One encouraging note is that on this side of the blood river there are no giant man-eating worms. In fact the ecosystem here seems entirely different. This second observation is not as positive in nature as it may at first appear.
To begin with, the grass is significantly shorter. This seems like an improvement until you come across what I can only describe as oversized bulls with horns jutting straight from their foreheads. Some have a fourth, smaller horn protruding from their nose as well. Their sight is blessedly short, for when they do catch sight of us they immediately charge. And they keep charging.
So far we have been forced to kill eight of them. At least their meat seems good to eat.
The grass is still tall enough, unfortunately, as to obscure a smattering of holes just large enough for one’s foot. I can’t say whether or not these existed on the other side of the river, as we did our best to stay on the stone path at all times, but they are a nuisance. They contain some sort of rodent that bites whatever appendage is unfortunate enough to fall into them.
Thankfully we know that the grass wraiths will not follow us here, for they are the reason we crossed the river in the first place. Two nights ago I laid my pen down and went to sleep, only to be awoken by one of the spindly beasts above me.
It stood quietly straddling me, with the moons casting a halo in the fibers around its head. It was watching me, studying me. I didn’t move at first. How many were there? Why was it on the obsidian with us? Why didn’t it attack?
Then Balthandar’s spear rammed through its skull, the spray glittering as though he had skewered the moons themselves. He kicked it off the obsidian and it disappeared into the grass. The winds picked up in response.
We kept our eyes up, packing our gear without looking down. Somehow, without speaking, we both knew that to look down was to invite our doom. Then we ran. As soon as we made to move the wraiths appeared en masse, flooding over the obsidian and screeching as if their very souls were under duress.
They chased us to the banks of the blood river but came no farther. There, like a strip of bone peeking from the top of a red gash, they watched us cross the river and mount the far bank. In a strange way there was no hostility in their bearing, but rather a depth of intense sadness. Slowly, without retreating from the river’s edge, they disappeared one by one into the grasses beyond.
I am glad to leave them behind, but doing so leaves me with no illusion of safety. Every threat removed from us in this place is immediately replaced with another.
I am beginning to forget what it is to rest.
One other positive note, however: there were no leeches in the bloody river.