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Adventure Fantasy Fiction

The crisp autumn breeze caressed her cheeks. The hair that had fallen over her eyes swept back, along with the loose leaves of the tree in which she was residing. The lit torches on the stone wall flickered at the sudden gust. She felt her heart stop, her stomach drop to her aching feet.

“No,” she whispered, horror crashing through her.

The wind gusted again, harder, the scant clouds above beginning to move faster across the night sky. Panic crashing into her, she watched the guards on the wall. They did not seem to notice the shift in the wind. Did not seem to realize how it changed their fates.

She clambered down the tree, skin scratching against the tough bark. Her bare feet hit the grass seconds later. In the next moment, she was sprinting through the forest, flying silently through the trees as she retraced the path she had traveled earlier in the evening.

The camp came into view thanks to the ample starlight—there were no torches lit, despite the commotion that reached her ears. Fire would give away their position, a position they had worked for years to secure. She pushed her way through the first ring of tents, some alarmed comrades starting at her sudden appearance, and ran straight to the center of their base.

“Commander!” she gasped, skidding to a halt beside him. He turned from the comrades before him, face stern, no emotions playing in the dark irises.

“Why have you abandoned your post?” he hissed.

“The wind,” she explained through her gasps. “The wind shifted, Commander. It is against us now. We must call off the attack.”

The camp around them grew quiet at her words.

“We cannot call off the attack,” the Commander said slowly, hand drifting to the hilt of the sword on his hip. “We have worked too long to get to this point.”

“We are already at a disadvantage, being downhill of the wall,” she snapped back, anger replacing the panic. “With the wind against us now, we will not be able to breach it.”

“The guard is reduced tonight, and reinforcements will return tomorrow. Our window will close then. It must be tonight.”

He turned away from her. A dismissal.

“Commander!” she yelled, grabbing his armored shoulder. The crowd around her murmured at the bold move. “We may still have a chance tomorrow. But if we attack with the wind against us, many will die. We will not be successful!”

“You have forgotten your place!” he yelled, swiveling back to face her. “Return to your post. Wait for our signal. If you abandon it again, you abandon your right to live.”

He stormed off, into the largest tent of the camp. Her comrades dissipated, not one of them daring to approach her. She stood, trembling slightly, as they all resumed their duties. The wind pulled at her hair again.

She did not bother hurrying as she made her way back to her post. The rough bark did not bother her as much as she pulled herself up each branch, body as numb as her mind. She silently rested on the thin branch, tree swaying in the wind, and stared unseeingly at the fort before her.

Rebelling against tyranny had seemed noble. Four years ago, the decision had been easy for her. The Commander and his party had arrived too late, the town already reduced to cinders, but they had waded through every corpse until they found her. Barely breathing, they had carried her to safety, while the wind had carried the ashes of her family in the opposite direction.

Now, things were not so black and white. After years, with only small victories fueling them forward, she realized there would be no vengeance for her fallen family. There would be no dismantling the rulers that stole without reason, that killed without hesitation. If they found her alive after this failed siege...her fate would be worse than death.

The sound of a bird call echoed from below.

Her body went ridged at the signal, heart racing ahead. The soft sound of leaves crunching alerted her to the presence of the Commander and his company. Below her, shadows moved through the trees, weapons drawn. All that was left of their host stood below her. They stopped their forward motion, waiting for her.

She reached for the bow strapped to her back. The weapon was a familiar weight in her hand. The quiver at her hip was full of arrows, but one was longer than the others. Heavier. She reached for that one.

She only had one shot. One chance to make this count. The fort before them was still unaware of their presence in the trees. The late hour of the night had the small array of guards gazing at the stars above their heads, rather than the forest at the bottom of the hill. She didn’t blame them. No one in their right mind would dare dream of sacking this fort, not when its rulers had held it for a thousand years.

But no one in this company was in their right mind. Misfits, held together underneath a banner of grief. A party that knew loss enough to not fear death. Free people with nothing left to lose.

She took a deep, steadying breath. Her feet scrapped on the bark as she slid herself into a more balanced position. The arrow she nocked into place was one of a kind, specially crafted by her over the last week. The smell of gasoline made her nauseous. The Commander had given her reign over their scant supplies in order to do so. The last of their supplies. The last of their hope.

She pulled back the nocked arrow, bringing it to her shoulder. Another steadying breath, and she leaned back, tilting the arrow towards the sky. The fort was uphill, upwind. The shot was impossible. She kept her eyes on the mounted torch. Her arrow would have to pass through the flame, would have to light, before it sailed into the interior and lit the arsenal of ammo that waited within the stone walls.

Light guards, a heavy amount of explosive material horded within...the Commander had waited years for this opportunity. She would try for him. She would most likely die for him.

Just then, the wind shifted.

March 03, 2024 21:17

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5 comments

Hannah Lynn
22:52 Mar 13, 2024

Wow really cool take on the prompt... something so different, very imaginative!

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Alexis Araneta
09:26 Mar 11, 2024

Very lovely use of detail here. I love how you kept the tension throughout the story. Lovely job.

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Kelly Grabovac
15:31 Mar 11, 2024

Thank you for the kind words!

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Joe Sweeney
05:24 Mar 10, 2024

The tension and conflict is good in this story. The detail is also really good. Great use of punctuation, it helps add to the tension and conflict.

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Kelly Grabovac
22:16 Mar 10, 2024

Thank you!

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