Leaving - Part 2

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Chapter 5

The blacklands stretch away from me on all sides, only in the very distance bounded by the white capped peaks of the high mountains. Strange fumes rise from cracks in the dead black ground. The sky arches faded blue and untouchable high above me. I continue trudging forward, the strange surface of the Beforetime blackroad crunching beneath my feet as it leads my on towards the horizon. I bless the fates that I have the road; even with its protection my strength is steadily draining from me as my body struggles to heal me of the poisons. Already my feet are numb, time turning backwards.

“Elspeth, come back!” A thin, high call reaches my ears as though borne on a nonexistent breeze, pulling me to face the mountains behind. I send out a mindprobe, struggling against the miasma of blackland poisons, searching for the one who called with the strength to reach me. My probe connects and I gasp; the connection is as strong as though he was standing before me. He repeats the call and I struggle, fighting the suppressed emotions roused by his plea. I want to go back, want to forget about my quest and have him hold me in is harms, but it is too late now.

“I can’t, Rushton. This is too important.” The story of my life. Everything sacrificed for the sake of what is left of the world.

“Then let me come with you.” He reaches towards me, unconsciously stepping dangerously close to the edge of the cliff on which he stands. His eyes are filled with love and hope.

“No!” Panic fills me. He is so close to the edge! And if he reaches the blacklands he does not have the protection of the road and healing. He will die before he can reach me, face and body twisted by poisons and rotting sickness. “I can’t loose you and if you come, you will die. This is my fate, alone.”

I can not let him try. I break away, forcing myself into a stumbling run along the road; needing to escape him. My strength is fading rapidly, sapped by poisons, healing, probe and fear. I fall and do not have the strength to rise. I close my eyes and, for a while, let the blackness take me.
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