With a sudden burst of energy, the child sprang from the ground and leaped forward. The brunette on his right let out a surprised sound; his hand shot forward as he tried to take hold once again of the other’s locks, but it managed only to graze the tips.
The dark eyed boy took notice of the movement, but it was too late.
By the time he took on a defensive posture, the child had already reached him, the small hands finding his waist as they pushed against him.
The older stumbled backwards and his foot missed the first of the few steps that lead to a lower part of the courtyard, leaving him to an ungraceful, though short fall, which ended with him landing, firstly, on his back and, then, his head.
For a moment, everything in the courtyard seemed to hold still.
The two older boys stood in their places, faces frozen in open shock. The child was on the ground, on his bare hands and knees, which were bleeding slightly from when he had tried to stop the fall, looking just as shocked at what had just transpired – what he had just done –, if not more.
“Dagga, tu es bien…?”
Previously shocked into stillness, the child was startled out of his stupor when two pairs of legs rushed right past him and towards the moaning figure on the ground in front of him.
Seeing this as his only change, the small child wasted no time in getting off the pavement, wincing softly and almost falling to the ground once more as he felt the pieces of broken glass from his figurine digging deeper into the flesh of his knees.
Turning around, he picked up the fallen rose as gently as he could before darting off in the direction opposite to the boys.
“Lâchez-moi, I’m fine! ...Where’s the brat?!”
“What are you waiting for, you idiots?! Go after him!”
As soon as he heard that thundering command, the small boy felt his heart skip a beat. Raw fear rushed through his veins and he found himself increasing his leg’s stride, running as fast as he had ever done in his short life.
He had turned around a corner, heading towards the cottage’s entrance. Fortunately for him, the grand gates were open and he ran right past them.
The ground beneath his feet grew smoother, the path before him had changed also: he was no longer in the cottage’s small garden, but on the much, much bigger garden that surrounded it.
It was a maze, the roads that he could take too many to count and, everywhere he turned to, he saw green – various tones of sun-loving green, with the occasional bright color strewed over it.
But the maze didn’t confuse the child. Not once stopping, he continued running, wasting no time and quickly choosing one of the paths on his left, one marked by an arch covered in pink roses.
With dread in his heart, he heard the steps and shouts behind him getting louder; he tried running harder, forcing his legs to go faster, but they wouldn’t obey him, and his frail heart complained loudly, hammering against his small heaving chest.
Tears dropped on his lips, and he tasted the salt in them, but he didn’t stop. Instead, he made a series of sharp turns, in an effort to lose the ones chasing him. But that only bought him a small amount of time, barely seconds.
The boy was almost about to give up and simply drop to the ground in exhaustion, awaiting his horrible faith, when a very familiar and sweet smell invaded his nostrils. A few strides more and, suddenly, the child found himself face to face with a towering green wall filled with a rainbow of roses.
A huge smile of relief stretched his features, but that was immediately replaced with fear as hurried steps sounded from somewhere on his right. Gathering, what he hoped would be, his last ounce of strength and determination, the child took a right turn and ran down the tight path.