In the mountains there is a resistance fighting to be free of the empire which has been taken over by a dark sorcerer. The sorcerer enslaves the humans and forces them to work in the country he has destroyed. He holds power over spirits from the Last Realm- the realm of the dead.
There was no stopping. There was only the steady beating of the hooves, the furious rocking in the saddle, and the mountains ahead. There lay safety. There lay power. There lay the Resistance. Du-dum, du-dum, du-dum.
The horse was tiring. It had carried her so far, so far across the plains. Sweat was seeping from it, and there was a wild huffing coming from its nostrils. Layla pitied the creature, but could not let it stop. It had to run. It was made to run.
The rocks stretched towards the sky in front of her; a stony face that held freedom within it's eyes. If she could only make it, force the horse to the last bit of dust and into the shade she would be safe. Safe from... A screech interrupted her thoughts and her head snapped round, two icy blue eyes staring up at the stained, roiling clouds that filled the sky behind her with darkness. As she watched, the cloud seemed to move inside itself, and she saw the spirits; mouths open and blood red eyes peeling the very hairs from her skin as they let out more death cries. They came for her, to drag her in to the abyss. The abyss from which she would never return.
"Faster, faster!" She begged the horse, putting all the effort left in her tired limbs in to the movement, the pounding that carried her from these spirits of the Last Realm. The mountains were so close, and they were gaining ground. "Faster!"
It was the only word her parched mouth would utter. And then, the sunlight seemed to fade so that, flinching, she found herself in the shade. Yes, not long now. Moments....
The horse reared, throwing her from the saddle. She cried out and thrust her body in to a roll, to absorb the impact. When she looked up, she saw a spirit as it flew around the horse. Layla flung herself to the left as the horse stamped down at her, wild with fear, nostrils flared and eyes bloodshot. The spirit snarled, screeched and dove in to the horse's mouth. The horse screamed; such a penetrating and heartbreaking sound that Layla felt as though her insides has frozen in an icy hold. She scrabbled backwards, staring wide eyed at the creature as it bucked and whirled in frenzy. Then, for a split second, the horse stilled, so solidly, that Layla feared it had been frozen from the inside out. But the split second broke, and then its hide began to peel. Flesh ripped from its nostrils, from its eyes, and the hooves. It crept away from the bones it had covered for so long, and disappeared inside the creature. Then Layla lost sight as the spirits closed around the horse in their black cloud, and devoured it. Momentarily, she wondered why they ignored her. They had been sent for her. But they seemed to only care about the horse.
Then a pair of red eyes peered from the cascading black cloud at her, and she saw evil. It snarled and leapt at her, but a blue light rippled out and the spirit flattened against some force that stood in the way. Other spirits joined the first, all beating with what little body Layla could see at the blue light, that glowed and set out a pulsing moan when a spirit threw itself upon it. Only then did Layla realise that her back was pressed against rock.
She had made it to the mountains.
Every sinew inside her screamed for movement, but exhaustion overwhelmed her. Her journey had not been in vain. She was safe. Safe. And with that thought, unwelcome darkness covered her with a blanket, and she fell unconscious.
"Darling child," my mother soothed as she stroked my hair. "The resistance will come. The resistance will save us." My mother always knew what was right. She had known the sorcerer would come and take us. She had known and she had not fought, because she knew it was her destiny. But she knew it was mine too. "You will find a way out, darling Layla. And then you will bring the resistance to deliver us from this hell."
"I promise mama."
Her eyes snapped open, and she found that it was light. Flames flickered near her, and she could hear the distant scraping of metal, and the rough voices of many men. Was she back in the hell? Slipping her fingers down her thigh she found that the dagger she had taken was gone.
And then she remembered. Sitting up she stared around her. A searing pain shot through the back of her skull, and when she raised her fingers to her head she found it was bandaged. Must have banged it when I fell she mused. It hurt, but not too badly if she moved slowly. Carefully, she looked around and found that the walls were rock. She must be inside the mountain. There was a fire opposite her and several torches on the walls, which lit the cave well. It looked more like a room. Fur blankets lay over her legs, and she was in a makeshift bed, made of what seemed to be straw.
She suddenly became aware of approaching footsteps, and lay silently back down. What would she do if the footsteps brought a foe, and not the friend she sought in the resistance?