could hear damn near everything. The forest around us was so alive and painfully loud. Every chirp from what sounded like frogs and insects was grating on my ears. Her whispers were like a soft breeze that I could hear between the grating chirps, and I couldn’t stop my ears from focusing on them, even though she was facing away from me and by any right I should not have been able to hear her. Eventually those whispers were all I could focus on once the migraine set in. Sensory overload in a way I had never experienced before. It was hard to even process what she was saying because my head hurt so bad, but I knew that I couldn’t just let it go. Something is going to go wrong if she tries to keep hiding that, even if she has no bad intentions. Between her whispers and the grating sounds of the forest, the sounds of my friends quietly whimpering may have been the worst part of the night. We all miss our families, me probably the least. To be whisked away so quickly was exciting, but it wasn’t good for our mentals. I’ve got to do something to get everyone in good spirits or else I don’t know if we’re going to be able to hold ourselves together.

“Alright shitheads! It’s the dawn of the new day of our new lives!” I shot up straight and got a massive fucking headrush, so I sat down a moment and got up slower. I looked around and saw everyone laying down, but sure enough, I could hear their heartbeats quicken. And fuckall if that isn’t the most unsettling thing I have ever heard. I covered my ears and looked around. So much shit everywhere. The sun felt excessively bright and I felt like I could see for miles through the forest with insane clarity. The strain on my eyes hurt. I sat there covering my eyes and ears, only to realize my nose was just as strong. The forest didn’t smell like shit, but I picked up on scents from all over. I couldn’t explain it, but I could recognize the scent of my friends. Adam smelled like milky flowers, Tells smelled similar to pine, Brenden smelled like damp earth, and Vetia smelled like sulfur and roses. That was weird. I should not be smelling my friends like that. I focused on trying to unfocus my senses for a minute, but I could hear everyone getting up and two of them moving toward me. The rose smell and the earthy smell were growing stronger.

A rosey hand fell on my shoulder and my eyes locked with the two across from me. Brenden’s light blue eyes and Vetia’s deep red eyes were staring into mine. I jumped back and caught myself on the edge of hyperventilating. “Stay back! Just, fuck off for a minute, please! I can’t-” my breathing sped up and I didn’t know if I could slow it down again.

All of a sudden I couldn’t hear or see, and the only smell around me was damp earth. It reminded me of being back home, on misty summer days where I would go to the firing range and shoot to my heart’s content. Walking through the mud to put out targets and feeling the rain on my face. The smell of the soil and gunsmoke was calming to me, on that quiet range out in the woods. Just me and my rifle.

I opened my eyes, calm as I have ever been and noticed Adam had me in a bear hug. I pushed away from him, realizing my senses were gone. “You good?” He said. I realized that I had blood on my fingers, looked up at him, then felt around my eyes and ears, where I had been clawing at my own skin because my senses were so overbearing.

“Peachy.” I turned around and Vetia was already taking out her book.

“Let me fix you up real quick. That looks like it hurt.” She waved her hands in some strange motions and then reached out to touch my face, but I instinctively pulled away. She looked concerned. “I can heal you. It shouldn’t hurt at all.” She reached again and no goddamn way was she touching me, so I began walking toward my supplies.

“I’m all good. I’ll wipe it up, I barely fuckin’ scratched myself.” It felt like I couldn’t trust her even though I knew she wouldn’t do anything bad to me, it was just a nagging feeling though. “While I was looking around, I saw the forest end and some kind of clearing in this direction. A few miles out I think. It’s where the wagon would have been coming from, so maybe it’s where we’re supposed to go.”

I couldn’t hear him approach, but his hand touched my shoulder anyway, and I jumped out of my skin a little. I thought I could hear everything? I heard Brenden’s hushed voice. “Did you see what was ahead of the wagon?”

“Yeah, it seemed like it was a cave of some kind, but we got our shit rocked yesterday. I don’t think we’re ready for any kind of dungeon delving.”

“Maybe. Best thing for us might just be to get some gear and learn how to use our weapons better. I know you prefer blasting shit with guns, but that bow might be the only thing we can rely on for now, considering you’re the only one of us who has shot a bow more than once.”

“I use compound bows, not this longbow, hardwood shit. I can pull it back, but it isn’t nearly as nice as the one I’m used to, so my shots are gonna be shit.”

“I’m gonna be reading through this book to see if I can find any magic to help you fight, but don’t count on it. Adam is strong, but he doesn’t know how to use his sword. Tells has been really quiet, so I don’t know if she can be of much help with her weapons. And Vetia seems more tailored for social situations aside from her healing.”

“Yeah, sure. If you can help, that would be great. I wanna get the hell out of this forest though. It’s a pain in the ass.”

I walked back over toward the others, whistled, and pointed in the direction of the forest. We started off toward wherever was on the other side of the trees.


About the author

Ren Cory

Bio: I'm an amateur writer, but I've got a story in my head that I want to tell. What I write won't always be amazing, but I really think it will get better with experience. I love reading and watching anything fantasy, scifi and anything in that sort of wheelhouse. I've always been inspired by those genres to be creative and do my own thing, creating entirely new worlds, histories, creatures, plants and the whatnot. I like trying out new ideas in the genres I love.

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