Friday, 4 December 2015

If Adventure Comes Your Way - Fragment Eight

I have this feeling inside me...The feeling that this Fragment is heralding a plot twist of major qualities...I dunno what it is, but I'm feeling it coming...

It didn't take very long to write today's Fragment. The last part was reluctant, but it wasn't terribly bad. 
Option three won (just) and that was slightly unexpected. It looked like 1 was going to get it. But then, surprise, surprise! Three more votes for option 3! So, yeah, here is the next Fragment of 'If Adventure Comes Your Way'!



The huge man turned to me with a guttural sound and, club upraised, he charged.

The fact that I didn’t stop to think showed that, even then, I had already learnt something from my adventures. Sometimes there wasn’t time for thinking. I dived for Maree’s bow.

I snatched it up, dragging an arrow from the quiver at Maree’s side. The giant of a man lumbered around, growling menacingly, his eyes fixed on me.

I fitted the arrow to the string with surprising swiftness considering I’d never been taught how. Governess Kathryn did not believe that noble ladies should be able to use weapons. I raised the bow, trying to pull the string back but finding it much too hard.

“Don’t come any closer,” I said loudly to the approaching man.

He stared at the arrowhead, his small eyes darting from it to me, as if gauging whether he could thump me before I shot. He definitely could have.

“Drop your club, or I’ll shoot,” I commanded, doing my best to keep my voice from shaking.

The man hesitated and I waited breathlessly; if he didn’t believe me and tried to attack, I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry out my threat. My attacker grunted and dropped his club.

I heaved a silent sigh of relief. “Right, so now just walk away slowly,” I instructed him sternly.

To my amazement he took a step backwards and then turned around and disappeared into the trees. I gaped after him. “Wow,” I murmured. “That went better than I expected.” Then I remembered Maree.

The falling snow was beginning to settle on her still form and I dropped to my knees beside her. I pressed my fingers to her neck, desperately hoping for a pulse. I felt a faint but steady throbbing under my fingers and a sob of relief caught in my throat. She was alive at least.

I stood up and looked around, I needed to get her out of the snow. Reaching down, I brushed the snowflakes off Maree and spread her mud splattered jacket over her. “Don’t you move,” I whispered. “I’m just going to scout around.”

I pushed through the fir trees, ignoring the branches slapping my face. Surely somewhere I could find some shelter. I pressed on, anxious for Maree. I wished I didn’t have to leave her but it was the only way. I stumbled and fell over a large branch on the ground. Looking up, I stared into a small cave, shrouded in deep darkness. I crept forward, cautiously watching out for any sign of occupation.

I crawled to the back of the cave and, finding nothing, I smiled. “Perfect,” I said aloud, scrambling out into the open, “Now I’ve just got to get back to Maree, and get her here somehow.”

I carefully retraced my steps. My footprints were just visible in the thin layer of snow that speckled the ground. I had almost reached the path once more when a sound alerted me to the danger.

I dropped on my stomach and wriggled forward. At first I didn’t see anything but then dark shapes came into view, and soon I could recognise them as soldiers. I caught my breath sharply as I saw the manticore symbol on the tunic of the nearest man. Hacaz’s men.

I crawled along the tree line, my heart in my throat, hoping against hope that they hadn’t found Maree yet.

All hope faded when I reached the place where Maree lay, only to see Hacaz standing over her, a huge sneer on his face. I strained to hear what he was saying. This wasn’t as hard as I expected as his was the only voice and he certainly wasn’t making any effort to speak quietly.

“...Whoever did it mustn’t have realised what a favour he was doing us,” Hacaz was saying. “I’ve wanted to thump her head ever since she slipped away the first time.” He turned to the Captain of the unit and bared his teeth in a ruthless grin.

The Captain rested his hand on his sword. “What better opportunity than now?” he suggested. He nudged Maree with his toe, “I don’t think you’ll get much resistance.”

Anger tugged in my gut, but I forced it down with a desperate effort.

Hacaz narrowed his eyes and looked down at Maree thoughtfully. “Yes, that's almost a pity,” he paused then shot a glance at the Captain. “We’ll take her with us,” he decided. “She’ll find it hard to escape from our dungeons.”

The Captain nodded and gestured to two of the soldiers. “Brett and Landrin, tie up the prisoner and get her to the horses,” he barked.

The two soldiers complied with practiced ease, dragging Maree away to ‘the horses’. I bit my lip, but there was nothing I could do against all these soldiers.

Hacaz glanced around and I dared not breathe lest he notice me. “The other girl, Louise De Corlette, seems to have disappeared,” he said, almost disappointedly. “I did expect more of her. Maybe she was taken away by the Head Thumper,’ he said these last words with a cruel smile.

With a last study of the area, Hacaz clapped his hands. “Well, we’ve got half the prize we were looking for, and probably the other half is either dead already or will give up. I doubt that they had enough time for explanations so we can risk having her roaming around. Freespirit, on the other hand, knows too much.” He turned back down the track and all the soldiers formed up behind him, setting off after the other two men with Maree.

Soon the forest was silent once more. I stifled a sob, what could I do? Maree was the only reason I was here, and there was no way I could rescue her, so I may as well go home. 

You’re wrong, a voice whispered deep inside me, and I knew it spoke the truth. I couldn’t turn back, not now. Hacaz expected me to, and I’d spent half my life doing things people expected me to do. Maybe it’s time for that to change, I thought.

I stood up, realising just how cold it was, lying on the snow. I looked down the track where the soldiers went and then at the other side, in the direction of the lakeside village. I headed that way. Chances were, if I followed Hacaz I’d either freeze to death or be caught. This way I might meet some friends and surely someone would know the way to his castle.

I walked as fast as I dared, without risk of losing the faint path. Time seemed to slow as I stumbled along, my fingers turning blue with cold. The falling snow deadened all sound and slowly got heavier and heavier so that I could only see a few meters in front of me.

‘Approximately two hours,’ Maree had said, I shivered; I didn’t have much chance. But she wasn’t sure and maybe she’d been wrong. I squinted at the ground, trying to make out the track. I couldn’t see it and there was no hope of turning back so I just continued forwards, hoping I was going the right way.

It seemed hours later when the trees around me started thinning and the unfrozen part of my head told me that I was nearly there. I staggered on, numb with cold. 

A glint of light caught my eye and I stumbled toward it. I lost sight of it and the frozen half of me was too slow in listening to the unfrozen half saying, it’s the wall of a house, so I crashed right into the door.

I blinked, waiting for the stars to stop zinging around my vision. I raised my hand to knock on the door but it flung open and I only just managed to jump back in time to avoid being knocked flying.

A tall dark silhouette emerged before me, and hands shot out and grabbed my shoulders with a grip like steel.

I fought against my capturer, tugging back urgently, twisting and struggling. “Oh no you don’t,” a voice growled, pulling me towards the door.

“Please, I’m a friend!” I shouted desperately, hoping I was right.


***


1. “That’ll be for me to decide,” the figure said.

2. “Oh,” I was released suddenly. “Sorry, I thought you were my cousin.”

3. “Let her go!” another voice called from inside the house, a voice I’d heard before.

***

Thanks for reading, I'm looking forward to all your comments.
And now I'd better go do my week's worth of maths. (I kinda forgot it...that happens when you homeschool...)

Allons-y!


14 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I live to provide amusement for my betters. :D

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  2. Oh, I do love coming home to find a new chapter up :D
    I'll vote for number three again!

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    1. Yeah, I've started to have an inkling of an idea for that one...

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  3. Number 1!!!!!!!!!!
    ~Anna
    the3musketeerssite.wordpress.com

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    1. I'm glad you're excited Anna! :D

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  4. Option 3... I like the feeling this option has got to it...

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  5. I have to say, number three. It has me intrigued. :)

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    1. Thanks for commenting Jessica! I do have an interesting plan for what comes after that one. :)

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  6. Pleased that the bow was useful. I vote for option 1. Lots you can do with that!

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    1. There is lots I can use a bow for, it's just a pity Louise can't really use it...

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  7. Well, do to me being out of state I didn't get to vote--but I did enjoy this fragment Jane! It took some unexpected turns and I like that!

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    1. I did wonder where you'd gone, but then I remembered the post you did on your blog, and...yeah! I'm glad you could enjoy it anyway! :D

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