Chapter 17: Directions

The tradition of marking every mile of every road throughout Kormar has continued to prove itself as a waste of time, money, and effort with modern maps and high-speed vehicles. — Scorin Rekusar, Modernization of Kormar’s Bureaucratic Infrastructure

Kanéko peeked out from the tree line with trepidation and scanned the road. Her body trembled from exhaustion. She barely saw through the piercing headache and hunger that growled in her gut.

Seeing the heavy brush on both sides did little to help her mood. The plants had already left their mark on her, and the scratches still oozed blood through the dried mud. She took a hesitant step from the trees, ready to dive back at the first sound of a horse or rider.

Walking for hours barefoot had done nothing to dull the ache that burned her inner thighs and sapped her strength. At the feel of the hard-packed dirt against her bruised and bloodied feet, Kanéko whimpered. She looked up into the sun, which only reminded her that hours had passed since she had found a small pool of clear water to drink from.

Wiping the sweat from her brow, Kanéko looked back and forth along the road. She wasn’t even sure which direction was north or south. After a few seconds of looking, she gave up and picked a random direction. She limped down the road.

It didn’t take long before she came to a milestone. The bright white marker gave her hope and she limped the last few chains before kneeling down in front of it. She had to brush the dirt off it to read it. Once cleared, the marker read "JP 29 mi". On the other side of the road, a second marker read "RS 25 mi". It took her a moment to decipher that “JP” meant Jinto Panzir and “RS” would be Raisen, the small village around the Boar Hunt Inn.

Kanéko looked to the south, toward Jinto Panzir. A shudder coursed up her spine, and she turned her back to the city. Pahim waited for her there, along with Cobin and whoever had posted a reward for her. She regarded the road to the north.

“Twenty-five miles? I can do that.” she said without confidence. The very idea of walking that far on bare feet left her feeling cold and alone, but Garèo’s words came back to her.

“Just keep moving.”