Even when she tried to keep silent, however, Anushkas voice still had a notably shrill quality. “Varun, you are the most travelled of us. What would the Cultists want at this Fire-forsaken mountain range?”
There was a short pause. The Cultists gave no indication of noticing their presence. “When I was here, the artifact we were searching for was of Endless origin. For some reason, the Cultists seek to destroy the legacy of that people.”
Velabahleke sounded perturbed. “Elder Pashang said the treasure would have Endless artifacts. We must reach it before they do. I will not lose a speck of Dust to some porcelain-faced creature.”
Varuns gravelly voice sounded again. “Then I propose we follow them for the time being,” Zuzana turned to look at him. The Cultist regiment was almost out of sight. “They might know something we do not,” He returned her stare, “All we know is that a doorway somewhere in the mountains has curious symbols engraved on it. Not a lot to go on if we are on the clock.”
“So we follow them.”
There was a moment of silence in the hole before Anushkas voice piped up. “Pardon?”
Blagoje shifted around, trying to make as little sound as he could. “Cult uses slaves. Wouldn’t send real troops unless it was important.”
“So they know something,” Zuzana couldn’t decide whether Velabahleke sounded relieved or distressed, “Or they would not send their real troops, as opposed to simply send some of their indoctrinated sheep?” The bald vaulter simply nodded in response.
With no better plans forthcoming, the group moved out, following the Cultist regiment as close as they dared, the mountain-range growing on the horizon. What followed was a rough few days. The Cultists kept a slower pace than the troupe were used to in their own travels. Velabahleke seemed like a pampered son of a merchant, but not a word of complaint, about the pace at least, passed his lips. Zuzanas cooking was not so lucky. But while the Cultists kept a slow pace in their march, their pace was unrelenting. On the first day, as the mountains climbing above the horizon were beginning to catch the sun, Zuzana asked the Anushka and Varun to range further from the group, find a place to spend the night out of sight. Thankfully the pair found them again before the night truly fell, for the Cultist regiment never ceased their march. Morning came, and still the porcelain-faced creatures marched. 2 days passed slowly and painfully as they tracked the regiment.
Zuzana almost longed for the labors she had performed at home, as her legs ached and her mind struggled to hold any coherent thought. Behind her, her companions sat numbly, waiting for her signal to move. Even Blagoje, stoic even against the hardiest work, was visibly affected and pale. Velabahlekes humorous quips had stopped halfway through the second day. The two Ardents had surprised her, the inhuman toil of the march invigorating their spirits. At the foot of the mountain outside their hiding spot, the Cultist regiment had stopped, holding their march for the first time in the 3 days they had been following them. The change was so sudden that she was afraid she had fallen asleep. Biting her own thumb quickly dispelled that fear. “They’ve stopped.”