Howdy! It’s #BlogBattle time! These battles are hosted by Rachael Ritchey and always promise great stories. Follow the link for the rules and list of contenders. This week’s word is OASIS.
Claws skittered in the alleyway behind the shadowed figure. It peered around from under the shelter of a deep hood. The sound was the only indication of its pursuers. The Guild had warned that something like this would happen, but that’s the risk all jumpers took when accepting a mission.
Cassia gripped her dagger tighter under her cloak and made a mad dash for the welcoming darkness across the street. She crouched against a wall, straining for any disturbance in the midnight air. She was halfway down the littered alley when an eerie howl cut the night. They’d seen her!
She sprinted towards the harbor, checking to make sure the papers were tucked into the waterproof satchel. Thundering footsteps took up pursuit and she frantically tried to increase her pace. Her pursuers operated in the shadows much like her kind, but they hadn’t been seen in over ten years. Just her luck they’d turn up tonight while she was on a rare solo mission.
The wide harbor glimmered before her in the dim light of the slivered moon. Just a few steps and she’d be safe in its depths. A heavy body slammed into her and sent her flying into neatly stacked barrels. They fell with a tremendous crash and Cassia curled up protectively as they clattered all around. A surprised grunt sounded and she took advantage of her pursuer’s distraction and plunged into the water. Angry howls faded behind her as the water swirled around her.
She broke the surface in sunlight and gained her feet in a gurgling river. The water tasted like Saura, at least one county away from the city. Nor far enough. She scrambled out of the water, perfectly dry, and ran a few steps down river until she found a spot deep enough to jump back in. She surfaced in a well next to an abandoned farmhouse. She scrabbled up the walls, gaining enough height before falling back in.
She continued to jump, trying to put as much distance between her and the enemy as possible. When she finally stopped to rest, she noticed a tear in her cloak. A swatch was missing from under her arm. Big enough to track her through the shadows. She hurriedly shucked the cloak and left it floating in a pond before continuing on her way.
She came out from under water into surprising heat. She paddled to the side of the pool and hauled herself out into the welcome shade of an olive tree. She settled under its branches to gain her breath. A light breeze kicked up fine sand to swirl about her, but it was not enough to dispel the warmth of the sun. Her back shirt and deep blue trousers were doing her no favors as the dark material eagerly soaked up the rays. Her toes, normally frigid when she jumped, were toasting in her fur lined leather boots. Her almond shaped eyes squinted in the brightness as she glanced around the oasis, trying to plan her next move.
She was two countries away from Headquarters, with retrieved information to deliver, and Shadow jumpers on her trail. She fingered her mother’s beaded bracelet as she pondered. Water travel was faster than shadow travel but not by much. Hopefully she lost them at the pond. As long as she had left nothing else behind, they couldn’t track her here. But once she was back in the waterways there was a chance they could pick up the trail again.
Her thoughts were disrupted by a herd of wild goats that came to drink at the oasis. They warily approached, unused to seeing humans at the water. Cassia remained as still as possible. She could use one to disguise her watery scent. She needed to get back to Drusus and report. Her lips curved into a smile at the thought of the captain. He’d love seeing his sanctuary disrupted by wild goat. She picked out the smallest of the herd, took a steadying breath, and charged. The herd scattered in panic but the kid was not fast enough. She scooped him up and jumped into the pool, tightened her grip even as it hammered at her with head and hooves.
Two calculated jumps later, she emerged into a wide stone room littered with precise, stone rimmed pools. The goat’s wailing bleats echoed off the vaulted ceiling and tasteful columns. Three guards with spears poised halted their attack with laughs when they saw her treading water with the saturated goat.
“Help me out,” she laughed. One bent down to retrieve the goat and was rewarded with several kicks for his pains. He released it onto the tiled floor and it scampered off to sample the ferns that spilled out of every opening.
Cassia ascended the steps out of the pool and flicked away some tenacious droplets as Captain Drusus strode in. She saluted smartly and tried to relieve his frown with a bright smile. It didn’t work.
“And why, pray, have you brought that here?” he didn’t even look at the kid. She handed over the pouch and gave her report, detailing her flight and her pursuers. The corners of Drusus’ mouth deepened into his frown at the mention of the Shadow jumpers.
“I’ll alert the Council,” he said. “You may be required to give another report before them,” he warned. Cassia saluted again. It was to be expected. She couldn’t quite help her snicker as the goat tried its fledging horns on Drusus’ leg. He treated it to a fiery glare but it only clopped over to Cassie to nibble at her tasseled boots.
“Dinner, sir?” a guard choked on his laughter. Drusus regarded Cassia.
“No. I think Cassia just volunteered to take care of it.”
‘’Anything that comes through the water is a jumper’s responsibility.”
“There’s nowhere to put it. Your room will do nicely.” Drusus left with a slight smirk.
“Hilarious.” Cassia’s tongue saluted the retreating officer.
“Maah!” the goat agreed.
I did it again. This was supposed to be an innocent story with a definite ending, but I think it might get filed into the potential story folder. SOMEONE TEACH ME TO WRITE STORIES IN JUST 1000 WORDS!!