Hello again! I recently stumbled upon Rachael Ritchey’s Blog Battle, and I decided, “Hey! I can do this!” So after a few cycles of writing and editing and stressing and writing and editing some more, I wound up with “Flight.” It’s based out of the same storyworld as Guardian (so it’s fantasy), and includes one of the characters from the cast, so it was really fun for me to write it.
I don’t think I’ll make this a weekly thing, though. This pretty much took up the entirety of my creative efforts for the entire week, so if I kept this up, I would never get any writing in Guardian itself done. Maybe it’ll be a monthly thing. We’ll see. 😉
Without further ado, I give you “Flight.” Enjoy!
Cold air ripped through Rubati’s lungs, her feet pounding the hard earth, her mind full of horrors. Shouts and thudding hooves rebounded against the mountainsides, the cacophony mingling with explosions, screams, and roaring waters echoing in her mind. She pushed these aside. Now was not the time to dwell on those things. Now there was only to run and to pray.
Pray the Purification hadn’t failed.
Pray her people escaped the Corcenian wrath.
Pray that a lone female slave wasn’t worth the soldiers’ trouble.
Thus far, the gods seemed disinclined to hear her prayers.
Her foot caught on a stone, careening her forward. A cry escaped her as bare skin made contact with rugged ground. She ground her teeth and struggled to her feet; prepared to run again, when she paused, listening.
She hadn’t been able to hear it over her heartbeat and the clamor of her pursuers, but now that she was still, she could hear the distant churning. It didn’t sound like one of the feeble trickles that used to snake its way through the Eresmountian ditches. This river’s voice was deep, like thunder, like…
Her stomach twisted at the memory, but she didn’t allow herself the luxury of heaving what little was left in her stomach. As she again made a limping attempt to run, she tried to keep herself from replaying the monstrosity in her mind. The monstrosity her people had created. The explosions. The screams. The rupturing dam and the wall of water crushing everything in its path.
She hated this weakness, this desperation that drove her to water. She hated water. She hated the muddy dregs of the mines and the once-dammed lake that destroyed the city. She hated that people – her people – somehow thought water was pure enough to cleanse a land of atrocities committed, remove the shame of her people’s slavery, when all it did was steep the land in more death.
The soldiers’ racket grew louder; she cursed her limping gait.“No time!” her mind hissed. “They’re right behind you! Run!”
Rubati growled and forced herself into a sprint, ignoring her body. She could barely keep her exhausted legs from tripping her. The rush of water was closer; her heart thrilled with hope. She hated water, but it might be the only thing that could save her.
It came into view when she turned a sharp corner in the pass. The sight was enough to make her stop and suck in her breath.
How could a place like this exist?
A stone bridge spanned the waterfall that plummeted down a cliff; a glistening stream feeding the lake, giving life to the entire valley. She had never seen a land so beautiful, so green. Even the city on the far mountainside was beautiful to her. All the white stone buildings shone in the sunlight.
She inhaled a deep, cleansing breath. For the first time, she could imagine her freedom, a freedom possible if she lived in this pure land.
“There she is!”
Rubati whirled in time to see the soldiers rounding the corner; her heart sunk, hope forgotten. She cursed her foolishness and darted across the bridge. Terror washed over her; the pass ended.
She cursed again, searching for something to defend herself with. She was a malnourished, fifteen-year-old waif, but she wasn’t about to be taken without a fight. She snatched the first fallen branch she saw. It was nearly as big as she was, half-rotten, tipped in yellowed pine needles, but it would do. There wasn’t time to find a more manageable weapon.
The soldiers’ leader dismounted and strode toward her, stopping just outside the reach of her branch. He studied her exhausted, dirt-smeared form, and his features softened, pity spreading across his face. As if he could feel pity.
He spoke soothingly, hand outstretched. “Look, don’t make this harder than it has to be. If you don’t give us trouble, I’ll take you to Corcenia, and you can be a slave in my house. No hard labor, just simple chores. It would be an easy life. Come quietly, and it’s yours.”
If he had been closer, Rubati would have spit in his eye. “I’d rather die!”
The soldier drew back, acting like he might say something, but Rubati knew better. She saw his hand drift toward his blade.
She attacked before he could even touch the hilt, jabbing at his face with her branch. He grunted and fumbled for his sword. The other soldiers yelled and rushed at her, swords drawn. She yanked her branch upward, and it collided with a sword. The impact snapped her branch and wrenched it from her hand, throwing her off balance. She fell, looking up in time to see the flash of metal, poised to finish her off. She braced herself, but didn’t look away as the tip dove for her heart.
Before it touched her, another blade intercepted it, and it flew from the soldier’s hand.
Rubati gasped at the sudden appearance of the man holding the sword; she could have sworn that he hadn’t been there a moment before. He stood over her, staring down the soldiers. His voice was quiet, but in the dead silence, they all heard the one word he spoke.
The soldiers stood in stunned silence, unable to believe the man’s audacity in ordering them around. But the man just stood there, waiting for their reply.
Their leader, face bleeding from her attack, spoke up. “No.”
The man turned to face him, eyes flashing. “She is under my protection. You will leave her, and you will leave my land, or we will fight.”
The leader snorted. “One man against eight Corcenians? We were born with swords in our hands!”
The man didn’t react, just repeated, “Leave.”
Silence fell. Rubati couldn’t see their faces, but could imagine the battle of wills raging between them. Without warning, the fight began- swords flashing and blood spilling. Rubati rolled onto her stomach and crawled away from the skirmish, kicks landing on her sides as the men fought.
Then it was over. No more yells, no more fighting. Only fleeing footfalls and the receding gallop of horses.
It took Rubati a moment to register what she heard, before she forced herself to stand and look at the carnage, at the stranger standing alone. The grass, his limbs, his hair, his sword – all of them were covered in blood. It made her shudder. She searched again for a way out, concerned the man would attack, but he didn’t seem to have that intention. He didn’t look at her, just turned and walked upstream, washing the blood away.
He hung his head, as if he could feel her gaze trained on him. “I’m not going to hurt you, you know.”
Rubati didn’t respond; only then the man angled his head toward her. His green eyes searched hers. “I’m Eniryt.”
Eniryt nodded and looked away. “I’m sorry you had to see that. I didn’t want to fight them, but it was the only way I knew to secure your freedom.”
She gaped. “You what?”
Eniryt returned her gaze. “I fought them so you could be free.” He nodded to the valley below. “Down there.”
She stared at him, then at the valley, disbelieving. “Free?”
He nodded. “That’s what you want, isn’t it, Rubati?”
A soft laugh slipped from her, tears gathering. “Yes,” she whispered. “Yes, that’s what I want.”
Eniryt smiled, rising. “Come.”
He strode cliff’s edge and stepped onto a narrow path chiseled from the rock. Rubati hadn’t been able to see it from where she stood, but now that Eniryt stepped onto it, she followed without question. She left behind the slavery, the Purification, the chase, the blood. Now there was only to go forward, into this pure land. She had a new life ahead of her. She was free.
I hope you enjoyed it! Any critiques or suggestions?
Have you ever participated in a Blog Battle?