“Brecca!! Come inside now!”
Milla, Brecca’s sister, is busy cleaning the table inside her home from lunch that was served an hour ago. She grabs a wash rag and begins rubbing down the surface of the table. Both Milla and Brecca live in a small house well outside the settlement of Talithis. Milla, being the eldest girl of the house at sixteen, is old enough to monitor the house while her father is working. Brecca, a child nine years her junior, seldom helps her big sister around the house.
Milla’s father, Kronnin, was off serving as a guard in Talithis. Kronnin loves his job, but when he got his position, he had to make a choice. Move their house inside Talithis protective borders or stay where they constructed their home five years ago. It was a tough choice, but in the end, the trip into Talithis wasn’t that far, after all, and they could still enjoy the outdoor life they always wanted. Kronnin had taken it upon himself to have several guards stroll out to patrol the area near his home each hour if he was unable to while he was away working. A benefit of his rank, which helped put his mind at ease.
One day, perhaps, we’ll move closer to Talithis. Kronnin thinks to himself, recollecting the bandit attack one week ago.
“Where is that girl?” Milla whispers to herself, annoyed that Brecca seldom listens to her. Brecca’s always been a strong-willed child, and daddy’s girl, which didn’t help. Kronnin certainly didn’t help. He enjoys pampering her.
“BRECCA! Get inside now! Don’t make me come out there.”
Milla continues scrubbing the table down of the mess left during lunch, and she notices something moving to her right. Pausing, Milla looks towards the rear window of the house towards where Brecca was last playing outside.
“What in Silverroot is that?” She utters, eyes going wide as if expecting someone to answer, even though she is alone at the moment.
Moving close towards the rear window, stuck upon the outside of the glass of the window is a six inch long blue worm! And another. And another. Within a minute, there are dozens of these disgusting blue worms on the glass window. Suddenly, the window shatters! It looks like the worms ate right through the glass! And it’s no wonder; looking at the blue worms in amazement, Milla sees that they have enormous mouths on the underside of each worm! Bleh! A sickening bile rises in Milla’s throat.
Milla jumps at the scream. Brecca! Milla doesn’t hesitate. She immediately drops the rag and runs towards the open front door. Upon exiting the house, she looks left and then right, and eyes Brecca to her right laying down on the ground. She’s curled up in a ball, clearly afraid. Milla let out an audible gasp as she sees her little sister surrounded by dozens of these blue worms!
“Brecca! Don’t move!” Milla shouts, as she turns and moves inside the house.
Milla, scared but determined, grabs a small bookcase, dumps the books and contents all over the floor as she carries it outside the house, Quickly moving to where Brecca is huddled, Milla throws the bookcase down on top of the advancing worms.
“Brecca! Get up! BRECCA! Listen to me. Get up and climb across the bookcase to me. Quickly!” Looking around briefly, Milla notices hundreds if not thousands of these disgusting blue worms everywhere. Glancing back at the house, she can now see hundreds of them crawling all over the roof and walls.
“Milla!” Brecca screams, paralyzed by fear.
Milla doesn’t think. She immediately jumps into action and crawls herself over the bookcase, which now has worms crawling up onto it. Milla flicks a few worms off the edge of the bookcase with her boot and reaches Brecca. Milla doesn’t even notice the new hole in her boot caused by kicking the worm.
“Give me your hand! Brecca! Do it now!” Milla shouts sternly.
Brecca reaches out her hand, Milla grabs her and pulls her up forcefully and to her. Both girls carefully and quickly wobble their way across the bookcase to clear ground. Milla and Brecca move quickly to the path that leads towards Talithis, and pause a moment, looking back towards the house when they realize they’re in the clear.
The bookcase, now completely covered in blue worms, collapses in a heap of wood shelving. Windows on the house shatter. Parts and pieces start to fall off the house. These worms are eating the house! Wait, these worms are eating everything! Grass, trees, metal, everything!
“Let’s go Brecca. Take my hand.” Milla states. Staring back at the house, Milla and Brecca hear a loud audible cracking sound, and several trees begin to fall behind the house. One crashes into the side of their house, partially collapsing one wall. Worms are now completely covering everything behind the house, and they’re slowly and methodically moving to the front yard.
“Sister. What are they?” Brecca asks.
“I don’t know sis. I have no idea.”
Kronnin is chatting with Berghan and Tren, two friends of his that are also Talithis’ guards.
“You two up for a patrol home?” Kronnin says.
“Of course. We enjoy seeing the countryside and your two lovely daughters.” Tren states happily.
“You just like Milla’s cooking, Tren. You’re not fooling anyone.” Kronnin teases.
Tren smiles at his commander. All three men move out.
“Barak, we’ll be back soon. Home patrol time.” Kronnin barks.
“Yeah, yeah. Bring me some cookies too, you hackers.” Barak, the Captain of the Guard of Talithis, grins. He also knows full well of Milla’s cooking talents, and also knows today is Milla’s Cookie Day. Her chocolate chip cookies are to die for.
All three men move outside of Talithis and down the main road leading towards the Omadra River where Kronnin’s house was near. The day the warm and bright, a pleasant day for patrol. Spotting someone moving far down the road, Kronnin barks out a command.
“Hey guys. Look sharp. You see that?” Kronnin says, pointing down the road towards two figures walking up the road. As the figures get closer, Kronnin stares harder and harder at the approaching people, and then shouts.
Tren and Berghan look at one another briefly, and then at Kronnin. Kronnin, however, doesn’t return the glances, as he’s already in full stride, sprinting towards his children.
Milla and Brecca, once they see the two men and their father, rush to him, crying and very upset.
“What are you two doing out here? It’s dange…” Kronnin shouts, but is abruptly cut off by Milla.
“Father! The house is….is…gone!” Milla shouts, upset and teary-eyed.
“What do you mean the house is gone?!? Milla talk to me!” Kronnin shouts.
“Huge blue worms, father. They came out of the forest, and before we knew it, they were everywhere! They were eating everything!” Milla cries. “I was barely able to save Brecca from them!”
Tren and Berghan look to Kronnin, stunned at the news. “Commander! Orders?”
Kronnin stands, and turns to the two men.
“Take my daughters and go muster everyone you can. Now! Move it!!”
“Yes sir!” Tren and Berghan shouts in concert.
Berghan, Brecca, Milla and Tren turn and start running at full speed back to Talithis.
Approaching the house, Kronnin stops short. He looks around incredulously. Where his house used to be, there is nothing. No grass, no trees, no sign there was ever a house here, and no worms. The only thing left is a five meter wide path of destruction, right down to the soil, which winds its way across the road and approximately fifty meters into the forest on that side.
Walking down the trail in that direction, Kronnin notices the trail ends there, and that’s where the trees and foliage resumes. At the end of the trail at the base of one of the trees spared by this event, lies a small metal object. Kronnin reaches down and picks up the object, and his face turns dark. It’s a fetish used in powerful magic, but it’s burnt and crisped. Even charred, Kronnin recognizes the fetish for what it is. Two words escape his clenched lips: