The Flight of The Draykes
I didn’t sleep that night. I was too busy imagining what it would’ve been like in that desperate battle.
Luckily or unluckily, the revelers and the rather enthusiastic noise provided the background music for the epic that my mind's eye was conjuring but some parts were quite...off...for lack of a better word. I mean bawdy love songs being played while a desperate retreat takes place?
On the other hand, the crash of sword on shield, the crisp riposte clanking off a helmet, the taunts that were vulgar enough and anatomically disturbing enough to make me blush, all of those were conveyed in perfect clarity.
Wait a moment.
“Oh “, groggily I opened my eyes and blinked before shutting it in agony at the strong sunlight that was streaming through my open window.
Lifting my arm in front of me for shade, I stumbled my way to the window to find that I didn’t imagine the last part. No, in fact, I must’ve somehow censored it because the intensity of the curses had increased and, worse, it was personal now.
“Your grandmother fought better than this. No wait, ma could beat me even now so that makes it a compliment. Bal, I meant your brother could fight better than this”. Lady Alina cried out
“Oh, good morning Faustus, I didn’t see you there- guard you, big lunkhead, guard!” cried my dear mother as she dealt a vicious blow to my newly knighted brother’s helmeted cranium.
Wincing both for my brother's head as well as for the uncalled-for blow to my self-esteem, I threw on some clothes and headed for the practice field below just in time to witness my brother going cross-eyed and crumpling to the ground.
Tsking above him was the diminutive form of my mother who on hearing my footsteps eagerly turned around, “Would you like to-”
“No mother, I would not like to spar, thank you very much”
Visibly disappointed, my mother turned back to the comatose heap beside her before prodding it with her foot and sighing audibly when it failed to do more than twitch a few times. Then she brightened up and said, “Ooh, breakfast time.” before turning and marching briskly towards the side where the servers were laying out food.
“Come on Faustus, what are you waiting for over there?” she said as she wiped her hands clean
Giving a final sympathetic look towards my brother and debating whether I should try to help him up or not, I decided against it and headed towards the table, catching a glimpse of Alessia out of the corner of my eye just as she entered the field.
“Oh Lady Courtesy, Good morning to you too,” said sia as she curtsied hurriedly
“Alessia! Good timing, join us for breakfast! There are your favorite cherry apples! I think they’re in season right now and they’re quite delicious, I must say”
Glancing between my encouraging face, my brother's groaning face, and my mother’s beaming genial face, Alessia meekly said “Yes, Lady Courtesy” and sat down.
Bustling about, mother piled a plate high with more than half of it occupied by the cherry apples before handing it to Alessia who couldn’t help but smile.
“As for you Faustus, you seem quite tired, so I'm thinking of buttered bread with some pies. Now why are you so tired?” she asked as she set down an equally laden plate in front of me.
“Ah that’s right, why didn’t you tell me anything about the Plains of Pyrrhia all this time?!” I asked as I bounced around excitedly.
My mother stilled. Before cocking her head and shooting me a sharp gaze.
“Yes, he told me everything! Father is amazing! I mean, I knew he was before also but you know, for the peaceful part. But this? This is awesome!”
“Hmm. I need to have a few words with Leonidas or perhaps my sword does...but yes, your father is amazing” she said smilingly though her smile also seemed to contain some steel in it as she tapped her sword unconsciously.
Turning around, I looked at Alessia and my smile began to slip off my face as I saw her lips were trembling and her hands were clenched at her sides.
“Lady Courtesy, may I excuse myself?”
“Go, Child. I’ll talk to Leonidas”
I reached out for her hand only for her to brush it off and take off at speed, but not fast enough that I didn’t see a tear fall to the ground.
Twisting around, I looked at my mother, only to see her shaking her head with a sad expression.
Pushing myself off the table, I took off running after her.
I didn’t find her though.
Bal, why is she so fast? I thought to myself for what must be the hundredth time before asking the next person who crossed my way whether they saw her only to receive a negative reply.
Okay, she isn’t in the castle, where can she possibly be?
As I racked my brains, It hit me. She had to be there.
I took off running faster than ever.
My lungs burned, the stitch in my side threatening to send me kneeling on the ground, my shoes doing little to absorb the impact of the frantic pace that I set.
Then I saw her, her blonde hair flying freely in the wind as she confronted a group of people in front of an arch.
Squinting, I could make out red hair.
“Bal, of course, it has to be Harold”
I ran faster.
Then they started fighting. Two thugs charged her while the rest circled her. The first two went down hard and fast but I could see it. Something was wrong. She was different.
Harold knew it too as a cruel smile began spreading across his face. Signaling to his gang, he launched into an assault that Alessia could’ve easily blocked, an assault that she could have punished him for making. But her reactions were slow. Sluggish even.
Then the first punch connected and her head snapped back and she seemed to come into focus.
She launched a flurry of blows with the intent to put her attackers down but she was overcommitting, overextending, and then the blows started to land. But not hers. Rather it was her body that was being battered.
Reeling she attempted to defend herself but there were so many of them. Not counting the two she took out at the start of the fight, there were still 9 of them swarming her like stinging bees. And then there was Harold.
Every punch of his that connected would stagger Alessia and push her off balance, opening her up to more blows.
More speed, Please more speed, I begged of myself as I ran faster than I had ever run before, but not fast enough.
Alessia crumpled off the wall. Pushing with her hands against the ground, she tried to get up but it was clear she was stunned.
Calling back his gang, Harold strode forward, the cruelty of his smile intensifying. Then he held her head up slowly and stared into her eyes with a manic satisfaction.
“I’ve looked forward to this day a long time, you know. Why don’t you give me a little kiss, eh?
She spat. On his face.
The smile slowly disappeared to be replaced by a chilling calm as he raised his hand to wipe his face.
“This, boys, is why they always, always have to be broken in,” remarked Harold - followed by a vicious backhand that knocked Alessia sideways to the ground.
Grabbing her hair, he pulled her back cruelly before drawing the dagger that he had on his left hip.
“Now where should I begin, I wonder. Perhaps with this?” he said as he sliced off a tuft of her hair.
“That looks uneven, let me make that right”
“Ah, I am sorry, I’m not very good at this” he laughed as the dagger sliced open her scalp along with more of her hair.
“Oh, what’s this, are you crying? Really? Oh, this is funny, ah this is too funny! Hahahaha, right lads?”
“There, there, there. Don’t cry. Warriors don’t cry after all. But you’re not a warrior are you. You don’t have the scars!”
Her eyes widened in horror as he brought the dagger closer and closer to her cheek, pushing the tip in slowly till the skin parted and blood began to flow.
She watched the spreading smile on the sadist's face. She Heard the hyena laughter of his gang. She Heard the waves crashing on the rocks. Unbidden her memories went to the cliff, the cliff she was heading to when Harold found her. They called it “Watcher's rest”
She smiled. A heartbroken smile.
He didn’t like that. No, he didn’t. His grip tightened on the dagger as he prepared to slash it across her face.
Only to see a pale, bony arm grab his wrist. Surprised, he looked up, only to see that long hair and those deep-set empty black eyes. Oh, this day was just getting better and better. His smile was just widening when for some reason, he was getting further and further away from his dagger, the girl, and the boy.
It wasn’t until his body came to a rest and the pain flooded him that he realized in disbelief. The boy had hit him. Snapping his head up, he looked only to find that those empty black eyes...They were red and full of rage.
“Faust?” Sia whispered in disbelief.
I looked down at her, barely able to hear my name, The blood rushing through me drowning out all noise, all noise except for one.
Thump, Thump, Bathump.
I wiped away the line of blood on her cheek, lifted her as easily as I would lift a quill, and set her down comfortably against the wall.
Then I whirled around and jabbed Harold, who had sneaked behind me, in his side with my elbow, doubling him over and making him release the dagger that he was holding which I knocked away with my foot before grabbing his throat and throwing him across the ground.
I breathed in deeply and I surrendered myself to rage. To create carnage.
They came running, screaming, yelling.
They went crying, shrieking, screeching.
For every 10 hits they landed on me, I landed one.
I stood. They fell.
All of them fell, except for the ones that ran. They’ll hurt later. I remember their faces all too well after all.
Harold stayed though.
He snarled and punched, he felt the impact jar his hand and he smirked in satisfaction until my fist sank into his stomach.
Then he doubled up and jumped back, only to have my flying knee crunch into his nose and crack it.
He staggered back flailing, only to have my hand grab his tunic and steady him.
Another crack, this time it was my knee into his groin.
As his legs gave out, I grabbed his head and slammed it into the ground before raising my fist for a punch to the back of his head. Only to stop, breathe, shake, breathe more, Tremble as all the things he did to Sia run through my head, stiffen up as all the things he’d done to me run through my head, and then scream right before I punched with all the force I could muster.
Right into the ground beside that balakash’s head.
I was panting. My body was paining from what seemed to be everywhere. My blood was still pumping powerfully through me. My heart beating rapidly in a rhythm that I’ve never felt, my mind blissfully empty.
Except for one thought.
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