The Complete History of the All-Seeing Eye: The Journal of Kellan Harvester, Entry 2
Earl’Summer, Sixday, 1341
We’ve been walking all day. This is the first time I’ve had more than five minutes to rest and stretch my legs. Arkan—that’s the skinny guy, I’ve been trying to learn everybody’s name—says he thinks Seaquin is about a hundred miles away, so we can’t afford to rest. Brother Xiao, the fat priest, says it’d be a lot quicker to go to one of the closer cities, like Frejya, or even Dassan. He says that if we go to Seaquin, we’ll have to go through the Stone Woods, and he doesn’t think we can make it.
Arkan says the Stone Woods are where we want to be, since there’s pretty much only one path, and the Regesian army won’t want to put all their troops in such a tight space. They’ll have to take the long way around, through the mountain passes, and that’ll buy us time to get to Seaquin. Brother Xiao isn’t budging. But then Torrent stands up and announces we’re going to Seaquin, so that settles that. She’s the one I thought was a sister. She’s actually a high priestess of the Aleria. Turns out Aleria is the god of the waters. The one I thought was a soldier, Kent Bullworth, is a follower of Aleria as well. He’s sort of like Torrent’s bodyguard, I think. Wynellia, the pretty girl, and I don’t really have an opinion; I’ve never left Gate’s Pass, so Seaquin might as well be on the moons.
Okay, last I left off, I had left the orphanage with a pissed-soaked kid in my arms. I was supposed to take the kids and follow Sister Patience to the Church of the Five-Faced God, but that wasn’t going to easy. The riders from the night before had gone, but the sky was still full with these massive airships. I haven’t seen anything like them before—great big long sacks of hot gas, big cabins bristling with cannon, soldiers roping down to the street below.
Soldiers were everywhere, Regesian and Gate’s Passers, filling the streets. They were fighting each other. It was ugly, close fighting, Regesians with knives and truncheons and Passers with those long swords. Some soldiers with shooting at each other, leaning out of windows to fire at each other. Most had steamguns, with those big backpacks full of hot water, but I saw some repeating clockwork pistols as well.
I can’t really describe it—it was horrible. People stabbing each other everywhere, blood staining uniforms and slickening the streets. I saw a Regesian bash some Passer, not even a soldier, in the head with a truncheon, over and over again. I watched pieces of bone and brain go everywhere. I tried to keep the little kid’s eyes closed, but he just kept screaming, so I guess he saw enough.
The city was in ruins. Absolute shambles. The orphanage isn’t in the nicest neighborhood, so there aren’t a whole lot of big, pretty buildings, but it was still a shock to see all the houses and buildings reduced to rubble. I could actually see the tops of the spires in Market Square from where I stood, which I had never been able to do before.
I turned around to look at the orphanage, just once, and I almost broke down. It was gone, just wrecked, only a couple of walls still standing. The door to the cellar was right there in the middle of the floor, totally exposed.
I watched to door open up, and I saw Sister Constance pushing Lorra out the door. Lorra was stumbling, blinking in the sunlight, and I started to call out to her.
Then a shell came whistling in. I heard it the instant before it hit, whistling through the air, but there was nothing I could do. It hit the ground between me and Lorra and sent dirt and fire everywhere. It knocked me down. My ears rang, and I couldn’t stand up, my head was spinning so bad. I coughed, and some blood came up, and I looked over at the cellar door. The walls had fallen down on it, blocking the door. There was nothing I could do. I looked at the kid in my arms, and she was still squalling, so I knew she was okay, at least for now, and I looked at the cellar door, and thought about Lorra and all the other kids and the sisters buried inside.
There was nothing I could do.
I started to run, then, in and out of the streets. The kid was still crying, but it was so loud I don’t think any of the soldiers could hear us, or even cared if they could. I kept a lookout as best I could, trying to keep low and avoid Regesians. I hid behind piles of rock, ducked inside houses and waited by windows for patrols to pass. I saw them take a family that had been hiding in the house next door to where I was. They pulled them out, all three, and dragged them off while they screamed. The Regesians just laughed.
I was numb. The bursting shell had done something to my ears, and I couldn’t hardly hear anything. The kid was quiet now, at least as best as I could tell, but I think she was just exhausted. Cried herself tired, that’s what the sisters would have said. I couldn’t think about anything, not the sisters or the kids or Lorra, couldn’t think about anything except the Church. If I could get there, I knew, I’d be safe. I can just make it to the Church. I found myself praying, which I almost never do, except when I was back at the orphanage and I knew I was about to get in trouble or something.
It felt like days since the bombs had started falling, but finally I turned the corner to the church. When I saw the scorched rubble, I almost collapsed. I really did. I almost fell down on my knees, kid and all, and just gave up right there. I would have waited for the Regesians to kill me, and right now my head and the kid’s would be roasting on a spit with the rest of the infidels.
Brother Xiao just told me that were were going to get moving again. He also said if I needed to talk to him, he would be happy to listen. He told me that he’s a good listener, and that his god, the Traveler, likes stories. I told him if it was all the same to him, I’d keep my stories to myself and let the Traveler listen to somebody else. He laughed and told me to pack it up.
I’m tired. Been moving all day. I’ll pick up later tonight, when we rest for the night.