The Jewel of Anonian (part three) - A story of love, courage, and friendship.
A month later, and still they had no jewel. In fact, they never even came upon a cave. But now, Gervaise knew they were close. Gervaise stopped them, and took hold of Gwenllian's arm. He then led her further ahead... much further. Panic surged threw her, as she knew not what he was doing.
"You are telling me where it is!" Gervaise said angrily. He pushed her against the mountain wall, hard and rocky. I shook my head, eyes wide with fear. He put his hands on my shoulders, and shook me violently. Then he let go, and took a breath.
"My men are inpatient, and beginning to doubt. They don't think there really is a jewel, and they think I am a lunatic. I heard they are planning against me! They are starting to hate me!"
"So." I said bitterly. "You made it so I look like a fool in front of my kingdom, and you made them hate me!" I shouted.
"I don't care about what they think of you!" He shouted back.
"And I don't care what your stupid men think of you!" I shrieked. He wrapped a hand around my throat, and pushed me against the wall. I was now terrified, and knew he could kill me. I instinctively put my hands to his hand and tried clawing his hand away.
"Let go!" I said with struggle.
"Not until you tell me where the jewel is!"
"Its not far away!" I pleaded, tears coming to my eyes. "We are very close!"
As a tear landed on his hand, he let go, and looked down.
I shook and more tears fell as I slowly went back. He did not talk to me for the rest of the day.
The next day, I knew we would reach the cave. I lead on with a hung head, and we soon came upon a wall. It was a wall of rock that was very sheer. A set of stairs led up to a large doorway very high up. But the stairs were only slightly slanted, also making it impossible to climb as the wall.
"Is this the way?" Asked Gervaise. I cast my eyes down, and nodded.
"We will go on!" He shouted. "But only 100 are to go! The other 100 are to stay here and guard the stairs."
We rested, but had to move on after deciding who was going. He then turned to me.
I sighed, and stepped up the first step, then moved to the other. Again and again we walked up each step. Every time, we moved further from the ground, and closer to the precious jewel.
After an hour of climbing, the door was not to far above. But the steps grew perilous, for they were falling apart, and vines had over grown them. Now Gervaise and one of his generals were further ahead then the rest of us. I turned my head, and called to the others,
"Watch your steps, it is very hard going from here!"
Just as I turned, I pulled my trip and fall trick. A part of the step crumbled away, and I fell. To fall would mean death for sure, and this I knew. I quickly took hold of the ledge, but could not pull myself back up. (By this time, my arm was healed... but was still tender)
"Help me!" I shrieked, knowing the stone would crumble and I would loose my grasp. To my astonishment, no one helped. They kept on walking, and completely ignoring me! Now I was devastated, and knew I was going to die. Would Gervaise help me?
"Please! Someone help me!" I shouted louder. Still no one did. Man after man walked by, and some never even looked at me. My one hand slipped, but I managed to get a grip again. But after minutes and minutes of hanging, I felt like my arms would pull out of the sockets.
"Gervaise!" I screamed. Tears burned my eyes as I began to slip. Slowly, I began to fall. Then, suddenly, both my hands lost their grip, and I felt myself begin to fall! I screamed, but I suddenly was jerked. Someone had grabbed hold of my extended hand! I looked up, and blinked with eyes full of tears. It was Gervaise! He did come for me! He was knelt on the edge, and pulled me up. As soon as I was seated on the stair, I breathed heavily in relief and fright. I turned to Gervaise, and hugged him, while sobbing into his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around me, and said soothing things into my ear.
"Thank you." I said after a while, and pulled away. I realized that I had just hugged him, but I cared not. I did not care what the soldiers thought, I did not care what Gervaise thought; all I knew is that is I was alive, and saved by Gervaise. He helped me back up to the front, and even though I didn't want to, we marched still upwards. Now the door loomed in front of us. It was unwelcoming, and forbidding. I knew I never wanted to go back there again, but I had to. And I would; for Gervaise.
"How do we get in?" He asked me.
"Open the door." I answered.
"Yes, I know that! But how?"
"I don't know, you figure that out." I snickered. He rolled his eyes. Although I just had a soft moment, there was no time to show emotions now. Gervaise rolled his eyes, and called for a few of his men.
"We need to open this door." But he didn't need to say so. It was obvious that he couldn't get in. The door was large... very large. It was huge in fact. It was made of layers of strong oak. It was very simple and plain, no designs. The hinges were black steel, and steadfast. A large chain bound the two handles together, and was locked. Gervaise had a locksmith come, and made him work at the lock. I did not want the door to become unlocked, because I knew what was going to happen if it was opened.
"Gervaise, don't do this."
"I am getting that gem, and your not stopping me."
"I may not, but they can!" I shivered.
"And who would that be, your supernatural demon guards?" Gervaise laughed.
"I can't talk about them." I said, sitting on the step. Finally, I heard the chains slip from the door handles, and I closed my eyes. Gervaise quickly rushed to the doors, and yanked them open. They slowly opened with a loud groan, and then everyone was silent. Dust came out of the cave, filling the air.
"Let us move on!"
"Please don't make me go in there!" I exclaimed, not wanting to even look in.
"You are coming no matter what." Gervaise said defiantly.
"I cant, they'll get us! They know." I said, tears welling up in my eyes.
"Who or what are they?"
"I can't say, I just can't say." I cried, tears falling down my face. "Please, just don't make me go!" I pleaded, falling to my knees. I knew he felt pity for me, but I had to go.
"You are coming with us, and it is final!" He growled. I stood, and hung my head.
"But since you're so afraid of them, you can have my sword to protect yourself." He unbuckled his sheath, and handed it to me. I meekly took it, and we began our trip into the dark. I knew what was to come, and what we were to become of when they came. O, I knew all right... I knew. About an hour's way into the dark, drumming was heard. It was a steady beat that clearly said one word, `doom.' I shivered. This was the beginning... only the beginning. Everyone grew anxious, as well as Gervaise. Soon, footsteps were heard. Footsteps that pounded from first in front, then behind, atop and below. It was confusing, and scary. A chill blew threw the cave in huge gusts, sending chills down every single spine. Then the lights. The lights came from in front, closer and closer they grew. They sent shadows throughout the cave, making everything appear large and aluminous. I knew what would come next. I shut my eyes tight, and sweat fell down my face from fear. I heard a cry raise up, and the sound of swords being drawn. I also heard arrows being notched, and Gervaise prepare to give the command. They attacked with axes, swords and pikes.
"Attack!" Gervaise yelled loudly, and his troops prepared for impact. They collided, and the battle began. The enemy had no armor, and only had one weapon. They were all the same size, dark skinned and overly painted. They were also bald, and looked somewhat threatening. I still stood, eyes shut tightly.
"Gwenllian, look out!" shouted Gervaise. My eyes popped open in time to duck for a swing of an enemy's sword. I jumped back, trying to get away.
"The sword Gwenllian, use the sword!"
"No!" I screamed, throwing him his sword. He took it in amazement.
"I cannot fight them!" I dodged the enemy again and again, a sad look in my eyes. And as he fell to one of Gervaise's weapons, a tear fell. Gervaise rolled his eyes; what was wrong with her any way? Since I simply refused to fight, I decided to help the fallen. (Which was very few of course.) But I noticed Gervaise seemed to be close by. I hopped he was protecting me and not just happening to be there. But no time to think of that now. After only a matter of 10 minutes, Gervaise and his troops had the enemy retreating. They quickly ran off, and Gervaise led his army after them with war cries. But they soon stopped the pursuit.
"So that's them?" Gervaise said, turning to me. He then chuckled and shook his head. "You must be weak to be afraid of those, considering we just defeated them with only a few dead!"
My face flamed in anger, but I shivered.
"No, that's not them! That is what we are to become once they get done with us!"
"Sure, sure." He shook his head, and turned away. I clenched and raised my fists, but quickly put them down again. No time for verbal fights when arms fights were abroad.
The Sixth Chapter
We followed the retreating enemy as fast as we could for as long as we could. But they were quick, and we soon had lost them. But at least we were in the right direction... or were we?
"So... what exactly are you planning on doing?" I asked Gervaise.
"Going to get the jewel before they attack again!" Howled Gervaise. I glared at him, grinding my teeth together.
"Well, fine, I'll just go and let you find it on your own. You don't need me any more!" I said simply, and took off running. I really didn't know where I was directly going, but I kept on running. I heard nothing but murmurs, and I didn't look back. I had slowed to a jog, and looked around wildly. I then realized how stupid I really was. I knew what was lurking everywhere in these caves. Not only was Gervaise now in danger of not knowing where he was (and was vulnerable of being attacked by surprise) but also I was unarmed, alone, and afraid. But I stood tall, and looked about bravely. Darkness; complete darkness. I didn't have a torch, and I couldn't see a thing. But I decided to take a breather, and let my eyes adjust to the dark. I leaned up against the wall for a rest, only to discover there was no wall there! It was another passageway, and I had just fallen into it! I rolled down and down the path, hitting stones. Finally, I put my feet out in front of me, and skidded to a stop. Pain shot up my leg, back and from my head. I put my hand to my forehead, and felt warm sticky liquid. I knew I was bleeding, but it was only a scratch. I stood up, and whipped the dust off of myself. Then I blinked and looked around. I put pressure to my wound so the blood would stop. Then I looked back to where I came from. It was a wall that went upwards. I had rolled down a distance, and then fell from off a small cliff! I rubbed my back tenderly, and grimaced. I would be sore for a while. Since I evidently could not go back the way I came, I had no other choice then to go on ahead. I was a little shaken up not knowing where the enemy could be hiding, but boldly I pressed on. Every step made sounded as thunder in the silence. I couldn't take the silence, and I began to hum to myself in an old language that was long forgotten. The sound rose, and filled the dark cave. But no one heard me, and no one replied. For once in a long while, I felt alone. I shivered, and looked down; I hated being alone. Somehow, it was scary, and I simply hated being alone. Now and then it was good to have those quiet times... but not when it was dark, and you knew what lurked in the shadows. I, Gwenllian, was afraid.
Hwær se læs beweaxan grene
Ac se beam beweaxan micel
Hwær se brim flowan
Ac hwær se bewerian blawan
Hwær se lyft brad
Hwær æghwa geliefan
Ac nanwuht cunnan ge-lettan ic
Don ic seo lecgan ic geornfulnes beon
Hwær an first ic ceallian ham
I sighed then. I had written that song as I longed for my old home in the forest. Oh, how I wished I was there then instead of the cave! But still I ever pressed on, eyes fixed straight ahead. I could hear myself breathing heavily, and it was heavy as I panicked.
"I'm sorry Gervaise, I really am." I whispered, trembling. As long as I kept on talking, I seemed to calm down. "I am sorry for all the times I have frustrated you. I am sorry for making you angry and leading you wrong. I am sorry for teasing you, and egging you on. I am sorry... so very sorry. I like you, and I really want to be your friend." I shivered for the millionth time. Would I some day ever tell him that for real? Would he really believe me if I did? I felt more fluid run down my face, but this time it was my tears. I silently cried out my pains, troubles, fears, and let them flow down my face. The long, dark tunnel couldn't go on forever. But I was tired, and needed rest. I felt for a wall, and finding it, I slowly leaned against it. Then, I slid down it, into a sit. I hugged my knees to my chest for warmth, and cried myself into a light sleep.
Meanwhile Gervaise watched Gwenllian run off in shock. He then ran after her, but found her nowhere. He wondered in fear for a while, deciding what to do. He finally decided that I knew the way, and would come back. What he did not know is that I was lucky. I had escaped from a battle... and torture. Gervaise had ordered them to continue on, and they did. But not long after, they begin to feel strange. Something was wrong. The air became cool, and a wild breeze came from in front. It swept across them all, and whipped them. Then it was still again. Next came the lights. Lights flashed from all around, every side. They danced along the walls, casting eerie shadows. Gervaise and his troops halted. And that was there mistake. As the lights transfixed them, they noticed really nothing else. Gervaise realized it was a trap, but before being able to react, the trap was sprung. From everywhere sprang men... or beasts rather. They came climbing down the walls, marching from in front, and marching from behind. They came from everywhere, and completely surrounded them.
"Prepare to fight men!" Shouted Gervaise. But he lost his faith. There was no way of escape, and no way they were going to make it out alive. It was to be a battle to the finish. Gervaise ordered his archers to fire at will. And they did. Arrows went flying towards the enemy with great force. Most hit their mark. But where one man fell, instantly another replaced him. And those killed just simply disappeared before even hitting the ground. Gervaise's men were terrified. How where they to kill an enemy such as this?!
"Draw swords..." Gervaise said, pulling out his sword. The others followed pursuit. He lifted it in the air, paused for a few moments before letting it down. "Attack!"
Both Gervaise's army, and the others collided with each other. The cry rose, and it began.
I had awaked then. Something was brought to my attention. I quickly came to my feet, and stood silent, listening. Again, I heard it. I looked around, and listened closer. It wasn't from where I was, but somewhere far away. Then I knew what was going on. Gervaise was in trouble! I looked around, wide-eyed and panicked. Quickly, I ran down throw the dark, trying to find a way out and to get to Gervaise. Sweat fell down my face as I pushed myself to greater speed. Again and again I would trip and fall, but always jumped up and ran on. I had cuts and scrapes on my face, hands and knees. But I didn't care. All I wanted to do was find Gervaise, and help him any way I could. I knew that the tunnel could go on for hours, and even days, but I went on. Time seemed to slow down, even as I went as fast as I could go. But I knew in my heart that I would never reach them on time to stop the battle, and I may even be to late to say a dear friend.
Gervaise was skilled in fighting, and was not afraid to. And this enemy, he wanted to defeat. Gwenllian said they're tough, and he could be tougher. But he had a sense of caution, and realized that his army could be overcome. He now looked at the faces of the enemy for once. Their eyes were all black, and seemed hollow and empty. Their faces were death white... and it wasn't powder. Red paint was across their faces in different patterns. And all of them had no hair. But still stranger yet, many of them were deformed. Some were very small, others huge, and all seemed wrinkled and old. Yet they fought like furry, and attacked with full force. When your blade would enter their flesh, it seemed to burn them. And right then and there, they would vanish. At first, it surprised and frightened many of Gervaise's soldiers. But after awhile, they seemed to get used to it. Then, one by one, Gervaise's men began to fall to the sword of the enemy. And every time one of the enemy was killed, there was always another one there to replace it. Hope began to fall, and death seemed to be recognized. Soon, Gervaise found himself completely surrounded! There was nothing to do... but surrender. But still, they fought on. They fought on until their swords were knocked from their hands and they were forced to surrender. There were only about 200 men left of his army, and they were bounded, and had become slaves of the enemy! It was unbelievable... but I was right.
Suddenly, I felt myself lurch to the ground. I had fallen again, and I went to pick myself up. But this time, I paused. I lay on the cool ground, out of breath, and to the point of exhaustion. Even if I were to try to stand again, my legs would collapse beneath me. I was numb, and utterly exhausted. But that's not why I had stopped. The air had changed. Something was wrong. They were defeated, and I felt it in my heart. I cried out, and again scrambled to my feet. A new strength was found, and I managed to get up and run again. I knew not where to go, but I closed my eyes, and ran on. I would follow my heart, my mind, and my blood. I grew up as a mountaineer. I knew to trust my instinct, and I now did. I raced on, my breath coming short and raspy, I was sticky with sweat, and my legs felt like rubber. But I didn't care. I had to find a way to save Gervaise, I just had to!
Gervaise quickly marched behind the beast that I had warned him of. His head hung in defeat, but his breathed heavy in anger. Why hadn't he listened to my warnings? Pride had only hurt him. The beasts laughed and mocked him. They spat at him, and beat him. Never once had he lashed out at them, nor speak a word. He continued to march, head down. He needed to think of how to get out... and save his army. He stumbled on, never protesting of struggling. Who knew how long they marched, but at a point of time, they found themselves surrounded by light. They had entered a large opening in the tight cave. The floor beneath their tired feet was soft sand. Torch's light the cave, and cast eerie shadows upon the walls. Tunnels extended from the main part, and they were dark and aluminous. Then, the line of slaves turned right, and entered a larger tunnel. It was light by torch's as well, and the floor was also sand. Further down, they turned to the right again, and the floor became stone again. It was dark, damp, and the stench was unbearable. The lighting was very bad, but you could hear groans, growls and very strange noises. Cell after cell they passed, until they reached the end of the cell rows. There was it was lined up appeared to be like horse stalls. At the very end though, were rows and rows of chains against a stonewall. The wall was stained with blood, and the floor littered with flesh, hair and blood. The stench was terrible, and the scene was gruesome. First, Gervaise was taken from the line, and thrust against the wall. They stripped him of his shirt, and quickly clasped his hands unbearably tight. One by one, they did so to the others in the line until the chains were filled. Then, more of the men came out who were extremely large and cruel looking. They had whips of different kind in their hands, and one slashed it though the air with a laugh. It made a sharp crack, and everyone winced. Gervaise gulped. He knew what was coming next, and he now wished more then ever that he had listened to me. The man grinned, and sneered in his face. Then he spat on him, and took a few steps back. Gervaise closed his eyes, and waited for the blow. It came like a thousand stinging wasps across his chest. He could feel blood oozing from the still burning wound. His fist became clenched, but he unclenched them, and opened it eyes. He would be strong. There would be more then one blow, so he should not take out all the pain on one. Another blow, close to the first. Again, the pain, again the blow, again the pain, again the blow! Again and again it went on. Then, it all stopped. Relief came to Gervaise as he saw them unlock his right arm, then his left. But panic took him as they turned him around, and again chained him to the wall, facing it, back exposed. He knew he was to get beat on the back as well. His bleeding chest was pressed against the cool stonewall. It stung, but not as much as the actually whipping had. He hung his head, and closed his eyes again. The first blow was like all the rest, as well as the next few. But soon, it changed. They had a whip with shells, bones and other sorts of objects on the end. It would tare into your flesh, and actually rip it out! And they flayed it hard into his back. It hurt worse than anything he had every experienced. Again and again they beat him, ripping out his skin and letting the blood flow freely. Then they laughed. Gervaise clenched his fists, and managed to keep on standing. Every time the whip slashed down on him, it felt like another burden being added onto his brutally beaten back. He cried out in anguish every time it was laid into his back, and tears streamed down his dirt-covered face in pain. He thought of me... and realized that he liked her more then a friend. He felt bad for treating me cruelly, and wished he could make up for it. He just wished he would live to see me again. The awaited blow never came. He felt his hands fall to his side, and his knees suddenly collapsed beneath him. He slumped to the ground, lying in his own pool of blood. Then he felt himself being lifted up under the arms, but by this time, he felt no pain. He was cold and numb all over. His vision blurred, blacked, but he always came to again. He now just wished he would die. They drug him into a cold, dark cell and threw him in. He lay on the dirt floor that was covered in who knows what. His wounds were open and vulnerable to infection... which he was bound to get. He couldn't get up, he couldn't move, he couldn't think right. But his mind wondered, and he thought of one person...myself. He wondered if she was safe, and if he would ever see me again. He thought back to his homeland, where he was to marry a lady of great importance. In reality, he knew her little, and wasn't all to excited. When he went to war, he had hoped to have escaped her and put off the wedding. But now that he met me, he was confused and not sure what to do. His mission was to make the kingdom he served the greatest, to find the jewel, and to make a great name of himself. He had conjured all the kingdoms, except for mine, which he know regrets doing. He was now on a mission to find the jewel, and in both doings, he would make a name for himself. All would have been according to plan, only if he had listened to me and had not been caught up in his own pride. He groaned, and rolled on his back slowly and painfully. Would it just be easier to give up life, and be eased of his pain? Or did he want to see me one last time?