The Slave of Aredona Coast (Prologue) by J.B. Freecheck



Without Rule

(This is the second draft of the prologue, in which I correct a few pacing mistakes and build up the characters a bit more, not until the final draft will everything be complete. This is essentially a better outline than the original, do not take this as the finished product.)

 (This is property of Joel Freecheck/J.B. Freecheck.)

(Be aware that the contents of this story maybe disturbing to those under the age of thirteen.)

                It was silent. Not a single sound disturbed the calm within the thick Delburen Woods. It was day when I first started to run, now it is night, a full moon shown clearly in the starless black sky. My body is screaming out at me, pain shuddering through my legs and fatigue weighing me down, but I know I can’t stop, not now, not here.

My head swam with images of the day’s events. I remember the escape vividly, hurling myself through the lumber mill’s fourth story window, landing in a deep pond, being submerged by water, unable to swim. I had almost died then, if not for a helping hand from a fellow slave. He was in the room as I made a break for it, light-skinned, a thick mat of black hair covering his head and chin, scars coating his visible skin, middle-aged with a medium build. He had to have followed me, seeing as I made it down alive, fortunately for me he could swim. I remember being pulled out of the water, being told to follow him into the fields, where other slaves worked, toppling trees and crafting lumber for the mill. Instead I left, headed toward the forest. I sprinted through the woods for a while, not noticing he was not behind me. Alone, I ran toward freedom, continuing forward, not caring where I ended up.

Only once had I stopped to rest, it was only an hour by my count after I escaped. I sat under a cottonwood, my back supported by its trunk. It was then I started to realize I still wasn’t free, I would never be free. They would find me, Aredona seldom loses its slave force, they would hunt me to the ends of Ilmaridos, at some point they would find me, drag me back to the mill, or worse, to a revelation dais, where I would be beheaded in front of a cheering crowd. Sickened by the thought, I stopped thinking about my imminent end and scanned the forest floor. Huge trees covered the area, from birches to pines, all tall and bulky. I had found that here in these woods, underbrush was hard to come by, mainly due to the extensive canopy of leaves the trees formed together, blocking out the sun.

It did feel like night under the foliage, so when night arrived, I hadn’t noticed it till I looked up and caught a glimpse of the moon. It was brilliant, so bright, so powerful. Never had I seen it before, born into slavery, my life at night was spent sleeping in a windowless room. Up there I knew I could be free, but that only made me more depressed about my future, and I continued to trudge through the woods.

Hours later, when the moon was just starting to descend, I had my first encounter with noise. Other than the sound of my own footsteps, the forest was dead silent, until now. To my left, a stick snapped, causing me to quickly stop running and stand still as a statue. My head wavered left and right, my eyes searching for the cause of the clamor. Then to my left, footsteps sounded. Feeling surrounded, I took off, dashing straight, hoping to flee. The sounds did not stop, I kept hearing them behind me, scurrying across the forest floor, closer and closer they came.

I managed to make it toward a stone cliff, I stood at the edge and looked down, more ground existed below the ridge, but the drop was at least fifteen feet. My head spun, trying to think of the best solution. The stone cliff seemed to stretch on forever to my sides, the only way I was getting down was to jump. Still I continued to hunt for an easier path, soon I begun to realize that it was silent again, either my pursuer left me or sat concealed by the forest, stalking me.

Finding a nice sized rock on the ridge, I picked it up and heaved it off the cliff. The stone sailed through the air, and when it hit the ground, it passed right through it, disappearing from sight. It was the most bizarre thing I had ever seen. Where the rock should of landed, a plume of mist erupted, spreading along the ground, stripping away the forest floor and revealing black emptiness. What had been the extension of woods was now an great abyss, a mile long in every direction. I stared down into the void, wondering if that stone would ever find earth again.

Hopelessness surged through my mind, I was cornered, that one idea invaded my being, and I started to shake. Instead of running left or right, following the cliff, I turned and studied the tree line behind me. A strange, dark mist drifted out from within the woods, gliding through the air toward me. I took a step back, only to remember that nothing I could step on was behind me. I flung myself forward, combating the unbalance I was experiencing, landing in a heap on the ground. Looking up, I saw the haze up close, like a shadow, it hid from the moons rays but rapidly stretched toward me in the darkness. Helpless, I stood still, waiting for it to touch my flesh. When it did, I was relieved that it did not hurt. Snaking up my bare leg, it closed onto my ankle and suddenly I was pulled from my standing pose and on my back, the mist encasing my body.

I wanted to scream, but when attempting to, the fog entered my mouth, and I choked at the sudden loss of air. Silently I thrashed, aware that I was wrapped in some sort of cocoon. When the voice entered my mind, I went numb, as if I had lost control of my own limbs.

“Do you fear the darkness?” A deep, ominous voice whispered within my head. Slowly the fog closed off all access of light, shutting me in the dark.

“What are you?” I said to the haze inside my head, ignoring it.

“Are you fearful of night, do you dread the darkness?” It asked again, an irritated edge to its otherwise chilling voice.

I kicked at the barrier, which now covered my body like tar, and finding it was useless, answered it’s question.

“No, the darkness does not frighten me.” I lied as tremors shook my body, fear overtaking my thoughts.

“Do not lie to me little one, for I already know your answer. I know right now that my presence alone is making you drown in fear. You and I both know there is no running away from this, for I am the embodiment of fear, I am the king of night, I am your end.” His last word thundered in my head, echoing numerous times before returning to silence.

The King of Night was trying to shut me down, unable to retain a single thought I gave into his prodding, and closed my eyes, I did fear the dark, ever so black, so alone. The last thing I thought of before losing conscience was the image of the slave that saved me before, hoping that he at least escaped alive, dreadfully thinking that he was now the only free slave of Aredona Coast.

Want to read more, visit Joel Freecheck’s personal blog Joel(B)Freecheck for all things Aredona!