Escape of Yore (1/2)
As I take the grimoire, break the window, and start running, I know I’m in the wrong. I know this will make everyone present who didn’t even know me to begin with absolutely despise me. None of them will know what’s really going on, nor will anyone care enough to look further into what’s going on behind the scenes. Nowadays, the spread of misinformation is far too prevalent, and those who are willing to take the time to fact check information from credible sources are few and far between. If only one or two intellectuals are clearly and concisely explaining why a person is innocent from the midst of a mob of people petitioning for the aforementioned person’s death on baseless accusations, no one will bat an eye when the person’s head flies. That’s why I can’t turn back. I can’t try to explain. No one will believe me. They’ll all hate me. I’m awful, I know.
I can’t help myself from writing in the journal. It’s the only way I have left to cope with the situation I’ve got to deal with. Besides, it isn’t like James would mind if his journal could comfort me. If only I could hear him complaining as he always did at times like these. I’m currently in the alcove I dug in the hill. I hope that the tree in front of the alcove and the snow all around supplies enough cover to conceal me from my pursuers for but this single night. As I silently sharpen my knives. Routine maintenance is necessary to keep any tool at peak efficacy. It took longer than usual, since my tears kept freezing to the blades, forcing me to repeatedly scrape off the frozen fluid to fit the daggers back into my belt. I’ve got to get away. I can hardly feel my fingers and toes, but at least the tree breaks the howling wind and prevents most of the snow and hail from reaching me as I drift in and out of sleep until the break of dawn.
They didn’t find me as I slept. That means I’ve made it through the riskiest part of my escape. Since Alex, Hazel, North, and Quartz would have known their best chance at catching me would be to prevent me from leaving the Wanderers’ Compound because they could control the weather and other natural conditions (such as the fog which is currently forming rapidly and this terrible, bone-chilling cold) without worrying about being hindered by such conditions themselves due to that damned crystal, they should all be exhausted from searching relentlessly throughout the night by now. In hindsight, I wish I had come up with an excuse to hold on to that accursed rock before I snatched the journal. Should I call it a journal? I guess James’s book could also be referred to as a diary, a notebook, a memoir, an autobiography, or even a grimoire. I know I should just burn it. I know no one should know what’s inside the journal, because I do. I just can’t bring myself to rid myself of the last thing I have to remember James by. I get that he wasn’t very photogenic, but anyone would be shocked by the fact that not a single photo of such an influential person could be found anywhere in the world. Now, the only thing I have to remember him by is the collection of the only things he’s ever written down: his journal. Enough reminiscing. I’ll continue to write once I’ve made it out of the compound—if I even manage to do so.
Damn it all. I should’ve known Quartz, being the renowned strategist she is, would factor in every little thing she knew about how I thought and acted into her response. While the others searched fruitlessly in the night, Quartz slept soundly on a carriage to the town I was about to ride into. If I hadn’t decided to risk going back to the compound for Silence, I would have waltzed right into her trap with absolute confidence in my escape and all of my caution thrown to the wind. I’ll have to camp out another night since the closest populated place within a reasonable distance from Vineston is Tidebreak (the port city). I have to go to Tidebreak regardless of the unforeseen circumstances as it is the only way I know of to get off the alliance’s private isle without an almost guaranteed gruesome death awaiting you. In fact, I now have to rush to get to Tidebreak far earlier than I could have ever predicted, since Quartz saw through the majority of my decisions thus far. I wouldn’t put it past Quartz to even realize that I went back to get my only remaining ally, my horse, before immediately setting out for the port at full speed ahead. Being driven in a carriage, Quartz will have to go down well-worn roads, but Quartz won’t have to worry about exhaustion and may even have hired a second driver to allow the first driver to sleep while the second driver continues making progress for approximately six hours while I can do nothing but force myself to sleep in a hole in the ground. At least I’ve managed to make it out of that artificial dome of wonderless winter.
As I approach the giant gray gates of hewn stone with its towering turrets with guards patrolling, I give the gatekeeper my papers through a slit by the portcullis. Luckily for me, Quartz hasn’t made it to the port yet, because if she did, she would have preemptively persuaded the gatekeeper and guards to deceive and arrest me. I may be flawed in many ways, but no one has managed to deceive me in the past decade. As I hurry past the colorful coastal homes and through the marketplace’s mob, I instantly realize my naivety as I see a young woman of about average height with long, orderly scarlet hair, vibrant pink eyes, and a formal yet combat ready short, dark violet dress with golden lacing with a certain ornate golden wand hidden among the lacing at her hip. Her lustrous high heels may appear to be difficult to move around in at a glance, but upon closer observation one would realize that the footwear is quite unique in that the leather is soft enough to change shape at a moment’s notice and the high heels of the footwear would detach if she hit the two shoes together due to the small protrusions that do not exactly match the intricate pattern of flowers on the shoes and the matching indentations with small buttons inside which act as a sort of lock and key mechanism to a detach the heels. Behind her, a gallant, purely white horse with piercing black eyes stands proud and at attention with no need for a leash. Quartz is on a raised platform with one of the latest non-magical voice amplification innovations—the microphone—ready to project her every word. Turning around my horse in this crowd would be nigh impossible. I didn’t want to do this. I don’t want to hurt anyone. Why? Why do they all want to read the journal so desperately? Did they all truly forget James’s final words in a single year? He warned them of the danger the information within the grimoire could pose and that they should leave the disclosure of the grimoire’s content entirely up to my discretion. I have two options: fight or flight. It would be best to kill every single person in this town.
I fled. I rode as fast as I could into the nearest shadow and using one of the few spells I’ve mastered—shadow shift—I picture what I imagine the shadow of the largest, furthest building I could see would look like based on the design of the building and the tiling of the road on which I rode. Just as I’m about to be spirited away by the shadows, every single member of the marketplace mob, enraged by Quartz’s cold, calculated, emotionally rousing speech, turns to face me. As I vanished from sight, the last thing I saw before my spell was complete was countless arrows, crossbow bolts, throwing knives, hatchets, and even a vial of acid heading my way. That was close in more ways than one—if I had shifted a second earlier, I’d likely have slowly and painfully died after being merged into the pedestrian right in front of me, and if I had shifted a second later, I’d likely be skewered, stabbed, slashed, and melting from the first wave of projectiles alone. I need to get off of the island. I approach the harbormaster and secure passage to Unnatrulus. Once I reach the mainland, I’ll need to get to one of the three hidden keeps James wrote about in his journal.