A Game of Colours

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Chapter 21

* * *

I groan at the bumping, my head throbbing painfully.

“Jar, you alright? Jarrah, talk to me! JARRAH!”

The last thing I hear is the barking of dogs.

* * *

“Isaac, we have to slow down! Something’s wrong with Jarrah!” I cry, tears streaming down my cheeks.

“We can’t stop!” he yells back to me from the front. I can barely hear him from the loud wind.

“You don’t even know where you’re going! We have to wake him up!”

I crane my head, and curse that I can’t get out of this stupid cage and help Jarrah. Why did he have to lock it? If only he could give me the keys, but any mistake he makes now could be fatal to all of us.

If it isn’t already too late for Jarrah.

Blood rolls down his face, and his nose looks broken. He has cuts all over his face, and his usually golden hair is matted and dirty. Just the sight of him, so vulnerable, so unaware, scares me. The Jarrah I know is cocky and loud. Seeing him so lifeless... he has to wake up. He must be playing a joke, like always. He’s just gonna wake up and say, “why’re you so damn gullible, princess?“.

Right?

“Where are the keys?” I yell.

“I have them, but you can’t reach them, can you?”

“We have to try!” I shout back, “slow down and toss them!”

Isaac fumbles with the keys in his hand, and when we reach a flat section of the path, he throws them. I stick out my hand from between the bars, ready to catch them.

The cart hits a bump, just as the metal touches my fingertips. They fall from my grasp and tumble onto the path. “Shit!” I yell, “we have to go back!”

“We can’t!” he yells, “they’re gaining on us.”

He’s right. Even among all the trees flying past us, I can still make out the barking of dogs and yelling of men on horses. I know we can’t outrun them forever, but the more distance the better.

Frantically, I observe the cage I’m in. There must be some way to break the wood that’s holding it together. I notice the scratch marks lining the planks, probably from slaves clawing on them, trying to escape. Then, it hits me.

“Isaac! You still have that knife?” I shout.

“Yeah!”

“Toss me it!” I yell.

“Are you crazy? I’ll bloody kill you if I miss!” he cries.

“Then don’t miss!”

“I’m not risking it!” I hear him say from the front.

“We don’t have any other choice! Cover it with a shirt, or something!”

I watch him tear off a section of the fabric, and wrap the knife.

“NOW, ISAAC!” I scream, and he reluctantly throws the blade.

I stick out my hand to catch the bundle.

“I’ve got it!” I shout, unravelling the fabric to reveal a knife. It’s a little blunt, with engravings on it, but it should do the job.

I begin sawing on the wood, trying to snap it and create a big enough hole for me to climb out of. I work as fast as I can, sawing back and forth until it’s weak enough to push the plank. Finally, it snaps and I push it out of the cart.

“I’ve got one!” I yell. It takes several minutes to snap the next one, but I think I can fit through. I stick my head out first, and the wind whips past me, stinging my cheeks.

I grab the handles, and climb out of the cage. I look down, and see that we’re going way too fast for my liking. One little slip, and I’ll be looking less alive than Jarrah.

I climb slowly to the top of the cart, my hands shaking. “I’m out!” I yell to Isaac. I turn behind us, to see our pursuers losing distance. I make my way over to Jarrah, who lies unconscious next to Isaac.

“Jar, love, you alright? Jar?” I nudge his arm as gently as I can, trying to wake him up. “Hey Jar, this isn’t funny anymore. We don’t know where we’re going--Jar, you’ve gotta wake up. Jar?”

No response from him, only the shouting of men in the distance.

“Jar, you’ve had your fun. Wake up,” I say, a tear rolling down my cheek.

“For the love of God would you just kiss him or something?” yells Isaac, “bigger problems than Sleeping Beauty over here!”

My face flushes bright red, and I keep prodding at Jarrah.

“Jar, your dad’s men are right behind us. You gotta help us or we’re all going back...” I trail off helplessly.

His cheeks are cold, and his eyes remain closed and lifeless.

“What if he doesn’t wake up? What if something’s really wrong? Maybe Whitley’s men can help us?” I suggest, frustrated.

“We are NOT stopping, Alice. Take his gun!” yells Isaac, “we can help him later!”

“I can’t aim this thing!” I cry.

“Fine! Take the reins!”

I grab the ropes, and steady myself. I try and forget about Jarrah beside me, focusing on my breathing and the bumpy road ahead. It’s rocky and getting steep, which only makes me more nervous. A single mistake could send us crashing into the trees that surround us.

I don’t know if seconds, minutes, or hours pass before I feel Jarrah stir beside me. “Prin...princess? That you?”

“JARRAH!” I cry happily, “you’re okay!”

“If you call this okay, then you’ve got serious issues.”

Leave it to Jarrah to tease me in a life or death situation.

“What’s happening?” he groans.

“Well we’re being chased, thanks for the help. Listen Jar, you gotta take the reins! I don’t know where I’m going!”

Jarrah tries to move his arms, but he yelps out in pain. “I think I broke my hand punching that bloke. You gotta do this.”

Shit. “I have no idea what I’m doing or where we’re headed, are you nuts?!” I yell.

“Relax, princess. I’ll guide you.” I feel him stop to survey our surroundings and get his bearings. A few moments later, he says, “We’re in Springfield Forest. Atleast you went the right way.”

“Okay, so where now?”

“Hold up. Isaac! How do our odds look?” asks Jarrah.

“They lost the dogs. It’s just four men on horse now, but they’re coming close.”

“We need to cut them off. Alice, turn right at the next crossroad. There’s three paths, they’ll have to split up. If we’re lucky, it’ll just be one guy. And we can take him then.”

I follow his instructions eagerly, focusing only on the task at hand.

On the next crossroad, I jerk the cart to the right, leading up to a smaller, windy road. It’s covered in twigs and mud, clearly not travelled very often.

“We’ll head backwards for a bit to throw them off, then get back on track. The trees should cover us for a bit before they realize we gave them the slip.”

“Jesus Jarrah, you do escape attempts often?”

“I don’t attempt, love, I succeed.”

The horses at the front are growing tired, their breaths ragged and their movements choppy.

“We have to stop, soon,” I inform them.

“Just a little longer. I have a place in mind.”

We ride for a few more minutes, before a raging river comes into view, blocking our path from going any further. I pull the reins firmly, and the wagon comes to a screeching halt.

“We’re trapped now” I yell icily, “was this part of your plan too?!”

“In fact, it was. This is the Big Sandy River. I used to swim here as a kid, it’s the perfect crossing point. We need to ditch the wagon into the river, so they think it was an accident.”

“You sure they’d believe it? I’m supposed to be locked in there. Maybe we should just turn back and try to go around,” I say nervously.

“If they don’t believe it, at least they lose our scent,” he responds quickly, unhooking the horses from the reins. I notice the limp in his leg, and the wince in his face everytime he touches something.

“Jar, is there any way around?” I say.

“Alice, we don’t have time to argue. Trust me, just get out of the wagon,” sighs Jarrah.

I look at the water nervously, muttering to myself and stalling as much as I can. I feel a hand lace into mine, and look up surprised to see Isaac.

“It’s not the scent you’re worried about, is it? I remember what happened last time. You’re scared to go in the river, yeah?” he whispers.

I nod.

“Don’t worry. We’ll be with you the whole time. Jarrah will help you get across. We can’t have those bloody hellhounds following us is all.”

I watch Jarrah release the two horses, and they run off back into the forest.

Next, Isaac snaps off a few planks of wood off the wagon, and holds them up, inspecting them.

“What’re those for?” I ask.

“So you don’t drown, of course,” Jarrah says reassuringly, and I feel the urge to slap the cheeky grin off his face.

Together, Jarrah and Isaac push the wagon into the river. It creaks under the pressure of the water, but is too heavy to be carried away. Instead, it slowly sinks until only the top of the cage pokes out of the water. A few moments later, and it is completely swallowed by the currents. I gulp, knowing the river is that deep.

“Okay, let’s go.”

Isaac hands me a plank of wood to cling on to in the river.

We wade into the water carefully, Instant, rushing cold pierces my skin. It feels like thousands of little knives are prickling across my body. “Holy Mother Mary, who’s bloody idea was this?” I spit. Jarrah quirks an eyebrow at my sudden outburst, and Isaac squeezes my hand. A few moments in, and I’m already walking on the tips of my toes.

Halfway through the river, the water is neck deep. I nervously keep my chin up, trying not to get carried away by the current. Isaac is tall; so he doesn’t have the same problem. I hang on to the wooden plank for dear life, terrified of the darkness below me. I listen and keep awareness of my surroundings.

Suddenly, I pick up a faint trotting in the distance, from a horse, and the yelling of a man.

“Did you hear that?” I hiss.

“Hear what?” asks Jarrah, brows furrowed.

“From where we came. I swear I heard someone.”

“Look.”

A man on horseback comes into the clearing, but I don’t think he sees us yet.

“Underwater, now,” commands Jarrah.

“But--”

“Don’t object,” he says, pushing my head down, and I take a large gulp of air before submerging.

It’s a completely different world underwater, unfamiliar and unpredictable. Shadows playfully dance around us in the water, like faceless demons trying to scare us into going back up. The light bounces off at odd angles, playing tricks on my eyes. I have never liked it. Isaac’s face is strangely calm and unreadable, concentrating on holding his breath. My lungs feel like they’re on fire, and I desperately want to claw my way back to the surface for air, but I know these few moments are crucial. I close my eyes, preferring not to see what’s in the water around us. I try to concentrate on nothing. I blank out my mind. After a few moments, I open them. I see Jarrah slightly peek up, to see if the man is still there. He gives us the thumbs up, and we rise.

I inhale huge gulps of breath, coughing and sputtering. I feel dizzy and weakened, feeling myself slipping back into the water. I clutch onto Jarrah for support. He winces but says nothing, and I quickly let go of his arm, remembering he’s bruised all over. He pulls it back, and smiles at me weakly.

“It’s okay,” he says.

We push through the last few minutes, trying to reach the shoreline on the other bank. Admittedly Jarrah does most of the work, me leaning on him for fear of sinking back under. When we finally reach the other side, we all collapse against the rocky shore.

“We lost them,” says Jarrah, panting hard, “we really did it. We’re free.”

“Yeah Jar, the easy part’s over,” I roll my eyes sarcastically.

Jarrah shakes his hair like a wet dog, splashing me completely, and I glare at him in response.

“Alright, we need to get out of sight incase they come back. I’m sure they haven’t given up,” growls Isaac.

“They never will. They’re probably telling all the cops we ‘kidnapped’ their son and they’ll be on us any minute now, police included,” I frown.

“My father is celebrating my disappearance, don’t you worry,” laughs Jarrah bitterly, his eyes glazed, “it’s you they’re chasing us for.”

* * *
Heyyyy guys :D HAPPY FRIDAY. IN THE SPIRIT OF A GAME OF COLOURS--THE DRESS THATS BREAKING THE INTERNET IS WHITE AND GOLD FOR ME. WHAT ABOUT YOU GUYS? :D
....
....
it’s white and gold.
Okay?
Okay.
-Marie
-ps vote and comment ily all enjoy your weekend :)

* * *

I groan at the bumping, my head throbbing painfully.

“Jar, you alright? Jarrah, talk to me! JARRAH!”

The last thing I hear is the barking of dogs.

* * *

“Isaac, we have to slow down! Something’s wrong with Jarrah!” I cry, tears streaming down my cheeks.

“We can’t stop!” he yells back to me from the front. I can barely hear him from the loud wind.

“You don’t even know where you’re going! We have to wake him up!”

I crane my head, and curse that I can’t get out of this stupid cage and help Jarrah. Why did he have to lock it? If only he could give me the keys, but any mistake he makes now could be fatal to all of us.

If it isn’t already too late for Jarrah.

Blood rolls down his face, and his nose looks broken. He has cuts all over his face, and his usually golden hair is matted and dirty. Just the sight of him, so vulnerable, so unaware, scares me. The Jarrah I know is cocky and loud. Seeing him so lifeless... he has to wake up. He must be playing a joke, like always. He’s just gonna wake up and say, “why’re you so damn gullible, princess?“.

Right?

“Where are the keys?” I yell.

“I have them, but you can’t reach them, can you?”

“We have to try!” I shout back, “slow down and toss them!”

Isaac fumbles with the keys in his hand, and when we reach a flat section of the path, he throws them. I stick out my hand from between the bars, ready to catch them.

The cart hits a bump, just as the metal touches my fingertips. They fall from my grasp and tumble onto the path. “Shit!” I yell, “we have to go back!”

“We can’t!” he yells, “they’re gaining on us.”

He’s right. Even among all the trees flying past us, I can still make out the barking of dogs and yelling of men on horses. I know we can’t outrun them forever, but the more distance the better.

Frantically, I observe the cage I’m in. There must be some way to break the wood that’s holding it together. I notice the scratch marks lining the planks, probably from slaves clawing on them, trying to escape. Then, it hits me.

“Isaac! You still have that knife?” I shout.

“Yeah!”

“Toss me it!” I yell.

“Are you crazy? I’ll bloody kill you if I miss!” he cries.

“Then don’t miss!”

“I’m not risking it!” I hear him say from the front.

“We don’t have any other choice! Cover it with a shirt, or something!”

I watch him tear off a section of the fabric, and wrap the knife.

“NOW, ISAAC!” I scream, and he reluctantly throws the blade.

I stick out my hand to catch the bundle.

“I’ve got it!” I shout, unravelling the fabric to reveal a knife. It’s a little blunt, with engravings on it, but it should do the job.

I begin sawing on the wood, trying to snap it and create a big enough hole for me to climb out of. I work as fast as I can, sawing back and forth until it’s weak enough to push the plank. Finally, it snaps and I push it out of the cart.

“I’ve got one!” I yell. It takes several minutes to snap the next one, but I think I can fit through. I stick my head out first, and the wind whips past me, stinging my cheeks.

I grab the handles, and climb out of the cage. I look down, and see that we’re going way too fast for my liking. One little slip, and I’ll be looking less alive than Jarrah.

I climb slowly to the top of the cart, my hands shaking. “I’m out!” I yell to Isaac. I turn behind us, to see our pursuers losing distance. I make my way over to Jarrah, who lies unconscious next to Isaac.

“Jar, love, you alright? Jar?” I nudge his arm as gently as I can, trying to wake him up. “Hey Jar, this isn’t funny anymore. We don’t know where we’re going--Jar, you’ve gotta wake up. Jar?”

No response from him, only the shouting of men in the distance.

“Jar, you’ve had your fun. Wake up,” I say, a tear rolling down my cheek.

“For the love of God would you just kiss him or something?” yells Isaac, “bigger problems than Sleeping Beauty over here!”

My face flushes bright red, and I keep prodding at Jarrah.

“Jar, your dad’s men are right behind us. You gotta help us or we’re all going back...” I trail off helplessly.

His cheeks are cold, and his eyes remain closed and lifeless.

“What if he doesn’t wake up? What if something’s really wrong? Maybe Whitley’s men can help us?” I suggest, frustrated.

“We are NOT stopping, Alice. Take his gun!” yells Isaac, “we can help him later!”

“I can’t aim this thing!” I cry.

“Fine! Take the reins!”

I grab the ropes, and steady myself. I try and forget about Jarrah beside me, focusing on my breathing and the bumpy road ahead. It’s rocky and getting steep, which only makes me more nervous. A single mistake could send us crashing into the trees that surround us.

I don’t know if seconds, minutes, or hours pass before I feel Jarrah stir beside me. “Prin...princess? That you?”

“JARRAH!” I cry happily, “you’re okay!”

“If you call this okay, then you’ve got serious issues.”

Leave it to Jarrah to tease me in a life or death situation.

“What’s happening?” he groans.

“Well we’re being chased, thanks for the help. Listen Jar, you gotta take the reins! I don’t know where I’m going!”

Jarrah tries to move his arms, but he yelps out in pain. “I think I broke my hand punching that bloke. You gotta do this.”

Shit. “I have no idea what I’m doing or where we’re headed, are you nuts?!” I yell.

“Relax, princess. I’ll guide you.” I feel him stop to survey our surroundings and get his bearings. A few moments later, he says, “We’re in Springfield Forest. Atleast you went the right way.”

“Okay, so where now?”

“Hold up. Isaac! How do our odds look?” asks Jarrah.

“They lost the dogs. It’s just four men on horse now, but they’re coming close.”

“We need to cut them off. Alice, turn right at the next crossroad. There’s three paths, they’ll have to split up. If we’re lucky, it’ll just be one guy. And we can take him then.”

I follow his instructions eagerly, focusing only on the task at hand.

On the next crossroad, I jerk the cart to the right, leading up to a smaller, windy road. It’s covered in twigs and mud, clearly not travelled very often.

“We’ll head backwards for a bit to throw them off, then get back on track. The trees should cover us for a bit before they realize we gave them the slip.”

“Jesus Jarrah, you do escape attempts often?”

“I don’t attempt, love, I succeed.”

The horses at the front are growing tired, their breaths ragged and their movements choppy.

“We have to stop, soon,” I inform them.

“Just a little longer. I have a place in mind.”

We ride for a few more minutes, before a raging river comes into view, blocking our path from going any further. I pull the reins firmly, and the wagon comes to a screeching halt.

“We’re trapped now” I yell icily, “was this part of your plan too?!”

“In fact, it was. This is the Big Sandy River. I used to swim here as a kid, it’s the perfect crossing point. We need to ditch the wagon into the river, so they think it was an accident.”

“You sure they’d believe it? I’m supposed to be locked in there. Maybe we should just turn back and try to go around,” I say nervously.

“If they don’t believe it, at least they lose our scent,” he responds quickly, unhooking the horses from the reins. I notice the limp in his leg, and the wince in his face everytime he touches something.

“Jar, is there any way around?” I say.

“Alice, we don’t have time to argue. Trust me, just get out of the wagon,” sighs Jarrah.

I look at the water nervously, muttering to myself and stalling as much as I can. I feel a hand lace into mine, and look up surprised to see Isaac.

“It’s not the scent you’re worried about, is it? I remember what happened last time. You’re scared to go in the river, yeah?” he whispers.

I nod.

“Don’t worry. We’ll be with you the whole time. Jarrah will help you get across. We can’t have those bloody hellhounds following us is all.”

I watch Jarrah release the two horses, and they run off back into the forest.

Next, Isaac snaps off a few planks of wood off the wagon, and holds them up, inspecting them.

“What’re those for?” I ask.

“So you don’t drown, of course,” Jarrah says reassuringly, and I feel the urge to slap the cheeky grin off his face.

Together, Jarrah and Isaac push the wagon into the river. It creaks under the pressure of the water, but is too heavy to be carried away. Instead, it slowly sinks until only the top of the cage pokes out of the water. A few moments later, and it is completely swallowed by the currents. I gulp, knowing the river is that deep.

“Okay, let’s go.”

Isaac hands me a plank of wood to cling on to in the river.

We wade into the water carefully, Instant, rushing cold pierces my skin. It feels like thousands of little knives are prickling across my body. “Holy Mother Mary, who’s bloody idea was this?” I spit. Jarrah quirks an eyebrow at my sudden outburst, and Isaac squeezes my hand. A few moments in, and I’m already walking on the tips of my toes.

Halfway through the river, the water is neck deep. I nervously keep my chin up, trying not to get carried away by the current. Isaac is tall; so he doesn’t have the same problem. I hang on to the wooden plank for dear life, terrified of the darkness below me. I listen and keep awareness of my surroundings.

Suddenly, I pick up a faint trotting in the distance, from a horse, and the yelling of a man.

“Did you hear that?” I hiss.

“Hear what?” asks Jarrah, brows furrowed.

“From where we came. I swear I heard someone.”

“Look.”

A man on horseback comes into the clearing, but I don’t think he sees us yet.

“Underwater, now,” commands Jarrah.

“But--”

“Don’t object,” he says, pushing my head down, and I take a large gulp of air before submerging.

It’s a completely different world underwater, unfamiliar and unpredictable. Shadows playfully dance around us in the water, like faceless demons trying to scare us into going back up. The light bounces off at odd angles, playing tricks on my eyes. I have never liked it. Isaac’s face is strangely calm and unreadable, concentrating on holding his breath. My lungs feel like they’re on fire, and I desperately want to claw my way back to the surface for air, but I know these few moments are crucial. I close my eyes, preferring not to see what’s in the water around us. I try to concentrate on nothing. I blank out my mind. After a few moments, I open them. I see Jarrah slightly peek up, to see if the man is still there. He gives us the thumbs up, and we rise.

I inhale huge gulps of breath, coughing and sputtering. I feel dizzy and weakened, feeling myself slipping back into the water. I clutch onto Jarrah for support. He winces but says nothing, and I quickly let go of his arm, remembering he’s bruised all over. He pulls it back, and smiles at me weakly.

“It’s okay,” he says.

We push through the last few minutes, trying to reach the shoreline on the other bank. Admittedly Jarrah does most of the work, me leaning on him for fear of sinking back under. When we finally reach the other side, we all collapse against the rocky shore.

“We lost them,” says Jarrah, panting hard, “we really did it. We’re free.”

“Yeah Jar, the easy part’s over,” I roll my eyes sarcastically.

Jarrah shakes his hair like a wet dog, splashing me completely, and I glare at him in response.

“Alright, we need to get out of sight incase they come back. I’m sure they haven’t given up,” growls Isaac.

“They never will. They’re probably telling all the cops we ‘kidnapped’ their son and they’ll be on us any minute now, police included,” I frown.

“My father is celebrating my disappearance, don’t you worry,” laughs Jarrah bitterly, his eyes glazed, “it’s you they’re chasing us for.”

* * *

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