Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
This week: Part two of my summer serial. This nine part series, related to my Dragonspire universe, will be posted weekly in line with the Sunday Scribbles prompt of the week.
Last time Prince Flynn and his mage bodyguard Calix were kidnapped by bandits, and they were being transported for ransom… Part 1 is here: The Hidden Village Part 1
Onto the story!
Last time: Calix didn’t stir to call him out on the insult, but the uneven breaths Flynn felt when he moved his hands in front of his face gave him hope. For once he wished his mage bodyguard was feigning sleep, but an unconscious mage was better than none at all. He hoped Calix woke up before they got to their destination. It’d be much harder to escape once the bandits made camp.
Flynn had no idea where they were, or how long they’d been travelling, but at least the bandits hadn’t stopped to make camp yet and scuppered their chances of escape. His stomach growled, a reminder that it’d been far too long since he last ate. If Calix were awake (alive?) the loudmouth would’ve complained hours ago. Time to take a leaf out of his book.
‘Hey, I’m hungry in here!’ he yelled, but his voice was lost to the clatter of hooves. He scowled. Even if the bandits heard him they probably wouldn’t waste their food on him. As high a price dead or alive, she’d said. Perhaps he should’ve kept his mouth shut, and give her no reason to consider the latter. Although that didn’t mean he couldn’t make things easier on himself.
He struggled to get his bound arms above his head and tried to shove the blindfold off his eyes. No use. It wouldn’t budge. That woman, whatever the bandit leaders name was, had tied it so tightly his head pounded in time with the hooves outside.
Bound hands reached for Calix and felt around for his mouth. His forehead was sweaty, and his bangs damp with sweat, but he exhaled unsteady puffs of air. Flynn sighed and kicked his feet up onto the bench opposite, and if his arms weren’t bound they’d be folded over his chest.
‘I told my father this was a terrible idea,’ he said to no one in particular. ‘But would he listen? No. And not only that, the bodyguard he gives me is completely useless-‘
‘Do you ever shut up?’
He turned in Calix’s general direction and cursed the tight blindfold for the third time in hours. ‘Do you ever really sleep?’
‘Where are we? Why can’t I see or move my hands?’
‘Bandits,’ Flynn replied.
There was a shuffle and a groan. ‘When I want you to talk, you give me a one word answer?’
‘Naturally.’ His grin morphed into a wince when the blindfold was tugged from his head and the sun assaulted his eyes. ‘How’d you get free?’
‘Magic,’ Calix replied with a roll of his eyes. He raised a hand to his head and groaned. ‘What the hell’d they hit me with?’
‘And who are they?’
‘I already told you. Bandits. Keep up.’
‘Right. Of course.’ Calix muttered a spell and the ropes binding Flynn fell free. ‘How many?’
Flynn glanced at the carriage roof and raised a hand to his chin. ‘Four, maybe five. Leader’s a piece of work.’
Calix grasped the door handle and tugged. ‘All right. Soon as I can unlock this, we jump out and run for the trees. Should be able to lose them.’
‘What about my carriage?’
‘You’re supposed to protect me and my assets!’
‘Your life is far more important than any possession you own,’ Calix replied with a far off look. ‘So long as you have it, you can always buy more useless things.’ He tried the handle again, this time with magic, and scowled when it locked tight.
‘Useless? I’ll show you useless,’ Flynn replied. He leapt up and dug in his pockets. Hand clasped tight around a small object, he shoved Calix away from the door and dropped to his knees.
‘What are you doing?’
He jammed a small, thin, blade into the lock and brushed his fringe from his eyes. ‘The locks on these carriages are reinforced against magic, but you can still pick em.’ He grinned. ‘See?’
Calix frowned when the lock disengaged. ‘Where did a prince learn to pick locks?’
‘Wouldn’t you like to know?’ He tapped the side of his nose and winked. ‘Can you distract the bandits?’
‘Consider it done.’
Flynn’s eyes widened as the field outside the window burst into flames and a nearby cottage door banged open.
‘Told ya there’s dragons in them mountains!’ The occupant yelled, then his eyes fixed on the carriage. ‘You! You’re with the royal family. Help us!’
The swish of a whip cut through the air as the bandits urged their horses on, but the carriage stopped abruptly as the animals reared in the face of the rapidly spreading fire.
‘Go!’ Calix whispered.
Flynn nodded and flung open the door. They tore from the carriage, through the chaos and towards the forest. As they reached the trees he glanced over his shoulder at the frightened horses and confused bandits. Only one remained calm. She strode to the carriage, and when she peered inside she reeled back and slammed the door shut.
‘Get those damned horses under control and get after them!’
Clammy fingers closed around his arm and dragged him away, past wilting autumn trees and uphill. ‘Don’t stop. We can’t let her catch us again.’
Flynn shook his head. Calix was shaking, eyes wild and face pale. They’d need strategy to escape. ‘Zig zag. Makes us harder to track.’
They made good progress, but their captors were gaining. Flynn cursed as a thorny bush tore into his arm, and he nearly ran straight into a sheer stone cliff trying to pull the thorns free. The cliff extended beyond the horizon in both directions, and he cursed. ‘What now?’
Calix stepped up to the wall and placed his palm on the rough surface, eyes closed.
Flynn flinched as a twig snapped in the bushes behind them, fingers clenching at his side where his sword used to be. ‘What are you doing? There’s no time to rest!’
‘Getting us out of this,’ Calix replied. He stepped back, waved his hands, and the rock wall in front of them shimmered and reformed into a small archway. ‘Get inside.’
Flynn stared at the small tunnel leading into the darkness of the mountain. ‘After you.’
Calix took a deep breath and summoned a fireball. He grabbed a branch from the floor and let the top catch light before he stepped into the cave. Flynn followed, and once they were inside Calix turned back to the entrance and sealed them in.
‘We can get out again, right?’ Flynn asked as the last dregs of daylight disappeared. No answer. Calix leant against the wall, and his shoulders shook with each breath. ‘You okay?’
The mage flicked open his eyes and nodded, but his legs shook when he pushed off the wall. ‘If we follow this path we’ll come to an underground stream. It’ll lead us out of the cave.’
Flynn nodded, and when Calix stumbled over a rock he offered him his arm. ‘Lean on me.’
Calix rolled his eyes, but he leaned on him and handed over the torch. ‘I’m supposed to look after you, not the other way around.’
‘Can’t let you die just yet,’ Flynn replied. ‘I may not like magic, but I know when I need it.’
When Calix didn’t reply he grit his teeth and pressed onward. They made slow progress through the caves, and when they reached the underground river they followed it up a rocky incline and out into the sun. He doused the torch as Calix slumped by the river and splashed water on his face. ‘Are we safe here?’
Calix stood and closed his eyes. After a moments pause he opened them again. ‘I can’t sense anyone nearby, but keep your guard up.’
Flynn nodded and strode away from the river. He sucked in a breath as he reached the edge of a cliff and held out a hand as Calix joined him. ‘Careful.’
‘Wow… We’re higher up than I expected,’ Calix replied as he peered over the edge, and then up, behind them, at a tall mountain. He swayed on his feet and stumbled.
Flynn steadied him. His skin was pale, and his breathing shallow. ‘You sure you’re all right? You look like you might pass out.’
Calix shook his head and eyed the wild, sprawling forest below them. ‘I think we have bigger problems. I have no idea where we are.’
Thanks for reading!
Part three will be posted next Sunday. So far this has been great practise, as I’ve had to focus on character and plot consistency between each part. Let me know what you think!
Why not write a short story or poem based on a prompt?
The prompts for July are:
One word not enough? I post expanded prompts weekly on Pinterest:
If you use one of the prompts, feel free to share your story links below.
Feeling creative? I also run a weekly hashtag game on Twitter, #sunscribbles, where you can share one-off lines or quotes from a #WIP around the weekly prompt!
See you next week!