It was as Fynda said. There was no one, only a whimpering k’nrah that bolted when it saw us.
We stood in the last room of the last silence-shrouded house. On a simple wooden table lay a newly sharpened quill, surrounded by curled shavings and a small knife. An uncapped inkpot lay between it and a single sheet of parchment, which bore the heading “The Lost Land of the Tasheen” in a neat, feminine script. A ring of black burned into the table where an oil lamp must have stood. Defeat hung heavy in the air.
“It’s as though a sorcerer cast a spell and everyone vanished,” Yhoshi whispered. We all spoke in whispers.
A familiar scene flashed through my head: a long line of people filing impassively into the black void of a giant’s cloak. I remembered the young woman of my dream and saw my name hovering over the parchment. This was her house, her writing. Her message. I shuddered. Yhoshi opened a traveling pack that had been flung across the chair and pulled out a tin mug, an ivory comb, a loaf of bread and a hunk of cheese. He looked at me questioningly.
“No,” I said. “Leave everything as you found it. We’ve seen what we came to see.”
Outside, leaden air pressed into us, stooping our shoulders. Clouds obscured the suns. The k’nrah watched us warily from a distance, silver-black ears glued to the sides of a drooping head. We tried calling her, but she backed off, whining, only to edge toward us again once we turned away. Suddenly, her ears pricked, her striped tail stiffened and she let out a sharp bark.
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