The first 22 chapters of “An Elusive Hero” can be found here.
Our horses were being used by the opponents who had been responsible for the barricade, while our three followers remained on their own horses. Tyler, Drake, Michelle and I were forced to walk. The injuries to Drake and Michelle were severe. In an act of mercy, the riders had bandaged their wounds, seemingly intent on keeping them alive until we reached our destination. A whole host of questions entered my mind. Where were we headed? And would we find Laurenar there? Most importantly, what did they want of me?
The landscape we trudged through had changed remarkably. The field of tulips and its beautiful flowers seemed to belong to another world entirely. The path we were on was lined by barren fields, with only two or three lonely trees showing signs of life. It was below one of these trees we made camp for the night. The branches and twigs were used for a fire, where our captors huddled around. Nothing seemed to happen during the quiet hours of darkness. The silence was only broken by occasional groans and sighs by Drake and Michelle, who both seemed to be in a world of pain.
We were fed with stale bread and water and were seated as far as possible from each other. It was clear that they did not want us to talk. But then again, none of us seemed to possess enough strength to begin communication. I stared blankly into the fire, hoping to bend it to my will as Seraphina had done.
The sorceress stayed on my mind. She had gotten away. But what was she going to do? A part of me hoped she was watching from somewhere nearby, plotting to rescue us from our captivity. But I knew quite well that she would not stand a chance against the five foes still around us.
Their voices were full of relief and glee. I overheard them talking about possible rewards ranging from purses filled with gold to more mundane pleasures such as a massive dinner in their honor. But the chase and fight had also cost them a lot of energy, so three of them drifted off into sleep easily. The man and woman still awake just sat there, taking turns sipping from a flask presumably filled with a whisky-like substance.
My eyes moved up to observe the stars. They were shining beacons of light so far away. As a kid, I had wished to travel to them, to explore space and planets and the great unknown. Now I had been transported to a world totally different from the place I was born in. The stars I admired with a childlike curiosity had no resemblance to the ones visible from Earth. I couldn’t find a single constellation that looked familiar.
But suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I could see an object travelling through space, leaving a burning trail behind it. A shooting star. A smile appeared on my face and quietly voiced a wish in my head. Hopefully shooting stars worked the same way on Illusio as they did on Earth.
A groan brought my thoughts back to my immediate surroundings. Michelle was wincing in pain, a few meters away from me. It pained me not to be able to do anything for her. But she had willingly joined our mission, to ensure that her friends had no died in vain. Now we we were failing miserably and all their sacrifice had been for naught.
Tyler, who sat a distance to my right, had closed his eyes. But he was moving his fingers tirelessly. To me it seemed as if he was playing on an invisible piano. I wondered what was going on in his head before my eyes focused on Michelle again.
She had helped me so much during my recovery and the ride. I felt a surge of sadness and despair rush through my body. A single tear rolled down my cheek. She coughed weakly.
Time passed slowly during the night. I didn’t sleep a single second. I was looking forward to seeing the sun rise in the morning, but during the early morning hours, grey clouds appeared from nowhere. So when the sun had taken its place on the firmament, it was hidden by a great wall of clouds.
We ate a small breakfast again consisting of water and bread before resuming our journey through these dark parts of Illusio. I kept looking for a village or city, but the next miles were just a barren landscape. It was a sharp contrast to the places I had encountered so far.
Our captors still did not talk to us and also didn’t talk much to each other. When they did, they were careful to speak in a low voice, preventing Tyler or me from eavesdropping. Drake and Michelle were to weak to understand anything anyway.
We walked through the whole day and towards the end of the evening, another forest appeared to be approaching. Our enemies talked about setting up camp at the edge of the woods. I wondered if the Chosen One had hidden in these forests or if he had taken up residence in one of the larger towns in Illusio.
Again, Drake was seated to my left, Michelle straight ahead of me and Tyler to my right. Their faces were drawn out and exhausted. Our journey together was coming to an end.
But this was not how it should end. They had given up a lot to help me and to save the kingdom they believed in. I felt my desperation rise in me again. During this whole trip, I had been following someone, first Sophia, then Laurenar and Seraphina, now our captors. It was then and there I decided that I need to take matters in my own hands. After all, I was supposedly the hero they had called. My mind was racing. I looked around, surveying the ground for anything I would be able to use as a weapon.
And I got lucky. A short distance away from me, hidden by the stumped of a fallen tree was a stick large enough to knock one or two guards out. Now all I needed to do was get my hands on it.
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