No reaction. Perhaps the elf's words had only been in his mind, but he could have sworn he uttered them aloud. Or perhaps something more sinister hung in the evening air, stifling his voice as his eyes had been. The wrongness surrounding Salindrel pushed in, drowning out everything else, trapping him with only his thoughts and making him drift deeper into his mind.
A voice came from outside as his mind flooded, barely piercing the bubble constructed by his pervasive thoughts, only just registering with his mind that it wasn't just more of his self-talk, but something external. The barking sound resolved into words as he shook out of his reverie, glancing to meet the source of the noise with dull gray eyes.
"I…" he quietly said, desiring to share his concerns, but paused as he realized who it was that had addressed him. Yondrin did not seem like the type concerned with ethereal threats. Concrete ones seemed more his style. "Yes, sir. I'll do what I can and take the second watch."
He pulled himself to his feet and headed back outwards, leaving the wood he had gathered in a pile at the center of camp. He could feel the tension coming from the well where Ember and Marietta stood. Perhaps one of them would listen to his concerns, or know more about these woods. Either would benefit his peace of mind and may give him some insight into what the natural state of the Piege was. But that would have to wait until tomorrow.
It took around twenty minutes for him to make a few rounds of the eastern perimeter, setting up a couple simple traps and alarms, just like his mentor had taught him. As he turned to head back, the silence of the woods he had been feeling suddenly felt very oppressive. He fell to his knees, hands pressed to his temples. The world around him felt like it was spinning and he felt sick to his stomach. Every breath was a struggle and try as he might, Salindrel could not calm himself.
He closed his eyes, shutting everything out, unaware of anything else happening around him. It felt like deep sadness and overwhelming panic were pressing on him from without, pushing through any defenses he attempted to raise and drowning his mind in dark thoughts. It was the best he could do to even keep himself conscious as an all-consuming panic consumed him.
As he felt himself slip into the darkness, the clawing feeling released as quickly as it had come on, leaving the druid gasping for breath, sprawled on the ground. It took a few minutes for him to recover enough to struggle to his feet and make his way back to camp. He kept to himself when he returned, finding a perch in one of the nearby trees to rest. It had been an interminable day already, and it was only the first. As others found their way to rest, it didn’t take much for Salindrel to find his own.
Working at Dakorel Corporation had been Sal Foresta’s goal since he had been a teen. He felt the same thrill as he entered the large lobby today as he had the very first day he started here as part of the Security department.
“Good to see you, Frank,” he called out as he waved at the security guard standing by the entrance. He scanned his badge and walked through.
“Ah, Sal. Another beautiful day, huh?” the man replied, smiling at the brown-haired man.
“You bet. Have a pleasant day,” Sal called back as he swept towards the elevators, heading up to the 15th floor. It didn’t take him long to get up there, a glass of coffee in hand as he sat down at his desk, opened his computer and browsed through two dozen emails that he had received since the previous day. Some minor necessary security patches, a few emails about attempts to hack into their system, and then one caught his attention.
A high priority email from the director of their department came into view, marked urgent. He knew the type. The director always looked for someone to step up whenever a major incident occurred, and this email usually led to a promotion for whoever solved it. Sal loved this challenge and although he hadn’t yet been the first to run down one of these, he had been close twice.
This was his chance, he felt it. As he scanned through the email, taking a few notes, though, he felt a pain in the back of his head, low and dull. He took a sip of his coffee, pushing the pain away, refocusing on the email, finishing his notes.
They scheduled a few meetings over the next couple hours and the chatter in all of them was about the email that came through that morning, theories about what might have caused the breach, and who the culprit was. Many people thought it must be the company's biggest rival, but Sal wasn’t so sure. However, his headache seemed to get worse during the meetings and he thought he should head home for the day. It was hard to concentrate on any of the things happening around him.
Sal popped his head in his boss’ office and let him know he was heading home for the day, then stumbled to his desk to collect his things. His headache worsened, gradually getting more and more painful, then a loud, dulcimer tone replaced it, reverberating through his entire being. The feeling was odd, leaving him blinking at his monitor, relief flooding his head after the throbbing that had been his experience all morning.
And then, from floors below, a two-tone alarm sounded out, a sign that some security breach was occurring elsewhere in the building. A shiver went up Sal’s spine as he grabbed his phone, searching for some message about what was happening. Nothing yet, but it was only a matter of time before they sent out an email or text giving direction to the employees. Until then, he guessed he wasn’t going home just yet.