Road to King’s Court, Kingsland, Tharia, 3:02 AM.
A smokey vision of Sara was stood before me with her hand touching my cheek, but I was unable to feel it. She tried to speak but I couldn't hear the words, they ran into each other and disintegrated before they hit my ears.
She looked calm. Her rippling features were gentle, as always.
We'd found ourselves at the peak of the Star-Touched Mountain Range, but I wasn't looking at what lay beyond it. My eyes were fixated on the blurry image of Sara.
I took a step toward her and it felt as though I was wading through dense water. My legs moved slowly, held back by an invisible force, and her expression was changing.
From the calm warmth that her face held before, came a flustered expression of horror. Her eyes were wide and terrified, her irises melting from their usual emerald to a fiery ruby. She opened her mouth and let forth a scream that pushed me back, the air charging forth caused my feet to drag through the snow.
She began to call for me, fear trilling in her voice.
"Tobias! Tobias!" my name was repeated and with every shout a blast of air would knock me back, until the final beckon sent me flying off of the peak.
The falling sensation forced the breath from my lungs and I span midair to see the floor racing up to meet me. The confusion wrestling my brain began to suffocate me as the ground came closer.
Where am I?
The trees below became clearer.
How did I get here?
I could see the houses resting at the foot of the mountain as they rushed up towards me.
This can't be real...
I hit the ground, painlessly.
My body shot up and I was met by Sara, her eyes as terrified as they were in my dream, her hair was an explosive mess and a line of blood was trickling down the side of her right cheek. I was panting heavily and my body felt as though it had been thrown at a wall, pieced back together, then thrown at a wall again for dramatic effect.
My vision darted around the carriage but it wasn't right. We were sat against the wall and the chair was stood vertically beside me. The window above us had caved in and shards of glass littered the floor. We'd tipped over.
"Sara? Sara, are you alright?" my voice was hurried and concerned, my hands cupping her cheeks as tears formed in her eyes.
"I'm fine, Tobias, but they're coming! They're outside!" she howled, her words cracking.
"Who? Who's outside?"
"The cart that knocked us over! They came straight at us!"
"Stay here. Don't move." I stated, regaining some composure. I lunged into my coat and grappled my flintlock, retrieving it before pulling my hood up over my head, a swelling pain pounding from my temples.
"Don't move!" I had to remain stern. This is the type of situation I'd much rather have avoided. I placed a swift kiss against Sara's lips, a silent reassurance before turning to the carriage's sunroof, now a convenient door.
I forced it open and hustled through to the dark realm outside. I turned to close it behind me and caught Sara's gaze. I offered her a smirk, one she was unable to return, before shutting the makeshift exit.
Staying crouched I made my way to the front of the carriage to find that the driver was absent, more than likely thrown from his seat after the blow. The horse was either dead or unconscious, but now wasn't the time to find out.
Upon reaching the driver's seat, I peered around the corner to spy a carriage in the near distance. Had it been any further away in this darkness I'd have missed it. The side facing me had splintered from the impact with our own vehicle and three men stood in front of it conversing quietly amongst dim torchlight, another male calming their horse.
Four targets. I watched carefully from my shadow and clenched my jaw, the adrenaline coursing through my body allowing me to overlook the immediate pain.
My sweat-ridden palm was pressed firm against the flintlock as I planned my route through the targets. The pistol would be saved for the lone victim with the horse. The other three would deal with me face-to-face.
I steadied my breath, closed my eyes, and tried for a final time to overhear the conversation. I could make out one of their voices above the rest, it was deeper and careless.
"... and then we'll take her to him. He wants the hunter dead, less of a nuisance that way."
Icing on the cake, you fuck.
The three turned and began to saunter towards the underside of my carriage. Now was my chance.
When they were a few feet away they stood defiant and the louder male called out.
"Righ', hunter! Come out with your hands behind your head! Then the girl, you'll follow him!"
I peered around my cover to see the group of three drawing their rifles from their backs.
"Come out now or this box becomes a coffin!" he roared again, his words soaked in a smug sense of righteousness.
I cocked my flintlock and drew my dagger from my waist. I drew a deep breath and took aim from behind the driver's seat, closing one eye as the world around me greyed out. I was ready.
Unleashing the bullet was satisfying. The spherical object shot through a plume of smoke and ripped through the throat of the target taming the horse. Blood splurged out from the shredded hole and he was unable to cry for help, but the shot was loud enough to draw the others' attention.
As he fell I darted round to the back of the carriage, out of sight from the remaining predators. The flash drew them toward my previous direction so that when I revealed myself from the back of the vehicle I was unseen.
I took the opportunity and rushed forward, lunging at the male closest to me. My dagger found itself lodged in his windpipe, the blood spitting at his closest friend who turned and raised his rifle to fire. I held my victim in front of me and, when the shot was fired in a panic, he took the bullet to the chest. Using him to do my bidding, I yanked my weapon free and sent a kick to his back, causing him to tumble into the shooter and knock him to the floor.
By now the third male had turned and was aiming at me. I threw my flintlock in his general direction and the hilt connected with his eye, forcing a wail of agony. Taking the distraction to my advantage I hurled myself forward and drew my blade across his throat, ducking to avoid the initial onslaught of crimson liquid. He stumbled back before falling to the grass, gargling like a small child.
I turned to see my final target, taken down by the gent that had served me as a human shield. I smirked at the man fiercely.
"You're going to wish you were first." I mumbled, attaching my flintlock to my harness. I twirled my dagger in my palm, watching the male who held his rifle in one hand pull himself to his feet, grinning in return.
"We'll see about tha', hunter." He threw his rifle down and drew a crudely crafted dagger from a leather sheath at his waist. It made mine look like a work of art.
He ran forward and sent a well-aimed attack for my chest, slicing downward. I dodged to the side and remained calm. He span only to send a horizontal cut into thin air, misjudging my distance from him. He was a clumsy opponent that relied on strength and speed. I wouldn't beat him in a match of brawn, this had to be won with cunning.
He ran for me again but I was ready. His hand lunged forward and I parried it with my palm, directing him off guard before side-stepping, keeping my leg outstretched in front of him to act as a hurdle. He tripped and barrelled over, falling face first into the dirt.
He began to scramble to his feet, panting, but he was too late. I stood above him and sent the hilt of my blade into the back of his head, knocking him unconscious. This one wouldn't die yet. I had questions.
I looked up to the carriage and whistled loudly.
"Sara. It's me. You can come out." I shouted. Moments later my redheaded companion was in sight, hesitantly stepping around the overturned vehicle to see the scene I'd created. She seemed horrified at first but her face softened into sadness. She looked at me and we stood in silence before she ran forward and threw her arms around me, sobbing into my chest. I stroked her hair gently and sighed, my body beginning to ache again as the adrenaline wore off.
"I was so worried that this was the end." she cried, sniffling after every other word.
"No. I'm here to keep you safe." I whispered.
"Always?" she looked up at me and her big, emerald eyes filled with tears, rippling through multiple shades of green.
"Until the stars burn out." I smiled softly. I'd truly fallen for her, and I was tired of fighting my emotions. I had a powerful reason to fight, not for money nor respect, but for Sara.
She rested her head onto my chest again and sighed.
"What do we do now?" she asked. "The carriage is a wreck, the driver's nowhere in sight..."
"I'll get us where we need to go, but first I want to know who these fucks are and what they were planning on doing." I stepped back and held Sara at an arm's-length, observing her expression and features fondly. She nodded in return, her confidence building slowly. I broke my gaze away from Sara to look down at my newest source of information and his unconscious body.
Still work to be done.
I knelt beside him and rolled him over so that he was on his back. I reached into my coat and took a small vial of Bone Powder that had been tucked away in a pouch attached to my harness, next to the smoke bomb laced with the same substance. I opened my victim's mouth and poured half of the contents onto his tongue and nestled the rest back into the pouch it came from.
After this I stood and sent a swift kick to his face and I heard Sara gasp from behind me.
"Look away, Sara." I said coldly as the male began to stir. I didn't turn around to see whether she had listened. He gasped as air hit his lungs hard and he struggled vocally. Bone Powder was fast. His head had lulled to one side and he couldn't move to turn it back, the paralysis had set in.
"What's happening?" he sounded confused and angry, never a compliant mixture.
"Shut up. I'll ask the questions." I spoke with a sharp edge and smirked as I did so. Sadism was catching up with me. I hadn't seen Him in a while. Had it been too long?
His lifeless body remained still, only his chest moved as he breathed rapidly.
"You've ingested Bone Powder. Know what that is?"
"You sick f-"
"You've heard of it. Then you know that if you don't give me what I need, you'll die. Or, even worse, I'll give you the antidote before forcing more down your throat, keeping you alive and still until I get my information. And, so you're up to date, I don't obtain information pleasantly. So what'll it be, chap? The easy way or the hard way?"
"Fuck you." he spat, his head still facing the opposite direction. The spit, due to no muscle reaction from the man's mouth, oozed down and fell onto his shirt. I watched, unimpressed.
"A man after my own heart. Shame." I said before my expression turned frosty. I stood over him, one boot either side of his chest before kneeling down, gripping his head and yanking him up to a more upright position. The sudden jarring movement caused some pain to scurry up his spine and through his neck, displayed across his scrunched face.
"Ah," I whispered, "you felt that, didn't you? You're about to feel a lot worse if you don't tell me who you work for."
"Nobody." he declared. A lie. I drew my dagger with a disappointed grunt and pressed it to his cheek, wasting no time before slicing a thick gash through the skin. Not enough to drain his blood, but certainly enough to hurt him. He yelped but his expression remained neutral. I heard Sara whimper from the side but I couldn't appear weak, so my eyes remained locked on my victim.
"Let's try that again, shall we? Who do you work for?" I asked calmly.
"Nobody." he repeated. I grunted before cutting his cheek, deeper than his throat this time, enough to be on the verge of cutting through to the inside of his mouth, forcing another cry.
"Look, I can do this all day." I stared at him for a few seconds as I awaited his reply. My expression never faltered whilst his pupils darted around, weighing his options. My hand at the back of his head that was holding him upright tightened and he panicked, his breathing escalating suddenly.
"O-okay! The king. He sent us. Didn't want nobody to know so we had to make it look like an accident." he said, his voice shaking as fear began to manifest inside of him.
"Good. Progress. I like progress." I stared at him bluntly. "Now onto my next question, why did he send you for me?"
"H-he knows you're coming for him."
"Because The Eclipse have eyes everywhere." he shouted through a dull stare.
The Eclipse had been mentioned by Taurelius. They were the cult operating against the Eternal Order and king Stoneheart was obviously working for them, or even spearheading them. I clenched my jaw as I jammed my blade against his throat, enough to draw blood but not enough to injure him. He quivered beneath my grip.
"Where are they?"
"Where the fuck are they?!" I roared, my face mere inches away from his.
"Beneath King's Court! His scholars found out they'd built the settlement centuries ago above the Doriaz's tomb!"
"Then that means..." I began.
"They'll have already started the ritual." Sara's voice sounded soft and defeated. "We're too late."
I scowled and gripped my blade harshly, my knuckles turning white as I stared into his eyes coldly.
"He's had the device for hours. Why hasn't anything changed? Has he performed the ritual?" I asked slowly.
"The scholars missed a passage in the text. They need a descendant to sacrifice." he grunted as his eyes darted toward Sara's direction.
"You were going to take her and sacrifice her?" I tilted my head, a look of disgust resting on my face.
"It's the only way."
"I'm going to kill you."
"There are more," he said, his voice suddenly unnaturally calm, "you'll never make it into King's Court, we have men within the Eternal Order that told us you were sent to retrieve the device. We've all had orders to kill you on sight and bring the girl in alive. You can't stop what's already started, hunter. Your life is meaningless in the bigger-"
I cut his sentence short as I drew a deep line with my blade across his throat, the blood running specks across my face whilst I let him fall back and choke on his final words. I wiped my sleeve across my face to try and remove the blood before spitting at his body.
"Tobias," Sara said, looking at me. I turned to face her, my expression still made of steel opposing hers, melting in fear. "I see now why you didn't want me to come."
"This is me, Sara. It isn't pretty... I'm sorry." my words were sincere and I felt that she understood that. She ran her hands through her red mane in an attempt to tame it before looking back toward me, her features more tentative.
"I know. I'm still here." she whispered. I sheathed my dagger and strode toward her. She placed her palms on my chest and peered up at me. "I still feel safe."
"I'd never hurt you."
"I know." she offered a weak smile and rested her forehead against my chest as I looked around at the scene.
"We need to find a way into King's Court," I muttered, "and I think I have just the idea..."
I looked down to see her staring back, eyebrow raised in an inspired stint of curiosity.
"Help me strip him." I poked a thumb back at my informant. "It's time for a disguise."
Are you enjoying my ongoing story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Samuel GarbettWrite a Review