This is a great short story. I enjoyed the use of suspense throughout the plot. The omission of many details kept me engaged and curious about the travellers and their collective task. I found myself wondering - Where are they? What time period is this? How long will they be moving for?
Where I struggled a bit is with the grammar in these two sentences, to me the structure sounded slightly awkward, but perhaps this is an intended style?
"They do not discuss the task, refuse to give voice to any doubts they might harbor."
"they will stamp out the smouldering embers, scatter the ash"
......Would the use of 'and' instead of a comma work? Just a thought.
Thanks for sharing this piece, and good luck with the contest!