A slim body dangled from the proud forty meters wall of the fort. Its dark hooded coat was a stark contradiction with the sandy stones. The wind blew in every direction at this height, forcing the figure to sway in a non coherent dance.
A half gloved hand slipped, for the other to grip the edge of the large stone in a battle with gravity. The woman’s feet pushed against the wall, causing rocks to topple down. She didn’t look. She couldn’t.
Her fingers tightened on the harsh surface, scratching the exposed skin. As she pulled herself up, her muscles screamed in protest. Her eyes squinted shut. Drops of sweat rolled the length of her face and slipped between her tight lips. Her nostrils flared as she took a deep breath, then exhaled through gritted teeth, sending droplets of sweat and spit to crash against the wall.
Agony brought her victory as she hovered over the edge. She brought her legs up and threw her exhausted body on the roof in front of her. She landed on four, but collapsed on the spot.
Damn, that was hard, and it’s only the beginning.
She turned on her back, not caring to take off the backpack. She half-lay on it and extended her legs in front of her. The sky was glowing red, like a countdown nearing its end.
I can’t rest now. I still have to cross to the other side.
She stood up, swaying a little, her empty water bottle rattling against the side of her bag. She licked her chapped lips, scratching her tongue like sandpaper.
Her breathing settled a little, but it was shallow because of the altitude. She looked behind her. The fort stood on top of a mountain, surrounded by a dense forest that lost its green to the darkness of the night. A shoreline of lights shone from a distance behind the sea, a far sign of civilisation.
It was a long journey to arrive here. A week to cross the forest and at least two days to figure out a way to access the fort, and this was not even a part of the “Head Wolf” competition. Her achievement only meant that she was worthy to participate.
She squared her shoulders, her back to the forest. She patted the white family flag secured on the side of the bag.
All my life led to this moment. I’ll honour my family’s name.
She approached the edge, crouching. The high walls prevented the dying rays from reaching the inner bailey. She strained her wolf’s senses to study her surrounding.
I won’t be able to jump straight on the ground. It’s too high and there are guards on patrol. I need a plan.
As the sun perished and a thin crescent climbed the sky, she was able to formulate a plan... an impossible one.
She had to sneak in between patrols, descend the wall in a Spiderman style, run without a sound like an assassin, then plant the flag on the podium despite the two wolves guarding it.
She took out her two daggers, pondering over her options.
Will they be strong enough to hold my weight? Will I be able to pull them out in time?
She shrugged. No time to test it.
Two guards walked past her position and out of earshot. She jumped, dangling with one hand. She plunged the dagger into the wall next to her thigh, then pulled at it lightly. It was stuck, but there was no guarantee it would stay there.
She let go of her other hand, dragging her feet along the stone wall. Dust flew around her as her body swayed a little. Not waiting a second, she stabbed the other dagger in what she hoped was the right place where two stones joined. She pulled her other dagger, which gave in with almost no resistance.
After repeating the same process a few times, she went faster. Every time her body dangled in the air, she felt her arm almost ripping out of its socket. She ignored the feeling as the ground approached.
Only three meters to go.
Her breath caught in her throat, and she froze as voices neared. Her gaze darted to the watch on her wrist. The next patrol was supposed to be in five minutes.
If she stayed still, they wouldn’t hear her, but they would smell her scent.
What should I do?
Her decision was made for her when the dagger slipped from its place sending small rocks on top of her head. Her feet rubbed against the wall and her heart dropped. Her gasp was cut short as she pressed her lips together, caging it before it transformed into a scream.
She pressed the tips of her shoes against the rocks, using it as a support to flip backward. She braced herself for the fall, not knowing the surface she’d land on.
Nothing would have prepared her for the tangles of electricity that engulfed her as her feet touched the ground. Something snaked around her waist and trapped her against a hard surface in front of her. It staggered for a second, then stilled.
“Wow, I know women are a gift from above, but I never expect you to fall from the sky right into my arms,” a voice said as her brain caught up with the situation.
The man was a few inches taller than her six feet height. She craned her neck to look at him. With hands trapped between their chests, daggers’ tips up. They were lucky no one got hurt.
She pushed on his chest, bringing the weapons to her waistband. She tucked one in its place and plunged the tip of the other in a pouch she kept there. Her eyes flashed hot pink, reflecting on his silver ones. His face twisted in a face splitting grin.
“Hi, gorgeous. I’m Arthur. What’s your name?”
She brought back the dagger to his throat as she met his smile with one of her own. She passed the dagger flat on his exposed skin, smearing it with the dusty substance.
"Five, four, three..."
He blinked, confused. His arms loosened.
He held onto her as he swayed to the side.
She tackled him to the ground as he went numb, and dragged him to a dark corner.
The hair on the back of her neck stood on alert as she tiptoed towards the podium, using the darkness as her cover.
Two huge wolves circled the podium. She took two pouches from her waistband and threw them in front of each guard. The wolves smelled their way to the pouches then jumped back, shaking their heads and sneezing. She hoped the whiff they took was enough.
Ducking down, she fixed her eyes on her victims, waiting for the effect of her new weapon. She had discovered it by coincidence on her way here. It wasn’t pleasing to experience, but she was sure it’d be hilarious to witness.
When the wolves started to chase the flying unicorns only they could see, she snuck behind their back, stifling a smile and planted the flag on the podium. Her chest swelled with pride.
She jumped down, walking between the growls and confused whining of the two wolves. No need to hide anymore after she secured her place as a participant.
The bailey seemed bigger now as the adrenaline wore off. She dragged her aching feet towards the groaning figure in the same spot where she left him. She threw the bag on the ground and sat on it, resting her back against the wall. She looked at him as he struggled to regain his composure.
“Mein name ist Blenda.”