‘Silently, silently,’ she whispers.
The candlelight illuminates her pale, pain-laiden face. Sweat pours over my hands as I try to loosen her bonds.
Her attempts at humming a tune to soothe me against another botched effort fail due to the undercurrent of angst I sense in her rhythm.
The candle flickers casting wild shapes against the rough stone walls. The dank smell permeates my nostrils as if a mouldy old boot had been pressed hard into my face, making it hard to think let alone talk.
‘If I hadn’t heard you call out, I wouldn’t have thought anybody else was trapped here,’ I say.
‘How did you manage to escape?’ she replies.
‘There was a loose piece of small rock in my cell. Every day when the guards untied my hands for me to eat, I sharpened that rock for a few seconds at a time. It took me a couple of weeks.’
‘Then?’ she asked expectantly.
‘This morning when I woke I found the rock sharp enough to cut through the ropes. When the guard went to untie my hands from behind my back, I brought the rock crashing down on his head.’
‘Did you kill him?’
‘No, he was wearing his helmet. But I stunned him enough to bolt past him out the door.’
‘You need to hurry,’ she says. ‘He can’t be far behind.’
‘I have these,’ I reply, holding the cell keys aloft. ‘That should hold him long enough until somebody comes to see why he’s taking so long.’
She stares wide eyed as I finally yank the rope free.
‘I thought I was the only person here too,’ she says with a weak smile.
‘There may be others…’
But before I finish my sentence we hear distant shouts far back along the corridor.
We step out into the passageway, looking both ways. She grabs a burning torch attached to the wall. Normally, there would be guards passing through at regular times, so our concentration is heightened when we see nobody. This causes a strange creeping sensation within me as we face no resistance at all as we run through the lower levels of the castle, into the catacombs and eventually down the sewer. Every part of me is on full alert as I hear her breath rising and falling in rhythm to our pounding feet.
After braving the freezing moat on this clear, chilly winter night, we turn and look back at the castle, shivering and wet.
‘Look there,’ she points.
I can see the Lizard King glaring down at us from the battlements, malevolent and unnerving.
‘After them!’ he rasps as the drawbridge starts to lower and the chants of bloodthirsty soldiers fill the silent night.
‘Now it makes sense why nobody tried to stop us from leaving the castle,’ she cries.
‘Why?’ I inquire. My voice is dry and panicked.
‘He wanted us to leave, so he could have us hunted down. We are but game to him.’
Her words echo in my ears. I take hold of her hand and we flee blindly into the silent, dark forest. Foolishly, I grip the cool surface of the rock-knife, thinking it to be our last line of defence if the hordes that are flowing out of the castle catch up with us.
Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that seem hopeless. No matter what way we turn there seems to be no clear path ahead. All we can do is keep running in the hope that an answer will come somehow.
I hadn’t written a medieval fantasy story for sometime, so it was nice to be able to return to this genre.
I hope you enjoyed reading this. If you have any comments, it’d be great to hear from you.
Stay safe and have a good week, Everybody. 😊