Against The Current, thrilling installment #16

9 02 2009

Here you go. Commenting strongly encouraged, as usual.

The stones did provide plenty of footholds all right, most of them just happened to be made for smaller feet than hers. Nevertheless, she gained height fairly quickly and in a couple of minutes she had reached half height; then, however, the problems started. Climbing the wall sapped the strength from her limbs a lot faster than she was used to from trees and she started slipping. Not too often, but every slip was dangerous, and regaining hold cost her even more of her strength.

She pressed close to the wall and allowed herself a moment of rest. What a stupid, stupid idea. Assuming that she made it up without falling, and assuming that making a wide berth and picking a less well guarded spot actually kept the guards out of her hair, she was still going to be in the city, at night, without any of her luggage, hidden under a nearby bush, and without Mynor, who had stayed with it. What had she been thinking?

Still, halfway up meant the way down was just as long as the way down, and climbing up was easier after all. This way, she could at least see where to put her hands. She shifted her position, loosened the grip of her left hand and continued climbing.

The second half of the wall took her twice as long as the first, but in the end Laiva reached the battlement and pulled up into one of the gaps. She had done it. Her arms feeling worn out and aching, her hands were scratched and bruised from clinging to the hard stones, but she had made it. On the other side of the walkway, beyond the wooden railing were the roofs of the houses, one sitting next to the other like the scales of a gargantuan fish.

‘Intruder! To arms!’

Laiva turned her head left and right and back again, but all of the sudden the wall was full of guards, charging at her with weapons drawn. Only seconds and they be upon her, and they didn’t look as if they wanted to talk. She couldn’t go right, she couldn’t go left and she definitely she couldn’t go back down the wall; there was only one way left. With the power of despair she dashed forward, scaled the railing and jumped.

For a moment she seemed to be flying, but then gravity got the better of her and she started to drop. The roofs of the houses seemed more and more removed, while the ground was closing in faster and faster – and then she crashed hard into the edge of the roof, the impact knocking the air from her lungs. For a few seconds she hung from the roof, then she pulled herself together and somehow managed to get the rest of her body up as well.

There was no time for rest, though. Even as she straggled to her feet, an arrow struck the roof next to her, bouncing off the tiles with a metal clank. This one might have missed, but others would find their mark. She scrambled up the slope of the roof and ran down it on the other side, more arrows whizzing over her head.

Tiles slipped under her feet, turning loose the ones below them and turning the roof under her feet into an avalanche, that moved right off the edge. She jumped. Tiles smashed in the street below, bursting into little pieces upon impact and provoking angry shouts from a pair of passer-bys. But by then Laiva had safely landed on the opposite roof and was already scaling it.

What followed was a wild dash over the roofs of Bonia. She balanced on the roof ridges at a breakneck pace, stepped over the gaps between roofs where they were close enough, or jumped them when they weren’t, but it wasn’t fast enough. The archers had given up on her, once she had put some distance between her and the city wall, but the streets were swarming with guards, blazing torches in their hands and weapons at the ready.

She knew there had to be some way out of this, but navigating the rooftops didn’t exactly help thinking clearly and some of the guards had crossbows; they were just waiting for her to slow down. What a stupid mess she had gotten herself into this time. This was even worse than the time she had stuck her hand into an anthill and…

Laiva lost her footing. One little moment of inattention, one misplaced step, and then she was tumbling down the roof, the edge coming inevitably closer and closer until the roof dropped away from under her. She groped for the gutter, somehow managed to get a grip on it, and for a moment it seemed as if she had made it; then it gave way. The last thing she remembered was falling, her fingers still clenched around the gutter.

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4 responses

28 02 2009
Richard

Help I am falling and can’t land! Please wright the next part. It is killing me. Richard

28 02 2009
emmel

Well, keep fueling the author with comments then. Doesn’t work without those. On the bright side, the next instalment is two thirds done. A reworked version of the first two instalments is in the works as well. Stay tuned and spread the word.

6 05 2009
joanofacre

Just how dense are these guards?? She’s a little girl. They must have been expecting someone else…

7 05 2009
emmel

To be fair she is tall enough to be mistaken for a small adult and even with the moon out you can only see so much at night and at some distance. Besides, the guards were expecting someone… well, something else.

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