Miracles don’t come in the emptiness of time. They just don’t happen.
A tsheemaroc, you may remember, is an oily black bird about the length of two men, its beak powerful enough to bite through a ghowat, poisoned quills covering its entire body, and spiked tail. If it didn’t eviscerate you with its beak, it would kill you with its quills or gut you with its tail. I once took one down with a perfectly placed shot just in front of its ear from my rifle.
Hundreds of them came our way. They flew low and tore up the ground, diving and bobbing to pull out every creature in their path and tear them up, engorging themselves on every living thing they found.
The gobahrs thrashed among them and caused little pockets where they scattered, avoiding the monsters so they wouldn’t grab or smash them, pinning them on the turf to break their bones one at a time. They were giants with impervious shells.
There is an old story that says the gobahrs sprang from men, changed by philosophers who tinkered with their deenay long before the desiderasha arose from the evil cauldron’s of men.
We ran. Like preamlets from a porgrent, we ran without respite, hopelessly trying to reach the edge of their path and beyond so they wouldn’t pursue us. Leeta fell gasping to the ground. Her brother, Burr pulled her up, bending her arm around his shoulder and pulled her along. I took the other side of her, Enta held on to my neck. Then I saw a large mound moving.
“Enta.” I stopped Burr and Leeta. “It’s a miracle.” The mound was a crawler. Made from the cast off shells of gobahrs, the people of the carpments built them to travel in numbers with protection.
Enta smiled. A tentative thin line that glowed inside my heart. “What is it, Mallo?”
“It’s shelter,” I said.
“We should keep running,” said Burr. “My father said nothing can shelter from tsheemarocs.”
I patted his shoulder. “There are always exceptions. Let’s go. It’s still going to be close.”
We ran for the creeper, I estimated we would reach it in time, but I did not let Leeta rest. When we got to it, we matched speed and I pounded my fist upon its side. The creeper stopped and a voice came from within.
“Get out of here. Don’t you see the tsheemaroc coming, you fools.”
“We’ll never escape them,” I said. “Let us in so they won’t kill us. My debt to you would be eternal.”
“No,” said the voice. “I will not risk my family to unknowns. Go away. Flee for your lives.”
“Can you not see I have three children here? Would you abandon them to the tsheemarocs?”
Enta cried. “Pleeeease, creeper man, please let us in.
There was silence for a few moments. “Go away. You’re danger to me.”
“We’re lost,” said Burr.
“Though it is no less true, do not say it,” I said. The tsheemaroc were upon us, and they would show us soon enough.
Like I said. There are no miracles. They must have been poured out with the rest of time that has been emptied from this earth.
I pulled my rifle off my shoulder and readied it for action.