Once he was gone, Delaney crawled into the corner of her room and curled her knees up to her chest. Slowly, hard, heavy sobs worked their way out of her, but she covered her mouth to hold them in. She had to have done something wrong. She was being punished for something. She looked up as tears rolled down over her fingers and thought, ‘What did I do to deserve this?”
I stand upright on my toes. Straight, tall, indifferent. People mill around me, gathering closer to the pole from which I hang. I can fill their eyes trained on me as they gaze at my tortured body. Scars zig-zag up and down my body in an array of welts and deeply cut wounds.
I can still hear the whirl of the whip as it slices through the air, breaking the sound barrier, and slaps across my back. Scarring me for life. The price that I paid for my freedom.
I stand upright because everyone is watching. Everyone wants to know if their young leader will still lead them out of bondage. I stand upright, my hands hanging from the pole above my head, to make sure they know I’m not quitting.
I was walking through the hallways before I noticed it–just a small piece of paper which jutted from a locker. I shouldn’t have cared, but I did. I shouldn’t have stepped forward to grasp it…but I did. Although I didn’t feel anything as I lifted it up to my eyes, I knew something inside of me had changed.
When I read the words written in a masculine scroll, I knew without a doubt that I had accepted a mission without knowing it. That no matter what lie I fabricated, it was my duty to carry out the note’s message. I knew that this mission would change my life. Forever.
My life is nothing more than a lie, fabricated by the stories I’ve been forced to live out.
I can never be myself. I do not know who I am.
Because my whole life has been fabricated by this one truth:
If anyone finds out my identity, I. Will die.
“Anyone can hide. Facing up to things, working through them, that’s what makes you strong.”
I was walking through the hallways before I noticed it–a small piece of paper that jutted from a locker. I shouldn’t have cared, but I did. I shouldn’t have stepped forward to grasp it…but I did. Although I didn’t feel anything as I lifted it up to my eyes, I knew something inside of me had changed.
When I read the words, I knew without a doubt that I had accepted a mission without knowing it. That no matter what lie I fabricated, it was my duty to carry out the note’s message. I knew that this mission would change my life forever.
There are seven lords who rule seven cities in the country of Alikahtolm. As rulers over us, they are vicious and cruel. Nothing seems to be able to penetrate their forces, so it is with a fading hope we continue to march on through our day. Hoping -no praying -for a deliver to save us.
We have not heard in four hundred years. Many of us have lost the remnant of hope that we possessed.
“You’re such a fucking–how does anyone STAND you?”
“Just answer the fucking question, Jan!”
Shit. He’d stalled enough for her, apparently, but he had no idea what to tell her.
He ran a hand through his hair, looking at the ground.
“It’s pathetic. It’s pathetic and you’ll hate me.”
Frankly, it was amazing she didn’t already.
When I saw my picture on their magazine, my heart swelled in fear. It didn’t matter that they had covered my face with a black box . . . I didn’t feel any safer. I studied my clothes and hair in the photo. Without further thought, I ripped my hair from its bun and braided it down my back. I took a soiled handkerchief from my laundry basket and secured it around my hair. Then, I went inside the hut and found the clothes I had worn. I hesitated for a brief moment before casting the dress into the fire. My very last outfit . . . burned because of a simple picture.
But the cinders just may save my life.
Gazing into the fire, I determined to flee my village. Tonight.
When the verdict sealed his fate, all grew silent. Simultaneously, we then drew our weapons. The sound of steel upon steel echoed across the forest as swords were extracted from their scabbards and arrows from their quivers. We waited. We watched. We prayed.
Shackles bound his wrists and ankles, anchoring him to the ground. Instead of cowering when the first fist flew, he seemed to open his arms wide for its coming approach.
His end came too quickly.
“You are les fn than a barrel without any monkeys.”
“I think you got phrase that just a tad wrong.”
“No, I got it just right, because your fun-level when equated with monkeys in barrels is zero, Tobes. ZERO.”
“I’m very sorry. I’ll buy a monkey. Will that help?”
“Maybe, Tobes. Just maybe.”
He throws his sword to the ground. “Do you really think all of this –the lying, the thievery, the killing –will amount to anything but your own death?” Glaring at me, Nate nervously runs a hand through his tangled curls, his face showing the conflicting emotions that tremble inside of him. “This is not about making sure your family has enough to eat anymore, Lydie. This is a matter of principles!”
Slowly, I stand from my stooped position. Around me I feel all my men gathering to listen to our argument, curious as who will win. Whether or not I’ll fire the arrow that my fingers are twirling between themselves. Knowing that I won’t miss. “Don’t speak to me of principles, Nathan Scarlet! While your father burned my village to cinders, you stood by and did nothing. You bedded all the widows and teenage girls from my village who had nothing to eat. When given the opportunity, you lied about your heritage just to gain favor in my eyes. Do not speak to me about principles unless you can condone your own actions!”
Nate grows silent. His eyes spit fire. He gathers his sword. “You are a hoodlum, Lydia Robin. No better than the ruffians who burned your village to the ground. You can’t keep killing people who oppose you. I understand the pain and anger you feel, the wrath you wish to descend upon my father. I also know that you’re better than this. Everyone knows.”
“That’s the last straw!” Growling through my teeth, I point my arrow at his heart. “Leave right now.”
“That’s no what you want . . . or what I want.” Nate steps closer. “Lydie, I-”
“I never want to see you again.” I pull my hood over my head. “Goodbye, Nate.”
“Farewell,” he whispers to my retreating back, “Robin Hood.”
Five minutes. Five people. It was hard not to act shocked as I glanced around the New South China Mall, analyzing people, forging cover stories. Among five thousand shoppers, maybe more, I had to find five operatives. In the largest mall in the world. And blend in.
Five skilled agents against my lousy five senses.
Smacking my mouth closed, I gingerly chewed my gum, took out a camera, and shot a picture. Easy as pie.
“It’s actually quite simple,” he says, jumping down from his perch in the tree. Standing closely to me, he points off into the distance, raising my hand until I see the palace in the far off distance. “We blend in at their own palace! They will never know. With your skill and my brains, we could be the best hunters of the forest, and they can’t resist hiring us!”
I bite my lips, gingerly walking away from him. “It could work.”
“It’s simply genius, Lydie!”
“Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? Do you make it leap like a locust, striking terror with its proud snorting? It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength, and charges into the fray. It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; it does not shy away from the sword. The quiver rattles against its side, along with the flashing spear and lance. In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground; it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.”
You utilize really good imagery, I like your writing style. I like that: ”In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground; it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.” You’ve obviously written a lot of poetry, it comes out in your pros.
Actually, it is in quotations because it is something from the Bible. :) I could never write something like that.
I rise from the ground.
Dust coats my eyes, blurring the city into obscurity. I blink and everything becomes clear.
Destruction had flooded my city, leaving behind only rubble.
Death had risen like a lion, slaughtering all in sight.
Unmovable buildings now lay in ashy heaps at my feet.
Immortal people lay dead around me among the debris.
Fire scorches the area, devouring everything left in sight.
Sounds of war grow nearer.
Blocking out the gut-wrenching pictures surrounding me, I tighten the satchel across my chest. I check inside it –food, water, clothes, matches . . .
“Lydie,” a voice hisses. I turn around, pulling an arrow into its socket. “It’s me,” the pale male in front of me huffs, walking nearer. Beneath the dust and soot, I see who it is before he says, “Nathan.”
I lower the bow. “Is there anyone left?”
He shakes his head, bites his lips, and kneels beside a corpse. He chokes out, “No.”
There is no time for emotions, I think, taking deep breaths. “Do you have food? weapons? blankets?”
He touches the hilt of his sword, resting in his back scabbard, and the backpack strapped upon it. “Everything I own is here.”
“We need to leave,” I say. “Immediately.”
“The soldiers are coming.” He rises. “I’m ready.”
Soon I will be dead. I won’t have to worry about who is chasing me, whether or not my family is safe, if people are my friends or enemies. Because it won’t matter . . . I’ll be dead.
Soon, soon I hope it will come, cloaking me in its darkness. The pain I am enduring is too much, too excruciating. When they come, I hope that they’ll finish me off quickly- they’ll see that I truly do not know anything of consequence.
Soon I hope my deliverance will come.
Nothing was worse than being called into the Great Hall. When a person enters through its colossal, wooden doors, they never return.
That is why I quaked with fear when soldiers encircled my house, and the captain of the guard stood at attention before my door.
“You’ve been summoned,” the Captain spoke, clenching his teeth. I realized that I knew him…in fact, I knew them all.
I did not have to ask why or felt the need to ask where I had been summoned to. I just knew.
“Allow me to draft my final will.”
Sighing, the Captain glanced behind him before edging closer to my side. He whispered into my ear, “You have one hour.”
I nodded. Tears sparkled in my eyes, but I blinked them back. I had to be strong. For my family, for my friends. For my country.
“I’m so sorry, Ellen,” he whispered, bowing his head.
“Don’t offer me your apologies. Offer me a promise.”
“And what promise is that?”
“That I will emerge from the Great Hall. And not in a wooden casket.”
“I do not believe I can promise-”
“Captain.” Grasped between my fingers, I tugged on his tunic. “I have to live. Please contact the General for me.”
“He will not help you. You are a rebel.”
“No, Captain. You are wrong. I am a rebel, and that is why he will help me.”
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