Friday, 11 December 2015

If Adventure Comes Your Way - Fragment Nine

It's getting closer and closer to Christmas, guys! Are you all excited to celebrate our saviour's birth? I am. 
Technically we're having our 'Christmas' on the 20th because we're going away for the 25th. So we have a Christmas at home and then we don't have to lug all the presents around on holidays. It works quite well.

I feel like I really need to come up with a different way of saying this, but option three won. Thanks to all who voted and read my post. I hope you aren't disappointed by your choice. To all those who think my fragments are too short, today's is an extra long one. 2,101 words including the options. I think that might be a record!



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

My attacker paused and the voice came again, “Let her go, this instant or I’ll have words for you later.”

The silhouette coughed. “Ahem, well, would you come inside?” he asked.

“Get inside this minute,” a second figure appeared beside the first. I stared in shock, finally realising where I knew the voice from.

Governess Kathryn,” I gasped, and promptly collapsed.


I was roused by the sharp smell of one of Governess Kathryn’s herbal teas. A blanket lay over me and I felt wonderfully warm. I opened my eyes reluctantly. 

“Ah, she awakes,” Governess Kathryn said. She sat by the bed, her needlework in hand.

“Why are you here?” I asked haltingly.

My governess clicked her tongue disapprovingly. “What a way to begin a conversation,” she shook her head. “Always begin by asking the other person how they are feeling.”

I sighed. “I don’t think now is the right time for language lessons, Governess,” I replied.

“You are right,” she agreed. “Drink this.” She thrust a cup at me containing a watery brown liquid.

I wrinkled my nose; I had experienced most of Kathryn’s teas and I didn’t like any of them. “Do I have to?”

“Yes,” she said firmly.

I took a deep breath and swallowed a mouthful, struggling to keep my expression free of distaste. “So what are you doing here?” I tried again.

“I was visiting my nephew,” Governess Kathryn said without looking up.

“What does everyone think about my...disappearance?” I asked. 

“I left before anyone had realised,” she replied serenely.

I frowned, she had no idea that I’d been missing, yet here she was, sitting calmly just after I’d appeared in the middle of the night, half a day away from the manor. 

“I have sent a message to them, and there should be an escort on the way soon,” she continued.

What?” my voice cracked. “I can’t go back!”

“Why not?” she looked up this time, her face severe.

“Maree’s a prisoner, Hacaz is going to do something bad, and I’m the only one who can help, because no one else would believe it!” the words poured out in a complete jumble.

Governess Kathryn looked at me steadily. “Nevertheless, I think it would do a great deal of good for you to be back in your bed chambers in the manor. We could send out soldiers to fix everything up.”

I jumped out of bed, angry now. “Exactly!” I cried. “That’s the thing, you don’t believe me that there’s anything wrong, and if you don’t, why should anyone else? I’ll tell you what, they won’t, and Maree will be left helpless, locked up in some fortress until they kill her.”

“Back in bed, Louise De Corlette,” my Governess said sternly, rising to her feet also.

I took a deep breath. “No,” I replied. “Where is the Knight Yerra Hacaz’s castle?”

Kathryn frowned. “I have had enough of this nonsense now,” she said. “Time to—”

“You have called me stubborn before,” I said, struggling to keep my voice steady. “So you know that I will never change my mind. Now tell me, do you know where Yerra Hacaz has his castle?”

Governess Kathryn was silent for a long moment. “I do not know of whom you speak,” she began. “But I can tell you that you will not be going anywhere.”

I turned around to survey the room. “Where’s your nephew?”

“He’s...out,” was the reply.

“And now he’s in!” a cheerful voice called from the door as it opened to admit a tall man.

I turned to him. “Please, sir,” I pleaded. “Do you know where the castle of Yerra Hacaz is?”

He stuck out his bottom lip. “Oh, some say it’s just over the other side of the lake,” he said before Governess Kathryn could stop him. He became aware of her glare and faltered. “Of course,” he continued, “It’s just a myth, really, nothing actually there.”

“Thank you,” I burst out and ran for the door.

“Stop!” Kathryn called after me as I ran through the thin layer of snow.

I paused and looked back. “Goodbye!” I yelled. “Tell father and mother that I’ll be fine!”

Governess Kathryn was silent as I continued on and soon I lost sight of her. I drew in a deep breath of cold morning air, glad that the snow had stopped falling during the night. My stomach grumbled as I jogged on and I wished I’d thought to take some food.

The sound of running water led me to the river and subsequently to the boats. Several men were loading bales of something onto a boat and I called to them as I approached.

“Do you have a boat I could borrow?” I panted.

One man looked me up and down. “Ye’ll have trouble usin’ one I’d say,’ he commented. “Got someone who knows ‘bout boats?”

“Where d’you need to go?” another added.

“I need to get to the other side of the lake,” I explained. “It’s just me.”

The men exchanged a glance. “Ye’ve got no hope, sorry lass,” the first man said. “A full grown man’d struggle to cross the lake solo this time of year.”

“Please, I need to try,” I begged them.

“Well, if you took a sail boat you’d have a touch of chance,” the second man considered. “D’you have any cash?”

My heart fell. “No, I—”

“Listen lass,” the shorter man said. “If you had a companion who knew their way around boats, we’d happily lend one to you, free. But as you are...” he trailed off and shrugged apologetically.

I nodded, my shoulders slumped dejectedly. There it was, I may as well return to Governess Kathryn now, I thought, Maree’s lost. I turned and wandered off down the river a little way and sat on a snow dusted log.

I sighed heavily. One day of adventure and things go impossibly wrong, it just wasn’t fair. Then I smiled wryly, Adventures were never fair, you got what you got and you took it as best you could. If things could go wrong by themselves, maybe they could fix the same way.

Thudding footsteps penetrated my thoughts. I ignored them for a while but as they came closer and closer I turned around.

A lanky boy was sprinting along the road towards the river. I jumped up as I recognised him. He seemed to see me at the same moment and changed his direction so he was headed straight for me.

“Jack!” I exclaimed as he nearly cannoned into me. “Is something wrong?”

“They’re right behind me!” he gasped breathlessly. “We need a boat.”

He turned to the boat loaders and started running to them, yelling loudly and waving his hands. I hurried after him, still confused.

“We need a boat,” he wheezed at the men.

They looked at me and then back to Jack. “You know how to sail?” they asked.

“Yes!” he almost shouted. “I’ve got soldiers right behind me. I’d need the boat even if I didn’t know how to sail!”

The men sprang into action and in a moment they had a small sail boat ready and waiting in the water. One man tossed me a package. “Here miss,” he said. “It’s me lunch. Not much, but it’s something.”

“Thank you,” I called as Jack basically shoved me onto the boat.

They raised a hand in farewell as Jack pushed off and the sail caught the breeze. I settled down in the middle, right next to the mast. Jack sat in the back, holding the steering oar.

“Pull that rope for me?” he called, pointing at one of the many ropes. I hesitantly tugged it and Jack nodded. “Now just tie it up tighter.”

I frowned at the rope, trying to work out how to tie it. No one had ever taught me how to tie knots. Eventually I settled with twisting it around and threading it in and out multiple times until it resembled my hair felt like when I combed it in the morning.

The breeze was steady and Jack seemed to be satisfied with the speed we were making so I guessed we were going reasonably well. My companion obviously had plenty of experience with boats and I just had to adjust random ropes when he asked.

The sun gleamed off the water and the snow on the banks and I had to squint to see anything much. Before midday we passed a small town and entered the wide open lake.

Jack started to get more restless then, peering forward anxiously every few minutes. “Is something wrong?” I asked eventually.

“I don’t want to get lost,” he said, glancing over his shoulder at the lakeside town receding behind. 

“Why were there soldiers after you?” I continued after a moment’s silence.

“I spied on their camp,” he explained a grin coming across his face. “I saw your friend but couldn't find you. Then they saw me and four of the soldiers came after me.”

We continued on in silence. The breeze picked up and I wrapped my arms around myself to stay warm. 

The temperature seemed to get colder as we neared the far side and the wind blew in uneven gusts. Water sloshed over the side and I tried to bail it out with my hands but the blustery wind just blew it right back in again.

Jack struggled to keep us on course, wrestling with the tiller. I reached under the seat, hoping to find a bucket or something of the kind. The clatter of tin came over the wind and I looked up to see a small bucket right next to Jack’s foot.

The wind whipped up more choppy waves that spilled over the boat’s side. I bit my lip and pulled a strand of hair from my mouth. I closed my eyes, whispered a silent prayer and started crawling along the bottom of the boat.

I kept my body low and spread my weight to try to avoid capsizing the craft. It had seemed small seconds ago but now the length of the boat looked hopelessly long. Water splashed onto my back and I reached out to grasp the handle of the bucket. The metal touched my hand and I gripped it tightly, sliding back along the deck to my seat.

I filled the bucket and tossed the water over the side. This movement was just too violent and I squeaked in terror as I nearly went over with it. The sailboat rocked ominously but I was still inside it and I steadied myself with a deep breath. 

I carefully emptied the next bucketful and after that I worked out the best way of balancing as I emptied out the bottom of the boat. 

A faint noise from Jack’s direction made me look up, his mouth was moving but I couldn’t hear anything. He pointed ahead. “We’re nearly there!” he shouted over the wind.

I twisted around on my seat and looked out over the water. The far side was getting closer and I could just make out a small cove dead ahead. Dark tree covered mountains rose up above, white patches of snow visible even from here.

Jack started yelling directions to me to loosen that rope and tighten the other one. I dropped the bucket and my fingers set to work on the knots. I was grateful for all the needlework practice I’d had in my life, I was an expert at untying knots.

The wind died when we entered the cove and everything fell suddenly silent. I looked around as the nose of the boat slid into the gravelly edge. Scrambling ashore, I pulled the boat up higher to stop if from drifting away.

When I straightened I looked up at the ancient trees around us. No sounds of birds stirred the quiet and the air weighed like a burden on my back.

Jack disembarked and stood beside me, looking through the trees and vines. He froze, his eyes fixed ahead. I followed his gaze and my heart fell to my shoes...

***

1. A gap between the trees revealed a heavy stone wall, half covered in ivy. 

2. The trees were thick, but not quite thick enough to hide our view of a massive iron gate, on either side of which, two well-armed guards stood sentry.

3. Half a dozen men had appeared from behind the trees. “Surrender, or take the consequences,” one of the soldiers commanded sharply. My heart sank into the ground.

***

If it felt too long, don't worry, it'll be back to the normal 1,500 next week. And if you like it longer, don't worry, I may raise my word-count-aim-thing sometime later in the story. 
Don't forget to comment your favourite option, and tell me how you liked the story. :)

Fare Thee Well!

12 comments:

  1. 2..... the poor characters, don't they ever get any peace.

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  2. It's mean, but I have to say option three. :) It's always interesting to read about characters getting out of scrapes they find themselves in. And I'm eager to find out more about Louise's new companion!

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    1. Yeah, option three is a little mean, but stories without conflict are boring, add a couple of problems and it's much more flavoursome! :)

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  3. 3 All the way! Lets see how they get out of that one!
    ~Anna
    the3musketeerssite.wordpress.com

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    1. Indeed...I'll have to think on that... :)

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  4. Replies
    1. I agree, three's my favourite, and I'm rather pleased that it looks to be getting voted in! :)

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  5. I was going to vote for #1 but it looks like I'm out numbered. :) I'm glad Jack's back in the story. I like him as a character!

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    1. Yeah, I really don't know what kind of part Jack's going to play. I'm thinking maybe he'll just pop up when ever I have need of some extra something, but you never know he might play a more important part... :D

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