Chapter 34: Escape
Dark clouds covered the sky, and lightnings flashed every few seconds, but the rain had stopped falling from the sky, as the small party made their way towards Dras Leona. Malik looked at the clouds with distaste, and the soldiers looked grim, as if the weather affected their mood in the same dark direction. The horses ran on the muddy ground, quickly, trying to cover as much ground as possible. It had been a day since their escape from Iliria and since then, they had ran to outpace their pursuers.
For a whole day the empire soldiers had followed them, covering the distance behind them, but they still could not catch Malik’s small party. At last, Malik had managed to lose the soldiers, at the cover of darkness, crossing a small stream of water that had formed, and ordering their tracks covered for a small distance. Of course, he knew this would not work for long, but combined with the constant rain that made puddles everywhere, it could be enough.
Tied on Malik’s chestnut mare, Ismira was sitting, trying not to fall from the horse. Her hands had started to become numb, as the rope that tied her hands on her back was tight, and she awkwardly tried to find a more comfortable position to sit in. Her auburn hair was waving behind her from the cold air, as the horse ran. Her blue eyes, were looking fiercely at the soldiers who had captured her and she scowled, as she looked upon Malik. His only reaction was to grin at her, as his fierce dark eyes, stared at her.
On a white horse next to her, Garrow was also tied, his hands behind his back, as he kicked his legs, in a vain attempt to get free. He cursed at the soldiers with all his heart, some phrases that made Ismira blush, but the soldiers only laughed when they heard the obscenities, especially since they came from a young boy. The soldiers had already beaten him once, but her brother showed courage still, fighting like a caged lion. She hoped his courage would last until the night. They were going to need it when they tried to escape.
“We need to escape” Ismira thought. “But how?“. She raked her brain for a plan, but nothing spectacular came. She was sure for only one thing. The soldiers would tire and would eventually stop for the night. That was the time to escape. If only she could find something sharp to get rid of the ropes tying her hands. With a loud sigh, she released the air she was holding in her lungs. For now she could do nothing but wait, looking for any weakness, ready to pounce at any opportunity. Still, her efforts were in vain. The soldiers were careful, around her and her brother.
For years they had fought each other, Ismira enjoying making Garrow angry and stealing his toys, as he made mocking faces. Their fights were famous across Carvahall, but now, they were both in danger and it would be wise to work together. They were family after all and they needed to look after each other. Being older made it her responsibility and she would do anything to keep Garrow from harm.
“I need water.” Ismira said, feeling thirsty, her throat dry as sand and her mouth sticky.
“You heard the girl, Dervin. Bring the young lady water” Malik said with a grin. Dervin rushed to obey as he filled a cup of water. As Malik took it from his hand, he dropped it all on Ismira’s clothes.
“You can drink water when we stop in the night. Not sooner” Malik said with a harsh voice.
Once again she scowled at Malik and the soldiers around her. She would not get angry. She would wait for the right moment. Malik only grinned, as he looked ahead, and Ismira shivered as the cold water soaked her clothes.
“You can’t treat my sister so, you cowardly pig.!” Garrow shouted and he kicked the soldier who was carrying him on his horse. The man groaned with pain and slapped Garrow.
“Tie his legs.” Malik ordered as Garrow shouted.
Dervin looked ahead, as if nothing from the scene affected him. Another young soldier looked lost in his thoughts. It seems his two friends had died in Iliria and he was deep in thought, his eyes showing great sadness. On his left was another soldier, who looked grimfaced and scowled back at Ismira and Garrow.
The final soldier looked angry at Malik for treating Ismira and Garrow so. His fierce brown eyes looked with hatred at the commander. He was the kinder of the soldiers towards them, as he said that Ismira and Garrow reminded him of his own children, back in Aberon.
Time passed and mile after mile they traveled closer and closer to Dras Leona and King Orrin. Ismira was afraid. Her heart beat faster and all she could do was make small rebellions which often ended in pain and frustration. Finally darkness came, and the shining moon was the only light that could be seen. The soldiers looked tired around her.
“Halt! We stop here for the night.!” Malik ordered. His soldiers rushed to obey and create the tents. Five tents overall, one for each soldier and one for Ismira and Garrow. A large campfire was built in the middle and Dervin and another soldier cooked some stew over the fire. A soldier was tying the horses on the western part of the camp, and on the east, Malik’s tent had been built. Ismira absorbed every detail she could, for she knew she would need it to escape. She had to escape or she would end up dead or worse.
Malik sat near the campfire drinking wine, and laughing at a joke Dervin said. The kind soldier smiled towards her, and the thoughtful young soldier was eating his stew distractedly, still absorbed in his own thoughts. Garrow was sitting on a tree near the campfire, a soldier guarding him as he was eating his food and savoring the water he was drinking. A soldier shoved Ismira near him and she too was given food and water.
Soon, when every soldier had eaten, Malik ordered her and Garrow into the prisoner’s tent. He looked unsteady, as if he had too much to drink and his eyes looked glassy, as if he was not too conscious of what he was doing.
“Dervin you have first watch.” Malik ordered as the other soldiers went into the tents.
Ismira was shoved in the prisoner’s tent, her hands and legs tied with a rope, and a gag in her mouth! She was tied on the center wooden pole of the tent and Garrow was also in the same condition, muffled cries hiding his words.
“Stay here and shut up!” Dervin ordered, as he exited the tent.
The minutes passed and Ismira could feel the time pass, slowly, as Garrow’s shouts subsided and finally she heard him crying. For all her courage, she felt like crying herself. No, she would not let herself cry. She was responsible for Garrow, and they would both escape tonight!. Furiously she attacked the ropes trying to get her hands out but she only managed to bruise her hands more.She wanted to scream with frustration.
Behind her, Garrow did the same, frantically. For several minutes he struggled, until finally with a laughing motion he stopped.
“That was harder than I thought.” he said. “Baldor showed me once how to do it. He makes it look so easy.” Garrow whispered.
Ismira smiled, as with the corner of her eye, she saw Garrow untying his other arm from the rope. On his right hand, he was holding a sharp rock. Where did he find that? she asked herself.
Soon Garrow was free, and silently he untied Ismira’s hands and legs.
“Where did you get that rock?” Ismira asked.
“I saw it while we were riding. I took it when Dervin beat me the second time.” Ismira lifted her eyebrows. He had willingly put himself in danger to get the rock and untie his hands. Proud of him she hugged him.
“Now what?” Garrow asked silently.
“Now comes the hardest part.” Ismira whispered, as if what they had done already was not hard enough!.
Very carefully, she looked outside the tent. Small drops of rain had started to fall again from the sky, and thunders could be heard from the sky. At least the rain would mask some sounds. Perhaps she would only have to deal with one soldier. Dervin was sitting outside the tent, his head looking straight ahead, thinking. His hand was on his knee and his sword was in his scabbard.
Ismira motioned silently. She opened the tentflap and felt the raindrops on her skin. Without sound, Ismira tried to walk behind Dervin to surprise him, but Garrow stepped on a branch, making a noise. As Dervin turned, his hand on his sword, ready to draw it out, Ismira kicked him on his leg, forcing him to move his hand away from his sword, to stop his face from crashing on the ground. A shout came from his mouth, but Garrow attacked him also with the sharp rock hitting him on the face, blood coming away along with the rock.
Dervin shouted but he still managed to punch Garrow away, who fell on the floor. Ismira grabbed a small knife from Dervin’s torso and sliced Dervin’s neck just as he managed to release his sword. Surprised, the man touched his neck, looking at the blood as he fell on the ground with a loud thump.
“So much for stealth.” Ismira said loudly as she slapped Garrow’s face for him to regain consciousness.
Around them, the three other soldiers and Malik came out of their tents, swords in their hands, as they looked outside to see what all the shouting was for. Then, they spotted them, and Dervin’s dead body. A deep sclowl came upon one of the soldier’s faces and an angry expression was on the other soldier’s face. The kind soldier showed an expression of remorse, as he unsheathed his blade, as if he was sorry for what he was about to do.
Garrow grabbed the heavy sword, as if he intended to fight with it, when he could barely lift it himself. He was only eight years old, not Eragon Shadeslayer and it would be well for him to remember it. They had no choice but to run. Running, Ismira left towards the western part of the camp where the horses were tied, while Garrow struggled to keep up still carrying the sword in his hand. He could be stubborn beyond belief, sometimes!
“Stop right there!” a soldier shouted from behind them.
Ismira hastily sliced the rope that held the horse to the tree and lfted herself on it. Garrow was still on the ground and the soldier was almost upon him. The soldier lifted his sword for a blow, and Garrow defended himself barely, but the sword fell from his hands, too weak to stop a blow from a grown man. The soldier lifted his sword again, and Ismira knew that she had to do something. She had to save him. Soldiers came from all sides and soon she too would be captured. Desperation clouded her thoughts and her heart beat faster. She only had seconds before the sword descended. She acted without thinking. Deep within her mind she found a barrier and she attacked it with all her might. Suddenly, she felt her body fill with energy. Her body filled to bursting with energy, she knew she needed to release the energy or die. The sword was almost on Garrow’s throat. She released the energy, a ball of water large as a big ball and hard as a rock smashed on the soldier’s face. The man fell backwards with a surprised shout and remained still. Two more soldiers came towards her, and without thinking she did the same to one. Ismira led her horse to avoid a blow from a sword and with a burst from her mind she threw the man who had attacked her on the ground.
A memory came in her mind of an elf in Carvahall. For days she had pestered him to show her magic, to explain to her and show her, and for days the elf had just looked at her as if she was crazy, and laughed at her requests. Still, when she wanted something she got it, as everyone in Carvahall knew and the elf had finally explained to her how magic worked. She had used magic!
She felt her body give way, her heart beat slower as blackness covered her vision.
Garrow saw the devastation around him. Ismira, his sister had used magic! He would have laughed if he was in any other situation but they were still in danger. Malik had stayed clear from the sudden devastation and now he looked stunned. His soldiers lay on the ground, dead or injured. Unmoving.
He needed to act now! He grabbed the sword and with a quick motion he cut the ropes of the horses. Scared, the animals ran away as fast as they could. He had only a few seconds before Malik recovered and ran towards them.
“Stop! I command you to stop!” the man said and Garrow climbed as fast as he could on Ismira’s horse. His sister was on the saddle, dead or unconscious, he could not tell and he did not have time to find out.
With a shout he made the horse start, as a burst of speed put him away from the man who had been two meters away ready to strike at them.
“Faster!′ he shouted at the horse slapping it, as he had seen some riders do. The horse neighed, but it obeyed. Ismira lolled at the saddle, her back moving toward him. He hoped with all his heart she was alive.
Please let her be alive! he repeated in his mind, as if this would make it true.
At least they had escaped. He was still too stunned on the way that had happened.
“I’ll find you, you little witch!” Malik shouted behind them, his angry shout clear as crystal in the night.
“I’ll make you pay!” the man shouted and Garrow looked behind him at the camp, disappearing behind him.
Malik had no horses to follow quickly, but Garrow was not willing to take any chances. With another shout, he made the horse go in a breakneck speed.
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