His father wandered deeper in his eyes, “Calm now.”
“It's... it's alright. I don't feel a thing.”
“G.. go to your mother and -”, his father wheezed heavily, “F- find your mother. Live with her.”
“There has to be something I can do! I'll -”
“Listen... it's only natural..”
“... it doesn't hurt?”
“I promise... Something like this will never happen again if I have anything to do about it! Not for anyone.”
“That's good. Just... just... I – it's coming Te-”
Here it comes. The shrieking metal grinding against the stone walls... its heavy presence. It feels as if I'm sinking within the earth, the body of mass approaching ever-closer... A feeling in my chest goes down along with its power...I looked up, and I knew it'd be the last thing I see. To my surprise, the mist settling above the city was now shaded with a hue of violet... much like behind the Great Keep of the King before. I guess he won in the end, if his wish was my death. Lyez, please live. Maybe you will make that mark I'd hoped to leave in the world... in my world... probably not. It was hard to notice a difference in the gate's position. It moved so fast, looking almost as if it was stopped in time... huh?
The ground shook immensely, was this the force of the gate? No, Teiy surely wasn't crushed yet – the gate's bars were still above him... time went by milliseconds... It rose from the sand. A giant creature charged from underneath the ground, bashing into the gate's velocity. A massive sound-wave of crackling stone flew past Teiy's hearing. Nothing more!
The steeds continued their quickening escape around the gate's right corner. There were crowds of merchants, laying in wait, outside the kingdom. Riding beside the middle gate, remains of many vessels cluttered its opening. A voice yelled from behind, but another voice called out ahead. Teiy risked the time, and pulled the reigns back tight against his chest. He hopped off the right side, and ran to a shattered wagon beside the toppled gate. A girl placed her arms out-stretched, and tried to find some leverage to pull herself out from under the cart.
Teiy ran to her side, “Hey! Take my hand! Quick!”
“Hr...” The girl grabbed firmly, and Teiy hauled her backwards. She slid against the dry dirt, Teiy grabbing both of her arms to get her on her feet.
“Are you okay?”
“M- my brother...”
Teiy ran back to the cart's side, and tapped the edge. “Is anyone there!”
A pained moan responded, “Help...”
“Crap!” Teiy unsheathed his sword from his back, and began chopping at the cart's edge. “Come on! Dammit!”
“Hey! You!” Teiy turned, noticing a Roycian guard also pinned beneath some wreckage.
Teiy wiped a sweat droplet from his brow, “Huh?”
“Take my axe! The one there!” The guard pointed a few feet away, behind another ruined wagon.
Teiy ran over, viewing an axe laid-out against the sand. “You want me to use this?”
“Of course! That blade you hold is kitchen-ware!”
“Fine!” Teiy grabbed the axe, and pulled back. It was heavy. Teiy dropped his knee's, and lifted the axe upright beside him. He wobbled underneath the massive thing. “I – I...” His grip slid, and the axe fell behind him. “I just cant!” Teiy ran over to the pinned guard. “Try to push yourself out, I’ll pull all I can.”
A mind-numbing outburst rose by the wagon, entrapping the young boy. Teiy saw the girl reach in through a large gap in that cart's side. Whatever weapon she held... it held great power. Teiy put his hand against his mouth, “Hey! Help me over here!”
The guard grabbed Teiy by the ankle, “Say, why are you doing this?”
“What do you mean?”
“I'm the captain who orders the process of who enters and leaves Royce... I know who you are.”
“Whatever! Come on lady! Get over here! Your brother looks fine!”
The girl ran towards Teiy, rubbing her tear-soaked eyes. She slid a stone against the edge of the blade, and raised it side-ways, “Step back!”
“Alright.” Teiy made some paces backwards, and the girl's arm disappeared! The wreckage, against the downed captain, toppled aside in utter chaos. Dust filled the air for a brief period. The captain, on the ground, placed his palms beside him, and forced himself to his knees. The weakened debris cracked as he strained upwards. The girl's blade wielding arm moved back left, to her side.
How powerful is she?
The captain finally breached through the lumber, and stood to his feet. “... Thank you.”
The girl turned without affection, returning focus to her younger brother.
There was no more time to sit and chat! Teiy jolted away, only to be stopped by the captain's quick grasp.
“Hold on a sec'!”
Teiy struggled against his arm, “No! Let me go!”
The captain looked more serious, “What did you do to get the attention of the King?”
“There's no time to explain! If you want to know so bad, then get on the wagon!” Teiy brushed his hand away, only for the girl to replace it.
“Y- You are the reason these gates fell?”
“YOU KILLED MY PARENTS! Whatever stupid thing you did in there... now this is the result! My parent's are dead in that wagon! Dead!”
“I didn't kill anyone! Get off of me!”
“Your wanted! You -”
“No need to worry honey, I’ll handle that issue for you.” What? Who?
Teiy looked back, the curving scimitar snapping his full-attention. A sizable black figure moved ahead of the blade, leading to a massive clash of metal - and wind! Teiy's hair sifted back, noticing the captain holding a dark shield ahead of him. The captain stood back to Teiy's side, covering Teiy with his dark shield.
“Wait, you're of the guard too! What are you doing? Have you lost your mind?”
“Soldier! Sheath your weapon! That's an order!”
“Not an order higher than the King's!”
The walls beside the center gate shook, pebbles falling from overhead. A chunk of stone toppled down beside them. Dust, from all the shattered wood, slowly became more preeminent.
Teiy sheathed his kitchen-ware, “We need to go! Now! Come on!”
Teiy ran around the captain's shield, dashing to his vessel. The captain watched for a moment, “Ya! We need to go! You too, soldier! We still need to learn more about this 'fugitive'.”
“'Learn'? The King want's him, I intend to bring him!”
The girl ran ahead with her brother in her arms. Teiy reached out his hands for the boy, and the girl handed him over – consumed in rage.
The captain held the cart's side, and faced his ally at arms. “Listen! This 'fugitive' saved my life. Why would he do such a thing for those trying to capture him?”
“Maybe he's a witch! No captain would go against the King's order!”
“Shut it! Get on the cart, or stay here and die!”
They both rolled over on the tarp covering. Teiy lashed his horses away! Pieces of the wall collapsed around them. The crowds were almost vanished by the time Teiy returned to the outer-walls of Royce. The great creature leaned against the wall's side, frequently pulling itself back and dropping its weight against the durable barrier. It looked like a tan slug of some kind. It, simply, had the image of a light-brown maggot of immense size...
“A sand worm! Here?”
“Sand Worm?” Teiy responded, confused.
The whizzing of objects cast beside the wagon. Each projectile of air led to an explosion of dirt and sand!
Teiy led the horses left, the opposite direction he came with Lyez prior. It stood at a reachable distance.
The captain leaned closer, “You've never heard any tales of the worms? They preside in the desert lands to the north-east! There have been notices over the years of them attacking towns and villages there! But for one to make it all the way here -”
Teiy examined the real thing after the captain's alluring description. “That's... is Nori a country? If so, there's a desert?”
An arrow crashed nearby, rocks falling in the wagon-bed. The soldier shouted, “Watch it! Don't go in a straight line! Move! Move!”
The captain continued, “You don't know where you live, son! Are you from somewhere far?”
The soldier shook in fear, “Damned, foreigner scum! This is bad! We're going to be hunted, too, at this rate! You damned bastard!”
Teiy tightened, “Shut it! I didn't do anything to your 'King'! His apple trees aren't an apple short!”
The soldier pulled out his blade, “How dare you speak of the King like he's nothing! I should just kill y-”
The captain shoved the guard aside, “Stop it! Listen fugitive! What's your name?”
“Teiy! What about all of you?”
The captain scratched his head, “Oh, they call me Tal'Von Baron. B-”
The soldier slid beside Von Baron, “The Tal'Von Baron? The head captain?”
“Yes, yes! What are your names, girl, boy?”
The girl looked up enraged, “Leave him alone, you swine! You have no idea what he had to go through because of you Roycians! And this guy is a murderer!” The girl picked her blade up from beside her feet, and held it to Teiy's neck.
Teiy croaked, “S- stop! Are you crazy?”
“What did you do!? Why is all of Royce after you!?”
“I did nothing! I came here to visit the King – to drop off his shipment! He denied it! Now he's called up a manhunt on me! Now get that blade off my neck!”
The girl's eye's widened, and then cringed back to anger. “B- but, my parents! They didn't die for nothing!”
“What am I to do? There is nothing I could have done! Things happened! Maybe you and your brother wouldn't have made it if I didn't come along to save you!”
The girl dropped the blade and held her young brother, breaking to tears. Teiy exhaled a sigh of relief.
Tal'Von spoke faintly, “So, that's it?”
Teiy nodded, looking down to his hands – loose on the reigns.
The soldier sighed, “My name is Venson.”
The girl held her face against her brother's dirty hair, “... Catasca...” She lifted her head, showing her brother's placid face to them all. “... and, this is my brother... Ethel.”
Teiy met Catasca's melancholy expression, “I'm sorry.”
This new trail led the wagon to a descent. To the right, a cliff covered in moss gradually rose up. Its jagged surface tunneling in, up ahead, into an outdoor cavern. The trail flew through the cavern, rock spires dangling from its canopy. A blinding light expanded further down. The end of the cavern, one would presume. Once reaching it, the ceiling flung in the wake of the cart's forward flow, revealing the vast landscape before them. The trail would now lead on a downwards-sloping hill, to the ground level. The vast ground here was surrounded by colossal cliff sides. Hopefully there would be some way back up other than this single route... or they would be trapped here.