Part II: Diegesis
Chapter VIII: The Escape
13th Month, 20th Day, 4,632nd Year
Copyright © 1999 C.E. by Dustin Jon Scott
[Last Update: 2003-ish]
Jadia sat in the darkness of a back alley, hidden from the commotion of the streets as she attempted to think of some sort of escape plan to get herself out of Talenburg. Her head was leaned back against the cold concrete wall behind her while Tif sat on her shoulder.
“This is impossible,” Jadia said to herself, “the entire city is swarming with Orcs, Trogs, Kobolds, Drow, and they’re all looking for me.” Jadia leaned her head forward with a sigh, then ran her fingers through her hair. “And I’m betting that Ogre isn’t the only Blackguard in town, either.”
“Why would they be looking for you?” Tif queried.
“They think I have something,” said Jadia.
“What do they think you have?”
“The Eye of Draco,” replied Jadia, “It’s a bright yellow topaz, bigger than a man’s fist. It used to belong to one of the elemental scepters -- the Rod of Air. It was stolen from the ruins of Draconia over two hundred years ago by an adventurer named Richard Harcroft.”
“So where is it now?” asked Tif.
“I saw it was about five months ago,” said Jadia, “It was at the Harcroft Estate. Abby was stuffing it into her pack as we were leaving.”
Jadia clambered to her feet as Tif flew off her shoulder, emitting her usual radiance as she flapped her wings.
“Tif! Knock it off!” Jadia scolded. “You’re going to attract attention!” Jadia then reached down to the ground and picked up her backpack, “Here, get inside.”
Tif flew into the pack as Jadia closed the flap. Jadia turned around to set her backpack down on a nearby wooden crate, then went to peak around the corner in order to determine if it was yet safe to leave the alley. That’s when she came face to face with black, leather armor.
Jadia swallowed hard, her heart racing, and let her eyes drift upward just slightly. Above the black, leather armor, sitting on the man’s shoulders, was steel, spiked and silver-plated gorget. Above that she saw only a smug, Human face staring down at her, narrowing his beady brown eyes with a conceited smirk. Jadia gave a polite little smile as the Blackguard stared coldly into her big, sparkling emerald eyes, forcing herself with every ounce of mental constitution she had to come up with some sort of way out of this.
The Blackguard shot a courteous, toothy grin back to Jadia, then reached out with his armor-clad right hand and grabbed her by the throat. The lames of his silver-plated steel elbow-gauntlet dug into Jadia’s skin as he lifted her off the ground and carried her to the other side of the alley with one hand, pinning her against the concrete wall.
“You’re not getting away this time,” the white-haired Mortiferean Knight smiled.
“I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” said Jadia, her voice strained as she reached up with both hands and began trying to pry the blackguard’s hand from her throat.
Jadia swung her right leg out to her side and then piked it up as she brought it forward, attempting to kick the blackguard in the side of the head. The blackguard reached up, dropping his helm from under his arm and catching Jadia’s calf in his left hand just inches from his face. He pushed her leg back against the wall, pinning her in what looked to be a rather painful position.
“Does that hurt?” said the blackguard, smirking pompously at the fiery-haired thief.
“No,” said Jadia, rather nonchalantly despite the strain in her voice.
“Don’t lie,” said the blackguard.
“Honestly, it doesn’t hurt,” said Jadia. She then swung her left leg up at the same angle as her right and wormed her lower leg under the blackguard’s right arm, kicking it away and forcing him to drop her.
Jadia took the opportunity to make a run for her backpack, but was halted when the blackguard caught her by the hair. He pulled back hard on her crimson mane as she screamed, swinging her back forcefully against the wall and pinning her by the throat once again with his right hand.
“No human can move like that,” said the blackguard, squeezing her neck as his eyes burned horridly into hers. “What the hell are you?”
“I’m more human than you are,” said Jadia, gritting her teeth.
In one swift motion, Jadia reached her hands up and grabbed his wrist once more, then swung her body forward, kicking her legs into the air and wrapping them around the blackguard’s arm, then threw her arms up and, with the flats of her hands resting on wall behind her, pushed herself away from the wall. The blackguard stumbled backward as Jadia threw her head back, wrenching her throat loose from the blackguard’s grip as he began to drop her. She caught herself with her palms as her back arched, stopping her head from hitting the ground. In this position, she thrust her hips forward and piked her legs in a forward backflip manner, still entwined with the blackguard’s arm, and sent him sailing above her. The blackguard’s head hit the wall with a loud clunk, and he fell back to the ground as Jadia finished off her backflip, lowering herself from her handstand, one leg at a time.
The blackguard lay with his legs and lower back propped against the wall, his shoulders and head resting on the ground, with one of Jadia’s moccasins on either side of his head. Jadia brought her feet together quickly around his neck, then leaned over to smile at the barely-conscious Mortiferean Knight before twisting her hips sharply, moving her legs in a scissor-like fashion that snapped the blackguard’s neck, killing him instantly with a thick crack.
Jadia then removed the dark knight’s silver-plated sabatons, and then sat down on the ground, slipping her feet -- moccasins and all -- into the steel boots, one at a time. Next she took off the blackguard’s gorget. Jadia searched the ground, and managed to find a piece of twine which she used to tie her hair into a ponytail. She then lifted the gorget up over her head and lowered it down onto her shoulders. She pulled her ponytail out from beneath the gorget, and then proceeded to take the silver-plated gauntlets off of the blackguard’s body. She slipped her own hands into them and wiggled the fingers. They were a tad too large for Jadia’s dainty little hands, but not greatly so.
“Jadia, that was incredible!” Tif beamed, leaning out of the backpack.
“Thank you,” said Jadia, smiling brightly, “Now if only I had some frothy mead to wash this awful taste out of my mouth.” Jadia stood up, then walked over to where the blackguard had dropped his helmet. She picked the helmet up, looking over it briefly. It was a simple, black barbut helm with a t-shaped opening in the front. Jadia slipped it over her head. It was a bit too large, and she couldn’t see very well out of it, but it would have to do long enough to get her out of Talenburg.
“That’s not going to work,” said Tif.
“Why not?” said Jadia.
“Because you have two humongous breasts sticking out about a foot in front of you and they’re barely even covered,” the pixie explained, “You’re not going to make it ten feet out of this alley before someone spots you.”
“It’ll be fine,” said Jadia, “It’s not as if there aren’t plenty of female blackguards in Gaia.”
“Yeah, but I’m betting none with a figure like yours,” said Tif.
“Trust me,” said Jadia, “Now get down.” Jadia walked over and picked up her pack, slinging it around her back. She had some trouble getting it on with the armor she was now wearing, but after fiddling with the straps for a few moments, she finally got it.
Jadia walked out of the alley and into the busy street.
“It’s her! It’s the thief, Jadia Rowan! Get her!” a troglodyte shouted.
“Shit!” Jadia screamed, taking the helmet off and throwing it back in the direction of the Trog as she began running the other way.
“Told you so!” a tiny, muffled voice declared from within Jadia’s backpack.
Up ahead, Jadia spotted a one-horse carriage being pulled in the same direction she was running. She sprinted as quickly as she could, then made a leap for the back of the carriage. Hanging from the top, she lifted herself into a handstand and then lowered one foot at a time down onto the carriage’s roof. She ran to the front of the carriage, picked the Halfling driver up off of the bench and hurled him away, not paying attention to where she was tossing the pint-sized man.
Jadia took the Hobbit’s seat and snapped the reins, signaling the horse to move faster. She looked back over her shoulder, seeing two blackguards on horseback coming rapidly astern. Jadia snapped the reins again, and again. The horse ran at full speed now, but the black steeds behind her were still closing in. Her only chance would be to lose them in the forest outside Talenburg.
Rushing out of the city, Jadia was pursued by the blackguards onto the road to Krendor. Jadia pulled back on the right reign, causing the horse to veer off into the forest.
The carriage was tossed about as the horse dragged it through the woodlands, throwing Jadia from one end of the bench to the other, nearly causing her to fall off. She looked behind her, only to find that the blackguards were nearly upon her now.
Suddenly, Jadia was hit in the right side by an arrow from the trees above, causing her to scream in pain. She doubled over, toppling down off of the carriage. She hit the ground hard, her left hip taking the brunt of the fall before hitting her head on a rock. Her vision grew blurry, but she managed to roll herself onto her back, looking behind her to see the blackguards fall from their mounts under a barrage of arrows before she lost consciousness.