Chapter 15 - Escape


In the week that Sarby rested in his bed, his mother not once came back to check on him. Sarby had an inkling that this was going to happen, but the confirmation still shattered his heart. At least his father was willing to take care of him while he recovered. His body brimmed with vigor and he felt his attempt at escape needed to come soon to avoid a lifetime prison sentence.


Alfon stood in front of the stone table, chopping up vegetables and fruits, humming a song familiar to those who were part of the Crystal Cavern Covenant. They met once a week in the Crystal Cavern to keep the place tidy and clean, collecting residue so none would go to waste. The song lulled Sarby to a trance as he remembered the first time he visited the large crystals. Who would have ever thought he would have returned for reasons outside of helping?


Placing the food onto a sliced tree stump plate, Alfon walked over to Sarby’s bed and laid it beside him. Sarby rolled over and faced his father. “Thanks. So, do you have any idea how to get me out yet?”


“I have an idea, though I’m worried you may be caught if you escape. The humans came back again to mess with the Bakkons. No one understands why they are so obsessed with them.”


“The rescue squad didn’t do anything again?”


Alfon opened his mouth, then closed it. He pondered for a moment. “I don’t think there is much we can do. Whatever tool they are enslaving all of us with, we stand no chance. One of the leaders of the squad was captured during this ambush. It isn’t long til all of us are caught, I fear.”


“They haven’t found the cave yet, have they?”


“Well, no. But plenty of Elnoas get caught when visiting the other Jallan villages. It’s only a matter of time until they venture out here. The mounts they ride are said to be able to sniff out anything.”


“What’s the plan with me? I’ve faced up against the humans before. I’ll figure out a way to escape them,” Sarby said abruptly.


Alfon scratched his forehead. “The Chief is growing wary of me keeping you in here so long. I’m sure he knows you are almost healed, so I was thinking tonight once everyone gets to sleep, I wrap you in that cloth and carry you out of here. I have no idea of which direction you should flee, but you must escape and never look back. Preferably, do not go near the Bakkon Village. Perhaps we will meet again, and hopefully you will be free. And at the worst I will be a human’s pet.”


“Don’t say such a thing!” Sarby clenched his claws.


“It’s only natural, the way things are going now. The humans are taking over this land for something.” Alfon chuckled with a sense of remorse. “At least I won’t be dead, I suppose. I will cling to life until we can meet again.”


“I need you to be as still as possible. If anyone stops me, this whole attempt is over for us.” Alfon said as he wrapped his son up. “Augh! You’re heavier than I remembered.” He held him in both arms and walked out into the dark cavern halls. The crystal embedded in Sarby’s horn showed faint traces through the fabric, but with the slivers of crystal dimly lighting the way in the rock walls, Sarby’s own light wasn’t conspicuous. Alfon passed by a few people and greeted them. None were the wiser.


He reached the exit, and the moon shone onto the dirt trail before him. Looking around, he saw the Cavern guards and smiled. “Run,” he whispered to Sarby and set him down. This was goodbye. The guards always checked the belongings of whoever left, in case of smuggling crystals.


Sarby had no choice but to escape now. He tore off the cloth and looked behind to his father, yet Alfon wasn’t facing him. Alfon stood staring at the guards as they looked back, their minds churning ideas. Shouts tore through the silent night, commanding Sarby to return, but his father, with blood curdling pleas, screamed for him to escape.


The guards tackled his father as he jumped in the way, hindering the guards’ pathway to Sarby.


“Run! Get out of here!” His father fell to the ground, and the guards took off toward Sarby.


Sarby knew what this would mean for his father. Abetting the escape of a criminal would land him in jail for many years. Well, at least it was better than being caught by humans. But if the humans found this place—no he couldn’t think like that. He cleared his mind. He had no choice but to escape now.


He sprinted down the gravel path, the claws on his feet kicking dirt. Where could he go? Who could he turn to? He couldn’t go to another village. The Elnoas would make it a priority for Sarby to be caught and locked down, and even if someone in Jalla took him in, he knew his people would start offering extreme rewards, such as crystals themselves.


Even though the effects of the crystals only worked on Elnoas, the large crystals found in the depths of the cavern were still worth a ton to merchants. If someone could sell a chunk, they’d never have to worry about a thing ever again.


The last crystal that had been given out was to a brave Bakkon crew that saved a bunch of Elnoa kids. It was said that after the group received their crystal, they were never seen again.


Sarby felt the moon calling out to him. The crystals in his horn surged, and he saw a warm glow wrap around him. A radiant red.


He sprinted toward the stone pillars. Revenge.


Or perhaps ‌he could run into Hyanga and Star. Where were they, anyway? Did they leave the cavern immediately after dropping him off?


The tall grass grazed his fur as he rushed back into the wilderness. The wide area of his horn’s light allowed him to see everything. Would any species nearby even dare approach him? The fields looked as if they were stained in blood.


Time passed, and Sarby showed no signs of slowing down. His body felt much more powerful, but would this effect wear off and leave him stranded alone again? Or would the crystals allow him to keep this up as often as he liked?