[This post is from Matt’s point of view.]
Matt slung the hammer across his back and headed for the bridge. Thordin fell in behind him, barely half a step behind. Birds still chirped in the trees, a breeze still rustled leaves and branches above. Matt could feel the faint pulse of power that came off the wards—not denoting anything amiss, simply the usual ambient magic woven into them.
And yet, there was something that almost felt like screaming in the back of his head, something that felt like the shiver that went up his arm when he brought the hammer down against metal and the anvil wrong. The feeling in his arm usually dissipated after a few moments, though. This wasn’t showing any signs of abating anytime soon.
“I’ve never felt anything like it,” Matt murmured, breaking into a jog as they got nearer to the edge of the wards. “Have you?”
“I don’t know,” Thordin said. “Maybe in a yesterday I can’t remember.”
Matt snorted humorlessly. The answer could apply equally to him.
Their steps echoed hollow on the bridge. The unheard sound seemed to get stronger as they crossed, unmuffled by birdsong or the sound of the creek down in the ravine below. Something coiled in Matt’s belly—not quite dread, not quite fear, something else. Apprehension, maybe? It was a feeling without a name, something he knew he’d felt before but could never quite quantify or fully describe.
Thordin was abreast of him by the time they reached the far side of the bridge, and neither broke stride as they continued on, up the shallow incline toward the plaza, with its flaking blue archway and crumbling buildings. Matt’s throat tightened, though not so much that it got hard to breathe, just enough that he noticed the sensation.
“Okay. Now I’ve got a bad feeling.”
“Yeah,” Thordin said. “Me too.”
They kept going. There was a strange play of shadows and light beyond the ruins of Superior, beyond the Shakespeare Garden—near where the barrow lay.
Matt’s heart seized for a moment and then he began to run faster.
Thordin said nothing, just kept up with him even as he picked up the pace.