X – Goodbye Brother, Goodbye Home
They had reached the base of the mountain, though the ride had been extremely uncomfortable as they had held on for dear life and absolutely terrifying. They could see the Red Gate close at hand and the sounds that they could hear on their way down the mountain, were now loud and clear.
Screams of terror filled the tense air, parents calling out for their kids, soldiers running back and forth trying to keep order as others dashed into the city as loud horns erupted along the city walls. The last time they had been sounded was ten years ago when Decabia had stopped at their doorstep, now, they were knocking and loudly, with the intention to barge in.
They could see the last of the carriages streaming out the city as people desperately tried to put distance between them and the incoming army, the threat of battle looming closer by the minute.
The sight of the Titan Warthog as it approached the Gates only caused further panic and terror. People screamed in terror, running for cover, convinced the Decabians had already crossed the Sea and the zebras tied to one of the carriages panicked and galloped away into the darkness, tumbling the carriage onto it’s side.
Dasha looked up to see archers along the wall tightening the quiver of their bows and crossbows as a group of soldiers charged from inside the city, weapons drawn and yelling ‘Lemekia, Lemekia’ at the top of their lungs as they drew closer.
“Daygon, stop” she yelled to the boy, who looked back to her and quickly pulled on the reins, bringing the Titan to an abrupt halt, which sent Dakar flying off, landing face first into the earth.
“Stop” she yelled carefully getting onto her feet atop the warthog and started waving her arms “It’s us. It’s us.”
That didn’t stop the soldiers charging and she looked nervously at the archers up above. She leapt down Wulf, Isa, Manny and Wex followed her.
“Stop, I’m a citizen of Lemekia” she yelled out and the soldiers charging up towards the group of them, thankfully, slowed down as they realised they weren’t enemy invaders but just a group of young boys and girls.
She felt everyone’s eyes on her as Daygon slid down off Wulf and landed behind the group as a man broke forth from the group, wearing heavy plated white armour and he took of his owl shaped helmet off his head as he looked over them.
“What’s going on here? Who are you people?” yelled the long nosed soldier.
“Please, tell me what’s happening?” she asked but the soldier drew his sword forward and pointed it at her, the tip of the blade hovering only a few centimetres from her nose.
“Who are you people and what is this thing?” yelled the guard and she saw how the other soldier were trembling, their weapons at hand. They were scared, scared of the uncertain future that awaited them tonight and she knew one wrong move now, could mean everything going terribly wrong for them.
“I’m Akello’s sister, please, we were sent to bring Elder Baruto here and this is his Titan Warthog. Please, my brother, where is he, I must speak with him” she said.
“And where is Elder Baruto?” he asked her with suspicion and she tried to say the words but couldn’t.
“I don’t know who you people are, charging down here on this, this thing but I want some answers right now” yelled the ginger haired man when Daygon pushed through the group and stood right before the man.
“Hey, she told you everything” he said.
“Who do you think you are boy? That’s it, men capture these kids and kill the creature” he commanded with a wave of his hand.
“That won’t be happening” said a stern voice and Dasha was relieved to see Akello, pushing past the group of soldiers, his face full of fury as he towered over the ginger man, who suddenly looked so small.
“This is my sister and her friends. I’d sent them on a personal order to bring Elder Baruto down from his Sanctuary. What is the meaning of your command you just gave? How dare you” said Akello and the ginger man looked lost for words when he collapsed on one knee before Akello.
“I’m sorry Akello, this whole situation, I thought…” he began to say.
“Just go Firoz. Go, go to the Northern wall and secure it. Now!” he said and Firoz brought himself up to his knees.
“You heard the man, let’s go” he ordered his subordinates and they took off, heading back into the city.
“Dasha” said Akello and she ran into his arms, hugging him as tight as she could and she felt him shaking from fear as well.
“Akello, they’re…they’re…” she said as she let go and he could see his eyes were full of fear though his face hide that.
“I know. And now I need you and your friends to get out of here” he said and he looked behind Dasha “Dakar, Isoka, Wexell, your families have already left, I’m sorry, we couldn’t keep the other carriages in line waiting for your return, we had to evacuate immediately. “
“Don’t worry though, you’ll get onto another carriage and I’ll be sending two of my best men to watch over you all” he told them and she saw Dakar groan out loud and the other two simply accept the situation in silence.
“Dasha” he said looking from Wulf to Manny to Daygon “What’s going on here? Where’s Baruto?”
“He’s…he’s…” said Dasha when she finally said the words “He’s dead.”
As she sobbed he looked stunned “Baruto…dead…but how? What happened up there?”
“It was terrible Akello” said Isa “They attacked us, we didn’t stand a chance if it wasn’t for Daygon and Wulf” she said turning round to the boy, who looked uncomfortable and the Warthog.
“Who attacked you? Are you telling me that the Decabians have already crossed the Sea?” he said.
“No Elder” said Daygon walking forward “It was Demons that attacked us. They killed my master and destroyed our home.”
Akello looked at the boy with a blank expression on his face. He shook his head to shake him out his trance and pinched his nose with closed eyes.
“I don’t understand what you’re all telling me” he said his voice quite “Look, now isn’t the time, we’ll talk about this later, for now I need all of you to get onto that carriage” he said pointing to one of the carriages, second in line to leave out the gate as the one before it was being loaded with a few of the last remaining citizens of the city.
“Go, you’ll be safe and you should join up with the others at the campsite by the High Moon.”
“What about you though?” said Dasha.
“Dasha, I love you sis, don’t think about me, just go, we have to evacuate everyone as fast as possible” he said putting his hands on her shoulders and he looked down at her and she saw him give her a weak smile before he turned round and strode towards the Gate.
She watched her brother, his back to her and she prayed to all the Gods, this would not be the last time she would see him.
“Dasha, we have to move” sad Dakar, who was already running towards the carriage and the rest of the group headed towards the carriage, Wolf galloping behind them, shaking the earth as his hooves sunk into the earth
They finally reached the carriage to the stunned faces of the two soldiers, looking up nervously at the warthog, who quickly invited them inside the carriage and they went round the back, one of the soldiers opening the small wooden door and they bundled themselves inside.
The carriage was dark, divided into the passengers compartment and the drivers by a wall of wood. As they sat on the two benches which ran across the side of the carriage, Daygon who had sat the furthest from the door, slid off his seat, tumbling down onto the floor.
Isa screamed as Wex and Manny lifted him back up and lay him down on the bench.
“What’s wrong with him?” said Isa.
“All of this must have taken a lot out of him, remember back at the sanctuary?” said Dasha as she looked at the boy in red, his eyes closed and his body limp “Okay, I’m going to tell the driver to start leaving” as she started heading back outside.
“Wait, what about, Wu-uh, Wulf right?” said Wex turning round “We can’t leave him here, can we?”
She nodded as she tried to think how they were going to bring a two ton warthog with them as she jumped out the carriage, heading towards the driver’s compartment when she heard a voice calling her name.
“Dasha” said the voice and she turned round to see a Sailem approach her, a hood covering his face and he ran up to her, out of breath “I came here as soon as I heard your group had returned. You went to bring Baruto here, where is he?”
“Sailem” she said “I’m sorry but…he’s dead. We went
“Dead?” he said and the news seemed to hit him like a ton of bricks “What happened? How is he dead?”
“We went there, all of us, when we searched the house, we found him murdered then these Demons attacked us. We wouldn’t be here if Daygon hadn’t saved us” she told him “I never knew there was a boy living with him, did yo…”
“Demons?” he said and he held her shoulders with both his hands “Are, are you sure?”
She nodded so hard, she was frightened her head was going to fall off and Sailem looked at her strangely before jumping up into the carriage and he looked inside, his gaze lingering over Daygon, still unconscious and he asked them “Is what Dasha told me true? What happened back at the sanctuary?”
They all nodded and he leapt off, turning round to face her, his face as pale as it could ever be, his usual demeanour was gone.
“Dasha” he said “I’m so sorry, for you and all your friends.”
“It’s okay” she said “We’re fine now but Sailem, we’ve got to do and we’ve got Baruto’s warthog here what should we do with it? Daygon seems to be attached to him.”
“Leave that to me” he said looking around him, the Red Gate was quite empty now, only a half dozen carriages remained and most of the soldiers had left to the opposite side of the city where the army was fast approaching.
“We’ll have him pull your carriage” said Sailem “Used to be these majestic beasts used to pull carriages across these lands, once upon a time and some still do in the the mountains to the north. They’re faster than any zebra or horse too. Let me handle this, you guys just stay in the carriage.”
She nodded “Thanks Sailem.”
He looked at her with a serious expression and he ran up to Wulf, grabbed it’s reins, pulling it towards the front of the carriage.
She got back inside and she closed shut the door behind her, pulling the bolt, locking it from the inside so the door wouldn’t swing open unexpectedly as they were travelling yet now they were in darkness, except for the circle holes that run along the edge of the ceiling and the wall of the carriage, streaming light inside.
She felt the carriage slightly rise then fall when they heard a yell from the drivers compartment and the carriage started bolting, so fast at first that most of them were unprepared for it and held onto the carriage walls as the carriage shook violently, the sounds of shouts, yells and chaos of the city was already drawing further away until it stayed at a constant speed.
They sat in silence, each lost in their own thoughts, dealing with everything they had gone through and now what was happening back at Lemekia. Their home.
She wondered if she’d ever be able to call it that again. She wondered is she’d ever see Akello again.
‘No’ she thought to herself ‘I can’t think like that, he’ll be okay, we’ll all be okay.’
She looked up at Wexell after what seemed hours of looking down at her feet, slumped with knees high up in the corner, deep in thought, Dakar fast asleep, his head bobbing up and down, Manny looking down at his hands and Isa, sat beside Daygon, watching over him as he slept.
She must have dozed off for the carriage had came to an abrupt halt which woke her up from a dream she couldn’t remember. She looked around them groggily as Dakar rubbed his eyes and Wexell let out a yawn.
“We must have arrived at the campsite” she said as she stretched her arms and she leaned over, pulling the bolt and pushing open the door.
As she stood up to her feet, she pushed her hair back out of her face and stumbled out of the carriage, hopping down onto the earth as the sleepiness she felt left her, the full moon basking down on her.
“Wait a minute.”
They were in the middle of the desert, surrounded by giant rocks that stuck out from the earth, at the top of a sand dune yet there was no sign of any other carriage in sight.
She could feel her heart in her throat as she ran around the carriage and looking all about her, her worst fear was a damning reality.
They were the only carriage as far as her eyes could see, they were alone in the middle of Gods knew where.
The carriage driver’s compartment door opened and she span round.
“What the hell is going on? Where have you taken us? Why aren’t we at the campsite?” she yelled as the driver stepped out the carriage and faced her, only for her to be at a loss for words.
“S…Sailem?” she said as she felt the cold of the desert bite into her skin as she looked at the man stand before her, his cloak blowing in the wind.
END OF BOOK ONE.