I kept on letting my jaw drop each time I spied a charred skeleton strewn
upon the earth. Perhaps the stories were true and the Clonies were cannibals.
I felt Wirt’s lips close to my ear, “This could be a trap. They may be luring us to their lair so
that they can dine upon our flesh.”
“Happen so. I am beginning to a-worry about these folk.”
“Clonies. For that is who they are,” Wirt said, rather too loudly, for Marcellus came up
behind and grabbed us by the shoulders.
“That name not name we call ourselves. That name given by likes of your tribe.”
“Less noise from rear. We pass our sacred site. All bow heads and squeeze hands till they
hurt, in respect of those that perished in last Agro war.”
Marcellus let us go and I watched him lower his head and clench his hands together. He
looked at us with a sideways head tilt and said, “Do same as we do, or Orsin will use whip to
As soon as he said those words Orsin did indeed crackle his whip hard and we all bent our
heads and wrung our hands until they almost bled. Beneath our feet were thousands of picked
clean bones. Broken and hacked and bitten into. We tried to step over, but there were too
many and they split and splintered when we stepped upon them. In the darkness and gloom
the sharp snapping noise they made sounded like sulphur sticks on Bonfie Night. Although
there was no wind as such, I felt a gust of mournfulness so cold and eager, that it whipped
around my still fleshed bones and made me shiver. I began to think that these Clonies were
maybe not so feral after all.
We crackled on, crunching bits of skeleton beneath, until the white fragments of long dead
hominids thinned out and none were left.
Another ear piercing whip crack and Orsin spoke, “All heads high and proud. Tramp quick
to destination. We taste Owl breath on our tongue.”
Marcellus prodded us in the back and we stumbled forward quickening our pace. I nudged
into Eadgard who grabbed my hand and said, “Owls are to be feared in these parts.”
“Erhm, Adara,” I said. “Catcher of birds. What do I have to fear? Or any of us, from any
meat hungry Strigiform.”
“They will have plucked out your eyes, heart and tongue before you had a chance to let rip
your tune. This is the Beyondness. Things here are much mutated.”
“This I would believe,” I said and pulled Wirt with me.
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