Tara and Apollos grunted when the guards threw them into a cage and the door slammed shut behind them. Apollos watched the guards retreating form, and once he was sure that they weren’t paying any attention to him, he started working his gag out of his mouth. Tara watched him with curiosity for a few seconds, and then started mimicking him. Several minutes passed, but finally they both spit their gages out of their mouths.
Tara frowned at Apollos. “I can’t believe you agreed to go along with Aldrick’s half-brained idea. You do realize we are sitting in a dungeon cell with nothing but the word of a man that I don’t completely trust that this is all pretend. For all we know Aldrick could be planning to have us taken to Geraldo.”
Apollos sighed. “I realize that, but we need to have our wagon repaired, and this was the best plan to explain why Aldrick was returning so soon. There is good inside of Aldrick, that’s why I recruited him as my apprentice in the first place. We’re just going to have to trust him. You may as well try to get some sleep, we’re going to be here for a while.”
Tara looked down at her hands and feet which were still bound and shook her head. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to fall asleep bound like this. Did Aldrick have to make the bonds so tight? The ropes are cutting into my wrists.”
Apollos sympathetically nodded his head. “He wanted it to look convincing; if our bonds were loose it would have looked suspicious.” He rolled over on the straw on the floor.
Tara sighed and followed Apollos’ example and tried to fall asleep, but her thoughts raced through her mind, of what they would do if Aldrick did betray them, or how the rebellion would react to having one of their enemies suddenly helping them. Sleep eluded her for several hours, but she finally dozed off to a sleep plagued by nightmares brought on by her doubts and concerns.
She awoke with a start when she felt a foot bury itself into her side. She searched the room for what had kicked her, but with the early morning sunlight streaming through the one window in the prison blinding her, she couldn’t see anything but shadows. She heard Apollos grunt and she turned to look at him and saw that one of the shadows had kicked him awake as well. She groaned once she realized that they weren’t just shadows she was seeing, they were Acerbi! Aldrick had betrayed them after all.
Tara indignantly said, “What is going on here?”
One of the Acerbi turned and glared at her. “We’re taking you to Lord Geraldo.”
Apollos grunted when another Acerbi kicked him in the ribs and growled, “I thought that Aldrick had said that he personally wanted to deliver us to Geraldo himself, so why are you here?”
Another Acerbi aimed a kick at Apollos’ head and smiled at Apollos’ grunt. “That fool Aldrick would wait a week or longer to take you while he drowned himself in wine and women. Lord Geraldo has waited for you long enough.”
The Acerbi landed another kick into Apollos’ ribs and he growled, “Stop doing that!”
The Acerbi sneered at Apollos and kicked him again even harder. “Torturing a relic like you along the way will be an added bonus. You are as big of a fool as Aldrick is, fighting with a sword in this age of beast blades! We are the superior creatures, yet you stand against us with that sword of yours. Do you know how aggravating that is? Don’t worry, we’ll make sure you feel our full frustration on our trip.”
The Acerbi sliced through the bonds around their ankles and shouted for them to get up onto their feet. Tara and Apollos resisted, and curled up into balls on the floor of their cage while the Acerbi rained kicks and punches onto their bodies. Apollos shouted, “It was supposed to be Aldrick that takes us to Geraldo, do you want to risk angering him?”
The Acerbi growled back, “We do not fear that fool’s wrath. What difference does it make to you whether it is Aldrick or us Acerbi that take you to Geraldo? Your fate will be the same either way.”
The Acerbi grabbed Tara and Apollos by their ankles and started to drag them out of their cells. Apollos and Tara grabbed for anything that could slow the Acerbi down, but found only handfuls of straw. They kicked out at the Acerbi and shouted for the guards to go and inform Aldrick that his prisoners were being stolen.
The Acerbi were finally able to drag them through the door of the cage, and they grabbed onto the bars of the cage. Apollos was finally able to land a kick into one of the Acerbi’s faces. It hissed at Apollos and let go of his legs and slammed its fist into the side of Apollos’ head, slamming it into one of the bars. Apollos’ eyes rolled back into his head and he released his grip on the bars.
Another of the Acerbi hissed at the one that had punched him, “What did you do that for? Now we have to carry him until he wakes up!”
The Acerbi turned and glared at the one that had spoken. “He was annoying me. At least he isn’t struggling against us now.”
Tara let go of the bars of the cage and touched a large bump that was forming where Apollos had hit his head. “No, Apollos!”
The Acerbi hauled Tara roughly up to her feet and shoved her toward the prison door. “Get moving or you’ll wish that we had done the same to you! You three, pick the old one up!” Tara obediently walked out the door and prayed that one of the guards had heard their cries and went to tell Aldrick about what the Acerbi were doing.
The Acerbi dragged the two of them out of the city and onto the northern road. Tara finally was able to get a count of how many Acerbi were there and saw that there were only ten of them. She spared a look at Apollos’s unmoving form, and she got an idea. “Is he even breathing? You have to stop and check on him!”
One of the Acerbi shoved her in the back. “Silence, wench. It makes little difference to us if the old fool lives or not.”
“But he has valuable information about the legendary beast blades! Won’t Geraldo be upset if you killed Apollos before he could get that information out of him?”
The Acerbus growled, “You were with the old man and the young one, if he can’t get the information out of him he’ll just have to get it out of you.”
Tara bit her lip. “I only joined with them recently, and Apollos didn’t trust me with the information. I’m afraid that he is the only one that knows everything. It would be a large mistake to let him die.”
The Acerbus sighed and walked over to the three Acerbi that were dragging Apollos along. “Put the old man down and check him over. We don’t want him to die before Lord Geraldo has a chance to get what he needs out of him.” The Acerbi placed Apollos on the ground and the others came and gathered around him and tested his vital signs.
Tara started to sneak away from the main group and whispered, “Forgive me, Apollos, but it would be better if they didn’t have us both. I’ll do my best to get back to Aldrick and then we’ll both come to rescue you.”
Once Tara was sure she had enough of a head start on them, she broke into a run. An Acerbus looked up from Apollos and pointed at her. “The female is escaping! After her, quickly!”
The Acerbi dropped down into puddles of shadow and started after her, but stopped when the one that was obviously in charge of the others shouted, “Not all of you! We need to keep watch over the old man as well!” Four of the shadows paused and Acerbi rose out of them. They walked back over to Apollos while the other five continued on after Tara.
The Lead Acerbus gestured at Apollos. “Pick him up, we’ll continue on to Lord Geraldo. The others will catch up once they have caught the girl.” The Acerbi lifted Apollos up and continued their trudge down the northern road.
Tara ran as fast as her legs would carry her, and she occasionally stumbled and almost fell. She wished that her hands were free, but at least they hadn’t left her legs tied as well. She risked a quick glance over her shoulder and groaned. The Acerbi were slowly gaining ground on her. It wouldn’t be too much longer before they caught up with her. She didn’t want to think about what would happen to her once they did.
She continued running toward the west road, hoping that she would come across some travelers heading to Sharen City. If she did she may be able to hide among them for a little while, long enough to throw the Acerbi off of her trail. She saw a wagon train heading toward her and allowed herself a small smile. She wasn’t sure if she’d be able to pull this off with her hands bound the way they were, but she was going to give it a try.
She ducked under one of the wagons once she got near to it, and ran hunched over out the back. She popped out behind the wagon in front of a startled horse, and she ducked under it as well. The horse whinnied in panic and stomped its legs down, narrowly missing coming down on Tara several times. Tara continued on under the wagon and once she reached the back of that one she jumped up onto the bed and covered herself with a loose blanket she found.
She held her breath as she watched Acerbi pop up from under the wagon. “Where did she go?”
Another of the Acerbi growled, “I don’t know, she must have continued on through this wagon train hoping to lose us. Spread out and search for her! We cannot let her escape!”
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more of it, come back on Friday when I will publish part three, and check out the other stories I’m working on writing, here: Tales of the Imagination, check out my facebook page to connect with me and give me some feedback: Facebook, and follow me on Twitter here: @EJBorchardt. Please like, comment, and tell your friends if you like what you’ve read, and don’t forget to check out my new book! You can buy a copy of it here: The Kids on the Case: Our First Case