Chapter 24: Fight for freedom

Chapter 24: Fight for freedom

A Chapter by Gosia

It was still dark when the sound of sharpening the axe woke May from her sleep. She mentally cursed Baltar for being so loud and tried to get back to her slumber, saving her strength for the day. However, it was hard to sleep with the impending threat of death. The day before she somehow managed to save her life and fool Aedain into a pointless trip. The downside was, she had only three days left till the demon found out that it was a lie. May didn’t have any delusions about what would follow �" painful and gruesome death.

She rolled onto her back and stared at the night sky, considering her options. She had to escape and take Eren with her, but so far there hadn’t been a ghost of a chance. It would take a miracle for an opportunity to present itself within the next three days.

May sighed, looking at the shining dots over her head. The moons were crescent today, so the stars were very good visible. May’s thoughts were wandering around the troublesome topic of escape while her eyes looked at the foreign constellations. She knew some of their names, she recognized the Monkey Queen, Pilgrim and the Table.

The Table.

May rubbed her eyes and pinched her cheek, making sure that it wasn’t a dream. She would surely wish for something like that to be true. She squeezed her eyes shut and opened them after a while, but the strange vision seemed real. The Table constellation was supposed to consist of four stars yet now there were five of them. The odd one shone brighter than the others and it appeared as it was moving very slowly and had a barely visible tail. May realized that the star wasn’t a star at all �" it was a comet. In addition it was a bit reddish, just as the scroll described it. May couldn’t believe her luck. There was no doubt about it �" it was the Messenger, the very comet which was appearing every three centuries when the portal in the Riada Swamp could be opened. It looked like it would be in the position in night or two. It was a one in a lifetime chance to come back home!

But, the main obstacle was Aedain. The question was how to run away from a person who has senses so acute, that could track you easily no matter where you go? To make the matters worse, it was impossible to outrun him; it’d be like trying to race on a bike with a jet. During the past days she observed the demon every day, trying to find his weakness, but so far she didn’t manage to spot any. After all, who could defeat a genuine dragon?

 “May, Eren, get up,” Baltar’s voice woke May from her thoughts. Eren only groaned and kept sleeping, but the Laismaran children got up without complaining. The mermaid girl, now in a human-like form, stood up and picked up her baby brother

Aedain’s eyes snapped open as though he wasn’t sleeping at all. He nodded to Baltar, before saddling Meirch. When he patted the beast’s side, Meirch neighed and batted his wings enthusiastically. Then he made a gesture to the Laismaran girl to come closer.

“Meirch will keep you safe,” Aedain said, grabbing the little girl and lifting her onto the saddle. She unsurely took the reins, careful not to drop her infant brother. Aedain passed the girl his cloak and she unsurely draped it around her small frame and the baby, smiling to the demon warrior thankfully.

“I will never forget what you did for us,” the mermaid girl said as tears began welling in her eyes. Aedain smiled to the girl.

“Be strong, child. Meirch will lead you to a man called Fealan. Tell him that Aedain, son of Kaellach, wants him to pay his debt. He will take you under his roof and keep you safe,” the demon said. “Now go.”

With these words Aedain patted Meirch and the beast jumped forward, batting its wings. After a few meters of a running start, its clawed paws were already off the ground and Meirch sailed into the sky.

“I hope they’ll be okay,” Eren said, yawning. May smiled to the boy.

“I’m sure they will,” she helped him get on his feet and they followed Aedain, who already began walking north, towards the ancient ruins of Dulgard.



The fact that every minute counted didn’t make it easier to think about the escape. Somehow she had to get to witch Lavena, but she still had no clue how to do it. She knew, that she would have to devise a flawless escape plan and she should do it now. May shivered, when she remembered, that he promised to kill her, when she would try to run away from him. Hers and Eren’s lives were at stake, so she would have only one chance, what meant she had to be prepared. If she was to get to Lavena’s tower, she had to know the way.

May bit her lower lip, considering her options. There were only two persons she could ask and she ruled Aedain right away, what was leaving Baltar. The girl sighed, hoping she wouldn’t rise too much suspicion, when she picked up the speed and joined the muscled bald demon.

                “Hey, Baltar!” May called. She smiled as nicely as she could and thought how she could ask him about the way to Lavena’s place. She began beating around the bush. “I was just curious, how that witch Lavena knew Aedain?”

                Baltar shrugged his shoulders.

                “Everyone knows her,” he shrugged his shoulders, giving May a surprised look as though she was asking the silliest question possible. “She’s the wisest and oldest of your race, it’s said that she uses her magic to prolong her life. If I’m right she’s over one hundred and thirty years old, she was by Aedain’s birth.”

May raised her eyebrow.

                “You’re kidding, right?” she muttered.

                Baltar shook his head.

                “Aedain’s father, the king, insisted that the human witch should be by his birth, give her blessings, predict some future, eat free food and stuff like that, nothing special. We had a peace agreement with humans back then,” the bald demon said casually, scratching his goatee. His gaze went distant as he remembered something, blissful smile appearing on his roughly-carved face. “I remember that day well. They had come with the escort… three lovely red-haired babes, pretty like flowers. Lavena was younger than you are now, she was maybe in Eren’s age. But, there was this girl from the escort…”

                May’s eyelid twitched, as Baltar’s tale began straying more and more from the course she wanted to set; she wasn’t sure if she wanted to hear that anymore, but the demon had an uncontrollable urge to share his memories with the girl.

                “I was a brat then and after the hag and the ladies left, I followed them. You know, I was in ‘that’ age,” he said, winking at May, who winced, grimace of horror on her face. Baltar wasn’t discouraged though. “Anyway, all the way till the Swamps was a piece of cake, but then… I barely made out of it alive. It’s a nasty place, Riada Swamp. No one goes there if they don’t have to, only those sentenced to death. They say, that once you step into the Swamp, you’re a dead man. But not if you know one trick.”

“What trick?” May asked, holding in her breath.

Baltar didn’t notice her strange reaction and was continuing, unknowingly to himself giving May very helpful directions. He grinned.

 “Not many know it,” he said in a self-satisfied tone. “But I do. There are paths everywhere in the Riada Swamp and once you find them, you’re safe. There’s a plant growing everywhere on the trees on the edge of the marshes. It has big red flowers, that glow in the dark and doesn’t like water very much. All you have to do is to walk straight and watch the flower. If it curls into a ball, find another path for you’ll get swallowed by the swamp.”

“Oh,” May muttered, quite shocked that Baltar had just unknowingly told her how to make it safely through the deadly swamp.



Aedain glanced at his group over the shoulder. Eren was napping while walking as the woman was bickering with his comrade.

“Hurry up, lazy bunch!” he snapped at Baltar and the two hostages who were dawdling in the back. He growled, seeing their surprised faces.

May rolled her eyes and tried walking faster, while Baltar continued his story.

“… it took some convincing and I had to kill this one guy who courted her, but it was a night to remember,” Baltar finished with a dreamy look on his face. “The witch wanted to cut off my…”

Suddenly the bald demon paused, furrowing his thick brows and looking around. He grabbed May’s shoulder and stopped her. He looked at Aedain.

“You feel that?” Baltar asked in his raspy voice.

Aedain stopped as well and nodded.

“Quite a lot of power,” the bald demon stated, readjusting his armor like he was readying himself for a battle. “I didn’t feel something quite like that since... only your father and Zhawn possessed that strong presence.”

The long-haired man didn’t answer right away, a focused look on his face.

“Damn it,” Aedain cursed. He clenched his teeth while a pair of leathery wings grew out of his back.

“Don’t do anything that could draw attention to the boy or to our destination, Baltar,” Aedain commanded. “I will mislead them.”

The long-haired demon stretched out his wings and waved with them energetically, jumping into air.

                May was staring after Aedain till the winged Laismaran became a tiny dark dot in the sky and then vanished completely in the clouds. She felt the spark of hope in her heat grow a bit; for the first time ever the fearsome demon left her and Eren. This might be the best chance ever to escape, a chance which wouldn’t happen again. A comet which appears once in three hundred years, a mysterious opponent who conveniently draws Aedain’s attention away from her… Such a big amount of luck was surely a gift from heavens. But, there was one problem left. May glanced sideways at Baltar. His massive frame radiated with raw strength; he wasn’t a bad companion, but the girl had no delusions �" if he caught her red-handed on escape, he’d just snap her neck with one hand.

                Think, May told herself. The drops of sweat began forming on her forehead as she was painfully conscious how precious every passing minute was. The girl set her gaze on Baltar, assessing his strong and weak points: he was one hell of a fighter, but was rather dumb. That was the weakness she had to exploit.

                “Hey, Baltar,” May spoke, trying to sound worried. “Do you think Aedain can take this very strong person on alone? I mean… it’s probably risky. Shouldn’t you help him?”

                Baltar growled, the veins on his temples pulsing as though the girl had just pulled some string in him. He was clenching and flexing his fingers, eager to take a hold of his axe.

                “Aedain told me to stay,” the bald demon said through the clenched teeth. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Baltar would sell his own mother for the opportunity to take part in this fight alongside Aedain and May was intent on sending him there.

                The girl cleared her throat.

                “I was just wondering… What will happen to you if Aedain dies?” May asked innocently.

                Baltar closed his eyes.

                “Well, I’m a royal guard and I’m supposed to watch his back… damn if that reckless son of a b***h gets himself killed I’ll be shamed forever,” Baltar said with horror reflecting on his face.

                “And how are you supposed to watch his back if you’re not even there?” May asked in a scolding tone, resting her hands on her hips. “Aedain might be dying out there right now, you’ve got to help him! Only you can do it!”

                Baltar gasped.

                “You think so?” he muttered, looking straight at May. “But he told me…”

                “We’ll be fine!” May interrupted him and gave the bald demon a reassuring smile. “Nothing bad will happen if you leave us for an hour or two. Go help Aedain!”

                May couldn’t believe her eyes, when she saw Baltar nodding energetically as he grabbed his battle axe. He gave his weapon a swing and smiled wildly when bat-like wings grew out of his back. He batted them a few times and leapt into the air.

                Both May and Eren were waving at him till he was finally out of sight. Once left alone, the boy looked up at the girl.

                “Baltar is really stupid, isn’t he?” Eren asked rhetorically.

                “Yup,” May responded. “More than I thought.”

                May took a deep breath and looked at the nearby fields; there was a human settlement not far away, the buildings were visible in distance. The girl grabbed Eren’s hand.

 “Eren, we’re running away,” May stated firmly, dragging the child after her. “I’ll take you somewhere safe, to a place where Aedain won’t get you.”

Eren nodded.

“I trust you,” he said quietly with a faint smile.

That simple sentence made May’s determination double �" the escape had to work out, not for herself but for Eren. This child deserved to live in safety and happiness.

“Let’s hurry,” May breathed out �" every minute was precious, as Aedain and Baltar could come back any moment.

The girl and Eren ran through the fields to the village. The jog was long, but they haven’t slowed down even for a moment. The settlement looked poor with skinny people and nearly ruined shacks. May’s legs began to hurt as she dashed along the dusty street, heading for the wealthiest-looking house. When she made to its fence, Eren slid to the ground panting.

“A horse!” May managed to utter between fighting to catch a breath. “I need a horse!”

A man, who was sitting in front of the house, stared at her, as though she was an alien. He tilted his head, not hurrying to go and get the damn steed. May narrowed her eyes, pissed off by his sloppiness. She reached to the pouch hidden under her dress and got five golden coins, what should be enough to buy a whole herd of horses.

“I’ll pay this much, just get me your fastest horse NOW!” she shouted at the man, who immediately sprang onto his legs, woken by the sight of money and May’s scream.

The girl didn’t have to wait long till she got her horse; the animal was a farmer’s horse but it should be faster than walking on feet. Without delay, May helped Eren get on the saddle and climbed herself up, seating herself in front of the child. She clutched the reins firmly.

“Which way to the Riada Swamp?” she demanded.

The farmer horse’s owner made a shocked face, but pointed southwards. Before May left, the farmer shoved a sheathed knife in her hand.

“You may need it, child,” the man said.

May didn’t even bother to thank him, she only nodded. She kicked the horse’s sides forcefully and the animal neighed, leaping forward, speeding to the gallop.


© 2013 Gosia

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There we go!
Nice job with the constellations! I liked the names you came up with.
I like that May has more agency in this one than she did in previous chapters. It really helps build the anticipation for what's coming next. You could have even mentioned the comet earlier, letting the tension of her wanting to escape carry through a few chapters.

Posted 10 Years Ago

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Added on October 1, 2013
Last Updated on October 1, 2013




Hello, my name is unpronounceable for most of humankind, but fortunately it can be shortened to Gosia. I’m an university student in my twenties, about to face the real life very soon. I’ve.. more..

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