“The KoraKora are coming.” Prestorn woke us in the night and smuggled us out of Graylag.
The KoraKora, he said, were hunting us. He had sent scouts out yesterday immediately after hearing my story in order to discover their whereabouts. Word was already spreading through the jungle, he said. The KoraKora are coming.
There was no protection he could offer any more. The other warlords would have us killed as soon as they found out, and there would be nothing he could do to stop them. They fear the KoraKora more than anything, and would not risk the cannibals discovering they had harbored us.
I asked him why they feared the KoraKora so much. Each warlord commanded hundreds of men, and the ruins were clearly defensible. The KoraKora, I said, were little more than aggressive savages.
He shook his head at that. Graylag was a small coalition of bandits. The KoraKora, he said, were a nation unto themselves. A small nation, but unified and powerful. The man I had killed in the jungle, he said, was the brother of their chief. The ceremonies to mourn his death would have lasted a week after the chief arrived to officiate, and that week had just ended.
Now they would hunt those that killed the chief’s brother, Prestorn said. Now they would hunt us.
He hurried us through the darkness towards the southern end of Graylag. I protested, wishing to take to the river, but he insisted. Brin Salisir, he said, once killed many of the men he called friends. Brin Salisir was no pest, he was a true menace to the bandits of Graylag.
He had harried the bandits in this place for some time, until one day he took the “life of Graylag.” Some relic that had protected them from things like the KoraKora.
Salisir had not died here, he said, but in the Akari Grasslands to the distant southeast. If we were to find any proof of his death, it would be there. He shoved a parchment in my hand as he shook it.
“There are greater threats in this jungle than the KoraKora,” he told me. “Older threats, magical things. There are spirits, and there are gods. You will never make it to the Akari Grasslands alive, and even if you do the monsters that live there are unlike anything you have ever seen. You will all die out here.”
He pointed at the parchment in my hands. “That will take you to Senida, the City of Golden Waves, but I beg you to return to Bantish instead. Find the old man and leave this land behind.” He took my hands one final time, his unblinking stare boring into me in the darkness. “There is nothing but death here.”
With that he turned and disappeared back into the jungle.
I was stunned. I am still stunned. Within twenty-four hours we have been found, fed, celebrated, and then turned out before our hosts could slaughter us. After marching all morning I still don’t know what to think. Prestorn has saved our lives, but to what end?
The parchment he gave me was another rudimentary map, as worthless as the one Bantish gave me, but covered in a strange set of symbols and runes. I don’t know what they mean. I suddenly feel so lost.
Thankfully Starlark was his quite himself in the night. He found a stash of Imperial arrows that he stole along with some choice foods. Even Balthandar wouldn’t scold him for betraying the rules of hospitality after the events that essentially dissolved them.
Now we must make for the Akari Grasslands, and pray the KoraKora do not find us.