When he was younger, Erban’s father rarely took him over the ridge border. They would trek just as far as his father would dare, to the elevation overlooking the tiny village of the flesh-eaters. Ben was leagues north of there now and knew his father would not approve but ranging in the north came naturally to him.
“Where are we?” Orin asked quietly. Ben turned his head quickly and glared at his friend. He had told Orin on numerous occasions that there was to be no talking unless Ben initiated the conversation. But Orin was a talker and while any noise this far north could carry for miles, Ben brought Orin for other reasons. He would not speak of their travels to anyone else and he was deadly with a bow. Ben was excellent with the weapon, but his excellence was brought from practice, shaft after shaft being launched from his bow. Orin was a dead eye natural.
They were in a new undiscovered land, no one had come this far past the border and Ben brought his index finger to his lips to emphasis the fact that they should not be talking.
Orin nodded and they moved softly, aware of the underbrush and the overbrush, calculating each move but with every quick look down at his footing there was another long look north. Below them sat an ancient village, the outer walls crumbling, and the structures inside not fairing much better. The wild ones scampered among the structures with reckless abandon.
The flesh-eaters were savage and vicious but dumb and instinctual. Even now Gage could see some of the young ones, their faces heavily tattooed, fighting over what appeared to be a twig or perhaps a small bone. The savages wore very little clothing considering the cold climate. They fought viciously until one of the smaller ones bit a larger girl and she ran off, dispersing the fray.
Ben turned back toward Orin, caught his attention and pointed at the two of them and then down into another trail cut into the valley a hundred feet below them.
Orin leaned in toward Ben.
“I don’t know what that means,” he whispered into Ben’s ear.
Ben closed his eyes and breathed in deeply and then pulled Orin’s ear close to his mouth.
“Let’s go down there,” Ben breathed.
“Let’s go back there,” Orin replied quietly as they switched position, indicating the top of the hill and the way back out of valley.
Ben pulled away and pointed back toward the valley. Orin raised his middle finger in Ben’s face and then proceeded to slowly point it back up to the top of the trail they had worked their way down.
Turning away Ben looked back down at the enclave beneath them. Maybe Orin is right he thought, they had traveled days to get here and had gone further north than anyone had before.
Orin grabbed the back of Ben’s jacket and pulled him down into the undergrowth. Ben turned once they were settled and Orin flashed his own unique sign to be quiet with his middle finger over his lips. Orin then glared past Ben, turning to follow his gaze Ben saw a party of the wild ones on the trail below them, the trail he had moments ago wanted to travel down.
Orin started back up the path the had come down. Ben hesitated for just a moment and then turned to follow and almost bumped into Orin who had stopped. Ben followed his gaze again and saw another group of tribes folk coming down from behind them
They were trapped.