( The second weekly story prompt is writing a story about a character rising to the challenge. I decided to write about one of my OC’s in my own fantasy world of Naren. My first nanowrimo book is set there, and hopefully it will be published sometime this year. There’s lots of editing to do yet. Bhaqrin, the OC I’ve chosen for this week, isn’t in that novel, but will be in a future one. This is part of his backstory. )
Bhaqrin’s eyes fluttered open. He groaned upon realizing where he was, and silenced himself just as quickly as he caught sight of movement from the corner of his eye. He was in the pit, and a gracxul was watching over him. He must have impressed the masters quite well to be personally watched this time. His tail flicked as he tried to recall exactly what he had done to cause their ire, but it didn’t come to him. He turned his attention to assessing how dire the situation was as he heard the shuffling footsteps of the gracxul crossing the chamber to where he was imprisoned.
He had been placed in a small cell. His hands and feet had been shackled, and his wings were wrapped with rope. The cell had been cut into the rock and was only about three feet deep, three feet wide and four feet high. It was a small space, and Bhaqrin struggled to turn over to get his feet underneath him.
“Filthy lucaja.” the gracxul growled as Bhaqrin righted himself in his small space. “You refuse the master’s will, and now you will be marked as undesired!” The gracxul laughed as he held up two clawed fingers and made a snipping motion.
Bhaqrin frowned, but remained silent. He knew what the gracxul meant, but speaking to any of the masters was a grave offense, no matter the reason. Bhaqrin was not allowed to make any sort of plea to keep his wings, even if the gracxul weren’t as important as the greater dragons. Their wingless lizard-like forms were never to take to the skies, thus it was their job to handle the slaves, most of which were lucaja, like Bhaqrin. Even though the gracxul were lesser dragons, the same set of rules applied. Lucaja were not allowed to talk, and must always obey the masters.
The gracxul sneered and leaned towards the bars. “You have to wait for the big event. Your owner is petitioning the royal lair to bring your mother to watch. According to the records, she still serves our queen.” His mouth turned upward into a grin as he watched Bhaqrin’s reaction.
Panic overtook him. They couldn’t bring his mother to watch. He hadn’t seen her in so long. It wouldn’t be good for her to see him like that. He grabbed the bars with his clawed hands and shook them in protest. They couldn’t do that to her. She had been the only one who had ever shown him any kindness. He recalled the day that he was sold and taken from her. She had told him to be strong, and do what he was told. It wasn’t fair to disappoint her so.
The gracxul laughed as Bhaqrin shook the bars once more. “Ah, now you wish you had obeyed! If you keep this up, they’ll seal you in the torukil caves. There you will have much more to worry about.”
Bhaqrin paused. The gracxul was right. He had heard tales told of disobedient lucaja being abandoned deep within the caves, and he had heard stories of the torukil as well. He had never seen one, even in his time in the pit caves, but according to the stories, they resided deeper underground, and never came to the surface. Some of the stories told tales of them hunting the gracxul who wandered too far into the pit caves. He wondered if the gracxul in front of him had ever seen one.
He went back to his first thought on the subject. The gracxul was right. They absolutely would seal him in the torukil caves, and that sounded better than having his wings chopped off in front of his mother. His eyes narrowed into a hateful glare. He spit at the lizard’s grinning face. “Let me out, low-life gracxul.”
Bhaqrin woke in pitch black, noticing no difference between having his eyes closed or open. Lucaja had good night vision, but with no light source at all, he was as blind as anyone else. His head was sore, and it took him a few moments to get his bearings. He remembered that he had been in the pit and had spit on the gracxul watching him. His body ached all over. His hands and feet were still shackled. He was relieved that his wings were still tied. He still had them. He felt intact, though badly bruised.
He waited a few minutes to see if his surroundings would come into focus. They didn’t. The darkness could only mean one thing. They had sealed him in one of the torukil caves. As he recalled, that had been his goal, but now that he was here he wasn’t so sure. He reached over his head with his shackled hands and searched for the knot in the rope that bound his wings. He found it, almost too far to reach. He was able to grab it with one hand, and he worked a claw under one of the loops in the knot with his other hand. He gently pulled. If the loop of rope in the knot moved at all, it wasn’t enough to notice. Bhaqrin continued by selecting another loop to try to pull out. This time, he was sure the rope moved a little. He set about loosening the knot more, and slowly the knot unraveled. The rope fell down to the ground and Bhaqrin spread his wings. The edge of his left wing met with the wall, and the tops of both hit the ceiling, but despite being in a confining dark space, he felt a lot more freer for the moment. He began searching the ground for a rock both strong enough and big enough to break the locks on his shackles. He found one near the wall that his wing had found. He sat with his legs in front of himself, and positioned his feet so that the shackle lock rested on a larger rock underneath. He held the chain with one hand so that he would know better where it was and started hitting it with the rock in the darkness. It only needed two hits and the lock broke apart. Cheap gracxul craftsmanship worked in his favor. He hurriedly positioned his other foot near the larger rock and pounded that lock off as well. His feet were free.
His hands would be more difficult. He wouldn’t be able to hold the chain to steady it in one spot, but even then, it only took five extra tries to get the lock off his left wrist broken. He dropped the rock as the lock released, and he fumbled around in the dark looking for it. It hadn’t gone far. He found it on the other side of the larger rock and wrapped his free hand around it.
He stopped. There was a noise. It sounded like claws on rock, tapping and scratching as they scurried along. The noise stopped. Bhaqrin waited and listened, not daring to move. A hiss from the right caused him to turn his head that direction, but as soon as he did, a searing pain ripped through his left wing. The torukil had found him.
He reached back, grabbing the one that had sunk its claws and teeth into his wing and ripping it away. They were smaller, and much lighter than him, and this one thudded with a crack against the wall. More hissing filled the cave, and Bhaqrin realized there must be at least five others, probably more. Not that it mattered. They were at an advantage as he was a stranger in their hunting ground. Bhaqrin wanted to make a run for it, but not being able to see left him at even a greater disadvantage. He had a better chance if he stayed to fight.
A bite on his neck made him immediately question that decision. He grabbed the torukil by its throat and squeezed. While waiting for the torukil’s jaws to release, another torukil jumped on his injured wing. He extended his wing, slamming the small beast into the ceiling. Another bit at his arm, but the torukil at his neck loosened its grip and Bhaqrin was able to slam both against the wall at the same time. He heard another hiss followed by clicks, then the scratching of the claws on the rock again. It sounded as if they were retreating, for now. Bhaqrin knew that if he didn’t find a way out, and quickly, they would be back and in greater numbers.
He stumbled along in the darkness, his right wrist still shackled with an empty chain hanging from it and clanging in the dark. He felt along his neck. Luckily, his collar with his identification tags had wound up protecting him. Although the torukil’s teeth had broken the skin, the bleeding had stopped and there was very little pain. His wing was another story. The pain throbbed through it. Just as he was thinking about how long it would be before he could fly again, the bottom of the cave sloped at a dangerous angle. Bhaqrin lost his footing and slipped. He slowed himself by outstretching his wings, but it was not enough to stop him from sliding off an edge. He flapped both wings, fighting through the pain to stay aloft and land gently. He was failing at the staying aloft part, and felt the landing wasn’t going to be very gentle either. He spiraled downward, doing his best to at least slow his fall.
He landed with a splash. Water. He gasped as his head came back to the surface. He’d found an underground river. It carried him along as he struggled to stay afloat. He grasped for something to hold onto, but found nothing. He didn’t hear the roaring sound at first, and had little time to prepare by the time he did. He saw it before he heard it. The water seemingly disappeared just a short distance away.
Then he realized, he saw it. There was light. Where there was light, there must be an exit to the outside. He tried to push himself towards the waterfall while fighting the current to keep his head up. He needed to be able to break free of the river, otherwise the water would push him down, probably into rocks. He raised his wings up out of the water just as he reached the edge of the roaring water and flapped just once, pulling himself out away from the water and into a glide. The cold water had temporarily made his wing feel a little better, though it made the rest of his body numb. He landed, less gently than he would have liked, on the bank of the river, and near the exit of the cave. He looked outside to the glaring light. He had no idea where he would go, but he knew it had to be far from here. The masters would certainly kill him if he was found. He gave himself only a few minutes to catch his breath then hurried out into the open air.