(Okay I know this chapter is a beast. I'm trying to find a good place to break it in two for when I publish. Any tips? And no I will not delete any of it. I swear the next one will really be a different chapter. Thank you for reading!)
A loud whistle sounded. Perin cringed, glancing back. The main gate, just a few feet from where they had been thrown, opened up. Two large, spotted cats came out, followed by several men on horses. The cats were Tyler’s new pets, and the men were called the Hunters. The whole purpose of the Hunters was to dispose of people that gave Tyler problems. Perin guessed that Tyler had added the cats for his own entertainment.
He picked up the pace of his running. The forest was not far away. As soon as they got there, they could hide. Almost there, so close… Then, he felt a sickening pain shooting up his right leg, and he fell to the ground. The girl was sent flying into the forest. Perin turned quickly and looked at his leg. An arrow had gone through his calf. The Hunters were not going to let him escape that easily. Blood leaked out slowly around the arrow. Perin looked up, trying to find his attacker. He saw, back where they had fallen, one of the other men being chewed on by one of the cats. It had a detached leg in its mouth. All Perin could see from that far away was the blood. The ground where the man had been was deep red with various organs strewn about. He felt like he might be sick. The other man’s body and head had been separated, and the second cat was carrying around an arm. Since the cats were occupied, the Hunters concentrated their efforts on Perin and the girl. The horses were coming at him full speed.
Perin covered his head and closed his eyes, preparing himself to be killed. Something grabbed onto his shirt collar and began pulling him gently away, toward the trees. He waited still, but the vicious attack he had expected never came. Perin slowly opened his eyes and looked around. He was inside of the forest, and a net of vines and tree branches blocked the Hunters from entering, as if the forest itself wanted to protect him. The horses skidded to a stop and stomped in front of the vines. There were six of them there, each one covered in red and yellow cloth. They were the battle horses, and the men were dressed in full armor. The men began jumping off and went for their knives. He was safe for now, but he would have to move quickly. It would not take long for them to get through the vines.
He looked around, but no other signs of life were about except for the trees and the girl. She was sitting on the ground where she had fallen, looking up at the horses with tears in her eyes. He remembered her name now: Jessica. Awfully plain name, but she was quite a plain girl. She had been a servant of Tyler’s since she had been old enough to walk. He felt her small hand pulling his arm. “Get up Mr. Perin,” Jessica was saying, tugging on him with all her might. Her voice was frantic. “Get up. We have to go.” He looked up at Jessica. Her small frame was shaking, and she was crying hysterically.That poor girl, he thought. You can’t leave her here. You can’t give out on her.
Perin struggled to his feet. Jessica tried her best to help him up. He began hopping forward with the girl holding his hand. Perin fought the pain climbing up his right leg and into his torso. At the same time, pain from his arm and ribs shot down his left side. He clamped his jaw tightly and forced himself to keep going. They ran until they lost sight of the city.
Perin stopped, pulling Jessica back. “Stop. We need to stop.” He was out of breath and could not take the pain anymore. The arrow was still stuck in his leg, but the wound was much smaller than it felt. Blood was rushing everywhere. He pulled off his shirt slowly, first worming out his right arm and then gently sliding it off of his broken arm. He then wrapped the shirt tightly around his leg, tucking it around the arrow. He could not wrap it as well as he would have liked, since he only had one hand. The shirt was soaked with blood in seconds. I have to get some help, he thought. The closest help, other than going back to Pons, was on the other side of the forest, in the city of Sulci. The thought did not comfort him much. Sulci and Pons had been at war for years, for as far back as he could remember. They would probably kill him on contact. But, he had to get away. If they stayed where they were, the Hunters would find them. We should at least head in thaWe should t direction.
Perin hobbled along, dragging his right leg. Jessica followed. He had no idea how far it was to Sulci.Tyler had tried to attack Sulci several times, but he always went north, around the forest, never through it.Tyler would never be satisfied until he owned everything in Karst, but he was not crazy enough to charge an army through a forest. It took about a week to get to Sulci if one travelled all the way around the forest. It couldn’t take as long to cut straight through the forest, right? Maybe a day or two? Although that made him feel better, he seriously doubted that he could last that long.
The forest grew unbelievably dark. Perin fell to the ground, not able to move another step. He looked around. I swear I’ve been past here already. I passed this tree…. Didn’t I? He slumped onto his back and stared up at the tree tops. His leg hadn’t stopped bleeding; his entire pant leg was completely soaked. His head spun horribly and he closed his eyes to try to make it stop. Jessica sat beside him. “Mr. Perin?” she said. His heart pounded, trying desperately to keep itself going. He felt like he might be sick, even though there was nothing down there to come up.
He heard footsteps. They were coming. Perin half threw Jessica into a nearby bush. “Stay there,” he whispered. Then, he used a tree to pull himself back up. He could not possibly run anymore, but he was going to face whatever it was that was coming.
Perin could hear them slicing through branches. He tried to see where they were, but it was too dark. A small light appeared, and, from behind a large tree came Nico, the very person who had thrown Perin from the wall. Nico was a tall, muscular man, the only person Perin knew that was taller thanTyler, with bright red hair. Perin has never thought that his life would be decided by Nico. However, they were now caught on the two opposite sides of Tyler, and Nico had to do what he was sent to do. Perin could understand that.
Nico came at Perin very quickly, pushing him onto his back. Perin closed his eyes, expecting to be killed. Nothing happened. Perin tried to look up, but Nico pushed his head back down. “Don’t move.” Nico pulled out a knife and sliced across Perin’s torso, leaving a shallow cut from his left hip to the right side of his rib cage. Then, he took some of the blood and splattered it onto his clothes, making it look like he had fought a very bloody battle.
“Shut up,” Nico hissed, hitting Perin on the back of the head. “If I came back without a drop of your blood they wouldn’t believe that you’re dead. Stay there until we leave.” Nico stood back up and turned to rejoin the other horsemen.
“You’re letting me go?” Perin mumbled.
Nico stopped and turned his head back toward Perin. “You haven’t done anything wrong.”
“What am I to do, then?”
Nico sighed. “Get into Sulci. It’s the only place left for you.” Perin wanted to say something else, but Nico left quickly. The rest of the Hunters talked for a second and then left, obviously agreeing that their job was done.
Perin rolled onto his side. Between the new cut on his torso, the arrow in his leg, and his broken left side, he was becoming extremely weak. His left arm throbbed. He could feel himself fainting slowly. He fought to stay conscious, but it was getting harder with every breath. He felt Jessica’s hand on his head, but he could not say any words to comfort the girl. A light, similar to the one Nico had used, reappeared. Perin feared that Nico had changed his mind, but he no longer had the energy to think about what was happening. He stared at the light until he felt himself go out.