Strange Lands

“Get your hands off me. Where are you taking me?” Rielle’s screams became louder the further the men took her away. Like spikes of energy, they rose up, but volume descended instantly as one of the men clamped his fat hand over her mouth.

Growling, like the puppy struggling in the pocket of the man beside her, Rielle shoved her sharp little teeth into his fat pinky. The man holding her swore, and brought his hand down upon her cheek, leaving a burning blotch glowing there.

Overcome by the hot tears that slipped from her eyes, Rielle sobbed as she was swept away. He had not come when she had called, nor was anyone ever going to rescue her from this fear; Rielle even doubted that her parents cared, they would happily continue in their boring, moneyed lives without her.

Rielle was ripped from her sorrowful thoughts only by being conscious of the change in the movement of her captors; their heavy footfalls ceased and into Rielle’s sight swam the cobblestoned floor of a smelly courtyard.

“Get on.” The man who had been carrying Rielle dropped her onto the cobbles. They were coated with moss and some other sort of grime that she really didn’t want to think about. She looked up at her captors, her view blurred, once again, by the tears that burned in her eyes.

A tattered Revenroll, a slate and mink feathered bird with a cart-sized body and golden-beaded eyes that glowed in unison with its pointed beak, stood dauntingly in the front of her.

Rielle observed that the creature was old, but may have been a fighter in its prime; with strong wing muscles, it was built for flight, and, judging by the tears out its feather ears and wings, it had certainly been through- and against- much.

Rielle was shoved onto the Revenroll, before the kidnappers jumped on in front and behind her. The Revenroll was not saddled and uncomfortable to sit upon, but what could Rielle do? She knew she was trapped.

As they flew, high in the stratosphere, gusts of wind billowed towards the frightened girl. She pulled her cloak further around her torso whilst her well-ridden thighs gripped the forelegs of the beast. Rielle had never ridden up this high before and Revenrolls were difficult steeds; any other time, she would have had her hair loose, blowing in the breeze, and would have been laughing at this experience, but she was so scared.

A flash of white fabric whipped her cheek. Rielle glanced back watching the fabric fly down down down to earth. She’d forgotten her cream pocket handkerchief, stuffed into the special hidden compartment of the cloak.

Now the little ‘B’ sewn in red into its corner would be lost forever. More tears tipped down her cheeks. She had loved that handkerchief, a gift from her late grandmother, and used to admire it every day, much to Felix’s annoyance (she thought that, perhaps, it distracted her from her studies). The frilled edges were sewn with light gold leaf; it was simple but the messages of love were displayed loud and clear.

A yelp from the wolf pup drew Rielle’s attention to him. He was uncomfortable being so high up and speeding through the air at such a rate. He wriggled free of the blanket that he had been concealed under, and leapt into her hands. Rielle cuddled up to the fluffy fur, weeping with fear and rubbing her eyes on him, like the dog could replace her lost handkerchief. She buried her face in him, and closed eyes led to fitful dreams.

When she woke, Rielle instantly knew of her being in a different place, for the change in landscape was evident even to her sleep-wearied eyes. The barren plains that they heavily touched down upon were too unlike the fair lands of Rielle’s home; the orange colour of the land was so undeniable that even the sky became its reflection. However, the land was not devoid of landscaping and shrubbery, no; trees lay about the undulations, busy-topped and, surprisingly, green; and there was a medium-sized town (about the size of villages common in Merridew, Rielle noticed) to the west of where they had landed. Simple structures showed the evident divide between that place and the building that sat in front of Rielle: a castle made of worn yellow stones, ivy crawling up to a tower that swarmed into the ill-coloured sky. Rielle was standing in its shadow and she whimpered to see such an ominous thing.

“Where are we?” she cried, before a hand clamped over her mouth once again.

“Let’s get this one home to the boss,” he growled.

The End

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