6. Infected

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Chapter 6. Infected

We finally managed to contact the Makalo patriarch and beg his assistance. Luckily, he is just as determined as we are to remove the Lorkon from our land. The Lorkon have amassed a huge force, and the patriarch is sending an army of Makalos to assist in the war that is surely coming.


The trees on the other side of the tunnel were dead, misshapen, and shriveled. They were almost painful to look at. The land around the trees also appeared to be dead, and there were animal carcasses strewn across the ground. The stench was so strong that Jacob’s stomach lurched, and he was hit with a sharp feeling of nausea.

All of this, however, was not what had caught Jacob off guard.

Everything—including the sky—was completely devoid of color.

Coming up beside Akeno, Jacob was disturbed to see that the Makalo, too, was colorless. Akeno’s mouth was set in a grim line. He’d obviously seen this before—most likely when they tried to get the Key themselves. The Minyas were oblivious to the situation and continued flitting around in the air.

“Why is everything black and white?” Jacob asked. Even his own body was in shades of gray.

“We don’t know,” Akeno said.

While he was taking in the surroundings, Jacob had the slight sensation of being on a boat, rocking side to side. He couldn’t put his finger on why he felt this way. He studied the forest around them, trying to figure it out. After a moment, he noticed something odd about the trees. “Akeno, are the trees moving?”

“I’m not sure.” Akeno walked up to the trunk of the tree nearest them.

“Oh, wow!” Jacob said. “Did you see that? The tree leaned away from you!”

“Yeah, I saw. But why’d it do that?”

“I don’t know.” Jacob joined Akeno and noticed that most of the trees shifted as they got closer. “It’s as though they’re trying to get away, like they’re repulsed by us or something.”

“I don’t like this.” Akeno reached out with his left ring finger to touch the tree. As soon as he made contact with the bark, a branch whipped through the air and smacked his hand, causing both of them to jump.

“Ouch!” Akeno looked down at the skin on his hand, where a large welt was already forming. “Why did it do that? Stupid tree!”

“Maybe it doesn’t want you to touch it. Or maybe it’s possessed or something.” Jacob backed away quickly, careful not to get too close to the trees on the other side of the path.

Akeno shook his head. “I’ve never heard of this happening before.”

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