After the last month of building anticipation the time has come to jump back into the Canadian wild and get on with the hunt for the flower. But what is so important about this particular bloom? What nefarious purpose might Rolstein have in sending Edmund and his band back into harm’s way? I guess you’ll have to find out.
On a side note, I do hope that many of you reading this tale are enjoying it. I can write all day but it only means something when people enjoy it. Read on my friends, read on.
If you enjoy this, here’s a little tale I wrote during some downtime while I was serving in Afghanistan. Free for kindle and nook for a limited time. https://www.amazon.com/Armies-Silver-Mage-History-Malweir-ebook/dp/B00HVN2DAO
A Matter of Life and Death VI
Christian Warren Freed
Bodies and equipment hurried out of the belly of the olive drab helicopter. Blasts of cold wind slashed down between neck and collar, driving snow and ice with the force of the rotor wash. Curses were drowned out by the roar of the vehicle’s roar as the five person team hurried out of range. The pilot wasted no time and was airborne again mere moments after depositing them. Seconds later it was a diminishing speck on the horizon.
“We are moving to the alternate landing zone. Call us if you need us,” the pilot announced before the line went dead.
Edmund stared off into the rolling expanse of forested hills and snow covered trees. Occasionally a massive boulder would break the surface. Aside from a handful of crows mocking them from the safety of the treetops, nothing stirred. They were alone. Only, Edmund knew better. Somewhere out there, in that vast expanse of relatively unknown wilderness, awaited a creature so terrible it filled him with dread.
“Let’s go ladies. This isn’t a sightseeing tour,” the same mercenary verbally abusing him earlier ordered.
“Who are you to give orders?” Mara demanded. Her small hands were planted firmly on her hips.
He stepped closer, towering over her. “Name’s Cofield. I’m the guy Mr. Rolstein put in charge of this crap shoot. Got a problem with it, take it up with him.
Edmund had heard enough. “Hey tough guy, how about you take it down a few levels. We’re all going to need each other before this is through.”
Sneering, Cofield produced a fat cigar the color of midnight. Biting off the end, he lit the cigar and blew a mouthful of smoke in Edmund’s face. “Is that right? The only reason I don’t rearrange your face right now is because the boss says we need you in one piece. Claims there’s some sort of bogeyman up here.”
The other mercenary laughed. Even their medic wore a grin.
Cofield pulled deeply. “Monsters are for little kids, not grown men who should know better. You get us to the lotus on time and we’re fine. Otherwise.”
He made a show of chambering a round in his military style rifle.
Unimpressed, Edmund merely nodded and withdrew the map he’d taken on the first trek. It was weathered, torn in places and wrinkled more than he care for. It took a bit to orient the map to the terrain. Once satisfied he knew, vaguely, where they needed to go, he gestured with his head.
“This way. We’ve got a long way to go. We should be at the location in two days,” he said.
The second mercenary spat, flecks of chewing tobacco lacing his spit. “Two days! The bird could have dropped us off closer than that.”
Edmund agreed. Doing so would eliminate the potential for disaster and, hopefully, sent whatever creature stalking the lotus grounds away. Of course the potential was also there to attract the creature and that was what he’d argued with Rolstein when agreeing to a second expedition. Caution being prudent, the old man reluctantly agreed.
“There’s no way a vehicle can get where we need to go,” Edmund explained, more for personal edification than the need to be accepted by the others. “On foot is the safest way. Follow me and watch where you walk. There are hidden crevices and ravines deep enough to break your neck if you fall in.”
Edmund ignored that. “Is everyone ready?”
“Enough small talk. Move out!” Cofield.
Hefting his pack higher on his shoulders to evenly distribute the weight, Edmund took his place at the head of their tiny column and started walking. At least this way he felt like he was alone. There was nothing but an endless expanse of raw nature stretching out in every direction. He was back in his element, where he felt most comfortable. Frost hardened snow crunched underfoot. More than once he sank down to his knees.
The rifle sling over his shoulder provided a measure of comfort, though he doubted it would be of much use should the creature return. He’d heard rumors of these beasts in the frozen north before. Ancient Indian legends whispering of cannibals and possession. Wendigo. Edmund wasn’t especially wise, but knew enough that all legends were born in truth on some level. It was only his love for his daughter that kept him going.
Night was setting. Edmund couldn’t help but feel tense. He suspected it wouldn’t be long before the bad things came.