The Hunter Series - Penelope

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Chapter 11

The bumps in the road tried to jolt me awake from the drug forced on me. It had made me disoriented and kept pulling me back into slumber.

The drug had induced a surreal dream. Where I had no control over my actions. I only had the ability to observe.

When I stood at the edge of a cliff gazing over the magnificent view of the sun setting, shadows taking over the land, I realised it wasn’t just a dream. It was the landscape of Enukeador.

In my eye line, the castle was so breathtaking but it loomed over the land and felt quite intimidating. The four tall towers had black flags with an outlined red rose. I had no clue what the meaning behind the flag was but it blew in the wind with pride. On the outside of the castle, the little village I had walked through extended with many houses, surrounded by trees.

As I watched their world pass by with such fascination, I ignored the voice threatening my dream from continuing. The voice niggled in my mind until he grabbed my hand. I looked up at Isaac’s flustered face.

“Penelope!” He shrieked, pulling me into his arms. It surprised me but I was able to regain some control over my dream to be able to pull back from him. “Sorry, I almost forgot you’re not my Penelope. I mean, future you. Oh I’m terrible at this...” He blushed.

“How can you interfere in my dream?” I said, confused.

“You’re my soulmate. We have a special bond. We can talk telepathically. But that doesn’t matter right now. There’s something I need to tell you and I’m not sure how long this connection will last.” He sounded frantic and grabbed my shoulders. “You’re in danger. You have to get out of this realm, now! There’s a secret portal through the waterfall. It will take you back home. If you stay here any longer - I can’t save you.”

The warmth of his hand felt good on my cheek, I leaned into it, closing my eyes. The smell of his leather jacket felt comforting. He kissed my forehead. The sudden anxious feeling this might be the last time I would see him made me feel so sad. He wiped the tear that ran down my cheek, not realising I had been crying. My eyes flew open.

This felt different. He felt different. The way he smiled at me, it was so gentle. It stirred something within me. I was taken aback at how much I didn’t want this moment to end. I wanted to stay and hold him forever. I wanted to explore what could have been!

“Wake up, darling. And when you get home - remember this, then you can do one thing. That’s all. One thing... Have a good life. Do that for me, darling. Have a fantastic life.”

The second he let go, I watched him disappear into a cloud of smog. I didn’t want him to go, so I tried to follow him through the swirling vapour but I quickly became lost. It was a harsh jolt which caused me to lurch completely bolt upright. I found myself stuck with others in a prison carriage.

The wooden carriage had no windows other than the barred one on the padlocked door. My hands chained with steel shackles, bolted to the boarded floor.

Besides myself, there were two others in the carriage. A poor girl slept ridged in the foetal position, pressing against the wall. The girl’s blonde hair was matted and her clothes were nothing more than rags. The boy didn’t look any more worse for wear as he hunched over his knees, his hands were shackled to the floor too.

“Hey,” I whispered to the boy and he looked up. “I’m Penelope. What’s your name?”

“Perry.” He said, hoarse.

“Do you know what’s going on?” I asked but he just stared at me with piercing green eyes.

“We’re slaves.” He said but in such a bitter tone. “Well, we are but you’re not, you’re too clean. You don’t belong here.”

“I was drugged...”

“That’s how it starts. I was normal like you, once. I had a family who cared about me but three years on - I’ve not been able to escape. They beat you to an inch of your life if you try. After awhile you give up trying.” He said. “So, you might as well get used to obeying orders otherwise you’re in for a shock.”

“I’m not about to accept being enslaved to a bunch of bullies!”

“It’s more than just bullies - they’re not human. The ones that beat us are more than men. They change at the full moon into animals and anyone escaping to the forest is fair game and killed. The vampires in control of the castle are the ones giving out the orders. They keep us caged like animals ready for slaughter until you’re no longer any use to them.”

“What about her? Is she okay?” I asked.

“They will kill her when we get to the castle - that’s if she doesn’t die before then.” Perry snuffed.

“Why? What happened to her?”

“She tried to escape. The wolves sniffed her out in the forest and clawed her eyes out as punishment. Now she’s not any use as a slave.

The thought of the poor girl in pain tugged my heart strings. Who had the right to treat people this way? It’s disgusting and inhumane! It baffled me that this world still lived in the dark ages. My world has moved on. We teach the next generations about slavery and how wrong it is to segregate and treat others this way. We are all equal and this has got to stop.

“What?!” I spat in disgust. My futile attempt to crawl closer was stopped as the shackles held me back. Looking back at Perry I saw our shackles were linked. Unless he moved with me I couldn’t reach the girl.

“Let me help her.” I pleaded.

“There’s nothing you can do.”

“Let me tell you this, Perry. One day you might find yourself injured and alone. If everyone thought like you, assumed there was nothing that can be done when death is approaching the corner to your road. You might have to rely on a kind stranger who offers their help when no one else in the world would. Now let me help her because she’s not going to die today!”

My words stunned him. He moved without groaning, sitting silently. He watched me roll the girl onto her back to feel her pulse. It was strong and steady, always a good sign.

“Can you hear me? My name is Penelope. Can you tell me yours?”

The girl’s hand twitched, her head moved to the sound of my voice.

“What’s your name, sweetie?” I asked, again.

“Alexia.” She mumbled.

“Hello, Alexia. I want to take your bandage off to check your wound. Are you okay with me doing that?”

Alexia nodded. The blooded bandages pulled at her skin as I gently revealed the deep claw wound across her eyes. The pus spilling over the bandages. She winced only once throughout the ordeal and must have been in excruciating pain. However, she never complained. I held my hands over her eyes. The warming golden light shone through my palms and touched Alexia’s face. The light healed her completely within just a few minutes.

“What did you just do?” Shrieked Perry and pulled at the chain to get further away from me. “Witchcraft is illegal! You’re going to get us all killed.”

“You’ve given me my sight back.” She said, stunned. “Oh wow! But… How?”

“I’m a witch and that’s one of my powers.”

“One of them? How many do you have?”

“That doesn’t matter. The main thing is that you’re better and you’re going to be okay.” I answered her. “We have to get out of here. There’s no way I want to stay here and end up a slave.”

“You can’t just leave - they will punish you!” Perry argued. “You saw what they did to her!”

“You are getting on my last nerves, Perry.”

Alexia pulled out a pin from her matted hair. “Here, let me get those shackles off and we can think of a plan.”

While Alexia got to work unlocking the shackles, Perry’s voice droned on and my head started pounding.

“Listen, Perry.” I held my hand up to stop him talking. “You can stay here and reach the castle to be a slave. Perhaps even a meal to these vampires or you can stand up for yourself. Choose freedom. I’m not going to lie - it’s going to be dangerous. But its the chance you take. Now, what do you say?”

“You’re mad! I can’t get caught doing this - they’ll rip me to shreds.”

My eyes rolled in his general direction. “See you later then.”

Alexia was extremely skilled with the pin. It got me wondering if that was how she escaped before…

“Do you think you could get the lock off this door?” I asked.

“Without a doubt.” She said. In less than a few minutes she had the lock off the door and it flew open. The carriage rocking slightly. It would be only a matter of minutes before the bounty hunters realise we’re escaping.

“Lets get moving.” I said before turning to Perry for one last time. “You coming with us?”

He hesitated. “I can’t...”

“Suit yourself.”

The carriage wasn’t moving as fast as I expected and knew the jump would be easy. Alexia jumped first, landing and rolling down the hill. Then, I jumped to follow.

“Don’t leave without me...” Perry shouted after us. My head looked up in his direction and watched him make the jump. The carriage came to a halt. The bounty hunters leaped out, yelling and cursing at us as we got to our feet.

Perry bolted for the woods with one bounty hunter chasing him. Alexia grabbed my hand and sprinted towards another passageway into the trees. We kept going even though the pain in my legs wanted me to slow down. It was making me clumsy as I stumbled over fallen branches. I kept going with Alexia guiding me through the trees. Suddenly, I lost my balance as my foot landed awkwardly in a small ditch and twisted, falling to the ground. My hand let go of Alexia’s hand to shield my face. The bounty hunter closing in on us. It was certain we would get caught. I’m just holding her back. Alexia instantly came to my aid but I pushed her away.

“No, go! Keep running! Get out of here!” But she hesitated. “Go!”

Alexia fought with the decision to leave me behind but nodded and kept running. The bounty hunter came through the trees in the next few seconds and went to grab me. He froze on the spot as I reacted with my frozen powers. I scrambled to get to my feet. The pain in my ankle was dull, just thankful I was able to walk on it. I limped as fast as I could through the trees. Then, Alexia came running back.

“I told you to run ahead.” I said but I suddenly felt a lot better for seeing her.

“And I decided to come back.” She answered in a stubborn tone. “The bounty hunter must be close now.”

“It’s fine, I froze him.”

“Another one of your powers?” Alexia mused. I nodded.

When she noticed my limping, she helped me walk by putting my arm around her shoulder. While we were walking, I told Alexia of the safe place we could go to, in hope of meeting with my Nan again.

“If she would go anywhere she would be at Edith Ludgrove’s cottage. It’s a couple of hours near a waterfall.”

“There’s only one waterfall around these parts and you’re in luck because I know the way.”

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