Chapter Thirty-Nine: Landslide

Jonrah could see the sun high in the sky, but was unable to feel its heat upon his skin, was unable to see the shadows of the rocks projected onto the ground beneath. The rock around him sucked in all light, all warmth from the sun. The area was terrifying, as were the men that made their way towards Jonrah and Ellnar, yet to spot them, but simply waiting for the sun to catch off the armour and give them away.

Ellnar continued to huff and move around nervously, and was obviously uncomfortable with the situation. She would not have been anywhere near here with her previous masters, and The Eden had most likely discovered another route around; a simpler route, with less danger. Ellnar was not meant to come this way, and Jonrah could not help but feel that he too was destined for another route.

To try to calm his steed, he gently repeated his soothing words, which had been previously unsuccessful. Again, they failed. Ellnar only worked herself into more of a frenzy; scared, frustrated, lost, fearing the imminent skirmish… These emotions were mirrored in Jonrah himself, but he hid them, more for himself than for Ellnar.

'Okay, alright,' said Jonrah, a plan forming in his mind.

He had been considering abandoning the idea of using the Raggen Pass as a route, knowing there must be another way to Rensh. A faster way that only The Eden used. But he could not know what it was, and Ellnar would unlikely know to take him there of her own accord.

That left him with one option. Interrogation.

Taking Ellnar by the reins, he led her reluctantly into the Pass, fighting her strength, desperately trying to get far enough for his plan to take form. As much as he hated himself for it, he needed to scare Ellnar. She would forgive him. In the long run, this was better for both of them.

The patrol ahead were getting closer, but were obviously not very good at their job, for they were yet to notice Jonrah and Ellnar. Or maybe the sun was blinding them to what was ahead. Jonrah, however, hoped that it was the former.

Ellnar was working herself up even more, the further into the rocky tomb they went. Her huffs grew louder and more frequent, and she sometimes produced a slight whinny, scared of what lay ahead, similar to Jonrah himself.

The men were close now. Only one-hundred yards away. It was a wonder they had not been spotted yet.

Jonrah stopped. He did not want to risk being spotted before he had a chance to engage his plan.

Ellnar had obviously not been counting on Jonrah to stop dead. Either he would continue onwards in a moment, or they would head back. But neither occured. Instead, they remained. This unnerved Ellnar even more. She neighed, frightened. Stamping her feet, she heard her hooves clash with the rock, producing a slight echo. The echo bounced back to her, scaring her even more. She neighed again, slightly louder, echoing. The echo made her jump, and she screamed out, neighing as loud as she could, stamping her feet in unison, breaking away from Jonrah's grip and rearing, turning around, and heading for the entrance they had come in by.

Jonrah let her go. He felt bad, and did not want to have to do that to her. But it was necessary. The echoes were important. His shout would not echo like that. Not enough...

A low rumble accompanied the echoes. Jonrah was in real danger now. Ellnar’s whinny had shaken the rocks, and they were falling.

Small pebbles, as black as night, rolled down the steep sides of the valley, creating a dull trickle, as if rain was falling in some distant location. But this rain was here and now, and it was going to kill.

The size of the rocks slowly increased, and as Jonrah looked up to see where they were coming from, he was blinded by the sunlight which radiated so brightly in the sky, but was unable to reach him here in the maze.

Rocks fell from the light, rolling down the valley, increasing in size. Jonrah did not think. He only acted. Jonrah was running as fast as he could away from the falling rocks, hoping to find some way of avoiding being crushed. He risked looking back, and saw the patrol had spotted him, and had torn themselves between giving chase and fleeing. Out of the five men, two had gone back, and three had given chase, obviously thinking they could catch him before being crushed, or maybe just thinking that the entrance was the fastest way out.

The rocks grew to the size of Jonrah’s head – heavy enough to kill with a single unlucky blow. Even with a helmet, Jonrah would have at least been knocked unconscious, left to await a larger rock to fall and crush him. But without a helmet, these rocks would shatter his skull if dropped only from a few feet.

Legs separate to his body, running of their own accord, Jonrah’s head turned desperately to his rear, watching the men catch up with him, dodging the falling rocks. He was not worried about Ellnar – she was fast, and would no doubt be out by now, maybe even back to Litana, with fear biting at her legs. Jonrah knew she would be okay. He needed her.

As a rock the size of his torso fell by Jonrah’s foot, narrowly missing a horrible crushing, he snapped back into action, acknowledging the danger he was in, and as he looked ahead, he saw the light of the sun marking the safe spot, the entrance to the Pass. He was almost safe. As he ran, he turned around with his entire body, looking to see where the patrol were. He saw two running, narrowly avoiding crushing rocks, almost by accident. He could not spot a third.

He stood still for several seconds, watching the rocks fall, the amount of falling rubble slowly decreasing, giving his plan more of a success rate. He needed at least one alive.

The entrance to the Pass was slightly blocked off by rocks, and Jonrah jumped over a small pile as he turned around, catching his foot on a rock, falling onto his face, but into safety.

Silence reigned as the rocks slowly came to a halt.

The End

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