The Endless Horizon

Reads: 1702  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 3 (v.2) - Flight of a Jailbird

Submitted: June 19, 2019

Reads: 59

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 19, 2019

A A A

A A A

-3-

Flight of a Jailbird

 

Day in and day out I found myself wringing my hands, my lips parted as I endlessly wandered the labyrinth of my own subconscious. This was all I could do to busy myself in the cold dungeon. No one shared my cell, and so my conversations had been only with myself.

There were other inmates besides myself, but they were no company, and on the occasion that I caught a glimpse of one of them I immediately resented it. Their clothes had all but rotted off their bodies, exposing the pallor flesh beneath. For this reason I was glad to be left to myself. Rather than be among scoundrels and thieves, I was comforted by vermin of the rodent variety.

In these conditions it was sometimes hard to keep track of time. The best I could do was approximate it from the slim glint of light that peered through the grate in the far corner of the keep. Aside from that, my only other connection to the outside world came in the form of the warden. Each day he would loudly enter and drop morsels at my and my fellow prisoner’s feet.

On some days he held particular interest for me, asking how I had fallen into the Duke’s distrust. My eyes' gaze never once met his own, nor did my hand ever reach out to beg for food. I wouldn't allow him the pleasure.

“One of these days you're gonna have something to tell me,” he’d say. “Maybe not today, but you and I have more than enough time to make one another's acquaintance. In the meantime, I suggest that you grow more fond of the hand that keeps you fed.” Fed was of course an overstatement, it was nothing short of a miracle that the prisoners clung to life, though miracle certainly didn't seem the right word for it.

There came a day when the worn iron door swiveled on its hinges, releasing the high pitched creak that I had since grown accustomed to. As always my head remained in its fixed position, rigid to the obloquy I’d soon face. The click of his footsteps neared and stopped as he entered my viscinity, and soon thereafter was a tumbling of lock mechanisms. The cell door swung smoothly outward on its axis.

“Have you come to escort me to the gallows?” I said in a deep monotone.

“Far from it lad,” the familiar voice responded; however, it wasn’t the warden’s.

I raised my head to see that it was the very man that had accompanied me in Crodmill. “Wh-why are you here?” I sputtered at the unlikely act.

His disheveled hair brushed my shoulder as he bent down to cut the rope that had constrained me all of this time. “I didn't believe an honest man as yourself could be persecuted,” he reasoned as he worked the knife against the tightly woven fibers.

When they finally fell to the floor of the cell I rubbed my sore wrists where they’d been bound. Still partly in disbelief, I hesitated to stand.

“Honestly, I’d expected you to be happier to see me, instead you look downright despondent. Y'know, if you're keen on staying you're more than welcome.”

"It isn't for lack of gratitude, but I have to wonder what you stand to gain from assisting me, especially since you've everything to lose."

“What could I stand to gain from granting a decent man his freedom? From saving him from his death-bed? Atonement for one, seeing as I was at least partially at fault for your being here.”

For the second time that day I head the iron door creak open on its hinge, this time followed with a resonant clang from being opened so forcefully.

“What are you doing down here?” the warden called, his voice bouncing between the many cells of the keep. “Watchmen of your division are stationed at the eastern wall, leave immediately before I have half a mind to tell the general!”

Havlynn quickly backed out of my cell before the warden had a chance to see that it was open. “Of course sir, just giving this dastard a piece of my mind.”

“Wait, that cell! Why is it open?” he suddenly boomed, swinging his spear down to block his exit.

“Run!” my savior shouted to me as he brandished his own weapon, a small saber. “I’ll occupy him, just escape while you can!”

I’d do no such thing. With his opponent sporting superior range he fought a losing battle, and I couldn’t in good conscience let a man sacrifice himself for me. While the two of them were engaged in combat I sprinted in at full speed, leaping towards the guard and grabbing the handle of his pole-arm. Seizing the opening I had created for him, Havlynn stepped forth with his blade lowered, forcing the warden to let go of his weapon or else succumb to his thrust.

Because of the effort he put into reclaiming his weapon, when he’d let go it sent him straight to the ground. When next he sat up, it was because Havlynn had forced him up to bind his hands.

The crisis now averted, I extended my hand to him in gratitude. “Thank you, Havlynn. You didn't have to come for me, but I'm most grateful that you did.”

“Lynn, just call me Lynn, and you really shouldn't be thanking me. Were it not for me, you might not have been locked in here to begin with.”

“It was no fault of yours that I ended up here. That Duke of ours is the real problem, he's grown much too comfortable on his throne.” I turned my attention to the sorry specimen that lay collapsed on the ground, “So the warden, what of him? Won't he be able to alert the others about your disloyalty?”

“He can just sit here and rot for all I care. In only three days time it won't make a lick of difference.”

“How could you mean?” I asked, looking for clarification.

“The wyvern you spoke of in your altercation with the Duke, word has miraculously been spread outside of closed doors,” he said with a look of complacency about him. “As a result, the more paranoid of our ranks are organizing a coup to ‘persuade’ the aristocrats to look into it. So far they don't suspect a thing of me.”

I was dumbstruck, knowing that my arrest had not been as futile as I first thought. “And from here? There's no way in which I can still peacefully reside in Abdera, I'd be sought after and killed by dawn.”

“The guard's numbers are spread thin, so you shouldn't have any trouble passing through the inner gate. As for the outer gate, I'll meet you at the southeast entrance.” He shot a chary glance at the door. “Don't linger here for too long, we only have so much time before they come looking. I'll meet you at the gate when you're ready.” With that he made his exit, taking care to shut the door behind him lest someone peer in.

I was about to follow suit when I noticed the warden’s scowl, so I knelt to where he could see my face clearly. “Looks like our time is up here.” He had no words of response for me. “Were you actually told what happened? Were you aware that the Duke hadn’t the remote interest in protecting his people when you tossed me behind these bars?”

“Who are you to speak against it?” he spat, “I don't give a damn about your report, truth or not. You attacked an innocent guard, how could you think yourself undeserving of the consequences?”

I paid his remark no mind and brought my face uncomfortably close to his. “Remember when you told me I'd have something to say? I take it you didn't think those words would be goodbye.”

He growled at my antagonizing, but I had no sympathy. Before leaving I tore off a significant scrap of the tunic on his person and fastened it to my head as a cowl. The heavy door slammed shut behind me as I left.

Thankfully there were no guards stationed outside the entrance to the keep. I pulled the makeshift hood down to obscure my face and began my 'escape' so to speak. It was incredible how one's perception of a place could change in a span of time so short, all it took was one experience and I suddenly started to see things as they truly were. Where once the grand houses of the nobility stood I saw only needless displays of wealth. If any number of people had heard my fortuitous call-to-arms, then not all was bad. Even so, it was hard to see things that way when I was amidst a sea of people who were keenly aware of my treachery. Regardless of whatever support was rallied in my favor, I'd still be hunted when my cell was found empty.

The innermost gate was now behind me. Before leaving Abdera I would need to make one last visit to my home to gather the few valuables in my possession. I had scarce furniture and personal effects left there due to my frequent roaming, but the articles I had collected held unmatched sentimental value.

When I arrived at my humble nook I slowly creaked the door open, half-expecting my furniture to have been vandalized, angry notes sprawled across the floor. Much to my delight it seemed nothing had changed since my last visit save the multitude of cobwebs that had accumulated along the floor and in the corners of the ceiling. That, and the thin piece of parchment that now lay on my desk. I hastily unrolled it and held it in the light from my window.

“Dear Kaiser,

Where to start. I’d just come to Abdera when I heard news of your arrest after an altercation with the Duke. At first I thought it confounding, but then I remembered your quick temper and oh so sharp tongue. While I know not of the circumstances under which you were apprehended, I’m sure you meant well. Regardless, I have no doubt that justice will see to it that you walk these streets again soon.

Until that day comes, I’ve left this note here in an effort to apologize and explain my abrupt departure years ago. Research has taken me further than usual, and for a longer time than expected. I’m sorry it’s been so long, but I promise that in due time I’ll make my permanent return, and we've much to catch up on when I do.

Until then, please do keep yourself out of trouble!

Love,
Israfel"

I nearly choked up when I finished reading the note. I’d been sick with worry since he’d left, and to see that I just narrowly missed him was devastating, as was knowing that he’d soon return to a still empty house. The note was neatly folded and stuffed into my pockets along with every other item I could fit within them.

Aside from these trinkets, I had between the threadbare mattress and floorboards a small stash of wealth should I ever have need of it. With one last pitiful sigh as I surveyed the room I turned and stepped back out onto the streets.

Prideful gleaming smiles were engraved upon the faces of artisans, men and women alike. Unlike them, I concealed only a guilty frown. After a longer time than I would have liked, I came upon the outer gate. Here I once again met Havlynn who had been awaiting my arrival, or rather, my departure.

“You'll find that your horse has been well taken care of. In its satchel are several days worth of food and drink, but do be sure to ration it as best as you can.” He paused as though he were crossing off items on a mental list. “I trust you can handle it from here then Kaiser?”

“Thanks to you, yes. I really can't thank you enough Havlynn, may we meet again when the occasion deems it more favorable.”

He flashed a wide grin, “Don’t sweat it, spot me a drink and I’ll call us even. When next your foot touches this soil, this kingdom will have changed for the better. Count on it.”

I feigned one final parting smile, but truthfully, I'd hoped to never so soon return to this land.

At the stables, my horse had been well tended to just as described, and the satchel that was strapped at its side was brimming with ample goods. Having no desire to bid the town farewell, I climbed atop the horse and started moving without so much as a final glance. Though I was now free, neither the state of mind nor the stability of my breathing had bettered much. To where I was going I hadn't the faintest clue, my only goal was to put as much distance between me and this forsaken place as possible.

As I rode away, a razor-toothed guilt gnawed at my conscious. In one way I was innocent, but in another, not. My message was that of an honest individual to be sure, but that day also marked the first time I had drawn the blood of a fellow man. When I really thought on the matter, it was clear to me that I deserved my sentencing. Regardless of the moment's rationale, I had committed a grave crime, and now I was roaming free.

Despite this fact, what made those guilt-ridden jaws bite down harder was my lack of a greater resentment still. Instead, I couldn’t help but intently think about where my latest actions would lead me. It seemed that a cycle of monotony had finally been broken and my old life left behind. Whether forced or by my own hand, excitement welled with the prospect of a newly attained freedom of choice.


© Copyright 2020 Ignis Vulpes. All rights reserved.

Chapters

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments: