01 8 11 m o o n 12
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Silence suffocated the city. The rising moon was hidden behind clouds and darkness lurked in every corner, every alleyway. There wasn't a living soul to be seen. All were gathered once more, the Bishops and their loyal citizens, to celebrate the Annual Assemblage of Glorified. All except one.
Back pressed against an alleyway wall, she held a hand over her mouth as a guard walked past, trying to hide her rapid breathing. More guards would be coming soon when they realized she was missing, sparking more urgency into her. She needed to go, she needed to go now.
As soon as the guard passed by, she was bolting down the dark alley. Her backpack hit her back as her feet hit the concrete below her. Heart beating out of control, she made it to the end of the alley, taking a sharp turn to the east, down another path.
It was so unused, it seemed almost abandoned. Guards hardly patrolled this alley, and she used that to her advantage. She ran on, avoiding the cracked concrete with memorization that was practically burned into her, before stopping in front of a building. It was off-limits, but she could care less. Hardly hesitating, she pulled out a hairpin from her hair, kneeling down quickly to pick the lock. With practiced ease, it clicked much too loudly in the abandoned alleyway, and the door was unlocked.
Then she heard the yelling of guards, rapidly growing louder. Her heart leapt into her throat and adrenaline surged within her. She quickly pulled open the old dark grey door, shutting it almost fully closed behind her, holding it there. She couldn't risk shutting it and having the guards hear the door click. She was frozen with fear as she listened to the guards stop in front of the building.
"I saw her!" One shouted. "She has to be around here!"
"All these buildings are sealed, there is no way she's still here!" Another shouted.
"Shut up, both of you!" A harsh voice commanded. "She is probably running towards the limit of the Vista, and you two are letting her." He sneered out. "I do not think our Bishop would want to know of this, would he?"
All she could hear was silence between the guards for a quick moment, and she guessed that they shook their heads in fear of their worshipped Bishop, Nico. He was the most ruthless of them all.
"I did not think so. Get going, now!" The guard yelled, and the girl in questioning flinched from the loud voice behind the door, feeling that fear strike deep into her.
She heard the two guards take off, followed by their leader. When their sounds of running became almost silent, she let out a shaky sigh of relief. She couldn't relax just yet, however. She was still in the city. She was still in danger. Anyone could find the door unlocked, and she didn't want to be there when they did.
She gently pushed the door shut, wincing at the quiet click, before she turned away from the door. Darkness swarmed in her vision, and she unable to see anything in front of her. Her heart constricted, terrified of what could be in the dark. She was quick to remind herself, however, that she'd rather encounter monsters in the dark than a Bishop ever again. Blindly, she took a hesitant step forward. After finding it to be stable footing, she took a few more hesitant steps, until she was a little ways away from the door. A cool breeze gently floated past her, promising what she could only hope was freedom.
She shrugged off her backpack, kneeling down. Feeling around, her fingers gripped the zipper, quickly opening it. Her hand reached down inside, and it only took her a moment to grip onto the flashlight she had stolen. With trembling fingers, she flicked the switch, and white, lifeless light filled the building she stood in.
Her stomach dropped as she saw that if she would have continued to walk blindly forward, she would have fallen down a spiral set of stairs that descended far, far down, she could not see the bottom, swallowed by the dark. Swallowing thickly, she zipped up her backpack, shrugged it back on, and started to make her way down the steps, refusing to look back.
The young woman felt nervousness fill her, yet the overwhelming feeling of being free was filling her the more she descended, farther away from the grasp of the Bishops. It made her feel excited, yet the fear still remained. She hadn't the faintest idea of what she was getting herself into, no idea what laid outside of the walls of the city. The city was all she had known, but she could do it no longer.
Her eyes caught onto something painted onto the walls, and she reached a hand up to gently touch it. A phrase, one whispered, in fear that the Bishops would hear it.
"East is up." She practically mouthed, almost no noise leaving her. The young woman had no idea if the group that valued those words were even still around, or if they all had died off. Yet she pushed on down the steps, dropping her hand from the markings. The bright color, like that of the wilting flowers in her abandoned desk, told her she needed to go.
Whoever had built this, whether it be the Bishops or their ancestors, hadn't thought about the amount of steps they had built, she thought to herself. She hadn't learned the history anyways, as no one was supposed to even know of this staircase. It was an accident that she had stumbled upon it, as a young girl, unaware of how the Bishops manipulated and controlled them all. It was her fault that the lock had been placed onto it, but it had never truly left her mind, despite the Bishops' efforts.
She waved her light into the darkness below her feet, and found that she was closer to the end of the steps then she had thought. Exhilaration filled her, and she quickly descended the last part of the stairs. The cool breeze grew stronger, and she shut her eyes, breathing in.
She couldn't describe the things she was smelling in the breeze, but somehow, she felt as if it was beckoning her further, away from those that controlled her. Her heart felt like it was going to burst out of her chest at any moment, or she was going to wake up from this dream. Only her mind would be so cruel.
She stepped off of the step, and was met with a tunnel, with seemingly no end. The light of her flashlight only went so far. She gripped the strap of her backpack tightly, shutting her eyes for a moment. She breathed in deeply, letting it out. She could do this. She needed to do this.
There was no where for her to go back to now, not without facing the wrath of the Bishops. She had no home, but then again, she didn't think she ever did have one. How could that place be a home?
She opened her eyes, and continued to walk forward, head held high as she did. Even if she were alone, she had never felt so free. With every step she took, it felt as if a weight was being lifted off of her chest. she was almost tempted to run once more, if only to feel alive. She knew doing that would be unwise, as saving her energy for whatever she encountered next was necessary.
Her eyebrows furrowed as the concrete she walked upon ended and her shoes stepped in... dirt? Her eyes moved to the walls, shining her light over them. They were made of dirt, of earth. Did this mean she was close to fully escaping, of getting away from that grey circle of death?
A noise echoed from behind her, sounding like a distorted form of a door being slammed open angrily. Then she heard what sounded like voices, and fear filled her, constricting her breathing. She didn't hesitate before switching her flashlight off, and bolting down the tunnel. She could hear her rapid footsteps echoing throughout the tunnel, but could do nothing about it. The guards were coming to get her, or even worse, a Bishop himself. That fear made her push herself, trying to run as fast as she could away from the angry echoing voices behind her.
A new light appeared in the darkness, just a sliver of an opening, but she ran towards it. That had to be it! That had to be the exit, the escape, she needed! It only grew larger in size as she ran towards it, the light filling her vision. The scent of freedom filled her lungs, and she greedily sucked it in as she bolted from the tunnel.
She was hardly expecting the mostly even pathway to suddenly turn into something completely opposite. Her eyes only caught sight of the new landscape around her for a quick moment, green bathed in the white glow of the moon, before she was almost falling forward, feet sliding. She caught herself, eyes wide with a mixture of adrenaline and fear, looking down. She swallowed back the bile that threatened to escape her, her eyes catching onto a path that had obviously been worn into the green around her.
Echoes reminded her of why she had almost fallen, and she wasted no time before stumbling down the uneven path, almost falling again. She reached the bottom of the path, and felt her breath be taken away, not only from all of the running, but the sight around her. Tall green cliffs acted as walls, and a stream ran through the middle of them both, all bathed in the light of the moon. It was unlike anything she had ever seen before, and she felt tears well up in her eyes at the sight.
But she couldn't admire the sight right now, not when the echoes were angry. Her eyes quickly scanned the area, and she saw another pathway up atop of a higher ledge. She'd have to climb to get there, but she could do it. She had to.
Bolting, she ran through the stream, freezing cold water splashing onto her pants as she did. She neared the ledge and stepped on a tall rock, using it to push herself up higher as she jumped. Her body hit the hard and cold wall of the ledge, and she felt her breath leave her from the impact. She quickly grasped onto rocks, holding herself up as she hissed out in pain.
She forced herself to move, climbing up the wall, almost losing her grip as the yelling became louder. She pulled herself over the ledge, heaving out for air as her legs cramped. The pathway lead to a crevice, where she would be hidden. It was that thought, that she'd be safe, that pushed her to move, to get up.
She stumbled into the crevice, pushing herself into the darkness once more. She could hear the angry mutterings of a Bishop, his voice gravelly. Her heart sank into her stomach as she realized it was Nico. She dared not breathe, in fear he would hear her and drag her back to Dema. Her bones felt frozen, hands tightly clenching her shirt. It felt like his eyes were staring directly at her, even though that was impossible. It had to be impossible. She was hidden, yet she was paralyzed with fear as if he was staring at her.
It went silent, yet she hesitated. Nico could still be down there, still be lurking. She waited what felt like hours, tense with fear constricting her breathing, before she released her breath.
The young woman peeled her eyes open, which she didn't know she had shut, and looked out of the crevice. She saw no one at the edge of the tunnel anymore, and she let out a long, shaky sigh of relief.
Her legs gave out beneath her, and she slid down the crevice wall behind her. Pain filled her, and she glanced down at her hands. Blood covered one from the cut and it stung and burned, while the other one hardly looked better, red and sore.
But she was alive. She was alive and free.
She let out a shaky laugh at this realization, that quickly turned into a sob, echoing throughout the cave. Tears rolled down frozen cheeks, as her breath faltered, clutching her bleeding hand to her chest as she leaned back on her backpack. Her adrenaline was wearing off, leaving her just aware of how pitiful her escape truly had ended up; cold, bleeding, and freezing in a cave in the middle of the wilderness.
And, to top it all off, she had dropped her flashlight when she jumped. No doubt it was broken now, so there was no use in going back to get it. Yet she could have used it, as the crevice she sat in was dark, the light of the moon barely cutting into the darkness. What was she to do?
She had left everything she had known, diving into the Unknown with no hesitation, no regards to what her actions had done.