We had finally reached the safety of the wandering pools, the collection of hot springs that shifted and changed with the underground tides. The area was covered in fog and managed to hide us from pursuit. For the moment.

I collapsed to the ground, laying on my back and trying to get my breath back. Using that much magic draining and using that often was proving to be painful as well. My entire body felt like it was on fire from the strain.

Once I had my breath back, I turned to consider my companions. They were in much the same state I was in, exhausted, struggling for breath, feeling the strain of surviving. None of us were used to using this much magic in such a short span of time.

A loud buzzing overcame the general gurgle of the hot springs. Looking up, we could spot shadows passing overhead through the fog. They were looking for us. Even here we were not to find any rest.

Or perhaps we were. The shadows continued past us, the buzzing growing fainter before fading into the distance. We held out breaths, not daring to trust in fortune.

It started out small, then swiftly grew as the realization that we’d actually survived the swarm finally settled in. Laughter. That giddy joy at making it out of a situation we had no reason to survive. We’d lost others on the way here, but we three, we had survived.

Rolling over onto my stomach, I luxuriated in the feeling of freedom. Though the air was warm and moist and everything hurt, I had never felt better than I did in that moment of realization. I turned to offer my companions a smile for a moment before crawling my way to one of the nearby hot springs and tumbling into the too warm waters.

A pleased hiss escaped my lips as I hit the water before I was too submerged to say anything. I surfaced a few seconds later to the sight of my two companions struggling to pull themselves into the water alongside me. I let the heat pull away my struggles, pull away the tension that had built into my muscles, pull away the aches that filled my body.

The heat pulled at my senses, dragging me down towards that slumber that had been denied us for the last few days. I couldn’t afford to sleep in the water… well, maybe just for a moment or two. Surely they’d wake me if they needed me, right?

The buzzing sound caught me just before I could drift off.

Advertisements