Chapter 25: Race to the Riada Swamp

Chapter 25: Race to the Riada Swamp

A Chapter by Gosia

May and Eren rode for three hours without a break. The difficulties of the murderous journey proved to be too much for the farmer’s horse �" the poor animal wasn’t used to the constant gallop and was already worn out, stumbling all the time. Eren was desperately clutching the back of May’s robe, but the girl could feel the child’s grip get weaker.

When they were passing by a larger town May took the chance to purchase a better horse and ask for the directions. The people seemed to be surprised, that someone willingly traveled to Riada Swamp, but answered her questions nevertheless; it turned out, that the girl didn’t even cover of fourth of the distance. May didn’t even want to know what would happen if Aedain caught them.

“May!” Eren shrieked all of a sudden as a large bird landed on the saddle of the new steed.

The horse neighed and tried to shake the intruder off, but the bird kept sitting, keeping its calm.

“Shoo!” May shouted, waving with her hand to scare the animal off, but it didn’t move.

Instead, the large bird let out a miserable squeak and lifted the clawed paw, showing the leather pouch, that was tied to it.

“Eh?” May mumbled, confused.

What was with that bird? Hesitantly, she reached towards the pouch and untied it. The balding eagle didn’t move; it patiently waited for May to finish. The girl took a look inside the pouch and retrieved two objects �" a folded piece of paper and some plant.

Hurriedly, she unfolded the piece of paper. The letters were crooked and uneven, as though someone was writing in a hurry, not bothering to waste time on calligraphy. Not without difficulty May managed to decipher the brief letter. The writing seemed strangely familiar, as though she had seen it before.


I know who you are, traveler. Don’t be afraid �" I’ll help you return to your home world.

Feed the eagle with the herb from the pouch so that you could swiftly fly to my tower. Do not take anything with you, as my familiar can’t carry more weight than of a single person.

I will return you to your world tomorrow.


Lavena of the Riada Swamp


May gasped for air, as she didn’t even realize that she was holding her breath all the time when she was reading the letter. She couldn’t believe her luck �" she wasn’t alone on this one; the witch was on her side! It explained half of the lucky coincidences. Not only the opportunity to escape presented itself, but also a chance to get home, to her parents and Hailey… The unexpected help was like a blessing from heavens, but there was one problem left.

The girl looked at the nearly featherless eagle, as she fed it the herbs. The bird skipped out of the saddle, squeaked miserably and began growing, not much though �" it was of a size of a really big dog, but there was still a long way to Aedain’s original form of a dragon. According to Lavena’s letter, the eagle couldn’t carry more than one person.

“Eren,” May said to the child. “Get on that bird.”

The child stared at her blankly, as though not understanding what she meant.

“May?” Eren asked unsurely.

May kneeled by the little boy and grabbed his shoulders, looking him in the eye seriously.

“Listen to me,” she said sternly. “We can’t fly both on that bird, so we have to part for a while.”

“But,” Eren began, but Mai shushed him.

“I’ll ride on the horse right behind you. Now, listen. The bird will take you to Lavena, the good witch, who’ll help us. When you get to see her, tell her that I’m coming and tell her that Aedain will be following us. Do you understand?” May looked at Eren expectedly.

The child bit his lower lip, hesitating to answer, but then nodded, tears welling in his honey-colored eyes. May smiled encouragingly.

“Good, now get on that ugly thing.”

Eren had tears in his eyes, as the eagle took off, leaving May behind. The girl did her best to keep her brave façade in front of the boy, but the truth was, that she was scared out of her wits. She was sure, that Aedain and Baltar would get her sometime soon, possibly very soon. But, it was a risk she had to take.

May climbed onto the brand new steed and galloped out of the town after the eagle, which quickly vanished in the clouds.



May kept forcing the horse to keep up the murderous pace. The rush of the air made her eyes teary, but she kept them open to follow the road, afraid to get lost and waste precious time. Her ultimate goal - to get home �" was at reach of her hand and she didn’t want to lose the once in a lifetime chance. She kicked the animal again, not letting it slow down. She had to get to the witch Lavena before Aedain got to her.

The girl felt more and more drops of water falling on her. As she looked up, she saw, that the sky was covered with thick rain clouds. Then the downpour came, soaking May to the bone. Her hair was plastered to the face and she barely saw, where she was going. The horse’s steps were unsure now, as it was sliding on the slippery mud. The girl cursed, but was determined to move forward. She tried to think of the rain more of an ally than an enemy. It made the ride more difficult, but it also washed her tracks and scent away, what would hinder the chase.

She managed to gallop for a couple of hours more in the heavy rain. How many, May didn’t know, as she didn’t see the sun. The horse grew weary, but still galloped, rushed by the girl. The animal’s hooves were splashing mud. The girl wiped the water of her eyes the best she could and saw the bridge, one of the townspeople told her about. She estimated, that she had already covered two thirds of the distance to the Riada Swamp now; quite a good pace, considering the weather conditions.

She kicked the horse’s sides again to make it go faster. The animal tried to speed up, but suddenly stumbled. May swayed in the saddle, but gripped the mane and held herself on with her thighs. However, the animal didn’t manage to regain balance. It neighed and fell on the side, crushing May’s leg. The girl struggled with the horse to free her limb. Thankfully she did it after a while, mainly thanks to the slippery mud. She was now covered in mud from heads to toes. She stood up and tried to encourage the horse to get up. Something was wrong. The animal was thrashing and neighing without a break, but wouldn’t get up. Then, she noticed, that one of the horse’s legs was twisted at a strange angle. May cursed, as she realized the horse had a broken leg. She felt pity for the pained animal and decided on the act of mercy �" she owed that to the animal, which carried her all the way here.

The girl reached inside her kimono and pulled out a knife, she bought in a village some time ago. She kneeled by the horse’s head and unsheathed the blade. She pointed it towards the bottom of the jaw. May’s hands were trembling and a sob shook her body. She knew that if she left here, the poor animal with suffer in agony for hours before slow death and ending his life was a right thing to do, but still… May b clenched her teeth and steadied her hands.

“I’m sorry.” The girl muttered, before thrusting with all her might.

The animal squeaked and trashed more, but stilled, as the knife pierced its brain. May pulled the blade out and wiped it with her dress, as her tears mixed with the rain on her face. Being not able to afford to waste time, she stood up, sheathing her knife and sliding it under her sash.


In the vicinity of the ruins of Dulgard, Dulheinm Dukedom


                Aedain yelled from fury, as the mysterious scent vanished once again. He sharply looked sideways, his long dark hair ruffled by the wind, but the adversary was nowhere to be seen. It appeared as though he had been chasing shadows for past few hours. If not the fact that Baltar sensed some powerful presence before too, Aedain would begin to doubt if the mysterious opponent was never there to begin with.

                “There!” the demon muttered, when the odd presence appeared again, materializing in clouds barely meters from him. Aedain squinted his eyes, trying to discern the shape of his opponent but it was strangely blurry. He cursed in his mind and began waving his wings faster. Aedain leapt forward, but the ethereal shape gracefully eluded capture, vanishing in thin air again.

The Laismaran warrior began shaking with frustration; rarely did he encounter such evasive opponent. Who was the creature?

“That’s it,” the demon hissed out.

Aedain clenched his teeth as nearly unbearable pain shot through his body. Red lines appeared on his skin like pulsing veins, moving like snakes. The demon was transforming as he neared hard ground. The bones broke, increased their size and changed their shape. His skin hardened, when scales replaced the human-like skin.

He was about to hit the ground, when the light subsided and Aedain outstretched his huge wings. One powerful bat with then and a majestic dragon darted back into the clouds, moving with a surprising speed for such massive creature. Aedain waited for his opponent to show; the next time the presence appears, he would simply fry it.

The dragon was lingering in the air for some time till he finally felt someone approaching. He turned in the air gracefully and charged, the clouds obscuring his view. He opened his teeth-filled jaws, about to spit fire at the opponent…

Aedain barely managed to change the trajectory of the fireball when he saw the shape emerging from behind the clouds �" it was a dragon with blue-grey scales, which he recognized as his idiotic comrade Baltar. What was he even doing here?

The crimson dragon didn’t have the chance to inquire further as the elusive adversary from before appeared right next to both comrades. Not waiting for it to escape again, Aedain leapt onto it. The unrecognizable shape changed the direction of movement, but Baltar cut out its escape route as though reading Aedain’s mind. Using the moment when the creature was distracted, the crimson dragon slashed it with his claw. But, he felt nothing: no resistance of the living tissue, the shape dissolved like it was a ghost. An illusion. Aedain realized that it must have been an illusion, which was supposed to draw his attention away from his goal and stall.

The crimson beast dove towards the ground, the blood in his veins felt like liquid fire. Baltar followed his superior and the both dragons glided on the rocky ground, transforming back into their human-like forms.


Aedain stared his comrade down.

“I thought I told you to stay with the wretched woman and the boy,” the long-haired demon said strangely calmly.

Baltar set his gaze on his feet like a naughty child caught head-handed by his mother. He scratched his bald head.

“I… I just thought… I thought you may need my help with the fight,” the huge muscular demon uttered in an oddly coy voice for him.

Aedain narrowed his eyes at his companion, not saying anything for a longer while, his face blank.

“Was it your own thought or that damnable woman thought it out for you?” the long-haired demon asked rhetorically. Baltar’s sheepish laughter only confirmed his suspicions. Aedain stared at the taller man indifferently, too exhausted by his stupidity too even get furious. “Congratulations, you miserable excuse of a dragon, you just got fooled by a human woman who got away with my Key and my Guardian.”

Baltar didn’t answer, too ashamed to utter a word. He gasped, when wings sprang from Aedain’s back and his superior jumped into the air.

“Wait, where…” the bald demon began.

“To hunt that plotting woman down,” Aedain interrupted him; the long-haired demon let out a displeased growl and set off, leaving Baltar far behind.



Back in the Riada Swamp…


May stumbled and fell on her knees in the mud, not having any strength left. The red flower, she found at the edge of the forest began glowing in the dark, its flakes spread wide, what meant she was on the right way. The clenched her teeth and got up, following the path through the marshes.

The rain was stopping and she saw the glimpse of the setting sun. She was almost sure, that she was on the right way and most of the distance was already covered. When she was about to give up, she reminded herself, that she passed the point of no return �" now she could only go forward. With all the willpower, she forced her body to move forward, her knees trembling from exhaustion. Slowly, she made her way along the path, step by step, but forward.

It took a lot of effort, not to stray from the path in the night. The forest was dark, the light of moon and stars couldn’t penetrate the shadow cast by the trees. The treacherous Riada Swamp wanted to devour her and she got almost sucked in a couple of times, but the glowing red flower was showing her the safe path.  From time to time she heard rustling and all kind of noises made by animals. Every time, she flinched, thinking it was Aedain, who would want to murder her. And that will probably happen, if I don’t get to Lavena soon, she thought, speeding up despite her sore legs.

“Dad, mum, Hailey, I will get out of this alive.” She muttered, encouraging herself. With a newfound determination, she marched to her destination.



Aedain was circling over the forest, covering nearly the entire Riada Swamp. He was in very bad mood. First he wasted the entire day on chasing illusions and now he had to chase the idiot woman and his precious Key.

The heavy rain made following the woman’s scent difficult, so he had to blindly search for any trace of her, hoping, that he will find it by accident.

The demon gritted his teeth, as he thought, how foolish he was to trust a human. The whole time he let her travel with him, he kept her alive, safe and fed and now she dared to escape from him! He even planned on letting her live till death of old age! He couldn’t forgive her such ingratitude and betrayal. The worst was, that she not only broke her word, but also took the child and the key with herself, forfeiting all his plans. Aedain felt blood boiling in his veins from rage.

Aedain growled with fury and changed the direction of the flight. Then he smiled maliciously, as he picked up a familiar scent. The trail was fresh.

Woman, you will be punished for escaping me, he thought.



May tripped and fell, when her legs refused to move properly. Slowly, she pulled herself back up and looked around. She was standing on the edge of a small clearing. The sunrays were seeping through the leaves, making the dark forest brighter than at night. The surroundings changed as well �" the hostile environment of gurgling marshes and wilderness became replaced with that of a regular forest. The red flower, which had been guiding May all along withered after the night, shedding the flakes. However, May didn’t feel like she needed it anymore, as this part of the swamp looked safe.

The girl took a few steps more and saw more light behind the trees in front of her. She squinted her eyes and smiled faintly, when she saw the fields, that looked very familiar. Between the distant village and the edge of the forest Lavena’s tower was standing proud.



She made it! May laughed, her voice creaking a bit �" she was almost at her destination. Gathering her strength, May made her way towards the tower.

“Hello, May,” a deep voice sent chills down her May’s her greatest fears came true.

© 2013 Gosia

My Review

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Awwww! So close!
Nice hook at the end.
It was also nice to know that Aedain was secretly planning on letting May go at the end. It's kind of like he could be successful but he's such a d****e that he can't help himself. Like he really causes himself to fail because his angry macho manliness gets in the way.

The only suggestion I have is that I forgot she's wearing a kimono. That seemed kinda odd. And instead of mentioning that she had bought a knife a while back, maybe you should say "She pulled out the knife the farmer had given her" since he gave her a knife in the previous chapter. That way it doesn't sound like it's after-the-fact.

Posted 10 Years Ago


10 Years Ago

Nice stereotype. There may be some truth in this, you know (and now I'm going to be plainly evil). T.. read more
JR Darewood

10 Years Ago

the US does have a lot of diversity... We're going to become extinct eventually. did you know that .. read more

10 Years Ago

Quite understandable - red hair must have been perceived as something really weird in a society wher.. read more

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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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