Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Friends and Enemies // Chapter Eight // The Battle of the Noose

From her position, Willow could see everything that happened. She didn't see Mr. Evil Uncle anywhere, but two richly dressed young men stood by. Probably his kids, she reasoned. One was probably twenty five, but he could have been younger. The other looked about her age/a year older. They were both dark in complexion, and the elder had a rather evil look on his face, while the younger one had a slightly confused look of conflict. Kedemeth and Tajoreth, she remembered. The cousins. That couldn't be good. Especially with the shining swords at their sides. Ah well, such is life. It's fun to have challenges every now and then. Though this challenge I'd rather avoid.
   Peering up at Teclemith to wait for the signal, Willow held her breath as the condemned were led to the gallows. Not to be mean or anything, but I'm just being honest. I'm really glad I'm not one of them right now. Closing her eyes for a quick prayer, she heard another horn. Peering through the branches, she could see an orc page blowing a twisted black horn. Ew. The orcs were settling the nooses around the guys' necks.
   Kedemeth stepped up the the platform as the condemned were settled backwards on horses in front of the gallows. Unrolling a scroll, he scanned it quickly, then read in a loud voice. "Signed by lord Tash, this authorizes that Sir Richard, of the Province of Gossgath, Betromith son of Dradith, and Shemesh of Shoresh shall be hanged by the neck until dead for penalty of treason!"
   Willow rubbed her neck nervously. This is it. Kedemeth gave the signal for the horses go forward, dropping their riders to their death, literally. Teclemith lifted his hand, ready to signal the archers. Killian and Kadesh tensed, their arrows on the string and strings taut. Willow took a deep breath and did the same.
   The horses neighed, sidestepped, than walked forward, dropping their riders in a split second. Teclemith gave the signal. Three bowstrings twanged. Three archers and other attackers hidden in the trees dropped out of them and started rushing the orcs and guards. Sir Richard and Shemesh dropped to the ground, but Betromith gasped for air as he dangled above the ground, the rope hanging by a thread.
   Willow gasped, realizing that Killian hadn't cut the whole rope with his arrow. Thinking fast, her hand gripped at her belt, brushing her new dagger. A light from the shadows shall spring, the phrase echoed through her mind. My dagger, that'll work! She thought, quickly unsheathing it. Oh man! I'll hafta throw it! She realized.
Mentally pushing aside the doubts fighting to be heard, Willow positioned her fingers over the dagger properly, and threw it towards the rope. It cut it perfectly, and she nearly melted with relief. Without thinking, she rushed through the crowd of orcs, guards and rebels fetched her dagger, than raced to Betromith. Kneeling beside him, she inquired, "Betromith! Are you alright? I-"
   "What were you thinking?!" Betromith interrupted her, his face livid with anger. She stepped back with surprise. "You could have gotten us all killed! I knew Emmeth should have never let you stay! You're nothing but trouble," he accused, rubbing his neck and gasping. Willow shrank back.
   "Look out!" a deep voice cried out in warning. Willow was so stunned by Betromith's unfair accusation {after all, it wasn't her fault that Killian hadn't cut the whole stupid rope} that she didn't hear the warning. Only the sudden realization that she was in the middle of a battle brought her out of the boatload of hurt that Betromith's cutting words had delivered.
   Glancing to her left, Willow was terrified to see Tajoreth's {the younger cousin} sword streaking down towards her. She twisted to the left to avoid it, and as she did, Sir Richard somehow managed to slide her long sword out of its sheath and counter Tajoreth's blow, saving her from a nasty sword wound in the nick of time.
   Kneeling next to the still gasping Betromith, she unclipped her other sword and laid it next to him. He'd need it. Then she rushed to the platform to join Emmeth for his distraction.
   "Hear me, my people!" cried the prince. "Do you really want this oppression? I see no more the thriving capital city this once was. All I see now are slave markets, extortionate taxes and unfair laws. How much more will you tolerate? Will you join in our cause? Who will be strong and stand with me? Join with us to save our planet from the enemies of the Author! Judgement will come if we continue down this dark path!" As if to emphasize this statement, a clap of thunder rent the air, lightning flashed and rain fell in torrents. Prisoners freed, the rebels scattered and disappeared down alleys and backways, making their way back to Essgarothe.


"I think that went rather well." A drenched Willow remarked to Emmeth as they trudged into the Headquarters.
    Emmeth grinned. "Indeed it did. But how will anyone join us? We've kept this place a secret. No one knows we're here."
   "Oh! You're safe!" Hyaline cried as she rushed to her brother's side. "How did it go? It stormed earlier. Did you free everyone?"
   Grinning at his sister's questions, Teclemith nodded. "We freed the prisoners. The prince's distraction worked well. We got into the jail and freed the others who are with us but were imprisoned there."
    "Oh my! You all are soaked! You boys go change, I'll help Willow," she insisted, shooing them away. Taking her friend's hand she dragged her up the steps toward her room. "I'm so eager to hear how it went!" she explained as she helped Willow into a pair of trousers and comfortable shirt, her skirt swishing against the stone floor. Willow sank onto her bed, her face pensive. Hyaline noticed her solemness and plopped down beside her. "What's wrong?" she inquired.
   Her friend sighed. "You know our plan, right? Well, Killian didn't cut all of Betromith's rope, so I had to throw my dagger and cut it," she explained. "And then Betromith was really angry at me, I don't really know why." Her voice trembled. "He said that I should never have come, and that I was "nothing but trouble"."
   Hyaline gasped and wrapped her arms around her friend. "Oh, Willow. I'm so sorry."
   Willow sighed into her friend's shoulder. "I mean, it's not like I "like like" him or anything. It just hurts when you try to hard and they accuse you of almost getting everyone killed." She took in a shuddering breath and burst into tears, crying into Hyaline's comforting shoulder.
   "I do know one thing, though," she remarked through her tears. "I'm going to prove that I'm not "nothing but trouble"! I'm going to rescue Liberty!"


[Note: I might still make some adjustments to this chapter, so be prepared for that]

Sorry that one took so long, I wasn't sure if it was ready :)