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Clockwise

If you could turn back time... would you?

By Paige HermionePublished 3 years ago 8 min read

She was not alone.

Aideen had grown accustomed to the sound of her own footsteps as her boot met with the wetness of newly rained on soil, the mud streaking the leather like paint strokes on canvas. She knew what it sounded like to be alone...

And that was how she knew she wasn't. But the trees were like a labyrinth, in a few moments her stalker would lose her, for she was certain they didn't know how to navigate the forest. Certain they knew nothing of the line of water trickling to the river, or the backwards footsteps she purposely left behind to lead the Inferior astray, as they didn't even know how to follow someone without being detected.

She pulled the hood over her muddy face, continuing to act clueless. Her ears managed to catch quiet panting from the tree south west of her, they had been tailing her for less than five minutes, so their lack of air was not caused by her quick paced walking. They, too, were running from something. And with their own lack of company, she had to assume they were one of the Rogue; those who travelled alone. Belonging to no group of people. Outcasted. The Rogue were non-existent before the fall of Pangaea, when all things were in harmony, and mother Kassandre reigned. But ever since the Inferior rebelled the against the higher power - the Elite - the Earth's continents split once again. And mankind ran rampant in the streets, no order, no law. Anyone could have power, and the Elite were hunted down. But those who didn't seek to join a group were pronounced Rogue.

It was a rarity to encounter one, as no one in their sane mind would want to be alone, not in this world. But they were never without a trail of the Inferior following after them. Any minute now she may hear howling war cries, and her stalker would be forced to run or hide, as would she. But they didn't often survive long.

She tightened her grip on the strap of her satchel, and her other hand reached to her chest, checking for the chain hung around her neck. Thankfully, her fingertips met with the cold metal of the small clock locket, she let out a silent sigh and tucked it into her shirt, a quiet clink as it fell, resting on her bare skin.

Her heart skipped a beat when she heard them hollering. They arrived sooner than expected, which meant her stalker was inexperienced, likely a new outcast if they couldn't manage to buy themselves more time. What an inconvenience.

She broke into a run, heading straight for the most crowded thicket of trees situated on a small hill. The higher her ground the better, but not up the trees. There were arrow watchers with a deadly accuracy who scaled the branches with unmatched speed, the sooner she found a bush to camouflage in the sooner she would be rid of them.

She took a leap of faith over the hill, her landing was less then graceful and harsh on her toes but thankfully she landed in the safety of thick wild shrubs growing in the area, the mud she applied to her face let her blend in better with the dirt and twigs. With a swift movement, she turned herself over, her stomach resting on the damp ground, the smell of rich soil strong on her nose.

Through the bush's small gaps, she could see a tall, brown haired male, his face contorted into a scowl. He looked to be middle aged, a handful of people stood warily behind him, some held knives and others wielded bow and arrows.

"Where did he go?" he barked. Judging by the authority in his voice, he was the leader of that particular group. She scanned the area best she could, searching for the one who followed her.

A cry of pain came from above followed by an arrow, shooting dangerously close to her hiding spot. A hard thud, as someone dropped from the tree beside her, landing on his side, clutching a bleeding leg. She saw a glimpse of golden locks before another thud as someone landed not too far away from the injured male. The shooter started walking slowly towards him.

She should have left, should have taken the chance while they were distracted, to bolt. But, in the seconds she wasted, her eyes locked with the young, injured boy's. They were like honey; she hadn't seen anything so gold since she was a mere child since the fall of Pangaea. She held her breath, waiting for him to call out, to buy himself time as they dug her out. Instead, he held a finger to his lips. Shhhh.

She lay there stunned, watching as he pushed himself up and hopped, relying fully on the one uninjured leg, skipping away from her, as though... as though he were distracting them. The others gave chase, cackling. Running right past her, trudging through the mud, some splashed on her face.

Every bone in her body told her to run, to take the opportunity, but as she went to leave his gold eyes flashed in her mind, and she crawled out from under the bushes. The sharp twigs brushing against her muddy clothing. Hoisting herself up, she started sprinting taking the shortcut to the river. Praying he was fast enough to make it there before they saw.

The trees whirled passed her in a blur, as she forced her legs to pick up pace. Her breathing rapid, the sound of the Inferior's laughing became distant, and the sound of water rushing was like a crescendo to her ears and the vision of the river like heaven.

Her eyes searched the place and a sigh of relief escaped her when she saw her saviour limping by the water. She had only a small window of time before the others found him. So, she hurried to him, his eyes widened with alarm when he saw her, and a flash of worry.

She didn't care, snatching his arm and pulling him to the water, shallow but deep enough to swallow and hide them.

"Just trust me." Her first and only words in what seemed like months. She'd almost forgotten the sound of her own voice. He blinked, before nodding and dunking his head under. And with a deep breath she did too.

The thickly smeared mud on her face dissolved, her clothing and satchel absorbing the bitter freezing water. The cold bit her skin as though made with sharp icicles for teeth. The rough movement of the water pulled the satchel from her grip, but she continued to clutch the stranger's hand.

It was hard to hear from the brutal rush of the water, but she could slightly make out the sound of muffled voices by the river and a frustrated yell. Her lungs burned for what seemed like eternity before the voices grew distant once again. She squeezed his hand, to check if the stranger was still okay, and he mimicked her movement.

They rose from under, drenched, she stifled a cough, clamping her mouth shut in case their chasers were still nearby.

“You didn’t have to do that,” he panted. Shaking his hair, the water sprinkling in every direction.

“Neither did you,” she answered, her breathing heavy. Her heart lurched when she remembered, her hand snapping to her chest, but her fingers were only met with wet fabric.

“No,” she gasped, “no, no, no.”

“What?”

“Where is it?” she dunked her head under again, but her eyes couldn’t see anything through the murkiness. Her hands brushed over the river rocks, feeling for the familiar metal chain but there was nothing. In a panic she rose to the surface. “My locket.”

With no further explanation he started searching for it too. But there was no time…

“They’re going to come back.” She warned him, gripping his shoulders.

“But-”

“Leave it.” She dragged him out of the river to the other side, and they ran into the trees.

Once the sun touched the horizon and their feet ached in pain, they slowed to a walk. She dropped him by a tree, and he rested, his back leaning on the rough bark. He groaned, as he pulled the end of his trousers up to reveal where the arrow had grazed his calf. The wound was deeper than she anticipated.

She started rummaging through her satchel for something to help.

He was silent for a moment, watching as she cursed in frustration, there was nothing in her satchel, no antiseptic or leftover bandages.

Suddenly, she heard him gasp in awe, uttering something in a different tongue. And then, “You were not Inferior.” The statement was sudden, and rich with a foreign accent.

She blinked at him, “What?”

“I knew it from the way you walked, and the way you speak. I knew you were not Inferior.”

Fear started to get a hold of her, “No, I’m Rogue. Like you. I used to be Inferior.”

“No. You were never…” She met his eyes again, the golden tint shone with curiosity, not disgust like she expected. “You have the birthmark of the mother.”

She pulled her sleeve immediately. The birthmark… a heart shaped birthmark on her wrist. A distinct tell each one of the Mothers had. Her mother – Kassandre – had it too.

“You can bring back Pangaea, build a better world.” Hope. She hadn’t heard such hope in a person’s voice in a long time. Build a better world…

“You’re speaking nonsense. There’s nothing left of the world to rebuild.”

“And yet you follow the river…”

There was no answer for that… For she did indeed follow the river. At the end of the river, held the answers she seeks, that would allow the next in line for the throne to retake the crown. That would inevitably name her Mother of Pangaea. A heavy responsibility.

There was a quiet clink as he held up her heart shaped locket. She snatched it, glaring at him.

“Why didn’t you give this to me sooner?”

He only shrugged. “I noticed… the clock in your locket is broken, it goes backwards.”

“It was a gift from a dying stranger when I was younger, when the end of the World was still raw. He told me it would turn back time, those were his last words of comfort to a child.” She held the locket to her beating heart, remembering his kind face.

They were silent, and then she asked, “Why did you follow me?”

“Nobody wants to be alone…”

It looked like he was opening his mouth to speak again, but no sooner did he start when an arrow shot passed them, piercing through the bark, inches away from his head.

“They found us,” she gasped. Everything happened so quickly.

He glanced upwards and shifted his position, grabbing a hold of her and turning them over, in barely even a second, he was on top of her when another arrow fired. She felt the force of the shot as it hit him.

“Run,” he whispered.

“But-”

Run!” He loosened his grip on her, bringing his lips to her ear. “Turn back time your majesty.”

Someone called from the distance, that was her cue. Tears streaked her face as she tore herself away from him, realising she didn’t once, catch his name.

And she ran. Ran to where the light was slowly fading at the edge, where the sun was slowly falling. The metal of the locket that she squeezed drew blood in her palm, she ignored sharp pain. Golden eyes haunted her mind. She would be back, to follow the river.

To build a better world. Alone again.

Fantasy

About the Creator

Paige Hermione

"You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are."

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    Paige HermioneWritten by Paige Hermione

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