Gwynn nervously looked around a circular room. Through the bars of her cell she could see three guards sitting at a table merrily drinking and playing cards. To their left the last guard was tending a small flame in a black fireplace. But what she paid attention to most was the girl standing just outside the room’s entrance edging ever closer to the keys to her cage.
The room had played host to her for all her life, she had never been allowed to glimpse the outside world save to use the bathroom and was never told why. The last sixteen years hadn’t outright been unpleasant, one of the guards in the rotation treated her better than the rest. He taught her to read and write and told her stories of what life was like in the land of Astines. It was never enough of course though, hearing stories of something she always dreamed of would never be the same as seeing it for herself.
And now it looked like she was going to get that chance. The girl nearing the keys was Rezu, Gwynn’s only real friend in the world. Rezu snuck into the room three years ago and after Gwynn told her, her goal the two hit it off quickly after Rezu promised to free her. Ever since then Rezu regularly snuck past the guards through the front door or traipsed down a stairwell just in the cages blind spot baring little gifts or stories.
She waited with bated breath as Rezu picked up the large iron keyring from the wall and turned towards the cage smiling. Gwynn wanted desperately to relax but knew getting the keys would be the easy part. The drunken guards still hadn’t taken notice to her but they would see her nearing the cage or hear the door swing open. She feared what they’d do to her.
Rezu kept herself to the wall as she inched closer to the cell. Gwynn questioned how the guards couldn’t see her but didn’t dare draw attention to her friend.
Finally, she reached the lock, turned the key, and smiled. “Well princess, I grant you your freedom.” Rezu said as the cage door swung open.
Gwynn’s breath hitched in her chest. Freedom was just a few steps away, the dream she had always yearned for was finally coming true. All she had to do was walk out.
Unfortunately, it couldn’t be that easy. The three drunkards rose from the table and the one at the fireplace grabbed his sword. “What do you think you’re doing?” The sober guard asked exasperatedly. “I really don’t want to hassle Morcan with an escape attempt. So if you just stay where you are and we’ll chalk this up to the lock malfunctioning.”
“Wat are ye sayings? It’s trying ta escape. That’s insubordination!” One of the drunkards chimed in.
Gwynn glared at them but didn’t dare to move. She knew escaping was a pipe dream and now her only hope lied in the leniency of the sober guard. The hope she felt was nice while it lasted.
“I got this.” Rezu said. She held out her hand and a trident wrapped in thorned vines materialized out of thin air. The prongs of the trident were ghastly green in color and appeared to have an unearthly glow about them. The rod was stark black as if it were made of the night sky itself.
“Be careful!” Gwynn shouted. She had never seen Rezu fight but the three drunkards didn’t seem fazed. They advanced forward swords in hand as if they didn’t fear her. Only the sober guard moved back against the wall with eyes full of terror.
“This is going to be fun.” One of the drunkards said.
Before they could get close to her Rezu thrust forward and sank the trident’s prongs into the nearest guard. The metal weapon pierced through the guard’s armor as if it were paper. The guard screamed and fell to the ground as Rezu pulled the weapon out. The second guard slashed at the trident but she simply parried it away and swept under the man’s feet knocking him to the ground. Not missing a beat she raised the trident high and impaled him against the floor.
Gwynn had trouble watching, the guards anguished screams combined with watching their blood flow was sickening. Rezu had told her stories of fights she’d been in but she never imagined it’d be so awful. Seeing real combat for the first time made her wish to never experience it herself.
“Demonic bitch!” The last guard yelled as he lunged for Rezu.
She smiled as she caught the blade between two prongs of the trident and twirled. The guard’s weapon went flying to the ground. Without missing a beat Rezu readjusted herself and drove the trident into the guard’s neck. He gasped and cried as he attempted in vain to loose himself from the weapon.
This time Gwynn couldn’t watch. She closed her eyes, turned away, and did her best to block out the squelching noise the trident made as Rezu drew it back. She hadn’t even taken her first step into the real world and it was already disturbing her.
“It’s okay you can look now.” Rezu called.
Gwynn hesitantly opened her eyes back to the chaotic scene. One of the guards was dead while two others writhed about the ground in evident agony. Their wounds were expanding rapidly, eating away at their flesh and spewing emerald gasses. She could only guess the trident had some kind of toxin to it.
“There’s just one more I have to deal with and then we can leave.” Rezu said. She advanced on the sober guard before raising her trident one last time.
“Stop!” Gwynn shouted. She ran out of the cage and grabbed the trident before Rezu could finish the job. The last guard had slid down the wall apparently too terrified to move. She hadn’t even attempted to help the others and on top of that didn’t try to retaliate when Rezu opened the cage. “I think we should let her go. She’s not like the others.”
Rezu’s eyes narrowed. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea. If she guards this place then she works directly under the Leatian king, Morcan. Once she leaves, she’ll slither right back to her master and Morcan will send people after us.” Rezu said without relinquishing her weapon.
“That may be true but it’s the right thing to do!” Gwynn shot back. “If we kill people who aren’t trying to kill us we’re no different than them.”
Rezu sighed and the trident dematerialized in a haze of green smoke. “This is going to come back and bite us…” She huffed.
“And if it does we can deal with it then,” Gwynn said. She walked closer to the guard and bent down so they were at eye level. The guard tensed up and began pressing against the wall even harder. “We’re not going to hurt you. I know you have to report to your king so all I ask is that you give us a head start. Wait a while before you deliver your report.”
The guard nodded slowly and Gwynn backed away so she could get up. She watched the guard take off at full speed before turning back to Rezu. She was amazed they made it that far, amazed that there was a possibility of leaving the tower behind forever. And it was all thanks to a chance meeting when Rezu entered the tower to rob the guards.
“Come on, don’t just stare at me,” Rezu said with a laugh. “Don’t you want to take your first steps outside as a free woman?”
“Right.” Gwynn said. She walked to the door and ran out quickly as if there was a chance she’d be shackled to the room once more. She was forced to shield her eyes as brilliant sunshine washed over her. Without the ushering of guards she had all the time in the world to take in the verdant green world around her. All the flowers around her seemed to be in bloom as if they wanted to finally welcome her to the country. And yet something was missing.
“Well? Was it everything you were hoping for?” Rezu asked.
“Yeah. They never let me out around this time of day. Everything’s so lush and green-”
“It matches your eyes.” Rezu said with a smirk.
Gwynn laughed but then put her head down. She looked around and saw the guard she let go running away to her left. That meant the kingdom and more importantly Morcan were that way. Along with the answer to why she was put in the tower in the first place. If she didn’t get an answer to that question she’d always have to wonder why sixteen years of her life were taken away from her.
“So, what’s next for you?” Rezu asked. “I told you the plan to spring you a week ago so you’ve had to have thought about it by now right?”
“Yeah… And I don’t think you’re going like it… I want to go to the city the guards were always talking about, Cridhe.”
“Whoa, what? Hang on, you just got freed from Morcan’s clutches and now you want to go to the man’s headquarters? Are you nuts?”
“I knew you’d say that. But I can’t just go about life not knowing why any of this happened. I want to make sense of all this… I need to make sense of this.”
Rezu closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. “If you learn the reason you were held here will you give up on going to Cridhe?”
Gwynn’s eyes lit up. “You know?”
“I do… But it would be better if I just showed you.” Rezu said before turning towards the path to the city.
Gwynn followed her along the path until they reached a small forest. To Rezu’s great annoyance she stopped every so often to explore new sights; she even got a deer to walk up to her. Soon they came upon a clearing with dozens of pillars of stacked stones. She didn’t know what the stones signified but judging by Rezu’s grimace it was nothing good.
“Rezu… Where are we?” Gwynn asked hesitantly.
“This is a graveyard… Under each of those markers you’ll find the bodies of people who died. All of them from sixteen years ago…” Rezu said solemnly.
“Sixteen years ago… So when I was-”
“Yes. They’re all apart of Cridhe’s lost girl generation. Gwynn, your father was host to a monster. A monster that plagued the lands of Astines a long time ago. One of your ancestors slew the beast but at the price of having to burden her progeny with the beast’s spirit.
“That’s not funny Rezu… We-”
“Your father started a rebellion against the kings,” Rezu interrupted. “Morcan took it upon himself to have him killed. At the time he didn’t know your father fathered a child before his death. After your father used the monster’s abilities to fight against the kingdom, they feared it could happen again. And so without being able to find you, Morcan systematically killed every girl under the age of two until you were found…”
Gwynn backed away until she hit a tree. She clutched her stomach fearing her breakfast might come up. If what Rezu said was true that meant scores of people were murdered just so she could be found. And that apparently wasn’t the worst of it.
“This monster passes to the eldest child… So that means…” Gwynn began.
Rezu nodded. “I’m afraid so.”
She could still hardly believe what Rezu was saying but didn’t have another explanation reason to doubt her savior. She stared down at her hand’s half expecting to see claws. Without her knowledge, she played host to a monster that probably slaughtered thousands. The sheer number of people that died either to the monster or due to her families doing was too great to think about.
“Now you see why you can’t go to Cridhe?” Rezu said taking Gwynn’s hand. “If you go there, they’ll kill you. Or worse since you’re the last of your line that can contain the beast. Let’s go back to the tower, there’s a town I know not too far from there.”
Gwynn nodded her head and allowed herself to be led back the way they came. As they were nearing the trees she looked back at the haunting grave markers. I know what Rezu said… But I can’t just let this go. Morcan needs to pay for what he did to them…
And here we are at part two! This one is much shorter than the first part which I like but it means the pacing might be a little quick. But on the whole I really liked how this one turned out.
While I wrote this chapter it felt like it was a little violent especially near the beginning. I nearly put a warning for that in the title but I think in the end it was just as violent as the other posted story so I let it go.
That’s all for now, I may post again this weekend just to do a challenge I read about but besides that the next big post will be Monday. It’ll just be about something that’s been on my mind lately and wanted to put into words.
See you then,
Goodbye for real this time,