A-Z April Fantasy Flash Fiction, Part 5. Character: Jaé
Six more dead Nōrian noblemen later I was forced to fire off my second arrow, as I made my frantic escape through Escaton castle, a monstrous fortification on the cliffs of the southern peninsula of Terenōr. I released it, bitterly scolding myself for my silly blunder. My target this time had been the lord of this castle, a charismatic commander of the sprawling war effort his kingdom had launched against us. I had silently cut down some guards on the way up the tower from where I planned to shoot him, while he crossed the battlements on his regular inspection.
I had completely forgotten about the evening change of guard.
The bodies of the guards were discovered amidst angered shouts, just as I drew my aim on the marked man, crouching at an arrow slit. Startled, I released. I missed. The arrow clattered against the battlement wall an inch from the lord’s head, the noise of my failure echoing between the cold stone walls. The alarm was immediately raised, and a horde of soldiers came trampling up the tower stairs.
That was where I shot my second arrow, into the thick throng of men. In the steep, narrow staircase, the heavyset man who’s eye my arrow pierced, staggered backwards in his last throes, hampering the guards’ advance. I sprinted up the remaining section of the tower and burst out the trap door into the open air. To the north, the castle, now bustling with uproar, was sprawled over the rocks. On the other side was the deep drop of the cliffs and the darkness of the ocean, furious with the wild waves of the nearing storm. I did not hesitate. With three last strides I was at the edge, kicking off the grey castle bricks into the windy depths.
I took a deep breath as I plummeted downwards, the daunting crests of the waves rushing closer and closer, until I broke the surface, and the water rushed past my ears. The current thrust me towards the cliffs, and I lunged upwards for air. There was nowhere to swim to, except the jagged rocks. My only hope was to hide there, and pray they thought me dead.
Unfortunately, I had barely started climbing up a slippery wet rock when the boats arrived, swiftly riding the wind. Despite my best efforts, I was suddenly caught by a rope sling, tugged down into the water, and hauled straight back to the dock. There, none other but my target awaited me, with a contigent of soldiers, all armed to the teeth and at the ready. They pulled me up by the rope and crudely shoved me forward, making clear that they would not go easy on a trespassing attacker. I did not want to let my target go, figuring I had nothing else to lose at this point, but I knew could not break free from the steely grip of the burly men. My captors shoved me this way and that, gruffly yelling at me, or amongst each other., until the lord gestured them to silence.
“My child,” He cooed in a theatrical voice that oozed like rotting honey, ” You need not live your life as you do. You are but a child, and they cruelly send you to commit such horrors. Let us help you! Stop struggling, and we will send for someone to take you in as their own, so you may thrive in your upbringing!”
I guessed that was what they said to all of us, at least to those of us who were stupid enough to get caught.
“How eloquent.” I sneered through my gritted teeth, “I will not succumb to being brainwashed by a diseased, filthy breed such as your own!”
I blacked out as one of the soldiers rammed the shaft of his pike against my head.
I woke up in the hellhole dungeon of Escaton castle, amidst tortured groans and screams of the other prisoners, hanging by a chain from the dripping ceiling.