Boroden and his fellow brownies are imprisoned by an evil kraken
|A thick chill penetrated through Boroden’s silver lined cloak. He hugged his arms about himself against the cold, avoiding the gaze of his companions. Before he addressed his fellow brownies, he needed to process what had happened and work out a plan to escape this dungeon. He scanned the crevasse in which they were trapped with a keen gaze. Damp, stagnant air probed his nostrils. Water drops fell like a barrage of arrows from the cave roof, pelting Boroden’s face as he lifted it upwards. He looked beyond the fitful light of the torches, and the dense darkness threatened to swallow him.
Carnelian came to his side and stared at the sheer walls of the crevasse in which they were imprisoned. ‘This is no place for a brownie.’
Boroden nodded, clenching his fists so tightly that his nails bit into his palms. ‘We need to get out of here. If we don’t find a way soon then the kraken will kill Aira, if she’s not dead already.’
‘I’ve tried but there’s no way out of this stinking prison.’ Carnelian pushed back straggles of his greying hair. ‘It’s hopeless, lad.’
A leaden weight fell in Boroden’s chest as Carnelian’s words sunk in. ‘It’s all my fault. Why did I ever try to reclaim a home for our clan in Velmoran?’
Carnelian touched his shoulder. ‘Don’t blame yourself, lad. Nothing could be done. It’s too late now to wish things different.’
Boroden peered down at the emaciated form of his old tutor. ‘I can’t believe you’re alive. I thought we were to share our prison with a monster but then we found ourselves with you.’
‘I’ve missed you too. I never thought I’d see you again after Krysila took me in that cave we came to on our journey. One doesn’t escape a kraken like her easily.’ Carnelian frowned, a quaver in his voice.
‘For months I’ve thought you dead, taken by the servants of the kraken. Now we’re all here, cast into the dungeons of the Unseelie Court. If you’re alive then I refuse to give up hope that Aira will survive.’ Boroden set his jaw stubbornly.
‘I pray so too. She’s like a daughter to me.’
‘I love her. I can’t… What if she’s gone? She means everything to me.’
Carnelian sighed. ‘She’s always been there for you.’
Boroden bowed his head. ‘You’re right. When I was a boy confined in the palace of Velmoran’s tower, she befriended me when others feared to approach me. After that when I endured isolation as most of the others simply saw me as their king, someone to be in awe of or to lead them, Aira never treated me differently.’
‘She has a kind heart. Treasure the blessing of those memories. As for now… there’s nothing we can do.’ Carnelian’s face scrunched as he fought back tears.
‘Maybe she’ll find a way? She’s the smallest of us all, yet she’s so dauntless and true,’ Boroden said, remembering how Aira had stood up to the kraken when the other brownies quailed. He glanced at the brownie warriors of his company who he was imprisoned alongside, biting his tongue against voicing his anguish. If they had joined with him in fighting Krysila then they might never have been imprisoned.
‘I’d pinned my hopes on Aira… hopes that I might live happily with her at my side if we gained a safe homeland again in Velmoran. How I miss that beautiful citadel where the waves threw rainbows dancing on the roofs of the quays,’ Boroden said.
‘I fear it’s too late for Aira, poor flower.’ Torden’s sad frown twisted his lips beneath his tusk-like moustache.
Boroden shivered at the brownie chieftain’s hollow words.
A bloodcurdling shriek came from above them.
‘Aira’s alive!’ Boroden’s horror at hearing Aira’s scream was tinged with hope. It might not be too late to save her.
Torden shook his head, his expression grim. ‘She’ll not survive.’
‘Don’t say that. I can’t just leave her.’ Guilt and frustration choked Boroden.
Another shriek slashed the air. Boroden glared up at the cavern roof. ‘I’ve got to rescue her. There must be a way out of here.’
Boroden scoured the cave, ignoring his companions.
Another cry pierced his ears. Boroden’s shoulder muscles tightened. He squelched through the slime covering the cavern floor, frantically examining the rocky walls for a place to climb up. The dark stone was smooth and offered no handholds. Regardless, Boroden scrabbled at it. He scraped his fingers raw in his desperation to find a way out. He needed to escape and save Aira before it was too late.