December 31, 2014

C. C. C. Writing Contest Pt. 7

 Chapter 7

    "Shush, my pet, you'll wake the neighbors."  The bandit admonished, sliding a knife under Jessie's chin.  A bandit next to him laughed.  Jessie saw Ava struggling to get free as another bandit tied her on a chair.
    "You won't get away with this!" Ava threatened, giving up on trying to escape.
    "That's what they all say."
    Ava sat up straight and raised her chin in response.
    The bandit holding Jessie started dragging her to another chair out of reach from Ava.  She could do nothing, but make herself a weight.  It hardly made a difference, though.
    "Here's another one," came a gruff voice.
    Jessie craned her neck from where she was tied and saw Nick in the grasp of yet another bandit.  From the moonlight she could see that they were both dusted with glass on their shoulders.  The bandit's lip dripped blood and Nick had small cuts around his forehead.
    "Sit."  The bandit ordered.  "Sit!"  He yelled, not waiting more than a second, and hit him with a stick.  Nick groaned and stumbled, his hands tied behind him.
    "Come here, Mr. Cobb." The obvious leader of the pack commanded, one hand behind his back, one resting on his gun holster.
    "Aye, Sir?"  Mr. Cobb flinched, but walked obediently towards him.
    "You don't just throw yourself out a window, what happened?"  The leader started talking in hushed tones.  Jessie could barely hear them.
    "I stumbled searching in the dark and he,"  The bandit nodded toward Nick,"shoved me out a window.  I grabbed hold of him, though, and tied 'em up."  He sounded pleased at the end.
    "Be more careful next time.  You could've cost us the surprise advantage."
    "Aye, Sir. Sorry, Sir."
    "Now, one of you grab the red-head and we'll be on our way."  The leader started walking out.
    "What about the boy?"  A different bandit asked.
    He turned his head slightly.  "Tie him up like the rest.  And, Mr. Cobb," The leader faced him again with a glower,"make sure everyone is secured in their bonds.  We have a bounty to collect and we don't want any meddling kids stopping us."
    A bandit came towards Daisy.  She flicked her hand up and a vine came out, slapping him across the face. Jessie gaped at the sight. Daisy waved her arms and she was surrounded by vines, like a shield.  Random vines flicked out at the bandits who tried to get closer.  Then, a bandit shot something at Daisy.  It went through the shield and hit her arm. Daisy yelped and gasped as a black band encircled her arm.  She was powerless with it on.
    "Made from the queen herself."  Ava whispered, shocked.
    Daisy tried to get away as a bandit came, thrashing her arms around wildly, but he picked her up easily, like a sack of potatoes.
    Jessie was too scared to yell for her friend and knew it would be useless.  They were all helpless, stuck in their bonds.
    What are we gonna do?  Jessie thought hopelessly, looking after the dark figures fading away.
    She heard banging from where Ava was trying to break free.
    "No use."  Ava muttered.
    Jessie tried to slowly squeeze her hands out, but the knots were too tight.  She sighed and gave up.  Then, the floor creaked ahead of her.  She caught a glimpse of a shadowy figure before he darted away.
    They're back to kill us.  Jessie's eyes grew wide, now searching intently into the darkness.  Her mouth went dry as she was about to call the person out.
    All of a sudden, a feminine voice whispered in her ear, "Are they still here?"  Before Jessie screamed from instinct, a hand covered her mouth.  "You don't want to alarm them do you?"  Then, the teen lifted her hand off.
    "N-no bandits are here."  Jessie answered, assuming that's what she meant.
    "Good."  Came the blunt reply.   
    Jessie felt her sawing at the rope.  "I'm Jessie."
    "Skylar."  The ropes fell of her wrists and the teen handed Jessie a knife. "Cut the rest of your ropes." She glanced at Skylar and saw that she was dressed to camouflage with shadows. She had tan skin and big brown eyes. The only thing that wasn't dark were the orange highlighted side-swept bangs from her black shoulder-length hair, which was mostly covered by the hood of her jacket.
    Jessie finished untangling herself and flung the ropes to the ground. She fingered her neck where the bandit's dagger cut.  It stung to the touch, but it wasn't deep.  Jessie turned around to help the others, but Skylar was already back holding Sam's hand and with Ava and Nick free from their ropes.
    "I know how to get Daisy back." Skylar said, taking on the leader role.  "We just have to get close to their campsite and I can do the rest.  You guys will hide in the forest and wait for me."  She crossed her arms. "Ready?"
    "So, you think we can't handle this without you?"  Ava challenged.
    "Yes, I know more about them than you do."
    "We don't even know you!  How can we trust that you're not on their side?"
    "Hmm, I wonder."  Skylar tapped her chin..  "Oh, wait!" She snapped her fingers, "Didn't I free you?"
    "Why do you want to help us in the first place?"  Nick cut in before a cat fight started.
    "Because I want her free just as much as you.  She's my step-sister!"  Skylar paced the floor and came back calmer.  "I'm Erika's twin.  She told me to protect Daisy if she was away."  She hesitated before saying, "I'm sorry for coming off defensive.  I'm trying to get my family back together and I don't want any other setbacks."  She patted Sam's shoulder.
    Jessie stepped forward. "I'm ready."
    "Count me in." Nick agreed.
    Ava looked around at us and smiled.  "Let's go, then."

    Jessie, Nick, Ava, and Sam hid on the edge of a pine forest, just a few yards from the bandit hideout.  They watched as Skylar casually strode in the campsite. She looked left and right, searching for signs of Daisy. Does she know what she's doing? Jessie watched as a bandit strolled up to Skylar.  She could clearly make out their conversation.
    "And what do we owe the honor of Blaze here tonight...or should I call you Skylar?  He spat on the ground.
    "I'm here to make a deal, Pig Face."
    "I wouldn't try to insult me again. You know what I'm capable of."  He cracked his knuckles.
    "And you know what I'm capable of."
    He guffawed. "Like I'm scared of a girl."
    "Well,"  Skylar sighed dramatically and acknowledged the others walking around camp, "I guess you don't mind if I tell the others where the stolen cash went."
    The bandit glared at her trying to be intimidating, but Skylar held the stare.
    "She's not even flinching."  Jessie whispered, awed.
    "Sky used to be one of 'em." Sam said nonchalantly.
    "Wait, what?"
    "Shh."  Ava chided.
    Finally, Skylar shrugged and started turning away. The bandit cleared his throat. Skylar faced him with crossed arms, with no hint of a smile.
    "Wait here.  Rupert has been wanting to speak to you anyway."  He muttered.
    He came back moments later with an older man with sleek white hair.  He wore a dark red coat that made his head look too small for his body and walked with a pompous gait.
    "Skylar, so good to see you again." Rupert said with a shrewd smile.
    "Is it?" Skylar smirked.
    "Not in the least bit."  He squinted with displeasure.
    "I'm here to make a deal."
    "Yes, yes. I heard.  Follow me, love."
    Skylar followed as Rupert ducked into a tent.  The others could see their shadows, but couldn't hear what they were saying.
    "What do you think she's trying to trade for Daisy?"  Jessie asked.
    "It would have to be something worth more than whoever is willing to pay for Daisy.  Which is probably Carmay."  Ava responded.
    "They're pirates. All they want is money."  Nick said, annoyed.

    Jessie felt a shove and instantly woke up, not knowing she fell asleep.
    "Wake up!  We have to run."  Skylar poked her again.
    "Did they not take the deal?"
    "Oh no, they took it alright.  They just didn't want to give up Daisy until I had the person to trade for her.  Of course, we need Daisy's help to get her."
    ""  Jessie groaned hoping that Skylar didn't make an impossible deal.
    "Oh, just the queen."
    "So, you freed Daisy from a bandit camp," Jessie said, pointing at Daisy with her thumb who was waking up the others behind her, "and you made a deal to kidnap 'just' the queen?  You might as well put a death-wish over your head."
    "We have no time to chat nonsense.  We have to go!"  Skylar looked over her shoulder. Bandits were already yelling in confusion.
    Skylar grabbed Sam's hand and started sprinting. The rest of them raced after, bounding deeper into the dim forest.
    Jessie looked behind her shoulder and saw the bandits advancing. "They're catching up!"
    Leading them into lots of twists and turns was Skylar's tacit reply.  They soon found themselves behind a massive boulder, shielded by a dense growth of trees.
    "Are... we safe here?"  Jessie's heart pounded in her ears as she caught her breath.
    "I know these woods well.  They shouldn't be able to find us."  Skylar whispered.
    "I'm tired. Can we sleep here, Sky?"  Sam whined.
    Skylar stood and brushed herself off. She walked in front of the boulder, scanning the area, and replied, "Yes, I think it's safe to make camp here tonight."
    "Ah, Skylar.  You almost lost me!  Thankfully, I've been studying these woods too."  A voice boomed from the shadows of the trees.
   Skylar's eye's became wide and her mouth opened slightly.  Ava, Nick, and Jessie came out from behind the boulder, leaving Daisy to soothe Sam.
    "Your expression is priceless. One of the rare moments where you don't look yourself.  Stunned...speechless...amazed...maybe even intimidated...just because of me?"  A bandit, who looked to be around Skylar's age, walked out from underneath the canopy of trees. His bright blue eyes contrasted with his dark hair and his style of clothing looked post-apocalyptic. He had a scabbard on one side of his hip and a holster on the other.
    "Shane, you still haven't grown up since the last time I saw you.  An arrogant child."  Skylar retorted, regaining composure.
    Shane put his hand to his heart and contorted his face.  "Oh, the pain," He pretended to cough, "it hurts."
    "I'm not afraid of making it real."  Skylar put her hands on her hips pushing aside her jacket revealing several hidden daggers.
    "The delight I feel when I push your buttons." He smirked. "I'm here to retrieve someone.  Mind you hand her over before you or your comrades get hurt?"  He acknowledged the others with a nod.
    "I'd rather not."  Skylar pulled out a dagger from her jacket.  She pressed something on the front of the grip and a full blade swept out.  "If you want her, you'll have to go through me."
    "And us." Ava stepped up, dagger in hand.  Nick and Jessie followed suit.
    "I'll give you a fight, but don't say I didn't warn you and, unless you want me to call the others, it will be just me and Skylar."  Ava, Nick, and Jessie didn't back down.
    "Guys, I've got this." Skylar said firmly and added, "This is child's play."  They reluctantly rested on the boulder at her insistence.
    "I wouldn't be so confident."  Shane drew out his sword and flipped it in his hand, starting the combat.
    Skylar started off on offense, making firm and precise movements.  Shane took the impacts without hesitance and swung back.  The dual went on, several times switching who was offense and defense.  The clashing of metal on metal reverberated in Jessie's mind.  She held her breath, not knowing what the outcome would be.  Suddenly, Skylar jumped back from Shane's blow and lost balance when she landed on uneven ground.  Shane took the opportunity to disarm her.
    He pointed his sword her. "Hah! That was child's play. Now hand her over."
    "No." She said with a deadpan face.
    He snorted. "Like you have a choice. Hand her over or I'll-"
    Skylar jerked her wrist around, palm facing up, and fire flickered in her hand illuminating her face. Jessie gawked at the sight even though she'd just seen Daisy do something similar.  Her head spun as she came to believe there really were unnatural powers. She focused on Skylar as she manipulated the fire into her other hand with swift, graceful movements. 
    "I thought Erika only had the fire power." Daisy whispered, now standing up.
    Shane didn't look daunted at the sight. "I don't think that's fair."
    "This is life, not a game. Now, leave before I char you." 
    He shook his head and started backing up, but Jessie caught him glance ever-so-slightly to the left of Skylar.
    The hairs on her neck stood up and she knew something was about to happen. Without forethought, Jessie raised her hands just as someone shot at Skylar from behind. She felt as if a concentrated force of air escaped from her lungs, slithered through her arms and came out of her hands, flying towards the designated target. A small clear pellet with inklike liquid fell to the ground inches from Skylar. Jessie's mouth hung open. D-did I just do that? 
    Skylar saw it drop beside her and snatched it with her free hand. She lowered her eyebrows and clenched her jaw, hardly keeping her voice from yelling. "You tried to put a band on me just like Daisy? How dare you try to cage me up!" The fire in her hand grew.
    "Put the fire away or I'll shoot your friend here." Shane said coolly. Ava didn't even cower as he pointed a gun at her head. 
    The bandit who was behind Skylar stood next to Shane holding the same gun that was shot at Daisy.  "That was the last one." He mumbled.
    Skylar was fuming. She closed her fist, extinguishing the fire, but held out her hand still. 
    "Much better." Shane didn't put down the gun. "Give up and hand her over. I'm getting restless and my finger might slip-"  He shouted out and threw the gun to the ground, shaking his hand violently.
    "Gun's a bit to hot to handle?" Skylar had one hand behind her back and the other she held out, creating fire again. She shot right above Shane and the bandit, singeing their hair. "Leave us!" She held the fire and was about to throw again. 
    "We will come back and when we do, you had better be prepared." Shane threatened picking up his cooled off gun, then he and the other bandit ran off. Everyone stood there, speechless at what had happened.
    Skylar brushed off her hands. "Shall we make camp?"

    The fire crackled while everyone slept, everyone except Jessie. She closed her eyes, but her mind was spinning. She tilted her head and saw Skylar sitting on a log a few feet from everyone else. Jessie sat up and walked over.
    "Can't sleep either?" Jessie sat next to Skylar.
    "I've had plenty of sleepless nights. This is no different." Skylar sat in silence for a few minutes before saying, "Thanks for saving me back there."
    "How did I do it? It felt so strange."  Jessie said wide-eyed. 
    "You have the power of the wind." Skylar said as if all this was normal.
    "All these years and I never knew." Jessie half said to herself.
    "Usually you're told at a young age. People knew Erika, my sister, had the power of fire, but they didn't know I did."  Skylar glanced over her shoulder at the others and then looked straight into Jessie's eyes. "Jessie," She hesitated before continuing, "Ava isn't who you think she is."
    Jessie stared at her with an expression of shock.
    "I'm sorry, I said that a bit quick...just be careful...and don't repeat this.
Ah, the joy's of putting characters into conflict... :P
(For some reason the text on one paragraph is different and I have no idea why...)

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