On the night Elara Redd decided to escape the labyrinth she had lived in all her life, the silvery sliver of moon drowned in a turbulent sea of clouds. The stars winked in and out as bioluminescent plankton on the ocean surface. Creatures from the deep stirred in silent stealth in the nearby forest as the trees moved like kelp being pushed almost parallel to the ocean floor. Waves of cold water crashed at the shack’s windows and seeped into the cracks, bringing a chill to the open room housing a small kitchenette, an area for sleeping, a tiny table and a closed-off space barely big enough to hold a toilet, and a shower stall.
“You’re crazy to go!” Rhys Cillian shouted. He watched Elara run around the small wooden shack as she stuffed all she could into the pockets of her fur-lined cloak-dyed a red, darker than spilled blood-- and a little burlap satchel she had sewn together from scraps she found. Her bed-more like a fur-filled oblong sack on a makeshift slatted base-looked undisturbed. Another night spent pacing. His brow furrowed, and his mouth pinched. “You can’t do this, E.”
Elara didn’t glance at him or utter a sound as she flitted from place to place, and some places more than once, her heart galloping faster than the sea spray beating the tin roof. Can’t forget to pack anything. Her tinsel silver hair-in two plaits down her back-trailed out behind her as she moved. Her hooded red cloak covered all of her white blouse, but showed her brown bodice, a pair of ivory pants skimmed her thighs, and knee-high brown boots that moved quietly over the wooden floor. Elara knocked her hip into her bookshelf made of discarded fruit crates. A book on animal anatomy shook loose from other volumes on animals and smacked the floor. The pain and noise startled her, but she didn’t slow down.
“Elara, stop it!” Rhys pleaded. He took two quick strides toward her and held onto her arms, so she would stop and look at him. His copper flecked marine blue eyes filled with pained concern as his brows drew together.
Elara’s body became rigid in his arms. Her kiwi green eyes were defiant as she glared up at him. Her plaits fell away from her shoulders and down her back as she stood with her head tilted up. She narrowed her eyes. “It’s crazier not to go. I can’t be here anymore.”
Rhys towered over her 5’2 frame at 6’1 in his black leather tunic, silver bullet-proof chest piece, black leather pants, and tall black boots. He leveled her with a gaze filled with power, the promise of pain, and definitely slow torture, a stare that sent all matter of creatures running.
Elara didn’t flinch. She’d seen that stare since she was three and Rhys joined the other 10 year old boys training to be dark knights. She had laughed at him when he tried to practice that powerful look on her. Elara shook her head. It’s not going to work. “I’m going, Rhys,” Her voice held quiet determination. She wrenched from his grip and yanked her red hood on as she grabbed her satchel. “Come with me or not, but I’m going.” She tugged open the door and lightning illuminated her in a quick burst. Her mouth set in a hard line, her jaw tightened, and her brow lowered.
Her serious face. Rhys heaved a sigh and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Cedrych will kill me if I go,” He said about his leader and the man who raised Elara. “But he would invent a new way to end my life if I let you die.” He threw on his black hooded fur-lined cloak over his ear-length chestnut hair, slid his broadsword across his back, and followed her to the door. He muttered, “Crazy,” As they stepped out into the abyss.