Ghost Story - Part Five¶
III – The long night
Burning like cleansing flame, the liquid blazed its trail down Ciosso's throat. He drank in great greedy gulps and enjoyed the feeling in his throat, dry as it was from all the words he had spoken. Words that had still only told half his tale. He gave the barkeeper a grateful look as he poured him another cup without asking.
"Be my guest!" smiled the barman. "It is rare that we have the chance of hearing such an exciting tale."
"No, it is I who should be honoured. I have never told my story to such a generous and interested group of listeners as you."
One more time he took a deep swallow of his precious drink before hereplaced his cup onto the table, cleared his throat and turned to the guests in the bar again.
"Now, lets see. Where where we?"
"For sure you can imagine how astonished I was by these events. After the stranger was gone I searched the whole cavern. But no trace could be found. Everything was as if he had never been there. Nothing suggested that there had been another person beside me in the cave for several days.
I checked over and again the bandages that I had made for the stranger’s wounds, but there wasn´t anything to find there either. Clean and unused they lay pristine at the spot where the stranger had disappeared.
What was I supposed to do? Confused I packed my belongings and left the cave as soon as I could.
At first it seemed that Jena was smiling on me. The storm of the last days was gone like the stranger, just not without any trace.
Broken branches and leaves were strewn everywhere and the treetops were bare of foliage. No trace of the animals of this region could be found. No Gingo and no Javing, no Bodoc and no Yubo. Most likely they had hidden themselves during the storm as had I.
Suddenly the forest gave way to a clearing, which was scattered with the broken stumps of a Psykopla colony. The storm must have struck this place very hard, because not much was left of the giant lumps that once had been enthroned upon the big stumps. For that whole day, I wandered the storm-struck glades and encountered not one living being.
When the evening came and thick fog was rising from the still wet ground I started to look for a safe place to build my small camp. I didn´t need to search long to find enough wood for a campfire. Although it was wet to the core, I successfully started a small blaze, and at least the fire gave me a feeling of security in the dark and silent woods.
I rested in front of my fire for a long time, leaning on a damaged tree with a broken crown fading in the fog high above me. The spitting flames changed the surrounding into a wild dance of shadows in the wet night. Maybe you can imagine how it feels to be alone at such a place, in such a night? If not, let me tell you, it is nothing you would want to experience. You can tell me what you want, but I will still believe that in such a situation even the strongest of warriors would begin to see things.
You ask what I am talking about?
I am talking about gnarled fingers, appearing from the fog, scraping against your shoulder before fading into the dismal mist, that make you start even as you realize that it was only the thin branch of a tree.
Shadow-like figures, hidden within the grey surrounding you, run, whirl, jump and groan all around your camp, but melt into the obscuring fog when you try to follow one with your horrified gaze.
Far away, but maybe just behind you, you hear the howling of a hunting beast, and soon other voices join in.
No, I don´t think that even the vividist imagination of Homins can suffice to understand what I am talking about without having been there."