Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Audience Adventure 2 - Day 20

 Chapter 20

The band of Topsiders sat and drank from small flasks that hung off their belts. The fight had been short but intense and they were stretching their shoulders.

‘I don’t know how you cope down here - there’s no air.’ Said the leader over their shoulder to Marine, ‘It’s exhausting to do anything.’

Marine blinked. She had a desperate desire to be well thought of by this person; it was like meeting Ezria all over again. She concentrated on the air in the Cavern - it tasted of leaves and mould and mud. She thought of the air Topside on that brief visit before the world had collapsed: it had tasted of water, and grass and movement. She understood what the Tingion was saying.

‘You get used to it.’ Marine said, trying to shrug but realising it was extremely painful with her hands tied behind her back. ‘What brought you down here?’

The Tingion frowned at her and Marine realised the stupidity of trying to make light conversation in a hostage situation. Why should this elite Topsider bring her in on their plans? The leader didn’t reply, just looked away and wandered back over to their band of Tingions. They dropped a casual hand on the shoulder of the nearest Tingion and Marine felt an odd stab of jealousy through her stomach. She heard conversation start up amongst the group and tried to train her ears onto what they were saying. She felt like she should be able to pull her hearing further, but her hands couldn’t reach the stone in her pocket from the ties and the questions bouncing around her head were disrupting her focus on the magic.

Mortglade shuffled, wormlike, across the ground towards Marine, ‘Swarthy bunch, eh?’ She said conspiratorially, and Marine smiled. Mortglade was the best at keeping spirits up.

‘I didn’t know anyone still lived Topside.’ Marine whispered back, she felt like a child but she couldn’t help being in awe of these mysterious figures.

‘Oh yes, there’s a scarce few here and there. They very rarely venture down here though, and no one down here has wanted to acknowledge them. It’s easier to just hope they die of something. Quietly.’ Mortglade smiled grimly. Marine knew Mortglade was the most analytical of problems with the Tingion way of life, and she made a mental note to sit down and discuss more of their history. If they escaped.

‘Prepare them for moving out.’ She heard the lead Topsider call to the others, and then watched as they strode into the shadows. Marine assumed it was the call of nature, but she never found out as Ezria burst from the shadows and bundled the Topsider into the ground.

Marine watched as a furious Ezria came like a blur from the darkness and pummelled the tall Tingion into the ground. She was a full conker shorter but it made no differences as her fists pummelled into the uniform of the Topsider. The Topsider got their wits together and joined in the fight; pushing back against Ezria’s collar and rolling her into her back. Ezria managed to get her legs tucked up and forced her feet against the Topsider’s stomach with a full push away from curled. The Topsider flew back into the shadows and Marine strained her neck to see what was going on.

The other Topsiders had dropped their duties with the captive team and were dashing over to help their leader. The leader suddenly swung back into view; literally flung through the air by Ezria as she barrelled in low into their legs and forced them back into the light. The Topsider hit the ground with a noise that screamed of breathlessness. Marine watched as Ezria came flying out of the shadows and onto the torso of the topsider. In the light from the single glow lamp lit by the Topsiders’ packs, Ezria saw the shimmer of a blade and realised with horror that Ezria was going in for the kill shot.

Later, Marine would get a full account from Kurann about what happened, but in that moment she didn’t stop to think what was happening or how. She stood up and ran towards the fight. Faster than her legs had ever moved - she didn’t even feel her feet skimming the floor. Had she been thinking, she would have noticed herself outstripping the Topsiders, who had a healthy head start on her. She didn’t think about any of that. She just ran. She had to stop that knife making contact.

From 4 steps away she leapt into Ezria, pushing her from the crouching position and back onto the muddy floor. She felt Ezria’s blade rip into her shoulder as she landed awkwardly across the Tingion and knife. They both lay on the floor panting; hearing the footsteps of the Topsiders arriving and the scuffling that meant they were helping their leader up.

‘What are you doing?’ Ezria spat at Marine, and Marine realised, as though sobering up, that she had no idea. She was just acting completely on instinct. Hands grabbed both of them and pulled them apart, although Marine noticed the hands were not as rough as before.

‘Wasn’t she tied up?’ She heard someone ask, and they were right; she had been. But it would take Kurann and a cup of Root Ale to explain to her how the ropes had simply vanished as Marine took flight towards the fight.

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