Reddit Writing Prompt #7: Old Walker

You live in a world where the dominant religion worships giant iron golems that wander the earth, utterly mindless of the humans that cluster around their feet, who decorate them for holidays and fight wars based on their actions. One of them is definitely following you. – darthjebus211

Seventh of Rain, 1157

It’s been two weeks, and there’s no way to deny the truth any longer. The Old Walker is following me. Slow, yes, but every day I look behind me and see it in the distance, its footsteps shaking the earth, always trailed by its worshipers. I’ve never seen the point, really. They can worship their iron titans all they like, but I’ll always know that coin is the true power.

Anyway, it’s been two weeks since I parted ways with the caravan following the Old Walker. I’ve dealt with them before, and it went as it always does. I sell them the tools from the Trudger caravan (at a profit, of course), and buy some new goods to sell at another caravan. Old Walker’s Followers make wood carvings that sell for good prices, so I picked up a good number of those. I also bought some other odds and ends, including some bits that the seller claimed fell from Old Walker. There’s one in particular that I’m interested in, a round lump of metal the size of my fist, covered with spiraling designs like those I’ve seen on the golem –

I got distracted. As I was saying, I set off in the morning after staying in a rolling inn, and headed west, across the plains. I had heard that the Wanderer was in the area, and its Followers are very big spenders – ANYWAY. It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized Old Walker was following me. It’s not hard to outpace a golem; they may have long strides, but they’re slow as molasses. I figured that I was just happening to follow Walker’s planned route, and thought nothing of it. It was miles away.

After a few days, I started getting suspicious. I’d kept my lead on Old Walker, but it was still always there, in the distance. I just felt another of its footsteps shaking the earth. Perhaps I’m just being paranoid.

I’ll reach the Shuddering Lake tomorrow. I think I’ll head north around it; I usually go south, but I hear the flowers are in bloom on the north shores.

Ninth of Rain, 1157

THE OLD WALKER WENT THROUGH THE LAKE.

That never happens. Golems HATE water, avoid going through it whenever they can. BUT IT WENT RIGHT THROUGH.

Yesterday, I went around the Lake as planned. Beautiful flowers, as the rumors had said. It was almost enough to make me forget about the golem that was following me. It took me all day to get around the lake, and I figured it would give me a good lead on Old Walker. Golems walk slow and turn even slower, and it certainly would walk around the lake to avoid the water.

Imagine my surprise when, while I was setting up camp on the western shore of the Lake, I look over to see Old Walker, up to its knees in the middle of the biggest freshwater lake on the continent! Big as a small ocean, and the golem was walking through it! The caravan of its Followers was going around the lake, and they were probably just as surprised as I was.

I can’t deny the truth. Old Walker is following me.

Eleventh of Rain, 1157

I saw the Wanderer today, to the west. It was walking straight towards me. I decided to go south instead. Old Walker is still following me.

Fifteenth of Rain, 1157

Headed east again, around the mountains. It’ll put them between me and the Old Walker and Wanderer. My decision is not at all influenced by the fact that the Shambler is approaching from the south. Not at all.

Nineteenth of Rain, 1157

Trapped! Old Walker and Wanderer coming from the west – never seen two golems walk that close, can only imagine what their Followers are doing – Shambler from the south, and now Thundering Gait from the east! Mountains to the north are almost impassable, but I know of an old tunnel through them. I’ll use that.

Twentieth of Rain, 1157

TUNNEL IS CAVED IN. Golems getting closer. Horses too tired to go any further, and can’t bring the cart over the mountain anyway. Going to put everything I can carry into a sack and cross on foot. Will have to leave a lot behind, but more interested in survival.

Twenty-first of Rain, 1157

I think I know why they’re following me. While I was trading with the Old Walker’s caravan, I picked up a trinket that the seller claimed had fallen from the golem. I doubted it, but it was so interesting (and cheap) that I bought it anyway. An iron orb, around the size of my fist, and covered with the same spiraling designs that cover the carapace of the Old Walker. I had forgotten about it until I was looking through my sack today. It was warm in my hand, and far lighter than it should have been. Could it be true? Could I be holding something valuable to Old Walker, to all the golems following me?

They are nearing the foot of the mountain. I will get a few hours sleep, and then hurry on. If I can get to the other side of the mountain, I’m positive I can escape.

Twenty-second of Rain, 1157

Well, today has been exciting.

When I woke, I discovered that the fastest way to become alert and chipper is to discover that there is a golem staring at me, its massive head level with the small hole in the side of a mountain I was sleeping in. It was Old Walker, crawling up the side of the mountain, with Wanderer, Shambler, and Thundering Gait waiting at the foot. The four caravans of Followers were squalling in the way that caravans are wont to do; small, petty wars that are waged only because that’s what everybody says is what should happen in this situation.

Old Walker was staring at me, no two ways around that. It doesn’t even have any facial features, just a blank head, but I still knew it was looking right at me. Waiting. And I knew exactly why.

Shaking with fear, I took the orb from my pack, holding it out to the golem. That got a reaction. It moved faster than I’ve ever seen a golem move, one massive, iron hand reaching out for the trinket. Each digit of each finger was as big as me, but the gesture was obvious. It was waiting for me to hand it over. So, naturally, I did. The orb stuck fast to the gigantic finger, and the golem stood up, carefully placing the small orb on its chest where, I presume, it fell from. With that done, the three golems at the foot of the mountain turned and walked away. I’m still not sure why they were following me as well.

I stayed on the mountain for a few hours, feeling very grateful I was alive, and watching Old Walker trudge away. Finally, I remembered there was something I had to take care of. I hurried back down the mountain – my horses had run away and my cart was smashed, sadly – and raced to catch up with the Old Walker’s Followers. I found the merchant who had sold me the trinket, punched him in the mouth, and demanded he return the ten bronze steps I had given him for the trinket that had started this whole fucking mess.

After that, I sold the meager contents of my pack and what I could scavenge from the wreckage of my cart. I was only able to buy one old horse and some small goods, but if I hurry, I can catch up with Thundering Gait’s Followers and do some quick business. Should be back in business in no time.

But I don’t think I’ll do business with Old Walker’s Followers ever again. I’ll never even LOOK at that golem again, if I can help it.

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