You can find the first 23 chapters under “An Elusive Hero“.
I stared at the stick for a few seconds. If only I could my hands on it. It was still a few meters away from me. The guards were sitting drowsily around the remnants of our campfire. They were not paying much attention to my friends, who were all sound asleep or I. But the ground was covered with twigs and leaves. Every movement of mine pierced through the silence of the night. A false move would alert them right away, robbing me from my element of surprise. Either I had to be extra careful, or my plan needed to be thought through more thoroughly.
While I could take out one or two guards with the large branch capturing my imagination so vividly, what would happen next? Michelle and Drake were still injured and would be unable to flee. And without it, they didn’t seem to be of much use to our captors. Nothing would prevent them to be disposed of in a fit of rage. Tyler would be able to fight with me, but he looked fatigued and out of breathes. His will had been sapped by all our recent setbacks. My eyes moved to the stick again and I sighed, barely audible.
I had to look at this situation more like a game of chess. Moves would be countered and figures needed to be secured. I had loved the game as a teenager, spending countless hours replaying the games of the great players like Kasparov, Fisher or Spasski. So I tried to calculate the reaction of our enemies after acquiring the club and knocking two of the guards out. Even if I would manage such a feat, three of the captors would still be able to overwhelm me while I tried to get Tyler to follow me. I could, however, ignore Tyler and get away from them on my own. But I wouldn’t get far alone. If I’d manage to flee, I couldn’t guarantee what would happen to Drake, Michelle and Tyler.
I looked up, hoping to see another shooting star, but large, fluffy clouds covered the stars. No help would come from above. I also had to keep the mission in mind. We wanted to find Laurenar. And we still didn’t have a clue where the knight was held captive.
Again, my thoughts wandered to Seraphina for a brief moment. But she was nowhere to be seen or heard. Had she gone on to get help? Or had other henchmen of our enemy captured her? After all, I assumed we were riding in territory not necessarily loyal to the Queen anymore.
The safe move was to stay put and be brought before “The Chosen One”. Laurenar must have been in his custody. But how would we get him out if we were captured on our own? Should we get to their lair, I didn’t believe we would get the chance to get in touch with each other. Even worse, since Laurenar was probably the most dangerous combatant of my acquaintances, he would lose his purpose as bait as soon as we’d arrive.
I looked around once more. One of the guards was slipped in and out of consciousness, visibly exhausted by the travels of the last few days. The other one was awake, but was sitting with his back to Tyler. My eyes locked in on Tyler, only to notice that he was only pretending to sleep and instead keeping a close watch on the two captors.
A plan started to form in my head. I couldn’t do anything with the club, because if I left, the others would be endangered. But if Tyler would get away, someone could get in touch with Seraphina. I managed to catch his attention by sighing again. The alert guard glanced at me with a look of disdain, but Tyler stared at me curiously. My eyes shifted to the branch and with a slight nod I signaled for him to make an effort to get to it.
His eyes widened and brief smirk appeared on his face. But how could I tell him what to do? Did I have to trust his instincts? Or was there a possibility of giving him a clue without tipping our enemies off?
“Hey.” I spoke quietly, hoping that the second guard wouldn’t snap out of his sleep-like state. Again, only the man sitting with the back to Tyler reacted.
“It’s freezing. It seems like that fire needs a branch or two.”
I emphasized the words fire and branch more than I should have, but the oblivious guard did not pick up on it. Tyler nodded, while sneaking towards the stick.
“I find it very cozy the way it is.” The guard scanned me from top to bottom.
While I was talking, Tyler was getting closer and closer to his goal. His ability to move quietly was definitely better than mine. But he still needed a few centimeters to grasp the weapon.
I launched into a coughing fit, even though it woke the other guard up. The one I had been talking to attempted to get up to check on me. But he didn’t get very far. My coughing had drowned out the movements of Tyler, who had grabbed the stick and gotten to his feet. His hands were still bound, but he was still able hold the stick. He connected with a powerful blow to the back of the head of our captor. And then he ran.
The sleepy guard jerked to attention by the sounds of the commotion. But by the time he had loaded his crossbow, Tyler had vanished into the woods. I rested my head against the tree and closed my eyes, feigning to be sound asleep.
The guard frantically woke up his companions. They grabbed their weapons at once and looked around nervously. They were insecure about what to do next. But after notcing that I was still there, they didn’t place much importance on Tyler. The leader sent the guard to look for Tyler, while he and the two ladies of the group remained at the camp.
After about an hour, when the birds had woken up and filled the air with the sounds of their songs, he returned without having found Tyler.
The leader of the group remarked dryly. “He isn’t important. But it can’t happen again. Let’s get a move on.”
Thank you very much for reading. Chapter 25 will be released next Friday.
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