The man ran.
Trees and shrubs raced past, clutching and tearing at the fabric of his thin green shirt. He dashed at a breakneck pace, jumping over branches and fallen trunks in the path. He concentrated only on his deseperate dash. After a while, he glanced back to see if his pursuers had caught up with him. He saw nothing. Relieved, he stopped at the edge of a small clearing. The forest was eerily quiet, except for the sound of his pants. Weary, he leaned against the trunk of a pine tree, catching his breath. He had lost them.
An arrow suddenly pierced the calm, missing his throat by a centimeter. It landed, quivering, in the bark of the tree. The man looked around, desperately scanning for an escape route, but his efforts were futile. He watched with a heavy heart as soldiers surrounded him, blocking off all exits. There was no chance of escape. Unless... The man hesitated, scanned for escape routes once again, and finding nothing, sighed. He had no choice. It was risky, but it was a risk he'd have to take. Taking out a small golden key, he clasped it in his palm, hiding it behind his back. His lips moved wordlessly as glowing runes swirled above his head. Before the soldiers had a chance to react, the forest was lit by a sudden blinding flash of light. When the light subsided, an ethereal vortex of swirling, rippling colors appeared in the center of the clearing. He made a desperate leap towards it, but was too late. An arrow pierced his side a second before he fell into the vortex. There was another blinding flash of light that lit the forest with luminescent colors, causing the soldiers to avert their eyes in order to avoid being blinded. When it faded away, man and portal had vanished.
"He got away. What now?" a soldier asked grimly.
"But he will not survive. In any case, we have won this round. Come, let us report this to the king," the commander—a tall man with a strong build and hard, calculating gray eyes—replied.
With that said, the soldiers turned and walked away, melting into the shadowy depths of the night.
Kylar woke to find himself being held at knifepoint.
Standing in front of him was a slender girl with light brown hair pulled back into a tight braid. She glared at him, holding the tip of razor-sharp dagger to his throat. "State your name and your intentions," she demanded, her voice ringing out in the otherwise silent room. Kylar held up his hands, trying to show her that he wasn't an enemy. "Kylar. My name's Kylar. I don't really have any intentions. See, I kinda just woke up here, and I have no idea where I am, or how I got here, heck, all I remember is my name!"
The girl glared at him suspiciously, obviously not buying his story. Kylar was racking his mind, trying to figure out how to convince her not to kill him, when her eyes suddenly widened.
"Where did you get that from?" she demanded.
"What do you mean?" Kylar asked, confused.
"The key," she replied, her voice barely a whisper. She stared at Kylar's chest, an unreadable expression on her face. Kylar followed her gaze, confused. His eyes landed on a small silver key which hung from a chain around his neck.
"I-I don't know--," Kylar started to explain, but he was cut off.
"Stand up. Now. Don't try anything, or I swear I will slit your throat." Kylar held up his hands, trying to show her that he meant no harm. He was baffled by the sudden turns of events, but had no intention of giving the girl any reasons to kill him. He slowly walked out of the cramped room he had woken up in, the girl behind him, the tip of her knife resting on the back of his neck. It wasn't until they had reached a flight of stairs leading upwards that Kylar dared risk asking a question.
"Pardon me for asking, but...where exactly are you taking me?"
"To the Captain," the girl replied curtly. "Keep walking!" She prodded him up the flight of stairs, which lead to a small trapdoor built into the roof. Kylar pushed open the trapdoor, then hoisted himself up onto the deck of a ship. The girl followed suit. Kylar took a few wary steps further, then stopped in his tracks. He had guessed that they were on a ship the second he had woken up in the cramped room, but he hadn't been expecting his.
Gazing down the side of the ship, he could see various patches of green spreading out in all directions as far as the eye could see, with an occasional silver thread cutting through them; forests and rivers, mountains and valleys.
An occasional bird flew past, but these weren't the types of birds he was used to seeing. They had long, arched necks like that of a swan, large wings, long tails, and multi-colored feathers with colors that rippled and shifted under the bright sunlight.
He was on a flying ship.
Kylar's first instinct was to barf. His second instinct was to faint. He chose the latter.
When he finally came to, he found himself lying on the floor. His hands and feet were bound, and there was a blindfold over his eyes. He heard a few snippets of conversation coming from somewhere to his left.
"What do we do? The key--"
"...missing for two days now....Raphael.."
"He can't...dangerous....seems clueless.....question him...."
The words became clearer as the voices drew closer.
"We'll just have to risk it."
The blindfold was suddenly lifted, and Kylar found himself staring up at a rather intimidating man with a weathered and scarred face. His had a tangled mass of a beard, and an eyepatch covered his right eye. There was a stern expression in his eyes, but Kylar thought that he detected a hint of amusement.
"Now, what do we have here? Adela here seems to think that you're a troublemaker," the man said, a smile on his face. Kylar noticed the way that he said "troublemaker", as if he seemed to think that Kylar was much more than that. The man casually circled around him, but Kylar noticed the dagger that he held in his hand. "You say that you don't remember anything....but I'm not so sure. Now, boy, tell me the truth, or I'm afraid that I'll have to resort to more...drastic measures."
Kylar gulped nervously. He had horrible luck. First the girl, now this. He was pretty sure that he was as good as dead. "I'm not lying, sir. I really don't remember anything."
"A likely story," the girl replied sarcastically. "You suddenly show up on the ship with key, then claim to not remember anything. Of course you're not lying!" She unsheathed her dagger, and Kylar was sure that he was done for, but then the man spoke.
"No. Don't hurt him." The man stared at him for a long moment before he spoke again. "I believe him."
Kylar tried hard not to barf. The novelty of being on a flying ship had worn off quickly, and all that was left now was the feeling of nausea. He could see the satisfaction in the Adela's eyes as she watched him with a smug look on her face. After it had been decided that he wouldn't be killed, he had been brought to a tiny cramped room not much different from the one he had woken up in.
His few attempts at friendly conversation had failed, and no one had spoken for the past hour or so. The silence was broken when the door suddenly opened. A figure slipped into the room, set a tray on the floor, and left without a word.
Adela picked up the tray, her movements languid. She boredly inspected it, then picked up a chunk of bread and tossed it at Kylar. He barely managed to catch it at the last second. Adela laughed, a mocking, disdainful laugh that made him flush ashen. He stared down at the bread in his hands, purposely avoiding her piercing gares. The air was practically humming with tension. He felt as though she was trying to gaze into his mind, to retrieve whatever secrets that were hiding in its corners.
Adela Andrea: Ah-DEE-lah Ahn-DREE-ah