The Journey South: Part 1
Adam didn’t know where they were going. When he and Radish had left Eternal’s sanctum, they had found themselves in the ruins of a massive city. The crumbling stones marked a history long lost. This, Adam had thought, must have been Lipari. Father had mentioned it several times as the city of the alchemists, the predecessors of Aiolia. Adam hated it there. It seemed as though the shadows were watching them, memories from an extinct people desiring their deaths. They had only spent one night in the ruins of the doomed city, but one was enough. They had left the next morning, fleeing the unseen eyes.
They had picked no distinct direction, only heading deeper into the mountains. They passed cragged cliffs with large creatures that watched them balefully. Their bodies were covered in coarse, thick fibers, the likes of which Adam had only ever seen growing atop Father’s head. For the most part, they had steered clear of the beasts, as teaching Adam of the outside world hadn’t been Father’s highest priority.
As they clambered up a pass one day, they found themselves in a herd of small, four-legged, and furry animals. The creatures had first backed up quickly, but soon enough, their curiosity had taken over them. Soon, the two golems were surrounded. Some had taken to gently ramming their heads into Adam’s leg, others to sniffing Radish’s head. Adam barely felt the headbutts as he knelt among them, petting their small, warm bodies with his large hands. He looked at Radish, a smile breaking out on his face as he saw his son chasing some of the smaller goats, before running as they chased him back.
They spent ten days in the company of the creatures, heading ever further south with the herd. Radish had quickly bonded with the children of the group, while Adam had increasingly found himself watching over them all with the other parents of the group. At first, Adam had played with the children almost as much as Radish, but fear clouded his mind each time he did. What if he patted one just a bit too hard? What if he killed them like he killed Father?
Those were the thoughts that troubled him even now, as Adam watched over the younglings. They had stopped in a shallow gully, the herd grazing in a meadow full of wildflowers. A small copse of trees stood nearby, casting shadows that stretched across the field as night began to approach. The younglings frolicked nearby, dashing in between and over rocks. Radish was small enough not to have to worry about his strength with the other children, but Adam no longer belonged with them. The heartsick rage he had felt when he murdered Father scared him. What would he do if he felt that again? How could he stop himself? Adam was broken out of his thoughts by frantic bleating from the heard.
The animal stood at the edge of the woods. It stared at the herd, seeming to analyze its prey. Its coat was black, though its yellow eyes seemed to glow in the low light. Its mouth lolled open, the sharp teeth highlighted by the setting sun. It turned its head skyward and released an eerie sound.
Adam stood quickly. Instinct seized his mind as the herd gathered around him, Radish running to his leg, whimpering. The older animals had encircled the younger, facing out towards the woods with their sharp horns.
“Stay,” Adam rumbled to Radish, before making his way out of the line. He stood between the heard and the threat, readying himself for a fight.
Staring into the eyes of the beast, Adam felt an emotion roll over him. Hate, the same look Father had had when he had tried to attack Radish, then later him. The creature’s eyes filled with hate. Adam’s resolve faltered for a moment. Then, the beast turned its tail, striding back into the woods, leaving the herd to the darkness of night.
No attack came that night.