Seth continued onward, the late day sun still shedding plenty of light and the woods seeming like a perfect detour. Eventually, however, he began losing track of the orange-red ball steadily tucking itself in for the night; this presented a problem with his choice of route. While the stars normally provided enough directional bearing to help any decent traveler stay on course, seeing stars through the thick mass of trees was an issue. Actually, seeing anything was becoming an issue with the increasing darkness. Combined with the fact there happened to be no moon out tonight, Seth moved much like a typical zombie with his arms outstretched and flailing in front him while taking slow, often stumbling steps.
“Cwaaa Cwaaa!” grumbled the bird above him, likely having as much trouble seeing branches to land on as he was keeping himself from walking head-first into trees. “Cwaa!”
“Well it’s not like you thought to bring a lantern or anything with you either, now is it?” He flung his arms up at the winged annoyance. “If only you could fly above the trees and see everything for miles ahead of us, maybe then you could help make our way to the next clearing.”
Apparently not in any mood to be given orders that included becoming a useful guide, the bird continued ranting at him.
Seth kicked the small sapling oak his companion chose to perch itself upon. “No, you’re right. Let’s have the zombie who’s becoming blind in the dark keep leading the way, that’s sure to work out great!” He kicked the tree again, causing it shake enough to force the bird onto another branch. As he took the first few steps afterward to continue making as much ground as he could, Seth immediately regretted this physical display of frustration. His balance, however horrible it had been before, had decreased considerably. He braced himself against a tree and shook the boot belonging to his right foot. Something rolled around inside and Seth feared it was not a rock.
“Why are we stopping again?!” The somewhat familiar whine of an otherwise gruff-voiced and portly man signified the traveling companion had decided to forgo his bird form for now. He stomped his way closer, halting as the zombie pulled his boot off.
Seth wiggled the toes on his decaying foot, quickly noting there appeared to be only four digits instead of five.
The man squinted at the the waving appendages. “Did you just lose your big toe?”
“Not at all,” said Seth, shaking his boot to dispose it’s rattling contents onto the ground. He pointed at the small grayish lump that softly landed among the dirt and leaves. “There it is.”
“Ewwweee!” The man reeled away as though the detached zombie toe might itself try to eat him. “Why did that fall off?”
Seth shoved his boot back on, searching in the remaining available light for a fallen tree limp he could use as a makeshift cane. “Well you see, friend, there’s these crazy magicians who want to rule the world-
“Don’t you dare speak ill of the Keepers if you know what’s good for you!” Even in the darkness, it was easy to see the man’s face turning red. “They will rule the world, very soon, and-
“And not only does this megalomaniac lot collect villagers and turn them into birds”—Seth found a suitable walking stick and shook it at the man—“which makes no sense by the way, but they also cursed the land so that zombies are scattered all over the countryside!” He leaned on the branch, making sure it would hold his weight and glared at the Keepers’ loyal subject. “My toe fell off because it thinks it belongs to dead man who shouldn’t be walking. And it’s right. But because of the self-made royalty you hold in such high esteem, I’m a decaying monster who’s starving. Constantly. Right now, it’s only because of sheer will power and the fact I’m certain you need to stay alive until my task is complete that keeps me from attacking you. But if you continue slowing me down, squawking at me when you’re a bird and boosting about those deranged rulers when you’re a person”—Seth took a step toward him—“I’ll find out what that worthless brain of yours tastes like.”
The man gulped, taking a few wary steps back. He turned and shot a shaky arm up in the direction they’d been walking beforehand. “We should go this way, I think!” He spoke like an enthusiastic boyscout trying to earn his merit badge as a navigator. “Yep, yep, this way, I’m sure of it!”
“Thanks for the help.” Seth rolled his eyes and strolled past him.