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4.13% Bloodlines of the Ancient Pantheons / Chapter 26: XXVI. The Footbridge

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Chapter 26: XXVI. The Footbridge

"The farmhouse is not far from here. Don't worry, you weren't expelled. Other Masters told me you can be dangerous for other students, we've never seen an episode like yours after only two days from your arrival" said Magni, riding.

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"I understand my Master's decision, perhaps I'd do the same. But… what about my training now? I want to improve my skills day by day" said Dag.

"You don't have to worry about anything, I'll look after you. You'll get all you need, starting from food till your training. I will daily tell you what your training will consist of. You will practice your abilities on the mountain, in the forest. Right behind my farm, there is a small black pine trees forest. It will become your new training ground, at least for now" continued Magni.

They were riding their horses on a narrow trail: the road turned around the mountain and got increasingly steep.

"Master…" said Dag.

"Tell me"

"Why are you doing all this for me? Why didn't you just send me back home after what I did?"

Magni turned his head to Dag. His blue eyes deeply stared at him as if they were bound by some unnatural force.

"I told you, you are different. I don't know more than this. But I will not leave you alone, I feel that you're not evil. You need to grow stronger…"

Dag kept looking forward. This answer didn't satisfy him: Magni didn't speak clearly, he might hide something.

After some kilometers, the trail became tighter. On the mountain's side, an unsafe footbridge coasted the rocky walls. A thick fog made the rest of the path not visible.

In the sky hovered a flock of black ravens, that were invisible in the fog.

"After this walkway, there is a cavern. Passed the cavern you'll find my farm. It's been a lot of time I didn't go there, but it used to be my home. It's a safe place" said Magni.

"Aren't you coming?" asked Dag.

"I must come back to the Temple Of Orn. Lots of warriors depend on me, it's my duty. I will come back to you tomorrow, in the morning. Just be sure to reach the farmhouse before nightfall. It's impossible to see the path through the darkness"

"Thank you for this possibility, Master. I won't let you down" answered Dag. He looked again at the narrow footbridge: the wind made it slam against the wall. The entire structure was sustained only by iron hooks, one every nine or ten meters.

"When you reach the house, next to the door there is an unfixed brick. If you pull it to you, the key to

enter the house is in the socket behind. Be safe, Dag. See you tomorrow"

Magni turned back with his horse and went away.

The evening came and the darkness started to fall.

Dag climbed down from his horse, pulling it from the reins. Slowly they walked along the walkway, step after step. The sound of crunching rotting wood was combined with that of the ravens.

While walking, Dag could only see his feet, nothing else in front of him, because of the fog.

At a certain point, the horse stopped and neighed loudly. It was scared.

Dag couldn't see anything.

"C'mon, dude, don't be afraid… this trail scares me too, but we need to go on" whispered Dag in the horse's ears, caressing its snout with a hand.

At that moment he felt like paralyzed, feeling a shiver down his spine. It was as if his bones froze in a second.

He was scared and his breath turned heavy. The horse was not moving, but he still needed to go on, to figure out what was further.

He slowly dropped the reins on the wooden ground. The horse was still not moving, as if it had turned to stone.

With his right hand, he drew his sword from his back, pointing it forward.

He held it with both hands, realizing that they were shaking.

Step after step he kept on moving. The feeling of cold persevered in his body.

After some meters, a confused shape appeared, laying on the ground.

A sound of ripped flesh echoed to the walls. Dag stepped forward.

When the fog started to thin out, he finally realized what was in front of him: a human corpse was on the footbridge, mauled and deprived of its eyes. On the dead body, some crows were feasted with its flesh and blood.

Dag paralyzed again, feeling cold, and unable to move his arms and legs, he dropped his sword on the ground.

The sound of the iron on the footbridge alarmed the crows, that started to croak against him, flying away from the corpse to his direction.

Suddenly, Dag grabbed his sword from the ground and raised it when one of the crows dived at him, attacking.

He managed to parry the hit, and its beak slammed on the blade, scratching the iron. It felt like a stone!

Dag fell after the impact, sitting on the ground.

Another crow flew in his direction and when Dag pointed his sword to it, it swerved the weapon and continued its charge behind him.

After a second, he heard a groan. It was his horse.

Dag stood up and ran back, but it was too late.

The horse was dead: its head had been severed as if hit by an axe. The body slipped off the footbridge, falling into the precipice. The head remained on the bridge, and the crow started to peck the horse's eyes.

"What the hell are you?" asked Dag, frightened. That beasts were more than ordinary birds.

The crow finished eating the eyes, cutting their borders with surgical precision, then turned to Dag, moving its head left and right.

Even it was evening, Dag noticed a particular on the bird's face: it had purple eyes.

"X…Xis" said Dag, backing away, in panic.

"Craaa!" croaked the crow, staring at Dag.

At that precise moment, he heard something moving from behind.

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