Chapter 2 - A Desperate Distraction
Lillian was beginning to get extremely worried now. She had been trying to activate her powers for almost fifteen minutes and for some unknown reason nothing appeared to be working!
It seemed so easy to summon them before, back when she was being threatened by Lord Blaine at Castle Veenah… But now, nothing.
What was she doing wrong?
“The tunnel’s end is just up ahead.” Rathman announced, pointing towards the dim light appearing in front of them, “Your carriage awaits, my lady.”
As he spoke he turned his body slightly to face Lillian, bowing down as if to taunt her with a sadistic grin on his bearded face. The prick was making fun of her.
She knew she was running out of time. And where was Draxus? Maybe he really was dead. Maybe she really would never see him again. Her heart sank at the mere thought of losing him now, not when they had come so far together. He couldn’t be dead... could he?
“There, I can see the opening my lord.” one Rathman’s soldiers announced, pointing with a grin as the others chuckled.
“We’ve made it.” another added.
Lillian could feel instantaneous dread upon realising no one was coming to rescue her after all. She was on her own and needed to do something to free herself, fast.
As she attempted to pull her arms from the soldier’s grip on either side of her, Lillian groaned in pain as their grasp on her only tightened. She would definitely have bruises on her arms come tomorrow, that was for sure.
“You’re not going anywhere, whore.” one snarled as he lifted his hand intent on backhanding her for her attempt at pulling free.
She instantly reacted by cringing as he lifted his arm, but as his hand came down, aimed right at her face, it was grabbed mid-air and held back from striking her. The soldier looked up to see his King holding his wrist with a furious expression.
Rathman warned with a commanding tone, “No one but me lays a hand on the Queen. Is that understood?”
The soldier pulled his arm away, nodding obediently.
“My apologies, sire.” the soldier spoke defiantly like a spoiled child, with his head facing down.
As soon as the soldier’s guard was down, Rathman decided to make an example of him in front of his other men. The King suddenly swung around his right fist, connecting it with the soldier’s head and knocking him off his feet to the floor with a loud ‘thump’. His release on Lillian’s arm surprised her as she watched him fall to the floor in a crumpled mess.
The other soldiers stood watching in surprise as Lillian took the chance to make yet another desperate move in order to escape her captors. With only one soldier holding onto her now, she decided to try and light his boot on fire, hoping to cause a temporary distraction which would allow her to try and make a run for it.
Closing her eyes and focusing everything she had on him, Lillian repeated the word ‘light’ over and over in her head, as she had once with Lord Blaine. Rathman spoke loudly, commanding his men as she focused her powers.
“And that goes for all of you.” he shouted as he glared at the other soldiers standing around him, “Anyone who dares harm the Queen will answer to me. Is that understood?”
The soldiers replied in unison, “Yes, my King.”
At that very moment, the soldier holding onto Lillian noticed that her eyes were closed tightly together and he spoke down to her.
“Hey… what are you... huh?” he went to ask, but stopped as soon as he felt the sudden warmth coming from his pant leg and looked down to see what it was.
His eyes widened in disbelief and terror as he suddenly realised that his leg was on fire! Letting out a painful scream, he alerted the others as he released his grip on Lillian’s arm and began dancing around like a fool in an effort to put the flames out.
“Aah, I’m on fire... I’m on bloody fire! Help!”
Rathman turned to see what all the fuss was about, catching a glimpse of the soldier shouting hysterically as he jumped about and kicked his leg outwards while the white flames appeared to slowly make their way up his pant leg. The flames were bright and distracting in such a darkened place and this was enough of a distraction to allow Lillian the chance to make her move.
Frowning in disbelief Rathman and the other soldiers hadn’t yet noticed that Lillian had slipped past them in the shadows of the tunnel and was running as fast as she could toward the tunnel’s exit.
“Put it out you morons!” King Rathman shouted at the others, pushing several of them in the backs as they rushed to their companion’s aid to try and distinguish the glowing flames, “Hurry the fuck up already… we don’t have-”
It was at that very moment he realised she was missing as he suddenly queried loudly.
“-Wait, where is she? Where’s the Queen?”
The soldiers had put out the flames by now and all turned to face their furious King upon hearing his question.
Rathman turned his head to face the tunnel’s exit and spotted her silhouette; Lillian was running from them and by now was a fair distance away. She was escaping!
“You fucking idiots, go after her!” Rathman shouted as he and his soldiers all began to give chase.
Lillian still had the cloth gag covering her mouth as she ran along the cold stone floor, her boots hitting the hard surface with light ‘thump’ sounds as she panted heavily. She could feel her heart thumping within her chest as she quickly glanced behind her, running as fast as her feet would allow her to in a desperate attempt to escape her dangerous captors. Lillian couldn’t quite see if they were gaining on her; she instead focused on the end of the tunnel, which she was nearing quickly with each desperate step.
The sounds of ‘clumping’ footsteps and voices echoed throughout the tunnel from behind, but she was so close to reaching her freedom that she didn’t seem to hear them. She wouldn’t give up, not now… she was so close!
As Lillian finally exited the tunnel and stepped out into what appeared to be a small clearing surrounded by trees, she looked around to gain an idea of which direction she should continue heading in. The sky above her was black and star-filled, but a canopy of dense treeline seemed to conceal them from her from her current position.
Looking around she could only see hundreds of tall trees in either direction and she panicked. She needed to find somewhere to hide and fast!
Making a quick choice in the heat of the moment, Lillian decided that she would try to wait them out and then double back through the pitch black tunnel, with hopes of returning to Castle Krillian once they had left. But she needed somewhere to hide first. Somewhere nearby.
Her emerald green eyes moved to scan her surroundings quickly and noticed a large fallen tree not too far away, a small dark opening appeared to lie underneath it and she decided she would hide in there and wait for them to leave.
Darting across the small clearing she ran as quickly as she could, fast approaching the fallen tree trunk which had been overgrown with thick green moss and vine leaves. Crouching down, she climbed in beneath it, pulling the long skirt of her gown in with her and out of sight as she remained hunched down and watching the tunnel’s opening in a terrified silence.
Waiting for them, her captors to emerge.
Her hands moved up to feel the material of the gag as she began to reach behind her head with hopes of untying it. With a few hard tugs, she had loosened the knot as her slender fingers worked to untie the material and remove the fabric from inside her mouth. Licking her dry lips, Lillian felt where the material had worn at the sides of her mouth. Fear pulsed throughout her body as she remained still, her hands slowly lowering from behind her head with the gag held in her hand as she watched them emerge and begin to search for her as expected.
King Rathman looked furious as he let out an angered roar loud enough to be heard for miles; his voice echoed back throughout the surrounding trees as he picked up a nearby branch and began clubbing nearby rocks and shrubs in anger.
“Fuck! FUCK! Find her!” he commanded in a rage as his soldiers began to spread out in all directions, their eyes peeled for any signs of movement in the surrounding trees, “Fucking find the bitch!”
It didn’t take long until one of the soldiers moved across to stand about a metre away from where she was hiding, unknowingly close as he looked around the nearby area for any sign of the runaway Queen.
Lillian’s brows were furrowed together in the centre of her forehead as she tried to remain calm by controlling her breathing and keeping quiet. Both of her hands were now covering her mouth now as she began to wish she had instead kept the gag on. Her heart was thumping so loudly she was sure the soldier could have heard it.
As she continued to watch him, the soldier turned his head to look down and his eyes narrowed as he caught sight of it... a piece of torn clothing still attached to a sharp branch right next to the large fallen tree! She must have torn her dress when she tried climbing in underneath the tree trunk!
His eyes darted straight down to the trunk as he worked to silently move around behind it, pretending to casually continue searching throughout the dense brush.
From her position Lillian could only see as the muscular soldier appeared to slowly make his way off behind her. Perhaps she had avoided him after all; perhaps she was safe.
Noticing that King Rathman and his men appeared to be out of her sights entirely and that there was a clear path visible to the tunnel’s entrance, she closed her eyes and summoned up all of her remaining courage to try and make a run for it. True, she could have waited until she was sure that the coast was clear before making her move, but the fear of them somehow finding her had suddenly taken over all rational thought and Lillian wanted nothing more than to return home, to the protection of her loving husband.
She intended to run straight back into the tunnel and not stop running until she reached the other end. It was an insane plan to say the least, one probably doomed to fail, but she was beyond terrified and didn’t stand a chance out here on her own.
Swallowing a nervous lump in her throat she licked her dry lips once more as she slowly began crawling out from her temporary cover, beneath the fallen tree trunk. Her hands pushing aside the thick blanket of moss and vines as she popped her head out into the open and peered around for any signs of movement.
Where had they gone? And why was it so quiet out there now? Something felt off.
Not bothering to think too much into it she quickly pulled herself out of her hiding spot and stood up, preparing to run and not happening to notice the figure standing directly behind her with a satisfied smirk on his face as he moved in on her from the looming shadows.
Just as she went to make a run for it the soldier quickly lunged forward and grabbed her from behind. His arm quickly wrapped around her waist and pulled her back in towards his chest as he used his other hand to silence her by covering her mouth and muffling her screams.
“Mmmph!” she tried crying out for help.
His foul breath entered her nostrils as he spoke his next words purposely aimed at striking fear into her heart as he leaned in over her shoulder with a grin.
She could hear him chuckling to himself as he fought to keep her restrained. Fear coursing throughout her veins, Lillian began to fight for her life; kicking and screaming pointlessly.
The sad truth was, she wasn’t going anywhere.