The wall stood taller than a three-story building with barbed wire wrapped the top. Why it barbed wired, I didn’t know. It wasn’t like anyone could scale a wall that size and jump over the top. Why would anyone want to? Unless the world outside the wall was as bad as I had heard. Maybe there were cannibals. Maybe there were beasts that could gobble up a human in one bite, swallowing them whole. A tremor ran through me as I faced my future.
Guards walked the perimeter of the wall; a few were standing guard on either side of the doors, the barrier between the city of the revenants and the unknown that lied beyond. They were dressed in black cloaks, their faces hidden beneath pulled hoods.
I stopped to take a last look around at the city that had been my home since infancy. I don’t know what I expected would happen once I walked through the wall and entered the world beyond. It was frightening and exciting at the same time, but I couldn’t help but feel my days outside were just as numbered as the days inside these tall walls.
“We could always turn back,” Hadyn said. “You don’t have to do this.”
I turned to face him. His icy blue eyes and chiseled face looked god-like in the dimming light of the sun. If I didn’t know he was a revenant, I could have easily mistaken him for a human, but he isn’t human. Reminding myself of this fact, I adverted my eyes away from his face and focus on the wall, my future. “I can’t turn back. My whole life, up until this point, has come to this. There is nothing holding me here—not anymore.”
One of the nearby guards ran up to Hadyn carrying a leather pack in his hands. He handed it to Hadyn. “Is everything as I requested?”
“Everything has been prepared,” the guard replied before running back to his post at the wall’s edge. Hadyn grabbed my shoulder and spun me around so that my back faced him. “Put this on,” he said as he slipped the two straps over my shoulders.
“What is this?” I asked.
“You will need it once you leave the city,” he replied. The bag was heavier than I thought it would be. I tugged on the straps securing them in place. “Once you leave here, follow the north star until the moon is high in the sky. Don’t stop to rest until the moon has reach its crest. As soon as the sun rises, go towards it.”
“Hadyn, why are you telling me this?” He placed a hand on either of my shoulders, his gaze deep, his grasp strong. I adverted my eyes, an automatic response.
“Look at me,” he said. I hesitated not daring to meet his gaze. “Persephone Black, look at me.” I shifted my eyes until my gaze met his. “There are worse things in this world than the revenant. When you leave here, you are on your own.” He touched the pendant (his pendant) hanging on the chain around my neck. “Don’t forget about what I told you. When you have had enough and want to return, show this to the guards at the gate. They will bring you straight to me.”
“Hadyn,” I started but he interrupted before I could finish.
“Cast her from the city,” Hadyn yelled towards the awaiting guards. Two of them moved to either of my side as the door leading to the outside world opened to me. Green forest in the distance as well as the rising moon. The sun was setting casting hues of pink and gold across the sky. I turned to say goodbye, but Hadyn was already gone.
The guards ushered me towards the door, the barrier between my present and my future. With a deep breath, I clutched at the straps of the pack on my back and stepped through the doors.
I was finally free. No more revenants. No more blood for life exchanges. I was alive, and I had survived the revenant city. I had overcome what many had not, and now I would start my life anew. A life without the revenants. A life free of demands. A life all my own and of my choosing.
Taking another step and then another, I walked toward the rising moon as Hadyn had instructed. The sun set quicker than I thought it would, and I found myself traversing through the woods with only the light of the stars and of the moon as my guide. I walked for more than an hour before I finally decided to rest.
Don’t stop to rest until the moon has reached its crest. Hadyn had warned me, his voiced echoed through my mind as I started to take the leather pack from my back. I don’t know what drove me to obey him, but I found myself repositioning the pack and trudging forward without pausing to rest. By the time the moon had crested high in the sky, my legs ached, and my back was covered in sweat. A stream flowed nearby providing me with the ability to quench my parched throat.
The night was dark and quiet, the stars providing little light in this part of the woods. I was tired and travel-worn. What would Pappy say about this place if he were here now? A lump began to form in my throat as my heart opened with thoughts of Pappy. I pushed those thoughts away as fast as I could before the tears came and I was unable to stop them.
Settling against a nearby tree, I hugged the leather pack to my chest and closed my eyes for the night allowing the soothing sounds of nature to lull me into a deep sleep.
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