The sleigh shot downhill with incredible speed, Gela was holding on very tightly to Crys, almost hurting him. She was not used to high velocities. Before their departure she had explained to him that during the cold months of the year she and her kin usually dug under the snow and hibernated, much like the bear, but with the attack of the fungals during the fall they had to abandon that usus.

Her escape from her homeland had taken her quite some effort, she had lost her siblings, their parents had already fallen victim to the fungals in the fall. “Why do you only talk of siblings?” Crys tried to ease her tension as he navigated the sleigh down the slopes. “But never of a brother or sister?”

Gela sighed into the racing winds. “We are born from a seedling, Once we emerge from the patch we grew in we have no gender until years later. I am the oldest, clearly I’m female, but my siblings were still too young.” a milky drop was blown off by the wind into the distance.

“Hold tight!” he yelled slamming his feet into the snow, slowing them down until they came to a halt. before them was forest.

Dense, dark forest.

Leaning against one tree there lay a twisted, broken sleigh. Four bodies were strewn around it.

None moved.

Crys felt as if all air escaped his lungs, his muscles tightened. Nowhere inside his heart did he find the strength to get off his sleigh to inspect them. He knew from a distance that it was his brothers family. Jolien, his wife and the two boys. Gela climbed of the sleigh, she walked across the deep snow to the site of the accident. She moved from one to the other, her expression was grim as she got up from inspecting them. “They are all dead.” she took a few steps away from the four bodies. “And they haven’t died here.” Crys still sat on the sleigh, his face locked in a mask of agony and despair. “No blood.” he pressed out from between his teeth as he closed his eyes, his head sinking until his chin touched his chest. “There is no blood.” Gela hurried back to the sleigh. “We must not disturb their bodies further, the fungal guards have,” again he interrupted her. There were no footsteps around the house. If the fungal guards were as heavy as a human, how could they not leave footsteps? Disturbed he turned around to look up the long slope they had just descended from.

A hand full of dark figures stood higher up staring down to them. Grinding his teeth he felt aggravated, his muscles tightening again.

“Don’t!” Gela jumped on the sleigh, pushing it forward, Crys quickly steered the vehicle around the narrow curve bringing them further away from the site of the accident and the fungal guards.