“We shouldn’t be heading this way.” Bastiick spoke his warning as though certain doom performed a tap dance ahead. But the scene itself was far from threatening. Oak trees lined the sides of a sunbathed dirt road, giving way to soft patches of shade. The road led up a hill that, for the moment, seemed to end in a perfect blue sky.
“Bastiick, this is the only road leading to the East Desert.” V shot a hand up toward the picturesque path before them. “What other way could we possibly go?”
“The woods would be better.” Bastiick pointed at the mass of trees stretching endlessly on either side. “If there’s a chance someone’s really looking for that girl’s rock necklace, the main road is a bad idea.”
“Trying to take our horses and Sylvia’s cart through a bunch of wild brush would be a bad idea.” Deigen trotted his horse forward. “And anyone searching would more likely assume to find her in a town like the one we left. We’re safer continuing forward.”
Sylvia listened to the argument while munching away on an apple she shared with Obmuj. She was especially grateful in her foresight to pack food after seeing the watery gruel that constituted breakfast at the inn they stayed at. Her thoughts went back to the desk attendant who seemed to have resumed his normally grumpy state this morning. “Do you think that man at the inn will tell anyone about us?”
V stretched and yawned, the idea of potential informants clearly not a source of much stress. “If anyone happens to ask about you, they wouldn’t know about the rest of us. And our inn keeper friend certainly never saw the pendant.”
A few miles further, their path quickly became less charming. An overturned wagon lay on its side while the former occupants shuffled nearby. At first, Sylvia surmised the four travelers must have decided on a healthy serving of mead for their own breakfast from the way they nearly stumbled over their feet. But these were not simply men who’d had too much drink for their senses to handle. All were as pale as the vampires and the tallest member appeared unaware that his left arm lay next to one of the wagon wheels. She whirled around to the rest of her group for some clarification as to what she was seeing. V and his comrades, however, appeared more annoyed than alarmed.
Deigen withdrew two long knives from scabbards on either side of his belt. “I was really hoping we wouldn’t have to deal with zombies on this trip.”
“You see?” Bastiick waved his arms at the four dead men now lumbering toward them. “I told you guys we should have aimed for the woods.”