Choata lay two days behind them but D’aerul kept a fierce pace. When they reached the top of the second gorge Erin slumped against a large stone outcropping.
“I’m not going any further. There’s no way the guard is still following us.”
“Their not but something else has been tracking us for the last day.”
Erin pushed back her fatigue. She saw nothing, as she scanned the southwest-like landscape.
“Look up.” He pointed toward the sky, where a dark shape rose and vanished into the clouds.
“Do I want to know what that was?”
“Ter’shuk are distant relatives, like chimpanzee are for you, but as you can see they have wings and will never stop. Only death will keep them from their prey.”
D’aerul gathered small branches and moss. In a pit nature carved from the stone he built a small fire. Erin’s body leaned toward the warmth.
“When the guard gave up pursuit, the city’s lower philosophers sent this beast. There’s no doubt a handler is following the Ter’shuk. We will make our stand here.”
Erin unsheathed the dagger D’aerul had given her and pulled out a whet stone from her satchel. The fire’s hisses and crackles were a welcome meditation.
“D’aerul? Ter’shuk’s don’t breathe fire, do they?”
© Amanda Makepeace
Part Eleven coming October 26th.
New to Other Worlds? Start at the beginning.