Battle for Freedom
Pain consumed every part of his body. Rough hands grabbed his arms and he felt his body being dragged across the cold, stone floor. The hands lifted his body into the air and for a few seconds he felt like he was flying. This feeling quickly shattered as his body slammed into a rough stone wall. Pain flared through his side. Slowly, he forced his eyes open and saw nothing but darkness. A sudden flicker of light overhead caught his attention. In the torchlight he could see a group of men standing at the edge of the pit in which they had thrown him, laughing and jeering at him.
"A few days in the pit with no food or water will teach you to defy the Amaras!" a voice thundered into the pit. "We'll see how tough you are then, boy!" The laughing voices of the men quickly drifted away. He could hear their voices echo through the cave. For a few minutes he just sat there, enjoying the quiet drip of water falling to the floor. Drip. Drip. Drip. He sat there for a few more minutes before he realized what he was hearing.
WATER! The thought practically screamed in his head. Very slowly he lifted himself into a crawling position. He painfully started to crawl toward the dripping sound. Pain suddenly overwhelmed him and he crumbled to the floor. Something small and wet touched his nose. Then another drop landed on his nose. He slowly tilted his head back and stuck out his tongue to catch the next drop. After what seemed like an eternity, a wet tingling sensation touched his tongue. Then another. And another. Soon his mouth was no longer dry. Satisfied, he painfully pulled himself into a sitting position against the wall of the pit. He let his head hang back so that he could feel the wall's coldness on the back of his neck. He sighed and let out a deep breath.
"Well Adam, what did you do this time?" he heard his own voice echo against the cave walls. It comforted him, in a weird sort of way, to hear his own voice. The thoughts of the day ran through his mind.
"Well Adam," he replied to himself. "Today I tried to escape again, only to be caught by Tomore." He quickly spat in disgust on the floor as he said the Amara leader's name. "I almost made it, but Tomore just had to be visiting his mines today! I mean really, if he wants to find riches so badly, why doesn't he just grab a pickaxe and do the work himself!" He sighed and let his head droop forward. "But no, he just had to kidnap innocent people to do all the work for him!" Thinking about this, he started to recall the day that they took him.
He had been boar hunting that day, with his faithful companion, Tiger. He was a small beagle with white and caramel coloured fur and the courage of a mountain lion. They had been on the verge of catching a wild boar, when all of a sudden an arrow shot out of the forest around them and plunged itself into Tiger's side. He howled in pain as his body sank to the ground. He let one last whimper escape and then he was silent. Adam stood in shock, looking at his dead companion, seconds ago alive. Snapping out of his paralyzed state, he began to stumble towards his dog. He sank to his knees next to his friend and gently gathered the dog into his arms. Tiger's body was quickly becoming cold to the touch. Adam cradled Tiger in his arms as he buried his face in his fur and wept. Never again would he hear Tiger's happy howl as they chased after game. No longer would they spend endless hours splashing in the creek by his home. His best friend was gone.
Slowly, Adam gently set the cold body of his dog down. He then thrust his arms into the air, hands clenched into fists, and threw his head back as he bellowed a broken hearted and angry cry. He vowed then and there that he would not rest until he found the one whom had killed his dog and made him pay. He did not have to wait long.
A dozen men suddenly stepped out of the forest around Adam, arrows loaded on their bows, all pointed at him. At this point, Adam was so angered by the death of his friend that he cared not about death for himself. In the blink of an eye, he grabbed two large sticks from the ground beside him. He chucked one at one of the men as leapt to his feet, and with the other he charged at another man, whom had become briefly startled by Adam's sudden movements of attack.
Pain suddenly swirled through the back of one of his legs and he sank to his knees. Looking behind him, he could see the back of an arrow protruding from the back of his right leg. Strong, rough hands suddenly grabbed at him. Adam fought back, shaking off his attackers' hands and clubbing some with his fists. A sudden blow to the back of his head almost knocked him out. In his seconds of weakness, his attackers were able to grab his arms, which were then roughly tied behind his back. Adam tried to yell at his attackers, but was quickly silenced as one thrust a gag into his mouth. All he could do was sit there helplessly, waiting for his attackers to kill him. But death never came.
After a few minutes, two of his attackers, which he later found out called themselves the Amaras, pulled Adam roughly to his feet and led him over to a man sitting on a jet black horse. That was the first time that Adam saw Tomore. He was a rather tall man with his brown hair cut short compared to Adam's own long, shaggy brown hair. Tomore's eyes were a brown so dark that they sometimes looked black. Adam sometimes wondered if Tomore was jealous of his own forest green eyes, as they were, as many people told him, very extraordinary and very unique.
His mind suddenly returned to the cave pit in which he was sitting, bruised and beaten. Tomore and his men had kidnapped him, along with many other people, and brought them to his mines in Canta Mountain. There, they worked endless days digging, trying to find Tomore his riches that he claimed he deserved. Many times since Adam had arrived at the mines, he had tried to escape and every time he was caught and beaten, then thrown into the pit.
"I will make it out of here someday!" Adam cried out. "Then you'll be sorry!" Adam sighed as he sat on the cold stone floor, gently testing his limbs. They all seemed to be working fine, no broken bones. Adam quickly mumbled a quiet thanks to God for sparing him from any broken bones. Broken bones meant slower working and slower working meant more whippings. Adam gently touched a scar just below his left eye where a whip had nicked him. Thankfully, it had not blinded him.A rope suddenly dropped down into his containment. Puzzled, Adam painfully stood and limped over to the rope. He fingered it, extremely curious. He had been sentenced three days in the pit and it had not even been one yet.
"Grab the rope!" a voice hissed from above the pit. Adam hesitated, then took the rope and gave it a small tug. Slowly, the rope started to return to the top of the pit, carrying Adam with it. As soon as he reached the top, strong, calloused hands helped to pull him the rest of the way out of the pit. Adam looked up into the eyes of many of the other kidnapped people. One handed him a flask containing water. He took it gratefully, mumbling a quick thanks. He tipped the flask back and savored the fresh cool liquid flowing down his raw throat. When the flask was empty, he returned it to its owner, who in turn gave Adam another flask.
"You keep this one," his accented voice smiled. Adam smiled in return as he took the flask from the man. Taking another quick drink, Adam took the chance to look at the people around him. Everyone, men and women alike, were wearing nothing but a single tunic, just long enough to cover indecencies, but torn and ragged. He quickly glanced at his own tunic, which was soaked with sweat, blood, and grime. It too was torn and ragged. He looked back at the people around him and was startled to find them all looking at him, waiting with expectant looks on their faces.
"What is everyone looking at?" Adam asked, raising his right eyebrow.
"You are the one with all the escape ideas!" a woman with dark brown hair blurted out. "We thought that you would lead us!"
"Escape? Lead?" Adam stuttered, taking a step back. "What?"
"Please..." a small voice cried. A little girl with black hair that fell to her shoulders stepped forward. "Please, take us home!" Everyone's voices roared in agreement. Adam raised his arms to quiet them.
"Alright, I will lead you out of here," Adam let his voice carry over the crowd of people. Everyone's voices cried out in a victorious cry. Again, Adam had to silence them with his arms.
"Please, settle down!" he had to shout over the voices of the people. Completely forgetting about his injuries and earlier pains, Adam climbed onto a large boulder nearby so that everyone could see him clearly. "Now this is what we need to do! Men, go and collect all of the pickaxes that you can! Women, collect some palm sized rocks that can be thrown easily! And the rest of you, make as many slings as you can from the hems of your tunics! Now let's get to work!"Minutes later, a fair-sized pile of rocks and pickaxes sat next to Adam. In his hands he held four usable slings. Everyone looked to him for their next instructions.
"I need the strongest men and women to grab a pickaxe! Everyone else grab as many rocks as you can carry!" Adam paused for a second before continuing. "Does anyone here know how to use a sling and have a fair hand with one?" A few hands rose from the crowd. "I need the best three to come and take one of these slings!" There was a soft mumble between people in the crowd. Finally, two sturdy men and one woman came forward and claimed their slings. The last Adam kept for himself.
"People carrying rocks," he called out. "Stay near those with slings and be ready to supply them with the rocks they need when they need them!" He raised his pickaxe into the air and looked into the eyes of everyone in the crowd.
"Let none stand in our path!" he cried in a warrior's voice. "Let them feel our pain! Let us, on this day, run free!" Upon finishing his declaration, a loud roar came from his listeners. His voice joined in the battle cry. Pickaxe in one hand and sling in the other, Adam took off running through the mountain's tunnels. He quickly came upon his first victim. He swung his pickaxe with all his might and was quickly covered with blood that was not his own. Pulling his pickaxe free from the Amara's body, Adam looked for his next victim. He took down two more Amaras before he spotted him.
Tomore was pulling his sword out of the body of the little girl with the black hair. Anger flared through Adam's body as he charged at Tomore. Tomore looked up in time to block Adam's pickaxe with his sword. Adam glared into the eyes of the Amara leader and saw fear flash through them. Adam saw Tomore's eyes flash to something behind him and Adam turned in time to block another Amara's sword. Adam quickly ended the warrior's life and turned back to face Tomore to find him gone. He heard a horse whiny and caught sight of Tomore riding away on his jet black horse. Adam scowled as he searched for another horse. He quickly spotted one bearing a rider, so he called over a boy carrying rocks. He took a couple and began to load his sling, but before he could even use it, a stone hit the side of the rider's head, causing him to fall off of the horse. Not caring about who hit the rider, Adam raced over to the horse, which startled and tried to run away. He quickly grabbed at the bridle and swung himself up onto the horse. Adam dug his heels into the sides of the chocolate brown stallion and they were off. Adam rode the horse hard, hoping that he could catch up to Tomore.
He was nearing the forest when a sudden flicker in the corner of his eye warned him of the oncoming danger and he ducked just as an arrow skimmed the top of his head. He quickly turned sideways in his saddle and saw Tomore loading another arrow into his bow. Remembering his loaded sling, Adam quickly pulled it out and swung it with all of his might. The rock slammed into Tomore's bow, knocking it from his hands. Realizing he had no weapon, Tomore turned his horse around and spurred it forward into the forest. Adam quickly spurred his horse after Tomore while loading another rock into his sling. As soon as Tomore was in range, Adam let his rock fly.
The rock hit Tomore squarely in the back, causing his to fall off his horse. Adam jumped off his still moving horse and landed right beside Tomore, nearly landing on him. Tomore scrambled to pull his sword out of his scabbard, but just as he pulled it out, Adam knocked it out of his hands with his pickaxe. Tomore attempted to get to his feet, but Adam kicked him back down so that he was flat on his back. Putting his foot on Tomore's chest, Adam bent down to pick up the sword. He then pointed the sword at Tomore's neck.
"Get up!" Adam ordered. Tomore scrambled to his feet, clearly petrified. "Now take off your coat and leggings!"
"What!" Tomore's husky voice cried. "Never!" Adam pressed the tip of the sword to the bare skin of Tomore's neck.
"I highly suggest that you reconsider," Adam scowled, pressing the tip a little harder against Tomore's neck. "We wouldn't want to get blood on such a pretty outfit." Tomore raised his hands in surrender. He slowly lowered his arms and began to undo the buttons on his deep green coat. He quickly pulled it off and handed it over to Adam's outstretched waiting hand. Adam took it and tossed it over a nearby tree branch.
"Now the pants, if you please," Adam gestured towards Tomore's leggings with the sword. Scowling, Tomore took off his pants and passed them over to Adam, who put them with the coat.
"Down on your knees!" Adam ordered. Tomore scowled as he knelt. "You know what? We've been in this position before, except I was the one kneeling and you were the one with the sword." Adam smiled at the memory.
"I bet you're probably regretting that you never did this!" Adam swung the sword with all his might and quickly beheaded the once powerful Amara leader. Blood sprayed Adam as Tomore's head rolled into the bushes. "That was for Tiger!" he mumbled as he spit on the ground.
Suddenly a bush rustled behind Adam. He spun around to face the boy who had given him the rocks for his sling. The boy's eyes were wide as he stated at the headless body.
"Tomore's head rolled off into those bushes," Adam told the boy, as he used his own tunic to clean off the sword. "Go find it." As the boy scrambled off to find the head, Adam changed into Tomore's coat and leggings. Remembering Tomore's scabbard, Adam bent down and removed it, along with the belt, from Tomore's waist. Adam quickly fitted the belt around his own waist and slid the sword into its scabbard. Once he was all dressed, he stuck two fingers in his mouth and whistled. The chocolate brown stallion trotted over to Adam and he was just about to swing himself into the saddle, when the boy came out of the bushes with Tomore's head.
"What do I do now, sir?" the boy asked, awkwardly holding the bloody head.
"Take it back to the others," Adam replied, swinging himself into the saddle. "Let them know that the battle is over and that we have won."
"And what will you do, sir?" the boy asked, adjusting his grip on the head.
"I'm going home," Adam replied. "To where I belong." With that, Adam turned his horse around and kicked it into a gallop. The boy watched Adam ride off into the distance before he turned and ran back to tell the others that it was finally over. The battle against the Amaras was over. The battle for freedom was done and they had won.