Elsa stared at the Native American who approached her and began talking. Why was she talking? Had Elsa given any indication to any of them that she would welcome conversation? She stared with no expression as the woman introduced herself. Her words and sentence structure told different stories. On the one side the way she strung words together sounded like English was not her first or second language and used some words wrong entirely, but she used large words and at times a structure that showed high education. So which was it?
Amazingly she continued to speak after Elsa offered no encouragement for her to continue, even trying to flatter her it seemed. Elsa wanted to snort and look away, but the woman did seem sincere.
"It is pointless to praise my skills if you have never heard them," Elsa finally said, probably sounding rude but she was speaking truth just as the woman claimed to be. She was silent for a few moments, then gave in to the strange impulse to give her name.
"My name is Elsa. I do play the piano. Not that I am likely to find one in a place like this."
She stumbled a bit and bit her lip to keep from crying out. The wounds on her feet were inflamed. It was getting harder to ignore them.
Once they reached the mountain Elsa was barely still walking. Her feet had long since gone numb, her shoes stained with blood. Vae had continued talking to her until she had worn Elsa down enough to talk back with more than a few words. Vae was the only one Elsa had confided in about her injured feet and had helped her keep up with the group.
In the dark it was easier. Elsa thought she was free to show weakness there, believing no one could see. So she allowed herself silent tears of both pain and fear of what lay ahead. For all of her confidence before, there was still the underlying fear of the unknown that clawed its way through her mind with its sharp black talons.
When they got close to the city and the light improved Elsa wished it hadn't. The scene was like something out of horror movie. Bodies, both living and dead, lined their path. The stench was putrid. The screams of the dying were horrifying. Elsa had to grind her teeth to keep from screaming and bolting. There was no use in running. She'd be dead before she took more than a step.
And the worst horror of them all, a snake woman who looked like a demon from hell, spoke to them. Elsa did not know Spanish and was glad of it, because she likely did not want to hear what the demon was saying.