The Story of Sian Gai-Lua - Part Two¶
Now that Sian stopped to think things over, he understood how they had been wandering aimlessly through the fog as it had become thicker and thicker. Soon they had not even been able to see their hands in front of their faces, and thus it was not a complete surprise to end up in a totally unfamiliar region of the jungle. They could discern not one landmark or reference point that would indicate the way home. No fork or junction in this confusing jungle was recognisable to them, but still they had kept on walking. After all, this was Zorai and the jungle their home. They would find their way back. At least that was the assumption…
After only a short while, which actually felt like hours, Miu, the youngest member of the group, suddenly and without any previous symptoms began coughing her heart out. Sian noticed that he was also having more trouble breathing than normal, but he had presumed that it was the combination of the exhausting hike and the appalling weather. All too soon however, his other companions had started to suffer from the first aches and pains.
Losai developed all the symptoms of a bad cold; sneezing hard and obviously shivering, despite the humid warmth of the air.
It was Kia who started scratching her whole body relentlessly, desperately trying to assuage the feeling that she was covered in some disgusting rash.
Sian himself was not spared. Initially his legs started to ache and with every step he had a harder time walking. Endlessly they had struggled on until the moment when Miu had collapsed with a final racking cough.
Sian felt the tears well in his eyes when he thought back to that moment. How could they have been so very ignorant and miss the obvious signs?
A shiver ran down his spine as he relived again the horrific scene when Kia had bent down anxiously to the prostrate Miu, only to jump up the next second, screaming in fear and horror as she waved a misshaped lump in her hand.
The next instant she threw it wildly into the jungle undergrowth and took off in blind panic through the fog.
“Kia” he had heard Losai’s desperate shout, “Kia Stay! What in Ma-Duks name is wrong with you!?”
There was no reply, as becoming muffled by fog and distance; the only sounds were desperate screams and the babbling of terror. Leaving Losai to deal with Kia; Sian had kneeled down on the wet ground to look after the motionless Miu. When he got close enough to actually see the body of a homin instead of a shadowy something in the fog, he finally recognized what had affected Kia so badly.
The ground on which Miu was sprawled was a darkish purple colour. As he gazed down, he felt himself going rigid with terror as he suddenly realised what was happening. His mouth went dry and he had to swallow a few times before he was able to utter the one word churning in his mind - “Goo!”