Exposure Level 2 - 10 | ii

6.4K 578 18

Daniel and the others stood facing what looked like a massive dune. It stretched in either direction as far as their eyes could see. It was hundreds of feet tall with a single path leading through to the valley on the opposite side. Nothing about it looked naturally made.

Out in the desert, the sun was unforgiving. Gusty winds whipped the fine shards of sand against them. They wore scarves around their faces, goggles to protect their eyes. Every inch of them covered to stay safe from the elements. The downside to wearing protective clothing was feeling like a potato in aluminum foil roasting over an open grill. Through the soles of his shoes, Daniel could feel the heat from the desert floor.

With him were Zigor, Helick, Vescovi, Penny and five other men. To get to here, they trekked five miles across the Zanu Desert through two sand storms. The last had them hunkered down for close to forty-five minutes. The initial course plotted was longer. Almost a day and a half. At the last minute, Vescovi decided to veer off taking a more straight-line direction than going all the way around cutting their trip shorter.

"Any word from the others?" Vescovi addressed his question to Zigor. He was in charge of their communications.

"Only static. The interference seems to be coming from our end," Zigor said.

The party looked around the dry sand that surrounded them in every direction. Less than a mile ahead was the opening to the other side. They continued walking.

"Nervous?" Daniel asked Zigor.

The other man was trying several channels to communicate; all of them came up with static.

"Am I the only one who listened to those villagers? Zigor asked.

"Don't tell me they scared you," Helick quipped. "Old superstitions."

"Vampires, werewolves, and witches are old superstitions. Dark magic and alternate universes are also superstitions. Soul-sucking demons—"

"OK, we got you. Still, you shouldn't believe everything you hear," Daniel said.

"There was a time when magic was powerful in this place," Vescovi said. "Before it became—this. It was not always a desert. Once, millennia ago, it was an oasis."

"Until the Great Coming," Zigor said.

He was repeating the lore the villagers told them. All spoke in hushed tones like they were afraid to be overheard. Daniel had to admit they had him glancing over his shoulder at one point. They stopped once they got to the opening. On both sides, the walls had jagged edges. The path curved a few meters in which meant no straight line of sight to the exit. The rough edges on either side did not look random. They looked faintly uniformed as if at some point they interlocked. That fit into the villagers' story that the path never stayed in one place forever. Every few years one path closed and another opened.

"Starting to get some funny vibes from this place," Zigor said. "No one comes here for a reason."

Vescovi stopped to face them. "Salvay and Sven are days ahead. Going around the continent would set us back further. We have no idea if we are going in the right direction. Getting there in the shortest possible time and finding out if we are on a wild goose chase is crucial.

"There will be some danger I am sure. This world is filled with things not explored. Lansguard is not the only alternate realm. And vampires and werewolves are certainly not the only otherworldly life forms that call Earth a refuge."

They picked up their walk again as Vescovi continued to speak. The man was a fountain of information. Daniel smiled at Zigor's reaction to Vescovi's story.

Shadow Wolf [Vol. II]Read this story for FREE!