Escape from Shadow Town
by Vincent Lakes
Rain fell upon the quiet town of Morbel,
standing in the cove of
Perethos Bay. Once known as the only safe haven on a voyage from
Astaroth to Palantheon, the town had since changed into a dreaded place
that every traveler attempted to avoid.
The Garkin soldiers, wearing a crude
mixture of armor pieces covered by
mostly black and grey clothing, dragged a group of young women out from
a large building at the center of the town. It was called the breeding
hut, for it had just one purpose - to make more Garkin soldiers, for
their seed was unable to produce females. History may paint the events
of this century in pretty words and say the Garkins mingled with the
local Trevlin populace, but the truth is far from that. What began as a
wartime cruelty with bloody assaults, ruthless batteries and brutal
rapes soon turned into systematic abuse of the enslaved Trevlin women
to breed more men for the growing invasion army.
Some of the women moaned quietly as they
were hauled over the muddy
ground, some of them remained eerily silent, and their pasty pale
complexion revealed the horrible fate they had suffered. The group was
divided in two as they crossed the central square. The one with the
deceased headed for the town gate while the other dragged their whining
prisoners toward a multitude of cages placed on the ground by the
rotting buildings. There were more women, from eight to ten in each
pen, waiting behind the iron bars. These were the lucky ones, untouched
for the day, leaning against the cold steel and staring at their
inevitable future. These captives originated from the surrounding
villages across the shores of Perethos Bay, all of them harnessed like
cattle to serve the Ironcrown--the Gargoyle overlord, who now ruled the
entire southern Belmora.
When the words of consolation were
exchanged, even the women with
worst injuries turned their heads to give a silent prayer to those who
had passed. They watched as the dead were taken to the hill rising
behind the town. There they would be hanged on the high maple branches,
crucified on rough, unfinished boards erected in the form of a cross,
impaled on tall poles placed randomly here and there, or plainly left
lying on the ground where the maggots would slowly consume them. It was
a constant reminder of what would happen to those attempting to escape.
When a strong northern wind blew down from the slope, the stench of the
hill reached the town accompanied with a ghostly howl that gave the
morbid ascent its name--the Wailing Hill.
A young woman, dressed in similar rags
as the rest of them, reached
out her hand to help one of the returning women back to her pile of
dirty straws and worn blankets. It was not much, but still something to
shelter her from the worst wind and rain.
Keyla of Bengari was new to Morbel. She
had arrived only six days
ago, but she had already witnessed the horrors of the shadow town over
and over again, albeit she had not been taken to the breeding hut
personally as of yet. She tried to cope as well as she could, but just
like the others, she found herself crying during the hopeless hours of
the night. Despair had crushed the boundaries of morale and decency,
which, despite the seemingly warm welcome of the brutalized victims,
had created an enemy within. For mere crumbs of hope and attention, the
women sold each other to the soldiers, causing plenty of bad blood and
open hatred among their weakened flock. These, often mostly made up
excuses for denounces, earned them an extra piece of bread or an
additional mug of water. It caused a lot of unnecessary beatings,
public floggings and more abuse than most could bear, but it seemed
indifferent to the slaves. The cruelty, disloyalty and occasional signs
of compassion mixed together to form a dangerous blend that tested
The night fell, and the town became
silent like a frozen graveyard.
Thin mist covered the waves of the bay and an icy breeze blew the
freezing humidity upon the exposed slaves. They shook and shivered
under their ragged blankets without a roof to shield off the ruthless
"Can I borrow your blanket?" one of the
tormented women begged, and
her desperate eyes gleamed like those of a beaten dog. "I'm so cold."
Glancing at the shivering woman, who was
too weak to raise her head
from the puddle she was lying in, Keyla felt sympathy, but without
hesitation she denied her plea. "No, you cannot," she said coldly. Not
because she wanted to, but such act of kindness would only decrease her
own chances to make it through the night.
* * *
Squinari of Bengari was not a Garkin, although he wore a very similar
outfit compared to the Gargoyle's spawn. He was one of the few male
Trevlins who had survived the attack to Bengari because he did not
fight back. Having sold his soul to the Garkins in exchange to his
life, he did not hold himself in high regard, but merely as a man who
did anything to avoid death. As an outsider, as a formal slave, he did
not have access to the broken-down establishments that Garkins used as
their watering holes. He was constantly subjected to humiliating tasks
that no one else wanted to do, beaten and battered to remind him of his
rank among the superiors.
But Squinari never complained, never
raised his hand against the
violent oppressors, and that extensive humility had earned him a
certain level of freedom around the town. He had also gained value by
visiting the slave pens almost every night. The women never spoke
freely to a Garkin, and they rarely shared words with Squinari either,
for he was a traitor of the worst kind. A fellow Trevlin who had
abandoned all loyalty for his people, but every now and then he fished
up a crumb of information concerning starting pregnancies and possible
plans to escape before any of it got too far. Squinari was a perfect
rat without any delusions of honor or valor, but he had one
Being madly in love with the young
woman, it had been heartbreaking
for him to see her locked inside like an animal. After witnessing first
hand what happened to the slaves in the breeding hut, he was determined
to do anything to help her avoid such fate, but the town was fortified
after the brutal conquest over a hundred years earlier. A wall was
built around it with an iron fence on top to make sure no one left
without authorization from the garrison commander, who happened to be
an exceptionally ruthless man called Ilyar Morhag.
"Oh look," one of the women croaked when
she saw Squinari
approaching. "It's the filthy rat coming to see his love, but we shall
see how that love lasts once ten or more winged bastards have
encroached her crotch." A laughter rose from among the slaves, shearing
with its mockery like the sharpest knife of a slaughterman.
Squinari heard the words, felt the
despise burning upon him in
thousand little embers of shame, but ignoring the hurtful words, his
eyes continued to scan the cage for Keyla.
"Why are you here?" the young woman in a
fairly clean outfit, which
indicated her not being enslaved for long, asked. It was a mundane
question as she knew very well, but it puzzled her greatly why this man
continued showing interest toward something he could never have.
"You know why, Keyla," Squinari said in
a barely audible tone to
prevent the others from hearing him.
"I've told you many times, I don't want
anything to do with a man
who was too much of a coward to raise a sword when the Garkins came,"
she whispered bitterly. "You are not a man," she then declared. "You
are a worthless, spineless worm."
Allowing the loathing words to hit him
without any reaction,
Squinari smiled sadly. "They are coming for you tomorrow. I saw
Overseer Luzgard's list," he then said without a change of tone.
"So you came to make sure my misery
would be complete. What kind of
a sick snake are you?" And as she spoke, her eyes turned misty. The
darkness of the breeding hut had always seemed so distant, and now all
of a sudden it was right there in front of her. It was quickly becoming
"Believe it or not, my dear Keyla,"
Squinari said quietly, simply
bypassing her verbal attack. "I'm here to help you."
"What could you possibly do to help me
in this situation, you slimy
squid? You're just after some more leftover bones from your winged
Squinari raised his hands in gesture to
keep her voice down. He was
afraid that if any of the other slaves heard about his plan, it would
be instantly used as a currency to buy an extra piece of bread or
something equally trivial compared to his own goal, and endanger his
position in the Shadow Town.
"Do you remember twinklemoss that grew
around the hills in Bengari?"
he then asked, keeping his voice down to a bare minimum.
It was enough to catch Keyla's
attention. "The white moss that
brings you deep sleep?" she wondered. "How is that going to help me? Do
you think that by sleeping through the entire--thing--will somehow make
it easier?" Now she was upset by the man's ridiculous words that made
no sense whatsoever.
"It will make the Garkins assume that
you're dead," Squinari
explained patiently. "You do know who takes the bodies from the
breeding hut out to the Wailing Hill, don't you?"
Her eyes widened slightly as she finally
realized what Squinari was
planning to do. She would receive her share of the pain, but at the
same time that pain promised her freedom none of the others had even a
chance to dream of.
"You would do that?" she whispered.
Perfectly aware of the man's
feelings for her, she was still astounded by this selfless offer from a
worm who did anything to improve his own standing.
"I would do anything to get you out of
here," he answered firmly,
and there was no disdain in his voice. "I know twinklemoss works. I've
seen it being used on that old hag who used to live at the edge of our
village - you know, the one who sang at the blue moon when it was
Keyla released an involuntary snort. She
remembered old Margi, who
always greeted her with a forewarning expression like the silent souls
of Morgowel were leaping out of the surrounding hills at any time.
Still not looking forward to being gang raped by the Garkins, but the
plan did contain a solid chance to escape Morbel alive. As much as she
hated to admit it, Squinari seemed to have figured out the only
plausible way to sneak out without raising any unwanted ruckus.
"How can I get the moss?" she finally
asked quietly, unwillingly
accepting the plan.
"Here," Squinari said and dropped a tiny
linen pouch to the ground.
"Pick it up once I'm gone."
"How will I use it?" Keyla found herself
confused. "And when?"
"When you see them walking toward this
cage, rub it in your gums. Be
careful not to use it too soon though. If they think you're dead
already when they come, you may just end up being fed to the dogs, and
we don't want that. Those who die during the breeding are always taken
out of town to the Wailing Hill, which ensures that I'll get the chance
to sneak you out. Timing is of utmost importance, Keyla. Remember
The girl said nothing, but nodded as a
sign of understanding.
Lowering his voice to a mere mumble,
Squinari touched the iron bars
with his forehead. "Now I must leave, for I have already spent too much
time around here. I have no words to comfort you for what is coming,
but no matter how bad it may seem, remember that your freedom is near."
Following the receding figure in the
rain, Keyla shivered. It was
cold, but more than anything else, it was fear that crawled up her
spine. She had very little experience with men, and none of it came
even remotely close to what she would be exposed to. All the tales of
what took place in the hut came haunting her. All the memories of
chilling screams and cries of unending agony that carried from there
now whirled in her frail mind wildly like a southern storm. Closing her
eyes, she raised her head to feel the cooling rain upon her face.
Well aware of the fact that the night
was going to turn a lot colder
than what it already was, she was willing to do anything to make the
throbbing in her head stop, to kill the visions her imagination poured
out faster than she could handle--visions of unspeakable sin. But they
refused to die, refused to let her rest. And when the last of the
burning candles in front of the buildings died out, Keyla was no longer
able to think clearly. Entering a strange trance-like state where she
closed everything out and focused just on breathing, the ghosts of
tomorrow, still lingering at the outskirts of her consciousness, faded
into a lurking dread that was no longer imminent. Staring at her own
hands, she fought to keep her thoughts from straying from what she saw,
for unfathomable horrors waited immediately below the erratic calmness.
The night passed, and the grey morning
found Keyla still
concentrated on her hands, unable to see anything around herself. Her
eyes looked red and strained after the sleepless night, and her
complexion was ghostly pale, but it did not matter. Nothing really
mattered, for she would be ruined that day. Wallowing in her dark
thoughts, she did not notice Squinari approaching before he was
standing right behind the iron bars.
* * *
"They're coming soon," he whispered intently. "Be ready."
From somewhere under her ragged clothes,
Keyla dug out the linen
pouch Squinari had given the previous night. She said nothing, just
nodded faintly at him.
"You'll get through this, I swear," he said and walked away before
raising any suspicions.
It did not take more than half an hour
before she spotted a group of
three Garkins walking toward her cage. The other women cowered in the
corners, for even if they knew about Keyla being next, they always took
more than one. No one was safe at that point.
Keyla rushed with the twinklemoss to get
an even layer all across
her gums before one of the soldiers grabbed her by the hand and jerked
her out of the cage. She landed in the mud, still rubbing her mouth to
make sure there was enough moss to take effect. The mildly sweet flavor
turned into bitter and burning after a few seconds, followed by a
tingly sensation as it began to absorb. The Garkins paid no attention
to her, for they focused on getting all the women on their list out
before Overseer Luzgard would appear in the breeding hut. Luzgard,
being the right hand of Commander Morhag, was almost as ruthless as the
ruler of the city. Running behind schedule meant pitiless floggings;
the soldiers were not safe from those any less than the slaves.
A group of three women was separated
from the rest, Keyla being one
of them, and escorted to the breeding hut in the middle of the town
square. Silence took over as soon as the door was closed. The glazed
eyes of those left behind showed no sympathy but relief. They all knew
what was waiting for the taken, but it was quickly accepted among the
When the doors of the breeding hut
opened, Keyla expected to see
something similar to a torture chamber, but it did not quite fit the
traditional description of one. Like the hut itself, the chamber inside
was round. The center had five scaffolds with very specific racks built
around them to force the victims into most favorable positions. While
these structures were intimidating, the rest of the hut was extremely
peculiar by design. The walls were of some dark, glassy material with
very fine symbols carved on it. The floor, while a multitude of furry
carpets covered it, was made of the same material as the walls. The
same mysterious patterns ran across the floor as well. There were
candles everywhere, turning the otherwise dark chamber into a
flickering grandeur of light as the reflections from the polished
surfaces amplified the blaze.
They headed for the scaffolds as soon as
they entered, but despite
them being rough and careless about how they handled these women, Keyla
felt no pain. Her limbs had turned numb and the sharp edges of the
racks were becoming blurry as she felt the first symptoms of the
twinklemoss taking effect. Aware of being shackled into the structure
that forced her head down and propped her rear up, she barely felt the
coldness of iron against her skin. And before the Garkin had finished
with his work, Keyla had slipped into a state of unconsciousness,
protecting her mind from everything the Garkins were about to do. She
never saw Overseer Luzgard arriving, and she never felt the hands that
removed all her clothing.
Twinklemoss worked fast, almost too
fast. But the Garkins were
impatient to satisfy their carnal lust, thus they paid very little
attention to her condition at this point. After all, there were never
problems with the slaves until at the end of the breeding session. Over
ten Garkins followed in the wake of Overseer Luzgard, for they firmly
believed it was the seed of the strongest that inseminated
It was pure torture for Squinari, who
was waiting outside, listening
to the grunts and groans blending with terrible high-pitched screams.
The simple order of the Overlord Raghtar Tarathon was to multiply and
gain numbers. The Garkins followed this order with great enthusiasm and
dedication. Lighting his pipe with shivering hands, Squinari waited and
prayed for Keyla to have absolutely no memory of what was being done.
The pain would still be there, but with her mind in good order, she
would have a chance to slip away from this sickening place.
* * *
The first sensation she felt was a painful throbbing between her legs,
persistent like the northern wind. The second sensation was movement,
which intensified all the other aches around her body. The abrasions on
her wrists and ankles burned, and her head was still dizzy from the
twinklemoss, but she was alive.
Unable to spare a single thought for
what had happened, she focused
on keeping her eyes closed and enduring the pain. The loose shroud that
was wrapped around her felt almost comfortable, although she knew what
it was. She had seen many women leaving the breeding hut in a similar
piece of cloth, lifeless and pale.
Then the wagon stopped with a slight
jerk. She heard footsteps
coming from outside. The large blanket covering the entire platform was
removed, and she saw Squinari's serious face.
"Stay still," he said in an eerie manner
that froze her in place.
Clearly the danger was not over yet. "I will have to do something, and
for your own sake it's better if you stay hidden until I've gotten
farther away from the town."
There was no need for an answer. Keyla
knew how critical this part
of the plan was. If any of the watchtowers on each corner of the town
spotted her moving, they would come after her, and there would be no
chance to escape while they still remained so close. She knew what
Squinari was about to do with the body of a woman who had not withstood
the brutal incident, and she was rather relieved that her eyes were
saved from the view. It was required from Squinari to set examples upon
the Wailing Hill that rose behind the somber town. It was his duty to
remind all the caged slaves within the city walls of what would be
their fate if they attempted to flee. Like any other day of the year,
he began his work without giving a glance at the woman he loved. He did
not dare, for this was one of the very few things he truly regretted,
but he needed to maintain his glorified position as a betrayer.
The Wailing Hill, a place where the wind
cries. Once green and
beautiful slope had died and decayed along with the rest of the world
when the darkness came, and now it was used as a burial ground, but
also as a display of utter atrocity. There were rough wooden poles
sticking out from the mound, bodies at different stages of decay
pierced by the poles. Impaled through the genital crevices, some of
them still fairly fresh and some nothing but bones, the corpses creaked
and squeaked in the breeze. Squinari was used to the sound, but Keyla,
perfectly aware of where they were and what exactly was all around her,
shivered in barely restrained disgust. It did not become any easier
when Squinari fetched a hammer and a fresh pole from the wagon and
returned to the frigid body.
He saw the terrified look on Keyla's
face and said, "Please, cover
your ears. This won't take long."
She gladly followed the advice. Anything
to muffle the sighs of the
breathless echoing in the restless wind.
When Squinari was finished, he jumped
back on the wagon and flapped
the reins lightly. The ascent to Bleak Mountains, and the endless
steppes of Borrea behind them, promised a chance of freedom if the
beasts of Dagorrath failed to catch a scent. The Oraks, deep
orange-colored hyena-like creatures, and the mighty Aurons, bull-like
predators that hungered flesh alongside with fresh grass, awaited for
careless travelers to stumble across the desolate lands.
"Where are you taking me?" she finally
dared to ask when they had
been riding on for what seemed like hours.
"Up to the mountain trails," the man
replied without turning his
head. "We're still in the vicinity of the watchtowers, so lay low. I
have arranged plenty of food and water for us. It's hidden in the
foothills, where the cursed eyes of the Ironcrown cannot see."
"Then where?" she asked.
"Faralon," Squinari answered shortly.
"If we're lucky, we will run
into the scouts of Calathmar before encountering any roaming beasts.
We'll be safe there."
Keyla closed her eyes tightly and cried.
The fear and anxiety of the
day, and the night before, caught up with her, and she was not able to
hold back tears any longer. Every bump on the trail marked more
distance between her and the foul town. Soon she would be out of reach
and truly free, and the Garkins could never lay their filthy hands on
A light drizzle began to drum on the
wooden wagon when Squinari
finally stopped and turned his head, finding his secret passenger still
with her eyes closed.
Smiling faintly, he announced, "It's
time to get off and continue
past the rocks on foot."
Keyla flinched at the sudden
announcement, but wasted no time. She
was down on the ground before the man, ready and eager to leave more
miles behind. The dizzy effects of the twinklemoss had receded during
their journey, and now she was ready to leap out into freedom.
"We must reach the edge of Dagorrath
before nightfall," Squinari
said, gazing nervously back where the dark towers of Morbel stood
behind a veil of dead thickets.
Leading them away from the haunting
hillside, Squinari seemed to
know exactly where he was going. His sure steps strengthened Keyla's
confidence in this frightening situation. This man clearly had a plan,
and it would not be long before they were out of sight and reach of
these black creatures of Angarath. The courageous Midbornes of
Calathmar would hold them back.
After walking for less than a mile, Squinari suddenly veered from the
mountain path and looked carefully around the loose rocks.
"Somewhere in here," he muttered to
himself, nudging the stones
until, all of a sudden, he pushed one of them aside, revealing a worn
leather satchel. Grinning slyly, he picked it up and glanced at Keyla
with sparkling eyes. "I found it," he said. "I found the supplies we
need to cross the steppes."
The grey of the afternoon turned into
blinding dark, and it was time
for Squinari to look for a proper camping spot. He started a very small
fire, barely higher than that of a candle. Squinari's absence must have
been noticed by now, and soon the mountains would be swarming Garkins
looking for him. Their red eyes gleaming in the dark, they would come
to fulfill their promise to tear his flesh from his bones for betraying
Keyla glanced at her savior over the
dwindling fire while chewing
her ration of the dried meat. A short gulp of water eased the salt
lingering on her lips, then she smiled briefly.
"Thank you for doing all this for me,"
she then said, and a true
appreciation reflected from her weary eyes.
Sneering shortly, he replied, "I
should've done this much earlier,
and not just for one but many. A lot of our people have died while I
"How many times you think you could've
pulled it off?" she asked, a
faint smile playing on her lips. "To keep doing it, you would've had to
release people into Dagorrath on their own. How many of them would've
truly had any chance to make it across the plains?"
The man stared into the dying fire, but
said nothing. There was
nothing to be said. Keyla spoke the truth. No matter how much he
thought about it, the ghosts of the fallen would not go away. It was a
time of war. The Garkins were getting ready to take on the weakened
north, and they had an army that even the Hurons could not resist--not
Eventually he grunted something what
Keyla could not quite
comprehend, stomped the fire out and lied down. "Better get some
sleep," he croaked quietly. "We have a long day ahead."
With a deep sigh, she allowed her entire
body to stretch straight
before bending to as comfortable position as it was possible amid the
rocks and pebbles, then she closed her eyes and allowed herself a
moment of rest. The aches and pains had somewhat eased, but the bruises
all over her body would be reminding her of what happened for a good
A lonely crow cawed somewhere nearby,
but it did not bother those
two, who finally felt the darkness of Morbel recede some. A new hope in
their hearts brought peaceful sleep without disturbing visions of
terror they had witnessed during their short lives.
* * *
Her eyes opened wide as she felt someone on top of her, sticking their
fingers into her mouth. She tried to cry out, but her voice was
effectively muffled by the forceful hand. At the same time she tasted a
familiar sweetness on her tongue, and she recognized the man as
"Please, Keyla," he begged. "Be quiet.
We're not alone."
Keyla stopped struggling immediately,
glancing around nervously.
"But why--?" she whimpered, wanting an explanation for the twinklemoss.
"You must be dead," Squinari said
quietly. "Well, as dead as anyone
can tell. Crawl under those bushes by the boulders and stay still."
Then he was gone.
The answer to Squinari's odd behavior
came not but a moment later
when she heard approaching sounds--footsteps and low voices. The
Garkins were coming.
They were slowly walking up the hill,
their swords and crossbows
ready. It was painfully clear that these were not just random scouts,
and there was no doubt of who they were after. She heard a slam of a
rock hitting the enormous stone formations around her, then rolling
somewhere into the distance. And as the world began to whirl around
her, she discerned the steps leading away from her hideout. Squinari
was capturing the attention of the Garkins, and it worked, but before
Keyla passed out, her last thought was a true concern for her savior's
* * *
The Garkins spotted Squinari easily as he ran through the narrow pass
toward Morbel. He needed to lead them away from Keyla, as far as he
could. And they came. The entire party of five or six Garkins charged
after him, leaving no one behind. He had no weapons, except the shovel
he used to fulfill his grim tasks. Hitting the rocks and trees with the
shovel as he ran, he created a respectable amount of noise that quickly
earned the undivided attention of the enemy. A few bolts flew across
the air at his way, but missed in the dark of the night. It was just a
matter of time before they would get him, but he was determined to make
his life worth enough to pay for Keyla's escape.
For a moment he thought there might be a
chance for him to slip away
as well, but then a familiar whish of a crossbow bolt sounded in the
darkness, and it did not come from behind but somewhere from ahead.
Before realizing what exactly happened, he began to limp involuntarily,
for the well aimed shot had pierced his thigh. A massive stream of
blood was now running down his leg, and he knew the run was over. He
could only hope it was enough as another bolt hit his back with a
strong thud, causing him to stumble and fall down. Before he could get
up on his feet and continue running, the Garkins surrounded him from
"Squinari," one of them hissed in mock
surprise. "You've earned a
personal audience with Commander Ilyar himself. You should be proud of
yourself." Then they all burst into scoffing laughter, and Squinari
knew exactly what it meant. He was going to die. There were no second
guesses about it. But before that he would wish for his fate to arrive
sooner, for the Garkins would keep him alive for days if not weeks,
making sure that every remaining second of his life was devoted to
remind him about the price of treachery.
* * *
A man dressed in a tight-fitting, black leather armor and a dark green
cloak, which blended him into the scenery in a way that even an eagle
would have difficulty to see from above, scanned the horizon with an
unsure frown upon his face.
"Is it a Garkin?" another man, dressed
in a similar way, asked.
Slowly shaking his head, the man
gestured for the rest of the group
to wait. "No, she looks like one of us," he then grunted.
"A Trevlin woman wandering the steppes
of Dagorrath alone," the
other man wondered. "She's either braver than any of us or just plain
They were scouts of Faralon, serving the
High Queen Sadrifel in her
tireless effort to keep Garkins out of her kingdom. Calathmar was the
last southern realm without Garkin occupancy, and they were always
watching the endless steppes for incoming war parties. During the
passing years, the defenders of Faralon had built several watchtowers
along the southern shore of Lake Cresthen, which gave them a good view
of the entire southern frontier.
Unable to see the hiding men, Keyla
focused on walking. She saw the
peaceful water in front of her and the glooming mountains rising behind
it, the landmarks of Faralon, although she could not see the city
When the effects of twinklemoss had worn
off, she woke up to the
silence of dawn. Squinari was gone; the Garkins were gone. The only
sounds were the wind blowing through the mountain pass and crows cawing
somewhere among the boulders. She began to walk toward the same way
Squinari had led her to, hoping to make it across the steppes on her
own, for there was no turning back. Morbel would offer her nothing but
death and torment.
With the supplies brought by her savior,
Keyla sneaked from shadow
to shadow in the dim daylight and the pitch-black of night. Somehow she
avoided most of the beasts, especially the mighty Aurons that would
have torn her apart with their horns and fangs, and the rest she fought
with fire and rough poles she cut off from the occasional thickets
struggling against the winds of the plains. It was a demanding journey,
and more than once or twice she wanted to lie down and let the cruel
environment bring her to the end of her trail, but Squinari's sacrifice
kept her going. And then, when it seemed like the miles would simply
become too great of a toll on her ravaged body, the rations not quite
enough for her to make it, and the weakness in her arms insufficient to
keep the hungry predators away, she saw the glimmering water in the
distance. At first she was certain it was an illusion, a lie created by
her foggy mind that would disappear when attempting to walk closer. But
it did not. It was real. The border of Calathmar was near, and if she
could force her feet to carry just one or two miles more, she would be
safe from the dangers of the plains.
Then she saw them, a group of men
approaching. Not winged bastards,
but real people - Trevlins like her. If she was not too tired to do it,
she would have smiled. But instead she bent over and threw up until
nothing came out. Holding her stomach with a painful grimace, she wiped
her mouth on her sleeve and continued. The same malaise had repeated
itself on several days now, and although Keyla was young, she was not
too young to recognize the first signs of pregnancy. She could only
hope that Faralon would accept a woman carrying an enemy within.
© 2017 Vincent Lakes
Bio: Mr. Vincent Lakes is a newcomer to Aphelion, and a novice
writer with a passion for medieval high fantasy. You can find more of
his work at his website.
E-mail: Vincent Lakes
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