Author: Crystyl.Blue PM
When freedom from her sheltered life is in sight, Alison's uncle pulls a fast one; an arranged marriage, leaving her with only one option, run away. Captured, she fights to escape the strange underground world, and protect her heart from the Vidarian KingRated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Romance - Chapters: 29 - Words: 145,694 - Reviews: 183 - Favs: 92 - Follows: 117 - Updated: 03-18-13 - Published: 04-15-10 - Status: Complete - id: 2797073
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Alison froze for a moment, unable to control her limbs. She was going to get caught! The pounding of hooves drew closer and her breath came in shallow ragged sports. Her mind screamed for her to move, but the connection between her brain and limbs wouldn't sync.
She hadn't thought about what would happen if she got caught. Qwinn would most likely throw her into the dungeon. He obviously didn't care about her, he just wanted to use her and make sure no one on the surface ever found out about his people. She felt the ground began to tremble and it finally spurred her into action. She looked around wildly for somewhere to hide.
On the other side of the river was a thick patch of trees. It looked like her best bet to hide. She eyed the river wearily, it was flowing steadily, but she figured she could handle it. Without wasting another minute, she gathered her long dress around her and began to trudge through the water. It was a lot colder than she had realized. She held her bag tightly and tried to eye the stones in the river in the dark, looking for her best place to step.
Though the limbra offered some light, it was hardly enough to see through the fast flowing waters. She guided her foot in front of her and touched a slimy rock. She shivered and hurriedly felt for another, she needed to hurry, if she kept moving at this pace. She would be caught for sure.
She bit her lip nervously and decided it'd be best if she just ran. She counted to three then ran. Her feet touched slimy rocks and she was almost halfway when she stepped on a sharp one. She gasped in pain as her foot sliced and tried to recoil, but she was already almost thigh deep in water. When she jerked her leg back, she threw her balance off.
The leg she found herself balancing on was on a mossy rock. Her shaky center plus the strong current sent her pitching into the river. She cried out as the current swept her away.
It was all she could do to keep her grip on her bag and the lantern with her hands full, she could hardly keep herself above the cool water and off the rocky bottom. She flipped, trying to get a grip on the passing rocks to stop herself, but everything slipped out of her grip.
She gulped in air as her head broke surface, only to be sucked under again. She could almost feel the river flowing faster than it had before. Panic lit her mind as her oxygen ran low. She tried to get to the surface, but the current ran deep and held her down. the only way she could save herself was to let go of either the bag or the lantern. The decision was made for her as her arm slammed into a large boulder and her bag drifted away from her as she cradled her throbbing arm.
The current allowed her to surface one again and she coughed out water, grabbing at the passing shore desperately. She managed to grab a root and held on for dear life. The sudden stop yanked her arms and she grit her teeth, trying to keep a hold on the slippery root.
Her mind was screaming in fear and panic as she looked around and realized she didn't know where she was. Her arm throbbed and the lantern was slipping, which, to her relief was still lit. She pulled herself shakily closer to the root that was jutting from the large tree that grew right off the edge of the river. Swinging her arm, she haphazardly laid the lantern on the tree, quickly grabbing the root again with both hands. She took in deep breaths of oxygen then tried to pull herself up. She slipped back in the water, almost losing her grip. Digging her fingers into the root, she looked around for something more stable to grab onto; there were more roots and a vine that was hanging just within reach.
She stretched for the vine, biting her lip in concentration and effort. Her fingers touched the thick vine, but she didn't have a good grip and fell slightly back into the water. Her grip on the root was a death grip and she steadied herself, trying again. This time, she stretched farther and grabbed the vine. She tugged experimentally to see if it would hold her weight. Her strength was beginning to drain, she needed to hurry, so she grabbed the vine with her other hand and began to struggle to pull herself out.
She wasn't very strong in her arms, but the adrenaline coursing through her body helped a lot. She almost had a leg out when the vine gave way, throwing her back into the water with nothing to stop her. All she could think of was that she had now lost the lantern as she struggled against the current, her long dress wrapping around her legs and trapping her.
He breached the surface and gasped for air. She unraveled the dress and managed to push her sopping hair out of her face. that's when she saw it, a wall on the river. As she looked closer she realized that the river went under the wall. Her eyes grew wide as the wall approached faster and faster. She had two choices, continue on the surface and smash into the wall, probably knocking herself out on impact, or she could dive and pray there was no sharp rocks under the wall.
She gulped in a big breath and dived, trying desperately to see in the water, but it was too dark. She felt the pull of the river change as she started getting sucked under the wall. Her leg touched what felt like a bar and she began to panic again. She was caught and the current was pulling her deeper.
QWINN LED THE TEAM THROUGH THE TOWN. He hoped she hadn't been thinking and took the main road instead of the side ones. He sent men through the streets to search in the alleys for her. His pulse was racing with anger and worry, but most of all fear. though none of his people would hurt her, it was the creature of Vidar that he was fearful of.
He reached the large gates in record time, but the guards had seen no sign of her. His worry grew. He split up the rest of his men to check in the trees, the obliged, though still tired.
Qwinn had dragged everyone out of their beds to assist the search when Naliya had come barging into his room, not even knocking, to tell him she had run away. He understood that she was mad at him, but she was putting herself in danger. Surely she could see this.
He faced the town and looked down two side roads, trying to decide which to travel down when suddenly an Ou'tani came trotting out of the one on the very left. It was his Ou'tani! For a moment, his heart leapt, thinking he had found her, then he noticed his beast was rider-less. A soldier grabbed the Ou'tani and hitched it to a tree, where it could eat and rest.
Without wasting another minute, he bolted down the road the beast had come from. Three soldiers followed him. His eyes expertly scanned the trees and a few of his men moved slower, more thoroughly searching the trees. His mouth grew drier the longer he couldn't find her. He passed the river and continued on, even sampling the air to see if he could smell her. He had no such luck. Finally, he met up with his other search team that was coming the other direction.
The leader of the team shook his head and Qwinn cursed. He turned his beast around and slowly walked the trail, peering more carefully into the trees. She couldn't have gotten very far. She was without an Ou'tani, so that meant she was on foot.
The sun made its way through the Limbra, casting a dim light over the kingdom, but its light didn't offer him much vision. Finally he saw a glimmer of something through the trees. Qwinn dismounted and hurried through the trees, soaring over the ground until he reached the river. His eyes widened as he found the lantern from Alison's room. His eyes scanned the area, but there was no sign of her. He eyes the water and felt nauseous. The current was strong, though he could handle it, he knew a human would get swept away from a mis-step.
With one more scan of the area, he ran back to his Ou'tani. If the river had swept her away, there was a chance that she was still at the wall. If she was, she wouldn't be there for much longer. He leapt onto his Ou'tani and rushed off down the path. The river was set back in the trees, so when he arrived to the spot where he knew the wall on the river began; he leapt off his beast and ran for all he was worth through the dense trees for the river.
"Alison!" he yelled, leaping over fallen logs, praying that he wasn't too late.
ALISON TUGGED AT HER DRESS, which had become caught in the bars, but it wouldn't budge. She braced her legs as well as she could against the bars and pulled with all her might. After an excruciatingly long moment, she felt the fibers of her dress begin to tear.
Her lungs screamed for air, but if she took a breath now, she'd drown herself. She grit her teeth, putting more of her energy into pulling. The dress tore free and she underestimated her strength against the current. She pitched back into the water, which ten sent her reeling forward. One leg smacked into the bar and she winced, loosing precious air.
The current continued to push her. Soon she was smashed into the bars, one leg sticking through and the other stuck painfully outside of the bars. The pressure was powerful and almost unbearable. For a sick moment, she thought her leg would snap, then she managed to get enough of a hold to bend her leg and slide it through the bar.
Apparently, the bars were made in squares just large enough for her to fit through. Her arms weren't strong enough to hold her for long, the current sucked her through the bars violently and she ended up smacking her head on her way through. The air burst out of her as she screamed in pain. The current wrapped its cold hands around her and pulled her deeper. The world around her faded in and out of darkness and then there was nothing.
QWINN RAN WITH ALL HIS MIGHT. His muscles burned, but he ignored them. the river was getting closer, he could hear it. He leapt over a bush and flew past the rest of the trees. When he finally reached the water, his eyes studied it quickly.
He rushed right to the river's edge and got on his knees, peering into the moving water. That's when he saw it and nearly dove for it. He hooked his feet onto a root and went under. The current was stronger the lower he got and it was hard to see. He stretched towards the bar and his heart pounded as his fingers wrapped around the fabric. He pulled and after much yanking, it came free. He pulled himself to the surface, spitting out river water and holding the fabric up to the light. His brows furrowed. Just as he had suspected, it was fabric from Alison's dress.
Considering that he hadn't found her body in the water, he still had hope that she was alive. He eyed the wall wearily. She was in Torin territory. He had to find her and fast, before they did. he leapt up and without a moment to lose, he rushed back to his Ou'tani. He ordered the few soldiers that had stuck around to inform the others to gear up, they were going over the wall.
He shoved open the doors, not caring who he woke up and walked quickly toward his armory. He always had a sword on him, but for their hunt, he'd need more weapons than a sword.
Adalia ran down the stairs, her hair in disarray from sleep. When she saw that he hadn't returned with Alison, her eyes lit with fear. "Where is she?" she exclaimed, rushing through the soldiers to get to Qwinn. "Where?" she repeated.
Qwinn worked his jaw. "Over the wall."
Adalia went pale, showing the exact emotion Qwinn felt. "What…how?"
Qwinn brushed her off, he had bigger things to worry about. The war would most liketly start today, whether his men were ready or not.
He entered the armory, by now many of his men were strapping up with weapons and shields, more were joining them. Qwinn grabbed his sword and shield down from the wall. He also grabbed his leather armor vest, made to be able to move swiftly while also taking the brunt of the impact from a Torin bite or slash. His men suited up. some murmured to others, but mostly a crackling tension and excitement hung in the air.
Adrenaline was already pumping. They knew what going over the wall in force meant. Qwinn strapped knives to his hip and two long swords to his back. In his hand he took a long spear.
Suddenly, the door to the training hall flew open and Vin rushed in. "I want to go with you!" he said, panting from running.
"Turn around and go home," Qwinn growled.
Vin set his mouth with determination and stood his ground. "I can help you! I'm good at tracking."
Qwinn hesitated. "You will get yourself killed."
Vin shrugged bravely. "I need to do this."
Qwinn narrowed his eyes but finally relented. "Very well, but do not expect us to come to your rescue."
Vin shook his head and helped himself to a sword and shield along with the others.
When everyone was ready, he led them outside. Adalia, who had moved to the side in order to watch, spotted Vin and screamed. "Vin! No!"
He turned to look at her and a silent message seemed to pass between them. Qwinn looked away from the intimate moment. He feared that if he stopped and actually allowed himself to breathe, everything would catch up to him and he would truly realize that Alison was gone and if she was still alive, in grave danger.
Qwinn gathered his men to march to the wall. The sound was intimidating. His captain rode his Ou'tani beside him and the men chosen for the special mission, his most lethal fighters, followed closely behind.
A plan was beginning to formulate in his mind about how to best comb the huge forest for her. He did not want to separate them because then they would be vulnerable, but he needed to cover as much space as fast as he could.
A few townspeople stood along the road, having been woken by the commotion. They wished the soldiers luck. Qwinn knew it was foolish to risk such a battle with the Eclipse a day and a half away, but Alison was more important to him than any tradition could be.
When they reached the wall, he halted and turned to his men, it was time to tell them the plan. As he studied his force, he knew they would gladly give their lives for Vidar, for Qwinn, but would they do the same for Alison?
He pushed his doubt aside and cleared his throat. His men stood silent. "I'm certain there is rumor as to why we are going over the wall. Let me put those to rest. The future Queen was swept away by the river to the other side of the wall. She is in danger and must be found before the Torin find her. I know I do not need to remind you what happens to women when the Torin get a hold of them," he paused, letting the full affect of his words sink in. "We will spread ourselves, on either side of the river and walk through the forest until we find her," he said, trying to gauge his men. "If you should come across a Torin warrior or other animal that presents a threat, kill them on sight. Is that understood?"
His men grunted their agreements and nodded.
"There is a possibility that we may have to fact the Torin head on, in force. Be very alert and aware of your surroundings. Do not separate. Fight valiantly. We fight not only for the Queen, but for the future of our people!" he boomed, holding up his spear towards his men. "Over the wall!" he bellowed.
A cry went up for a moment as a few soldiers stepped forward, with ropes in their hands. They swung them into the boughs of the trees expertly and began the climb over the wall. The captain led half the men across the river and sent up the ropes. Qwinn prayed to Ahanu that she would protect Alison as he strapped the spear to his back along with his swords only to take a dagger and hold it between his teeth as he began to climb.
He balanced once he reached the top of the thick stone wall, which had been built centuries ago, and without looking back, jumped down the other side, into Torin territory.
ALISON FELT HERSELF DRIFTING IN A FOG. For a moment she could feel nothing and thought that she was dead. Try as she might, it was hard to break through. Fear began to light her and to her relief, she could feel her heart pounding with it. Then she felt something touch her and she jolted awake, coughing and sputtering up the water that surrounded her. She found herself half in and half out of the water. She shakily lifted her torso out of the water to get a look around. The light of the limbra bubble helped her to see that the river had turned, and so created an elbow with a calm pool, which she apparently had drifted into.
She couldn't remember what happened after the wall. Delicately, she touched her forehead and winced. She had a pretty nasty gash, but thankfully it had clotted and so stopped bleeding. Again, something brushed her foot and she bolted out of the water, eyeing it wearily. A large tail swam away in a hurry, she must have scared a huge fish.
She fought a shudder and bit back a moan. Her shoulder was terribly sore and she was soaking wet, chilling in the cool air. She wrapped her arms around herself in an effort to keep herself warm.
She looked around with fearful eyes. Who knew how long she'd been drifting down the river. Her teeth began to chatter as she carefully picked her way over the rocky shore to get into the shelter of trees, no liking the idea of being out in the open and vulnerable. Her foot slipped and she cried out in pain.
When she had originally crossed the river, she had cut the arch of her foot on a rock. Slipping now had reopened the wound, and some. Even in the dim light, she could see the blood begin to cover the rocks. There was nowhere for her to sit, it was just sharp rocks, so she quickly and carefully made her way to the trees and sat with a thud.
Without wasting a moment, she put her dress between her teeth and tore a strip of fabric off, in order to make a makeshift bandage. She brushed off what she could of the dirt and firmly wrapped it around her foot, trying it tightly on the top, biting her cheek to keep from crying out.
When she was done, she rested her head back against the large trunk of the tree and tried to simply catch her breath. Everything was threatening to come crashing down on her in an overwhelming wave. She fought to keep it back, now was not the time to cry, it wouldn't help her situation any.
Taking a few deep breaths, she felt a little better. When she was calm enough, she opened her eyes and looked around again. The trees were thick and she could hear the bugs chirping and humming all through the forest. The river bubbled gently beside her. She sat on a patch of glowing moss, and to her relief, more of the strange moss grew over many of the trees.
She noticed that if she were to move into the canopy of the trees, the light from the limbra bubble would be almost completely blotted out and she would have to rely on the moss. She shivered at the thought of going into the forest in the dark.
She had no idea where she was or how far from the city she had drifted, but she figured that if she followed the river back where it came from, she would have better luck at finding civilization than if she tried to navigate on her own.
Again, she almost became overwhelmed. She was in no shape to travel a far distance. She had lost a lot of blood and she was all banged up, not to mention her foot was wounded. She wouldn't stand a chance against the forest. What she wouldn't give to have Qwinn around to heal her.
She immediately shook her head, sending her into a dizzy spill, in an effort to shake him from her mind. Looking around again, for anything to help her, she got an idea. She needed a walking stick!
Coming to a shaky stand, bracing herself on the tree trunk, she began to head into the trees. That was her best bet to find a stick. She carefully maneuvered over the mossy covered earth and large roots that jutted out from the ground, creating quite an obstacle to get over, but a great brace for her shaky legs.
She moved at a pace of a slug, she was sure, but fought her fatigue and weakness with all her might. Then she found it, the perfect stick about a hundred feet from where she had sat. She picked it up and dusted off the dirt and moss, leaving some glowing moss, to help her see.
Carefully setting the stick in a standing position, she tested her weight on it. When it held, a glimmer of hope began to bloom in her heart. She gripped the stick and took a cautious step, leaning on it. It helped and her mood began to lift. Maybe now she wasn't so helpless. Setting her mind on the plan, she hobbled back toward the river, avoiding the sharp rocks and sticking mostly to the soft moss as she walked up river.
She yawned and fought off another. She hadn't slept since the morning before and with her blood loss she knew she should rest and heal, but she also knew that once the sun set in the limbra bubble, the dangerous animals came out. She shivered at the thought of the Torin and pictured the statue she had seen in the gardens of the horrible beast.
She pushed herself faster, while pacing herself. She needed to get out of here! Picking her way along the shore, she tried her best to stay right by the river, but at one bend, the river edged up next to a cliff, therefore she was forced to go deeper into the trees in order to walk. She tried to stay close enough to where she could hear the rushing water.
It seemed as though Alison had been walking for ages and knew she needed to rest or she wouldn't be able to walk another step. Picking a spot, she rested heavily against the tree trunk and sunk to the soft earth. She fought to keep her eyes open, though she was tired, now was not the time for sleep. She promised herself that once she was back over that wall, she would sleep for days.
She studied her surroundings, praying that she was close. She knew she had been traveling for a few hours at least but had only covered maybe a mile, what with her slow pace and the twists and turns of the river. Then she spotted it, a tantalizing bush that was laden with beautiful red berries. Immediately, her stomach began to growl. All of the food she had packed had washed away in the river. She carefully made her way to the berries, trying to remember if a plant like this was known for being poisonous.
Unfortunately, all of the plants in Vidar were completely different from those on the surface. She plucked a plump berry and rolled it between her fingers before squashing it. She sniffed it and her mouth watered. It smelt divine! When it didn't sting her fingers, she took it as a good sign and picked another, hesitantly lifting the berry to her lips.
She groaned in pleasure. The berry was a burst of sweet flavor, almost like a strawberry and cherry mixed into one fruit. Before she even knew what she was doing, she picked more, shoving them into her mouth. She couldn't get enough. She ate until she was satisfied and then sat under the tree. She even sucked the juice off her fingers.
She sighed contentedly and yawned again. Though she knew she shouldn't sleep, she couldn't seem to fight it any longer. She felt so light, without a care in the world. She could hardly remember why she was so scared in the first place.
Her vision started spinning and she giggled as she swayed drunkenly against the trunk of the tree trunk. The world was a burst of vibrant color, and everything seemed so bright, even though she knew she was under the canopy.
She lifted her hand sluggishly to brush away a strand of hair that had fallen across her eyes and giggled at the sight of three hands instead of one.
Somewhere in her mind she realized something was not right, but she couldn't bring herself to care. She yawned again and snuggled back into the tree, which suddenly felt as soft as a cloud, before letting her eyes fall closed.