• E. Paige Burks

The Story of Gladianima - Part 17

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The mountains had become cold and barren. Their shadows blocked out any hint of sunlight, and they were nothing but dust-covered stone. As Thyra and Kegan walked, the dust kicked up around them, coating their clothes.

Thyra tried to swallow, but her mouth was dry and all she could feel was grit on her tongue. She glanced at Kegan. "Do we have anymore water?" she asked, her throat dry and hoarse.

Kegan reached around for a canteen, shaking it. "Just a sip," he said quietly, offering it to her.

Thyra held the practically-empty canteen in her hands, feeling her heart twist. Things were not looking good at all, and the voice in her head had gone silent, leaving her the brain-space to realize how dire their situation was.

"You keep it," she said finally, passing it back to him. "You may need it."

Kegan looked like he would argue, but Thyra held up her hand.

"You've stuck with me, Kegan," she said softly. "You've listened to my ramblings. You've toughed out all of the messes we've been in, and you haven't complained once." She felt emotional suddenly, and tears sprang into her eyes. "If either of us is to come out of this alive, I want it to be you." She brushed quickly at her face. "You deserve it for all you've done."

Kegan didn't have words as he stared at her. After a brief moment of silence, he nodded and downed the last of the water. "So, where to now?" he asked.

Thyra licked her dry lips and turned ahead. "I'm not sure," she said. She looked up, seeing that the path they were following wound up in between two peaks. "The voice has gone silent, but I have a feeling its because we're close."

Kegan looked at her. "Are you sure about all this?"

Thyra nodded. "I've read Doran's journal over and over, and the last few pages didn't make any sense," she said slowly. "But I know we're close." She looked at him. "Our journey is almost over."

Kegan nodded again. "Lead the way, then," he said. He tried to force a small grin. "I'm anxious to see what this has all been about."

Thyra would have laughed if she could have, but the twisting knot in her stomach kept her silent. She led the way up the hill, knowing her body was reaching the limit as they reached the top. Every part of her was screaming for rest, but they were too close now to stop. She was surprised as she stood on the hill, seeing another valley stretching before them, except it was barren just like the mountains. She was further surprised when she saw a monstrous beast carved into the stone at the base of the mountain, guarding an opening with outstretched claws and bared teeth.

"This looks ominous," Kegan said dryly.

Thyra's heart was pounding in her chest. "I think this is it."

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