The KoraKora have made no appearance yet. I am most thankful for that today.
We stumbled upon a village early this morning. The people had already fled, leaving a cooking fire smoldering nearby. I suppose they feared we were bandits of some sort, or perhaps they had no idea. They actually had a small clearing in which their huts stood with a small patch of blue sky visible high above.
I couldn’t help but stand in the center and stare straight up. I lost myself in that swath of blue for longer than I would like to admit. The peace it offered hovered just beyond my reach, a dream slipping from memory as I came fully awake.
I tried to hold on to that feeling. I pined so desperately for a few moments of untethered bliss. The moment came and went, as if with no beginning or end. Just a glimpse of tranquility, and then I was back in the jungle. Back on the move.
The huts were empty. We searched them for food or any supplies worth taking but there was nothing to be found. Bolton kicked a hole in the wall of one, whether from frustration or to amuse himself was unclear. I suppose it doesn’t matter.
There was one body, one lonely corpse covered in deep cuts to the back and arms. I found myself unable to keep from staring at it.
Whatever they had here in the village was apparently worth killing to have. Or perhaps, as the vicious nature of the wounds suggested, lives here are just another trinket for the taking. Why doesn’t someone do something about this? I suppose it seems foolish to ask in such a lawless place, but violence seems to define the Nanten.
What surprised me was that about another mile beyond the village we ran into two little old men. They appeared from the undergrowth and stopped us. One of them spoke only a little of the common tongue. All he would say was, “When waters boil, stay out.”
He was insistent. Desperate almost. None of us could make sense of it. Starlark commented that a bath sounded fine to him at the moment. Dionus joked that if they were withholding tea from us he would find out.
The little savages either didn’t understand or simply ignored them. The man took my hand in his own. They were quivering.
“When waters boil, stay out.” He gingerly touched the blue blade of the Tetrarch on my armor, as if he knew its meaning. Then he and his companion disappeared into the undergrowth.
We continued in relative silence from there out. The warning was eerie, there was no denying it. The man was scared.
Boiling waters made me think of Infiri, the goddess that Tarsh had warned us about so long ago. Perhaps she is near? Could there truly be Dread Gods walking among the Nantese? From everything I have seen of the cruelty in this place, I would not be surprised to discover one.
I couldn’t get the image of the corpse in the village from my head. For the rest of our march, my thoughts were engulfed in that lone soul lying in the village. Innocent blood.
I didn’t see his face, but I imagined his jaw broken. His face bruised. This could be the very same boy I killed so long ago. I would never ask this question openly, but I must do so here before it cracks the inside of my skull and escapes on its own: What sets me apart from these savages if I too have taken an innocent life?
I tell myself that I did so on accident. I fall back on the calling of the Tetrarch to stop the ascension of Demons. We are here to save the world, and save it from the vilest of threats. Collateral damage is unavoidable. Some few must die so many may live… why does this all fall so flat even as I write it?
I cannot escape the weight of what I have done, and though reason would absolve me of my guilt, no amount of reasoning can guide me out from under it.