“There Be Dragons Here” Writing Contest – Entry Seven

by darkjade68

“There Be Dragons Here” Writing Contest

Entry Seven

by T.A. Laurel

 

Bridge of Bower

By: T.A. Laurel

Hurrying across the heath keeping to the footpath. Weaving between gorse, and small crab apple trees, rising slopes, and descending slopes,  the thickening heather making it hard. Ankles and calves hurting.
They were not running, just walking fast. The couple kept looking behind seeing the two distant figures following. They knew they were being followed, they had been for the last few miles now.
The pursuers were not gaining on them as the distance remained the same. In front of the couple was a large wooden five bar gate, the entrance to a wooded area.  But when Alan tried to open it he found it to be stuck. No second thoughts, they then both proceeded to climb over it. There was no haste to their actions, all positive movement and the man assisting the lady as she jumped off the second bar.
They both paused, looking back from where they came and still the figures could be seen; slowly but surely coming their way.
“Come on we can lose them in the wood” he said, and quickly took the girls hand and led them into the wood.
The path was wide and easily traversed. The sounds of nature everywhere; rabbits hopping into the bushes, and birds fluttering from tree to tree. The streaking sunshine with spears of light dazzling them as they progressed. They started to hurry, turning a bend and then again straightening direction. Deeper into the wood they went, and as the wood became thicker less light was getting through. The tall trees and thick foliage becoming a blanket above them.
The path had now become a track, and harder to walk. A slip could be very damaging, a twisted ankle is not what either wants at this time. Even though they could not see far behind them, they both kept looking.
Now because of not being able to see their pursuers, a little bit of panic was creeping in.
A river appeared and there was no where to cross, so they turned left to follow the river flow. A few hundred yards they came to a fallen tree stretching half across the river. “Lets rest a minute here, they wont find or catch us here” Alan said.. Alta, was panting a little now after they had sped up a little and the terrain was now harder. Alan walked onto the tree and sat, and the lady followed, “Here Alta take my hand” he said holding his hand out foe her to take hold of.

But as she went to reach out she slipped and fell onto the riverbank, and promptly started to shout in pain.

“Alan help me please, I think I have twisted my ankle”. before she finished her sentence Alan was beside her and checking her ankles.

“It is my right one, it hurts like hell.” she said now sitting up.

Alan then saw a slight swelling, and gently and lightly massaged her leg and ankle. “Okay we shall sit here then, you only had to say you didn’t want to sit on the tree” Alan said, and they both laughed.

A few minutes later and after a drinking of water they started off again, Alta now hobbling and using Alan’s shoulder for support. Speed was not possible now. Just care and constant moving.

“We’ll be okay Alta, we have enough distance between us. They have to find our tracks first.”

Behind the two shadows following, shuffling through the brush and weaving their way through the trees. Already over the gate and into the wood, they were showing relentless pursuit. Nothing was slowing them and the couple knew they were closing, it was only a matter of time. They felt the closeness the faster they were going traversing the ground at ease. No matter a gorse bush, a small ditch, piles of bracken, or brambles just being brushed aside at will.

 

Alan and Alta still following the river bank, the easiest path but still proving difficult, Alta’s ankle was now swelling and her pain was proving a problem for her. “Come on Alta, we got to keep going. We must reach the bridge of Bower, we will be safe there. It cannot be too far now.”

“I am sorry Alan, but….”

“Don’t, don’t even think it. An accident could not be helped so lets just get on, and find this Bridge of Bower.” Alan interrupted, enhancing his grip on her.
Further up the river they met another fallen tree, this one stretched to both sides of the river. This one looked more like a bridge with wear showing on the trunk. A few stubby branches protruding upwards and sideways, but was mostly just trunk with it’s root on the opposite bank to them.

They sat briefly regaining strength and having a drink.

“How far is this Bridge of Bower, do you even know it?” asked Alta.

“I know of it, but not how far. Just have to follow the river”

Just as Alta was about speak a small creature appeared at the end of the tree.

“Your shadows are near and you must move or they will be upon you.”  the voice raspy and throaty at once.

“Where did you come from, who are you?” asked Alta with a sound of surprise.

“My name is Lorrine and I am a tree nymph and where I come from it matters not. I have been sent to warn you of the impending danger you face. The shadows are very close and will be upon you if you do not move.”As Lorrine finished the noise startled them. Noise of brush and heavy steps  bundling towards them as Alan and Alta turned to see the two shadows morphing.

 The human shape twisting and turning, sounds of pain as the change was happening. In unison they fell onto all fours and continued their mutation, scales of dark green on one and crimson red on the other. Horns appearing on the heads, arms becoming wings, and the legs turning into huge muscled limbs. Finishing off with large dangerous, sharp claws, which meant only one thing.

Lorrine jumped in between Alan and Alta. “Quick take my hand, no time but to trust me”

Without a second thought they did as was asked of them. Lorrine whispered an enchantment, and just a that moment the two dragons sent a laser of fire at them, incinerating the part of the tree where they stood.

The three of them vaporised and was gone.

The two dragons continued hissing fire, until they realise they had missed their prey. The crimson red one spoke in a guttural voice, “if they get to Bridge of Bower we will have missed them”

The three of them materialised on a large wooden bridge with ornately carved railings and arch at both ends.

“You will be safe here, the dragons know of this place but have no way of finding it, while our Oak King keeps his magic in place.”

“Where is this place?” asked Altai still limping.

“Oh yeah welcome the Bridge of Bower, the home of the forest nymphs”

Alan and Alta collapsed onto knees and kissed the ground.

 

  © T.A. Laurel 2013

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