27 October, 2012

27 October 2012

He hesitated, but only for a moment. Might be a trick, an evil trick of the enemy designed to get his hopes up and then break him once and for all when he fell for it, but it wasn’t.  He knew that somehow, and as he knew he acted, springing to his feet and through that broken wall without a backwards glance, hitting the ground on his shoulder at a roll beside Juni’s feet and seizing her hand as he regained his own stance, low, running, dragging her away into the timber before she could make any objection.  Not that she would have tried.  Way too dangerous.  Enemies all around, and she knew she could very easily become one of them, if she wasn’t careful.  Maybe even if she was, but it was a risk she’d been willing to take, and now she must see it through.  They ran then, the two of them, Einar keeping their weaving, zigzagging course to the heaviest, darkest timber he could find in the darkness, keeping low, branches whipping against their faces as they crouch-ran from one clump of cover to the next so that by the time they stopped the rocky alcove and indeed the cliff face itself were left far behind.

Despite near-complete darkness and the hushed rasping of breath which told her Einar was asking an awful lot of his body in maintaining that pace he seemed to be possessed of an uncanny ability to avoid running into the more solid objects, rocks, tree trunks and other land features which surely blocked their path at times, dodging, ducking and weaving like a bat in the darkness as he led them to safety.  Or destruction.  Or somewhere.  Either way, they were going there in quite a hurry and there seemed no stopping him.

Ahead through the willows Juni heard the river gurgling menacingly beneath its intermittently thinning and rotten covering of winter ice, and to her dismay this was the direction in which Einar led them.  Picking his way along the rotten, creaking shelf of ice Einar maintained his iron grip on Juni’s arm, no intention of leaving anyone behind, not this time, and perhaps if they could make their way across that body of water they would have some chance of making good their escape.  Had to hope so, for somewhere along the way he’d managed to lose the long, strong splinter of fractured bamboo with which he’d dispatched the guard who would have set up the alarm, warned the others of their leaving, and he was woefully unarmed.  No matter.  Could easily remedy the situation, and would, but not until they’d put a bit more distance behind them, for Andy couldn’t move fast, could hardly stand at all from what he’d seen and heard through the bars for the past several days, and should the enemy end up on their trail there would be nothing for it but to make a final, fatal stand together, take as many with them as they were able and thus prevent re-capture.  Had to prevent that.  Could not go back, either of them, but especially not Andy, must not at any cost go back and Einar once more took him by the arm--he seemed slow, unwilling, holding back a bit; must be hurting him to move, but there was no other option just then, not unless he intended to carry the somewhat heavier man, which he would do if and when he must, but for the moment it would only slow them further--and plowed forward towards the river.

Would have gone right over the ledge of ice--ice!  Must be going mad, Einar.  No ice around here, none at all, you just been without water for too long and now you’re starting to see things--and into the water except the stuff was too loud, creaking and groaning beneath their feet and the enemy would surely hear, mustn’t let them hear so he backed off by a few steps until on solid ground once more, felt his way resolutely forward along the bank until he found a spot where the way was clear to the water without crackling over the ice or whatever it was, dragging an increasingly unwilling Juni behind him.

Andy fought it, their progress towards the river, protested aloud and Einar knew he must be exhausted, unable to carry on at the pace he’d been demanding of them, but it just wouldn’t do, the vocal protesting; nothing for it but to render his companion unconscious to prevent further ramblings which would surely give them away, and carry him.  Gonna be an awful lot of work though, especially through that swamp, lot easier and faster if he was at least awake and able to hang on, and he stopped, pulled his companion to the ground beside him and spoke in a voice somewhere below a whisper.

“Look, it’s rough but you got to quit talking or they’re gonna hear us.  I know you’re hurting but it’s gonna go a lot worse if they get hold of us again.  You know that.  You don’t want to go back there.  Just…yeah, I know, but you got to be quiet.  Hang on, man, gonna get you out of this but you got to be quiet for a while, just until we get across the water and over on the other side of that hill where there aren’t so many of them and then we’ll see what we can do for you, Ok?”

More objections from Juni, quieter this time, something about a river--must mean the swamp for there was no river, not where they were, wished there was a river for it would be certainly advantageous to their escape--but Einar didn’t have time to listen to it for he heard footsteps over to the left behind them, slow, seeking, must not have got a fix on their position yet, clapped a hand over the younger man’s mouth until he got the message and quit trying to speak and hoisted him over silent objections up onto his back, hastily lashing his wrists together and slipping the resulting loop over his neck so that even should he lose consciousness, he wouldn’t lose his position.  Grabbing Andy’s legs then Einar was off, stepping remarkably lithely over the ice-encrusted rocks at the shore, crunching through a bit of ice and starting out into the open water.

Not exactly what Juni had intended.

1 comment:

  1. Just thinking about going in that river makes me hurt all over. Burrrrrr

    Thanks FOH