Breath was turning into white fog.
Hands held cup of tea from thermos.
“It’s sure getting darker these days.”
I nodded at my fellow crew member.
Standing guard duty out here is what we do. The furthest point of the Kingdom, the least prosperous, the most cold and for the ones of solitude.
Outpost “Grey Mourn Hill”, right outside of the Grey Mourn Hill village. The old place of few taverns and mercenaries that travel through here to next kingdom.
Lately, due to winter months arriving, the nights began falling faster and lasting longer. The eagles and owls, messengers, are ones to scare us up to be awake, if cold makes one fall asleep. Even if it’s just for a moment.
The odd singing of folk in far tavern was reaching us with wind.
“They’re mourning another bunch, huh?” – Gregor lit his cigarette, shifting cloak.
“Might be that.” – I replied, even though with gloves, but hands were freezing.
“They’re stubborn, even though the odd deaths are there. Why go to that forsaken place, if you know you’ll die once you’re back?” – Gregor puffed smoke.
I knew Gregor intended no evil, it’s that it was of the local concern to all. The land that has a treasure. The legend says that such treasure would allow for a wish to be granted, upon one to request such a wish upon it. And many go through land of cold and snow to seek for that treasure.
“Fools.” – Smoke puffs out and makes clouds, as Gregor keeps stern.
The faint traces of singing still reach us.
Crackling of lamp, whooshing of wind, then song…
I open my eyes in surprise. I dozed off for a moment. Slow and sure panic gets me. I never sleep during my watch. Looking over and around – I see no Gregor.
“Hah-hah…” – My own breath, alright.
Yet there’s chill and silence besides it.
Jingle of a bell – I hear it barely, but it’s rhythmic and seems to get closer.
Lamp died out. The dark, yet with light from the moon, top of the post is all I’ve got.
I try to get up to see the one who does the sound of jingle of those bells.
“Shh. Don’t make any sound.” – I hear faint whisper of Gregor beside me.
His hand keeping me down with fine force. I oblige.
The jingle draws nearer.
“Close ears.” – Gregor whispers, I do as told.
The great dark shadow comes over the tower. Red lights, like stars, move and seem to jingle inside it.
I hold my hands against ears, yet jingle sounds madly loud even through it.
I squint from the volume, trying to keep silent, although heart feels heavy and about to jump out.
I smell the metal and blood, the dead that are on fields after a battle. Opening eyes – I see this shadow from behind – corpses on it’s back, stuck, glued, with bells, apple sized, in their mouths – jingling to the beat of the pace of that walk.
I hold my breath. Body frozen in fear. My voice eaten. Then I recognize the corpse on the back – Gregor.
Cold sweat, shaking, yet I keep my breath silent.
“Stay still until it’s gone..” – faint voice of Gregor speaks inside me.
And I’m shaking, yet glued to my spot. Watching this monster walk to the ares where the treasure is told to be.
I remove my cold hands from my ears. My breath shallow. Heart thumping in ears.
I look over to side… And I freeze in fear.
“Found you..” – Says deformed grinning face of Gregor. – “You should have waited ’till I’m gone. My tail is still here, boy…” – it groaned.
The jingle of bells… Just the faint sound of them in the distance.